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Brush Your Teeth and Take Your Medicine

What my son taught me about taking my medication on time

My Son’s Memory

For the last month or so, our twelve-year-old son Dylan hasn’t been brushing his teeth. Now that summer is in full swing, it has just gotten worse. After trying almost everything, various forms of grounding: no friends, no electronics and so on nothing seemed to be getting through to him.

In the most recent series non-brushings he had earned him seven days without sugar; ice cream, chocolate, sweet and salty nuts, soda, you name it, and he couldn’t have it. The rules of engagement were to inform his (biological)mother that he had brushed his teeth without prompting of any kind.

On the third day of his punishment, he, unfortunately, forgot to brush his teeth. Time on the clock was reset, another seven-day sugar fast began. This isn’t the first time he hadn’t taken care of himself, like not using soap when he showered. Was it a boy thing? Bad parenting? Laziness? Who knows, but after thousands of dollars in past dental care, the blame game had to come to an end.

After a long six days for Dylan, he could see the finish line. That day my husband and I packed up the kids and headed to Union Reservoir for a weekend fishing trip. While we were there, you could see the misery on Dylan’s face as our daughter was able to drink soda and eat other sweets, after all only the camping and junk food rules apply on a fishing trip.


Loving smores

For the Love of S’mores!

That night when it was time to make s’mores by the fire, Dylan’s devastation was evident. I didn’t feel bad. He had made the wrong decision time again, and we would follow the rules of the punishment. The next morning he was free, and his excitement showed it! On that day, he brushed his teeth in the morning and chomped on s’mores by the fire that night. Finally, he had learned his lesson.

We came home from camping the next day, unloaded the truck and finished the little bit of relaxing we had before we had to get back to work unpacking. Dylan’s mother would be picking up the kids at 3 pm. It was then that I watched it all unfold. Everything was in slow motion when she asked Dylan if he had brushed his teeth that day. I held my breath, did we not ask him this morning? Then it happened, he told her, “No, I forgot.” My head fell forward, and I shook it in disbelief. After all of the punishment and frustrations he had gone through, he still hadn’t learned. Right then and there the anti-sugar clock was reactivated.

Once they left the house, I began to think about the choices Dylan was making. How could he forget something as simple as brushing his teeth? It was something you did every day without thought. As simple as breathing, it was routine. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it, did he not care about his teeth, the money thrown away on dental care or was it disrespect?
Lead by example

I Was No Different That Him

Then it all seemed to come together. Dylan and I were the same. Even with something as simple as brushing your teeth, he ignored all consequences. While I, brushing my teeth regularly, hadn’t taken my medication on time, even on many occasions had forgotten it completely, for maybe the last two years. Today, looking back at last week, I can count seven out of fourteen medication times, that I had completely forgotten. So, who was I to judge Dylan? Wasn’t swallowing a pill less of a hassle than brushing your teeth? In the long run, which was more important?

I have always known that you have a greater chance of stability if you take your medicine the same time every day. If you do that, then there is no fluctuation of medication in your body. Even knowing the importance, I couldn’t seem to grasp it. In the past, I had tried different ways to remember my bipolar and anti-depressant medications. I would set an alarm that would chime once in the morning, and again at night. Even then, at that time, I didn’t carry any medications with me so if I were out and about I would still forget when I got home. If this happened during my morning alarm, then I messed up the whole day because I missed my “medication window.” Was this a form of self-sabotage that the bipolar fairies have placed upon me or the sheer forgetfulness that Dylan complains about having. The truth is, I have no idea.
Set Your Alarm CLock

How I am Learning to Remember

I went to my husband and explained what I was thinking. He said that Dylan’s choice affected people besides him, like those paying his dental bills. Whereas if I don’t take my medications as directed not only do I become an emotional and sometimes physical threat to myself, there is a shift in the people and their actions around me. So what was the difference? How are my actions different than my twelve your old sons? It’s not, is it? Hell, maybe I should be grounded from sugar alongside Dylan. So I did what we had told him to do so many times, and the only way I could think of that would possibly help me remember my medication; set my alarm clock. I hope this time is different, and I think it will be… I have a different lifestyle now with more freedom and so far so good.

Now, I’m on day three of the alarm clock medication cycle and so far so good. Five medication times have come and gone with successful completion and Dylan has brushed his teeth 3 days in a row. So, here’s to progress!

Andrea signature

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Kalista

    What a fantastic post! I love that you’re able to empathize and model the behavior you want to see. It can be very easy to parent from a ‘high horse.’ Keep up the great work!

    1. I really appreciate your feedback! I think this is so important to remember, we make mistakes too and the best way thing to do with the mistakes is learn from them. We are all from the same mold in so many ways and people tend to forget that! Many thanks! xo, Andrea

  2. AJ

    Cute story with a very valid point!!

  3. Kate

    Great post! I have a daily reminder on my phone at 8:00am every morning to take my vitamin. I can’t mark it as completed until I have taken the vitamin, so it shows up every time I look at my phone.

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