I had just fallen into bed after a long day of school, homework, and games when my mom called out, “Did you brush your teeth?”
“Ugh”, I groaned. I really didn’t feel like moving. Mom’s need to understand that when a kid finally gets in bed, they should be grateful. Besides, I had to eat a lot of food to get the perfect taste in my mouth. Cheetos, Doritos, burritos, Totinos, nachos, mangos, and the best of all Oreos.
Suddenly, the light snapped on and blinded my eyes. I slowly opened one eye back up to see mom standing in the doorway giving me that look. Uh oh, she took my non-answer for a no.
“Cleanliness is next to godliness.” She reminded for the millionth time.
I threw off the covers and trudged to the bathroom. Grabbed the toothbrush, added paste, swiped here, here, there and there. Done! A record time that even a race car driver would admire. I flashed a shining white smile at myself in the mirror then threw open the door and saw mom standing there waiting for me. I put on my best pouty face and mumbled, “Mint belongs in ice-cream, not toothpaste. I wish toothbrushes never existed.”
“Careful what you wish for sometimes they come true.” she warned
The next morning, I got up and dragged myself to the bathroom, eyes closed. I reached for my toothbrush, pasted it, and began brushing. Except, something wasn’t right. I turned on the light that I hadn’t bothered switching on and looked at my brush. That’s not a brush that’s a stick! I looked around for my toothbrush but couldn’t find it.
MOM! I yelled out the bathroom door.
“What is it, Qasim?”
“I can’t find my toothbrush and where did this stick come from.” I complained
“Don’t be silly that’s a miswak and what’s a toothbrush?”
“An Ewok?” I repeated. “You mean like from Star Wars?” An image of my dad watching a movie with furry bear-like creatures popped into my head.
“I said miswak not Ewok. Are you feeling ok this morning?” she asked
“Fine mom, but um how do I use an Ewok brush?”
“Now, you’ve got to be kidding me, Qasim. Enough of this, brush your teeth and get dressed. Hurry.”
I watched mom turn and walk down the hall she never looked back and she never laughed. She is a master prankster. I looked down at the weird stick. Ah well, it does have a fringy, brushy end kind of thingy. I pasted it and rubbed it around my mouth.
When I got to school I went to the library and googled ‘Ewok’. I got pictures of Star Wars bears. I searched for ‘tooth stick’ and pictures of a stick called miswak came up. I googled ‘toothbrush’ the result, “Did you mean miswak?” asked Google. What? No Colgate, no Crest, no Oral-B toothbrushes? Could I really have wished away toothbrushes?
I skimmed some of the articles on miswaks. The sticks were made from a native tree in the Arabian desert called Salvadora persica. They have been used by many ancient cultures and were made popular among Muslims by the prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He used the miswak many times throughout his day before every prayer, after eating, and at bedtime.
That’s all interesting, but how in the would do I use one?
I asked my friends if they knew about plastic toothbrushes with plastic bristles and they all gave me the same look that mom had given me. If mom was pranking me about wishing away toothbrushes how did she get my friends in on it so quickly?
At lunch, I nudged Said with my elbow and asked him how to use a miswak. We’ve been best friends forever so he just rolled his eyes. I made up a quick excuse, “No for real, I need to write an essay about miswaks and um I need to explain how to use one.”
“What? You never brushed your teeth before? No wonder they’re all green.” he laughed “To use a miswak you soak it in water and cut the end to fray it into stringy bristles, duh.”
When I got home from school I searched the house for my missing toothbrush. I even checked the under the cat’s bed. I found nothing but miswaks. I guess, sometimes, you really do get what you wish for. Maybe tomorrow I’ll wake up with piranha teeth.