Your Toothpaste Is Now, Officially, Dangerous

That, anyway, is what I considered telling my children, before they left this morning for a week with their cousins in New England. Unfortunately (or fortunately) this news would not have had much impact on them. They already believe toothpaste can kill them. That’s why they don’t like to spend much time brushing their teeth.They feel the same way about all other personal grooming products. They understood, long before United Airlines, that shampoo, conditioner and soap, liquid or otherwise, are the instruments of evil. I had to do exactly nothing when I checked their carry-on luggage for forbidden items. None of those things had even been packed. Now, if there was some plot to blow up airlines using action figures, we’d be in a world of hurt.

I thought it would be hard to tell them about the latest plot to blow up airlines using liquid concoctions. But the truth is, when I did give them an executive summary of this news (omitting the stuff about toothpaste and shampoo, lest it lead to further intransigence on the subject of personal grooming), they laughed. Even after they read the story in the New York Times, they still thought it was pretty funny. Perhaps it was because this plot is like something you’d see in a cartoon, where the bad guy is so patently ridiculous that even a French adventure hero like Tintin could deal with him with just a look and a “zoot.” It’s hard to imagine how somebody could blow up a plane with a tube of Crest.

Of course I didn’t like seeing them run up the corded-off ramp toward the security checkpoint. I don’t like it that people want to blow each other up. I don’t like having to tell my children this. But children have innate good sense about this. They already know that people will try to hurt each other. And at least they are able to laugh at adult efforts to do so, even when, under it all, there is something deadly serious going on.

Anyway, to take the pall off the page from all this, I’d like to record here the rules the children came up with for behavior on this trip. Let me say that there are six children on this trip: my three and three of their cousins. They range in age from 13 to 6. There are four boys and two girls. The only adult who will be with them is my husband. He was an Eagle Scout. He loves this kind of thing. The other adults love him and make plans to stay in swanky hotels while their children are gone.

The children would never voluntarily have come up with these rules had I not asked them to talk about the one thing they cared the most about in how people treated them. They would have much preferred to trade burps and talk about why the cheese on their pizza could stretch so far. I want it out there now: I am a bossy, rule making person. I can’t help it. In about three years, my children will be making fun of this quality. But they’ll never forget how important it is to take turns when you talk, which is rule number 1 at our dinner table. (Nobody does it…. not yet. I have hope.)

So, here they are:

  • Cousin number 1 (boy, eleven years old): I like hugs.
  • Cousin number 2 (boy, six years old): No excluding.
  • Cousin numbers 3 and 4 (girls 12 and 13): Kisses. (lots of giggles)
  • Cousin number 4 (girl, 12) Inside voices (cousin no. 2 having just shouted in her ear about the kissing thing)
  • Cousin number 5 (boy, eleven years old): No hitting.
  • Cousin number 6: Positive. Say nice things.
  • Aunt, who is not going: Be helpful to your uncle.

I know it’s been said before. Children should rule the world (with a little adult help making the lunches). Yes, there would be a lot of messy hair and cavities, the occasional Lord of the Flies moment and I do not even want to think about how they’d handle commuting. Even with all that, were they to have more say in how things go, we’d all be having a lot more fun and we’d most likely be much safer than we are today in the nasty, divided, violent world we’ve all gone to so much trouble to make for them.

16 thoughts on “Your Toothpaste Is Now, Officially, Dangerous

  1. Aren’t children just brilliant about objective reality? They are so innately wise in a way adults forget or lose sight of, which is a real shame. And they are fundamentally worthy of our trust, too, I think. The toothpaste thing is amusing. When my son was just a baby he adored eating toothpaste. And paper. Didn’t like vegetables, was slow to finger food, but chomped his was through my London A-Z book of maps in the back of the car when I wasn’t looking and glugged toothpaste in the bath. I guess a reasonable palate is something I am glad they develop eventually…

  2. toothpaste and paper! Your poor A-Z. It would be interesting to chart where that innate wisdom goes. Quite possibly, many adults have it still. it’s just that the nastier ones seem to push themselves into the places where the most damage can be done while the nice adults are busy sending thank you notes and picking up the garbage on the side of the road.

  3. I’m sure people DO love your husband for being willing to take care of a bunch of kids — it sounds like an absolute nightmare to me, and I just don’t get people who love doing it. But it’s wonderful they exist!

  4. The word “lunatic” does come up quite often in reference to this behavior. Still, they’re all pretty nice, fairly well behaved children and he seems to like their company more than that of many adults. What this says about the company we keep I don’t know, but i’m also grateful he’s turned out this way. It was not at all clear, twenty years ago when we met (he riding a skateboard, with headphones on, me thinking: what a lunatic) this is how it would go with him. You cannot predict everything about a person, that’s for certain.

  5. Hmm. Perhaps the toothpaste ban was instigated by the ultra-secretive Kidz Rule! lobby. If that’s true, then children may indeed have some power to rule the world….

    Utopia is at hand!

  6. You know, when I wrote this it did occur to me there was some kind of conspiracy going on. I just hadn’t thought about the KRL. And, in truth, I know many people do believe kidz are in charge already and that has led to a complete deterioration of public spaces, like cafes where you just want to read quietly without a bunch of yelling or on airplanes (ditto). But those are the Bad Kidz. The kids who should rule the world are the nice ones, the ones who prefer hugs and kisses and inside voices. Those are the kids who’d make a no-homework rule that extended to adults, and then nobody would work late or on weekends and we’d all have time to see how far we could stretch out the cheese on our pizzas and see who has the loudest burp (but not in public, of course).

