A long time ago, while I was still in college, I worked as a professional nanny in the summers.
There was one family I spent a summer with and the mother of a very all-American family had an interesting way to stress the importance of brushing one’s teeth to her 3 year old and 18 month old. I heard her stress to her kids that after a sweet, they needed to go right away and brush away all the sugar bugs so they wouldn’t eat their teeth.
Not bad I thought.
The analogy worked with those kids and years later, I had my own and pulled this card out of the file box to use on mine.
Sugar bugs. My kids wholeheartedly accepted it, and my oldest, especially has been careful to brush away the sugar bugs.
Unfortunately, though, her first cavity was recently discovered at her latest cleaning.
I explained to her on our way home that a 虫歯 (mushiba) was a cavity, which was a small place where the sugar bugs had gotten at her teeth. It would need to be fixed, even though it was still a baby tooth.
And as I rode down the street, it suddenly occurred to me even further why my 8 year old still has no questions about these sugar bugs.
A bug, or insect, in Japanese, is a mushi.
In fact, 虫 (the first kanji in 虫歯) means insect, while the second kanji means tooth.
So, it totally makes sense that cavities occur because the sugar bugs have eaten your teeth.
It was a eureka moment for me.
I had never connected the dots before, but now, I feel like I was a genius all along and didn’t even know it.
‘Course, I’m going to keep this card in my back pocket for when I need reinforcement later of the actual genius mother my kids have.
But for now… guys… how cool is that?!