“Brush your teeth, young lady.”
“I don’t have time.”
“Yes, you do. I don’t understand what the problem is with you brushing your teeth.”
“Stop telling me what to do all the time.”
“I will as soon as you brush your teeth. Look, this is non-negotiable. This is just something you do. Brush your teeth. When you get to my age you won’t have any teeth left if you don’t brush them when you are young.”
“They’re my teeth. Why do you care?”
“Because I love you and I don’t want you to be toothless just because you couldn’t be bothered. Bloody brush your teeth.”
She throws a hair brush at me. But does stick a tooth brush in her mouth for ten seconds. I retire from the field of battle behind my second morning coffee but sense I am losing the war for dental hygiene. I wonder what I should do. I think vaguely I should probably stop putting sugar in my coffee.
My daughter spends half an hour in front of the mirror getting her hair just right. Then runs to the front door for school.
“Hey, brush your teeth young lady.”
“Don’t have time.”
“OK, fine, You know, boys don’t like girls who have smelly breath. It’s a fact.”
Instead of the front door clicking shut behind her, I hear the sound of shoes being kicked off in the genkan entrance hall. She hurries back past me to the sink in the kitchen and I hear water hit the metal pan and frantic tooth-brushing.
I manage to affect a nonchalant air as she passes me again on her way out.
“Really don’t get why brushing her teeth is such an issue for her, but I feel like I’m winning the war,” I tell my wife over sweet chicken at the Nepalese curry shop at lunchtime. The yoghurt sauce is so sweet, it makes me wince.
“That’s great,” my wife says, but notices me making a face. “Did you brush your teeth this morning?”
“Oh,” I wipe my nan bread through the curry like I’m loading a brush to paint the front door but am having second thoughts about the orange colour, “I, er, didn’t have time.”
* * *
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