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Our Fifty Dollar Toothpaste

Often, my kids’ ADHD misadventures are innocent and tame, if not a little trying on my patience. Sometimes, however, it costs us a lot of money when our children stumble. And on those occasions, it’s awfully tough to laugh it off.

Reviewed on April 8, 2019

“I would do anything for my kids,” is one of those sentences that most parents make, especially when parenthood is new. It’s a bold statement to the world that we’re ready to take anything on. If we have to work seven jobs and get an hour of sleep per night to put food on the table for our family, we’ll do it!

I am thinking about this statement the other day when Laurie brings Jayden home from a dentist appointment and hands me the bill. I say, “It was just a cleaning and should have been covered by insurance.”

“Just read it,” she says.

I quickly scan it. “What are these two line-items for $35 and $15?”

“One is for a special nightly toothpaste. It’s blue but turns white once they’ve brushed long enough. The other is a weekly toothpaste that has some kind of special fluoride.”

“I didn’t even know medicated toothpaste existed,” I say. “But I guess if this was necessary, then we had to do it.”

[Self-Test: Could Your Child Have ADHD?]

“Well,” she says, bracing for the storm, “The dentist said he doesn’t brush long enough.”

“WHAT?! We spent $50 on toothpaste because he isn’t brushing correctly?!” I’m sure I had a vein bulging out of my forehead at this point.

“Yep.”

“Jayden! A word, please!”

I give him the business for a few minutes, knowing very little is registering with him. He will probably remember, “Dad is mad,” but bless his heart he won’t remember any specifics in an hour. On the other hand, he takes the scolding like a pro – better than I would have. Then I ground him from something – I can’t exactly remember because I always try to make the punishment fit the crime but I can’t ground him from food. And then I send him upstairs.

I think back to my “I would do anything for my kids” proclamation and give a little chuckle at the naïve guy I was 15 years ago. Back then, I had envisioned epic battles where I marched into the principal’s office to fight bullies or teachers who just didn’t get my kid. I daydreamed about stopping bullets and working sun-up to sun-down to pay for football pads and pom poms.

[Your Free Guide to Parent Training Programs]

I hadn’t planned on the kids being my nemesis in the battle for a peaceful and orderly household. I couldn’t have foreseen the sliding door of the van being pulled off its hinges to the tune of $1,000. I might have thought adventures like a load of whites getting ruined by a red sock seemed madcap, like in a family movie. I had hoped to be the type of parent who would laugh it off, but when this happened last week there was no laughing. Nor was there laughing at the dentist’s bill for medicated toothpaste — or when I saw that the bill had a second page.

“What’s this?” I ask Laurie.

“That’s the bill for his follow-up in three months,” Laurie says. “The dentist didn’t want to wait the standard six months, and the front desk informed me Insurance won’t cover this follow-up.”

“Jayden!” I yell. “Another word!”

[Laugh It Up: Use Humor to Reduce Stress]

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  1. Friend, I hate to darken the name of good dentistry, but I feel compelled to mention that not all dentists are ethical. I won’t assume your dentist is among that rank, but perhaps it is worth asking the question. My sister is a dentist and has told me more than a few horror stories of greed and self-serving motives. $50 for toothpaste seems a bit excessive (especially since most municipal water is already treated with plenty of fluoride). And an early follow-up without mention of cavities? Hmmmm…. Trust me, your kid is in good company if he doesn’t brush his teeth long enough to sing the entire Birthday Song. And the rest of us aren’t buying $50 toothpaste.

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