Totally Toothless Parenting

, , , , , | Healthy | January 23, 2018

(I’m a dentistry student. At my university, we work in different services every half-day. Thursday morning is when I work with kids. A dad comes in with his two-year-old. The kid starts crying the moment he sees the dentist chair, and I know I’m not going to be able to do anything on him, because putting rotating metal things in the mouth of an uncooperative and squirmy two-year-old is dangerous for both him and me. In the patient’s file, I see that the dad was supposed to have taken an appointment with a teacher to have his kid sedated. He obviously hasn’t done so, because I’m the one taking care of him. I can’t even get a good look at the kid’s teeth, because he won’t open his mouth and he keeps crying. I tell the dad that he absolutely needs an appointment with sedation, or else we won’t be able to take care of his kid.)

Dad: “But they’re only baby teeth; it doesn’t matter if they have cavities!”

Me: “If the infection gets out of hand, the adult teeth could get infected, as well, and come out black and rotten. Not to mention that the bone could be eaten away by the bacteria.”

Dad: “So, what should I do?”

Me: “I can’t do anything right now with him in this state, but with sedation we could try it. He needs to be on an empty stomach, though.”

Dad: “Why?”

Me: “Because if not, he could throw up and drown himself.”

Dad: “Sure, but I come from [City not even 15 minutes away]; I don’t have time for this!”

(I call my professor to examine the child, and together we manage to put a temporary solution on the kid’s teeth. It involves a lot of crying and screaming, with an uncooperative dad that doesn’t want to hold his child, and keeps interrupting us to “go for a walk in the hallway” with his kid.)

Me: “Well, that should slow the cavities down, but keep brushing his teeth regularly.”

Dad: “Oh, he doesn’t brush his teeth.”

Me: “I know. He’s two; you’re supposed to do it.”

Dad: “Well, I don’t.”

Me: “You’re supposed to. I don’t suppose he dresses himself yet, either, but still, he’s not naked now. Same thing: you’re the one who made him, so you’re the one who should brush his teeth until he’s old enough to do it himself.”

It’s Time To Really Make Your Point

, , , , , , , | Related | January 22, 2018

(I am nine years old.)

Me: “Are we there yet?”

Dad: “Not yet. Another hour or so.”

Me: “What time is it?”

Dad: “3:30 pm.”

Me: “What time is it?”

Dad: “It’s only 3:32!”

Me: “What time is it?”

Dad: “3:35.”

Me: “What time is it?”

Dad: “3:40.”

Me: “What time is it?”

Dad: “3:45, and stop asking, ‘What time is it?’!”

Me: “Il est quelle heure?”

Dad: *has a fit of laughs and throws a tissue roll at me* “Just… NO asking… at all.”

Suva, So Good

, , , , , | Hopeless | January 21, 2018

This story takes place over 40 years ago, when I was four. Even though I was so young, I remember it vividly. My parents owned a tobacco farm. This was back when private farmers were allowed to grow tobacco commercially. They’re not, anymore, and the farm is now apples and kiwifruit.

During the harvest, most of the picking was done by workers from Fiji, big men who would come to New Zealand and work impossibly long hours in the fields, earning every cent they could. Their money would be sent home, saved carefully, and made to last until they returned the following year.

In the small town where I grew up, there were no people of any colour, not even Māori (native New Zealanders), so my sister and I had never seen black people before. The workers were huge, ebony-black men with big shaggy afros and deep, booming voices. The first time we met them we screamed and ran away crying. Our parents were mortified. They tried everything they could to stop us being afraid of the workers and to get us to interact with them more positively, but nothing worked.

The workers were more sad than offended. They loved children and missed their own dreadfully.

One day I wandered away from my mother in the tobacco field. Those fields were vast spaces, with tobacco plants in long, long rows, taller than I was. Soon, I was hopelessly lost. My family panicked, but it was one of the Fijians who had the bright idea of climbing onto the roof of one of the sheds so he could look down on the fields. It didn’t take him long to spot me, and he ran towards me.

I was hiding under a tobacco plant, crying. As he got closer, he slowed down and hid behind a plant, too. Of course, as he was so huge, I could see him, and I was scared. I slowly peeked out… and so did he. Then, he let out a gasp and a squeal and hid again. This went on for a few minutes; both of us peeking out and hiding again when we saw each other. I started to giggle and walked shyly out from behind the plant. He jumped to his feet and ran off down the row in a cartoon-like fashion, his arms and legs going in all directions, letting out the same high-pitched squeal. Of course, I ran after him, laughing all the way… and we ran right back to my parents, who were by that stage almost hysterical.

I soon learned that all the workers had the same comic, zany sense of humour where kids were involved, and that they loved to play as much as we did. My sister and I became fast friends with them; in fact, we were probably pains in their a**es, because we kept wanting to play with them while they were picking.

Most of us grow up and learn that racism is a terrible thing. I was lucky in that I learned it very early on, and I have never, ever been able to tolerate the notion that someone is less, or more, because of skin colour. I have always been grateful to my first Fijian buddy for teaching me this incredibly valuable lesson.

Killing Kindness

, , , , , , | Friendly | January 20, 2018

(I’m bored waiting for the rest of my family to go to the bathroom and buy snacks, so I decide to try a toy dispenser, like a gumball machine, that gives you a tiny toy inside a clear plastic ball. After I get a toy, a woman comes up with two small children, about five years old. The mother gives each child a coin to get a toy, but the machine the daughter uses doesn’t work and she starts crying.)

Woman: “Well, I don’t have any more loose change! You’ll just have to share with your brother.”

Boy: “No! It’s mine!”

Me: *to the woman* “Excuse me. I just got this from the machine and I don’t really want it. Your daughter can have it, if you want.”

Woman: “What did you just say?”

Me: “I got this from the machine. I think it’s a toy tiger. I haven’t opened it, so I thought you might want it for your daughter, because…”

Woman: *suddenly shouting* “Mind your own f****** business. Why the f*** are you watching my kids, you pervert?”

(I was a baby-faced 13-year-old girl, not your typical “pervert.” I just wanted to help an upset kid and stressed-out mum)

Bad Parenting, No Ifs, No Butts

, , , , , , | Friendly | January 19, 2018

(My manager is a very no-nonsense kind of person, and always speaks her mind. She’s out with her four-year-old daughter, and there’s a young boy acting up in front of them. The mother is doing nothing about it.)

Daughter: *to boy’s mother* “You know, this wouldn’t happen if you’d beat his a**.”

Manager: “[Daughter]! You don’t say things like that!”

Daughter: “I’m sorry, Mommy!” *to boy’s mother* “This wouldn’t happen if you’d beat his butt.”

Manager: “That’s better.”

(They walked away with the mother glaring daggers at them, my manager beaming with pride the entire time.)

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