    Thanks for stopping by Mr. MoJo and preaching the doctrine of Kidtopia.

  7. Grrr, these terrorists. I’ve just done a nightmareish 30 hour journey from UK to Sydney and I wasn’t allowed *any* hand luggage, no comb, no toothpaste, no toiletries of any form – although I did smuggle through an elastic band (and four Panadol – crafty!) For the baby, I was allowed “essentials”, which meant heaps of awkward stuff that was impossible to transport in clear plastic bags, and I had to taste his formula water. What is the world coming to?! The baby had to do without the bath-in-the-basin I had planned for him in Singapore but, as a member of the Kids Rule Lobby, he was as happy as Larry.

    I hope your kids have a good time with their cousins, Bloglily. They sound so cute. I like the rule “No Excluding”. If only the world could listen to that.

  8. So, are you missing the boys yet, Bloglily? Although having no children of my own, I’m a lunatic like your husband. I absolutely love to spend time with children, often preferring them to adults (I once spent an entire business party at the art museum in San Francisco playing in the upstairs exhibits with a colleague’s seven-year-old daughter. Best business party I ever attended). I spent a fabulous evening last week with two young friends aged 9 and 6, eating pancakes, building domino houses and long lines of dominoes to knock them over, and playing Yahtzee. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if your adult friends all raced out of the house and threw themselves at you to greet you, making you feel like the most important and welcome person on the planet, every time you came to visit?

  9. Helen, that does sound awful. Did you have to taste his formula water to prove it wasn’t poisoned with something else? How very medieval things have gotten. I’m glad you got home safely and admire you for making sure you had those pain relievers in your pocket. (Not to mention the elastic band.) The “no excluding” rule is very important to the six year old — the greatest tragedy in his life is that he will never, ever be older than his brothers or his cousin. This is why ever other day he asks when I’m going to produce a baby sister for him. (Ha, I say, NO WAY!)

    Hello Emily — Wow! It sounds like YOU know how to have fun. Your day of play must have been terrific for those children. I love your description of people who run out of the house and throw themselves at you. It’s astonishing and wonderful how children so freely express their emotions, and when those emotions are loving ones it’s just plain magic. As litlove said upthread, children are innately sensible people, and they can be the most amusing of companions, particularly when things are relaxed, and you’re not also trying to do other things. What I find most difficult is handling the need of all three for my attention. Maybe because I am a younger child (I am fourth in my family of five children), I am especially attuned to how it feels to have gotten there last, but I think all siblings wish their parents could just pay attention to them. The jockeying for that can be fierce and although perfectly understandable, it’s tiring. But I do miss them — they’re energetic and fun and so different from me that I feel like I’ve landed on a different planet. Still, right now I’m still in bed and drinking tea, so loneliness has its compensations!

    Edwin:  thanks for the music.  It took my inbox a little while to recover from the shock of being spoken to in two languages, but I did find it.  Power to the children, indeed (as long as we’re not handing them power tools, anyway.  [groan])

  10. They’ve got the right idea! They remind me of my little brother, also allergic to grooming. I shared a room with him on vacation and always asked him, “Did you brush your teeth?” –“Yes.” Finally, I told him that if he was going to lie, he should at least take the toothbrush out of the package.

    I just spent a day travelling and there was very little in the way of qualitative difference, so the Bloglily boys are NOT off the hook! 🙂

  11. Wow, your husband is…a saint. Or something close to it. That trip sounds…fascinating. Are they camping? I never imagine people camping in New England – I imagine them visiting quaint rickety old bed and breakfast places, eating scones and drinking tea for breakfast. Something tells me the trip is…not that.
    Enjoy your time to yourself, bloglily – it’s precious!

    (You’ll notice I fail to say anything about the no toothpaste on planes and other horrors. There are, no words, right now, really. I wish your children and nieces and nephews ruled our world, that’s for sure.)

  12. Hey AC — i saw a cartoon someplace of two children in a playground. It’s dated 2010. One child is taunting the other. The taunt? “Your mom blogs about you.” Let it be said here that, when the chips are down, the BlogLily boys do clean up beautifully.

    Courtney — I’m not sure I’d call it camping exactly. They’re staying at a family cabin in the woods near a lake. No scones. How could you tell? Lots of mosquitos and swimming. My husband stashed a big old windsurfer there last year, and this year he managed to get a sail on the plane. I guess those have not yet featured in any plot. So I guess they’re also floating across the lake on the windsurfer, even as we speak.

  13. Er… sorry? What I really asked was whether your inbox could cope with two MP3’s, before I dent them. So if you’ve already found them in your inbox, where did they come from? Me little man, mightily puzzled!

  14. Oh Edwin I’m such an idiot. I got the lyrics, not the actual singing. I’m sure my inbox can handle mp3s; it’s just me that’s the problem. Thank you! xxoo, BL

  15. Great post…

    You got me chuckling with:

    “Now, if there was some plot to blow up airlines using action figures, we’d be in a world of hurt.”


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