BC Tips on brushing kids' teeth
The toothpaste art had been an accidental discovery (Image for illustrative purposes) Image Credit: Shutterstock

We are a small family sharing a roof, meals, laughs, arguments and some common physical traits, yet we see the same things differently.

For instance, consider a table in the living room beside the balcony where a thin film of dust is growing thicker by the day — the husband sees a table, I see dust, my son sees a barrier between the balcony and him and Little Princess sees a canvas that is waiting for her index finger to be transformed into a piece of art.

You get the drift.

On a recent day when I poked my head into the children’s bathroom after they left to school post a weekend to make a scrutiny and check if they were in need of a piece of my mind on my perspective of cleanliness, I noticed a tile above the sink smeared in toothpaste in what I thought were ugly patterns in circles and waves.

Further inspection of the otherwise clean bathroom revealed the ceiling above the shower stall patterned with tiny chunks of white and an empty soap dish.

With Sid, who can compete with instant noodles in the task of getting ready, it was not difficult to figure out the little culprit who was capable of this and who saw beauty in what I called messy and what the husband and son would not see at all.

The mess was cleaned, ceiling cleared, soap dish refilled and the incident forgotten.

The problem continued

The following Monday to my utter disbelief, my inspection once again revealed toothpaste art, ceiling patterns and a blob of soap drowning in the soap dish. The problem needed to be addressed.

On a whim, I opened her cupboard with a Lego-framed — ‘Do Not Disturb’ scribbled in red. A water bottle with a Lego boat tied afloat on disgustingly-white gooey water, a Lego-box that revealed coins that had mysteriously disappeared from the coin box, a Lego-food dispenser — her latest — that still held bits of stale food among other bizarre creations.

That evening the problem was addressed, not angrily, but in curious wonder. My question caught her off guard. She smiled, searching my face suspiciously before launching into an animated explanation.

The toothpaste art had been an accidental discovery when she noticed that the toothpaste cap stuck to the tile creating little circles, a little more paste got it to stick better, the waves were a result of her many tries. The soap experiment was astounding (read shocking).

Bits of soap collected from repeatedly scraping out of a damp bar with fingernails and soaked in ‘just the right amount of water’ and thrown upwards caused it to stick to the false ceiling. And the gooey water that the Lego boat floated on was water mixed with glue.

“Did you know? Soap can stick when mixed with water and toothpaste can be used to stick the teeny cap on tiles, even without water. And is it not sad that water does not let us stick the boat onto the side of plastic, just turns the water white,” she exclaimed.

A very patient parent

The secret behind Einstein’s inventions and theories must have been curiosity, an intelligent mind and a very patient parent.

Didn’t Newton’s Mom worry about the bump in his head after the apple fell than his discovery of gravity?

Didn’t Archimedes’ wife complain about messy bathrooms during his experiments on water displacement?

Little Princess’s experiments were no great discoveries but those born from curiosity, thought and questions that made the ordinary world around her extraordinary. I let her be with a warning to be careful and learn to clean up after.

“I now know that lots of salt causes us to drink lots of water, enough to make you throw up, that’s why I threw up yesterday,” she finished.

I stared in disbelief. My parenting, perspective and patience were being put to the test.

— Pranitha Menon is a freelance writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @MenonPranitha