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Mouthwash is taking my children away from me!

Sure, the headline sounds hyperbolic. And alarmist. All I can ask is that you hear me out.

A few weeks ago, my sons and I received a package of dentally hygienic goodness in the form of two Reach toothbrushes (festooned with the faces of Phineas & Ferb), and two bottles of Listerine (pictured). I wanted to participate in this campaign because my sons are getting older, and taking care of their teeth takes up about as much space in their brains as molecular physics. This struck me as a golden opportunity to stress the importance of brushing and flossing and rinsing, and the quixotic notion that, one day, I won’t have to watch over them as I do it.

The good news is, that has sort of happened. The kids are brushing and flossing and rinsing, and enjoying it all enough to distract them from elbowing each other over the sink.

However, this progress doesn’t come without a dark side: The stark realization that my children are growing up way too fast.

Let me explain.

Recently, my older son celebrated his Halfy Birthday. He’s 10-1/2 years old–which, for the mathematically incurious, is exactly halfway to full-throttle, n0-holds-barred, enjoy-a-fine-glass-of-Scotch adulthood. When this Listerine experience began, he started using the mouthwash without a grumble. But one night, out of the clear, not-blue sky, he said, “Dad, I think I’m a little to old for stuff that’s flavored like bubble gum. Can I use yours?”

With that, he took a hearty quaff of my Fresh Burst, swirled it around his mouth, released it into the sink, gave a sharp intake of breath to cool the minty afterburn, let loose a triumphant “aaaaaaaaaahhh,” and then socked me in the bicep with a “Thanks, Dad.”

My older son is a tween. He’s developing senses of exasperation, ennui, and moodiness. He’s ridiculously proud of the little sprouts of hair on his legs. His sneakers are longer than his mother’s tibias.

And he’s moved on to use … my mouthwash.

Which leaves me bracing for the day he reaches for my shaving cream.

I received products from Johnson & Johnson as part of my participation in the LISTERINE® Kids Cavity-Free School Year Program. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.Click here to see more of the discussion.

Read more from Doug on his personal blog, Laid-Off Dad.

Follow Doug on Twitter.

Read all about.him.

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