When Bigger was a toddler, I was slightly obsessed with his diet. Everything was home cooked. Not a single jar of processed baby food entered the house or his body. Sugar was carefully monitored. It was either milk or water. No biscuits. No sweets. No chocolate. Absolutely no fizzy drinks.
Cake, real homemade cake, was allowed in moderation. Obviously.
I was a shining example of perfect motherhood *hollow laugh*
Except, somewhere between then and now, it all went wrong. Sugary breakfast cereal slowly replaced the virtuous sugar-free Weetabix. Sugary, child-targeted yogurts found their way into the fridge. The biscuit tin was brought out of retirement.
As he became more independent, I trusted him to brush his teeth. I became slack at checking up on him.
And now my laziness, my lack of attention to his sugar intake and my lacklustre approach to supervised brushing has come home to haunt me :-(
Tonight, in an attempt to prevent the 10,000th tantrum/whinge fest of the day, I sat my strapping 6 year old on my knee and brushed his teeth for him. Just like I used to do when he was younger. I'm ashamed and horrified to admit what I discovered. A nasty big cavity on one of his molars.
How could I let this happen? I'm an educated woman. I know what sugar does to teeth. I have enough fillings myself to prove it.
This evening, we've tried to kid ourselves. He doesn't get that much sugar, does he? Fizzy drinks are still banned. Lollipops forbidden. We never take him to the corner shop just to buy a sweetie, the way we did as children. Chocolate is maybe doled out once a week, if that. Fruit is usually his snack of choice, or a raw carrot.
But deep down, I know it's the hidden sugar that's the culprit. The breakfast cereals and the yogurts that he consumes daily. The hot cross buns and the brioche and the pain au chocolat. The homemade cakes that I kid myself are better for us because they are homemade. And the biscuits. Biscuits are a daily occurrence, there's no hiding from that. Twice a week in his lunch box probably and most nights as a post-bath panacea to placate frayed tempers, tired brains and those reluctant to go to bed at a reasonable hour. Hmm, maybe that hidden sugar isn't quite so hidden after all...
I'm cringing at the shame of it as I type. Growing up, bad teeth and cavities were a shameful thing in children. As they should be. That's some seriously lazy parenting that lets a child of 6 develop cavities. That's me. A lazy parent. A shameful parent.
I could make up a million excuses. Mornings are so hectic, making lunches, emptying dishwashers, trying to get everyone ready so I can leave for work without leaving the husband with 2 fraught children to wrangle with. Similarly, our evenings are as bad. Rushing home, collecting 2 tired boys from childcare, herding them homewards, into the bath, into pyjamas and into bed while emptying lunchboxes and trying to juggle homework and shopping and and and...supervised teeth brushing slipping down the priority list without me even noticing.
There's no excuse really. Not for letting my beautiful 6 year old fall into the sugar trap and end up with a cavity. I feel sick when I think about what the dentist will think of us. He'll take one look at those teeth and decide we feed our children little more than Irn Bru and Chewits. He'll judge us.
I don't blame him really. I'd judge us too.