Sprout was being stubborn, her default position, and refusing to brush her teeth. The Bean was in the bathroom already, his vigorous scrubbing and foam covered mouth giving him the appearance of a rabid animal. It had been an extraordinarily hot day in the Valley, as they tend to be in August, and reserves of patience were in limited supply.
Sprout sat on edge of the tub with the grin of a girl who thought she was being cute. I started with the calm approach but gradually worked my way up to full fledged angry. She was deliberately stalling and being cocky about it, a move that pushes nearly all of my buttons. Yelling soon gave way to a threat—the loss of one of her prized toys. That snapped her into action and soon she too had a mouth full of foam.
Meanwhile the Bean finished up his brushing, smiling the smile of a boy who was glad not to be in Dad’s line of fire. On the way out of the bathroom, he stopped to give me a hug.
“I love you, Daddy,” he said, drawing out the “love” in a sugary sweet tone. “When it’s my birthday, I don’t even need a present because I have you as my dad!”
He stood there, waiting for me to respond, waiting for me to praise him for his compliment. The sounds of Sprout’s sporadic teeth brushing were all too present amongst the silence.
“Thank you,” I said after a deep breath. “Any chance you’re telling me this because I’m yelling at your sister?”
“Uh huh,” he said as he practically skipped down the hall into his bedroom.