I accept that change is inevitable, and suspect even those things we think are constant really aren't. Our memory certainly isn't. I have read where every time you take a memory off the shelf of your brain, examine it, dust it off, and put it back, it's no longer the same, as if it were a collection of legos and you've removed a part and added a new one. Or more; the additions and subtractions affected by moods and filters and perhaps even external environmental factors that seep in like so much wet spaghetti thrown against the wall. You end up having to paint and move on.
My son is 20 months old today. He has spent the last three months in Thailand with his mother visiting family. (Had a great adventure with his grandparents, made commercial that is popular in Asia, made more money in four days of shooting than I have in two weeks of work.) This is his second trip, the first was last year for about the same length of time. Each trip there was a loss and a gain. Last year he went, and on being reunited he had forgotten me. I am sure there were memories in there of me, as I was the first to hold him, first to feed him as the wife recovered from surgery, all the holdings, and cleanings, the sound of my voice and him sleeping in my arms, that is still there, even if he couldn't readily sort or access it. And, we forged ahead, and things changed and he walked, and brought me stuff and we read... So, this trip, we lost a routine. Prior to his trip he and I had a ritual in which I could floss and brush his teeth, without fuss. He consented and I thought, yeah, I got this father thing down. Whoo hoo! Now, I ask him to participate in the ritual, and he shakes head no. That's new. He cries if I try to force the issue. I'm trying to factor in jet lag and time change. Day is now night, and night is now day. That's a change. (Jetlag never hit me so hard as when coming back from Thailand. That's is as real as that gets.) I know wife is tired, for the same factors and for having flown alone with a toddler for upwards of 20 hours in the air.
There are a lot of good changes. Over the last month his vocabulary has exploded and he understands two languages. His map of the world is going be so much bigger than mine. But I'm stuck on the tooth brush ritual. Explaining the reason behind the ritual isn't going to increase compliance. That part isn't there yet. Well, I assume that. It could be there in part, but the immediacy of a parent brushing teeth could be overwhelming a little person testing his ability to declare personal boundaries. I wonder if I brushed too hard. I wonder if interactions with the Dentist, here and there in Thailand, has had an impact. I'm probably way over thinking this. So, behavioralists, how does one encourage a child to willingly submit to the teeth cleaning? I don't want it to be dramatic or traumatic. I just want my ritual back till he can take the torch and run with on his own.