Modern Medicine, Parenting Gone Awry

Wherein By Comparison You Feel Better About Your Own Parenting Skills

Two of the worst things that have ever happened to my child have happened when he was sitting on my kitchen counter and I was standing less than one foot away from him. Which is probably an indictment of my kitchen counter style of parenting.

I wrote about The Goose Egg Incident recently. Apparently falling off the kitchen counter and whacking his head on the floor hasn’t impaired his memory as just yesterday when I hoisted him up onto the counter he advised, “You need to watch me better. I could fall off of here and get hurt!” It was the finger wag in my face that I thought was a bit much. Inside my three-year-old lives a Jewish mother who is a police officer in her spare time.

The other incident I haven’t written about because… a) I don’t like to think about it, b) I’m embarrassed and c) it could probably be used as evidence.

About a year ago, Sean was sitting on the kitchen counter while I was standing nearby doing some important parenting thing like watching HGTV from the kitchen. I turned my back for not more than ten seconds and when I turned back Sean had grabbed my prescription bottle of Synthroid and removed the childproof lid. He had his head thrown back like he was taking a shot of whiskey, little white powdery whiskey balls. Someone should really invent that, little whiskey pills.

When I saw that he was foaming at the mouth and his little cheeks were puffed up like a winter squirrel, I of course, FREAKED OUT! My eyes bugged out of my head, all the air whooshed out of my lungs and sucked my brain right down into my esophagus.

I pried open his mouth and dug out a handful of pills and then I grabbed him by the feet and turned him upside down and started shaking him like a saltshaker. Which he thought was de-light-ful fun. He giggled and squealed “Do it again Mommy!” He seemed absolutely fine. I was out $30 worth of medication, but he was fine.

And then – then came the worst part of all. I had to call the pediatrician’s office. And give my real name. And explain. How. It. Happened.

So while I waited on hold for the doctor, I Googled “Synthroid overdose” and continued to FREAK OUT, but now in a more quiet and controlled manner. And also a very sweaty manner. It’s hard to type when your fingers keep slipping off the keyboard.

Finally, the nurse picked up and for some reason, when you are totally freaked out, people in authority either can’t understand what you are saying, can’t buh-leeve what you’re saying or go temporarily deaf. Because they keep asking you the same questions over and over. And this only serves to ratchet up the freak out level.

Me: Hi, this AM. My son! My son Sean, he ate my pills, my Synthroid. He opened the bottle somehow – childproof ha! – and just ate them. Chomp chomp, just like a squirrel. A very hungry Synthroid-eating squirrel.

Nurse: I’m sorry who is this?

Me: Antique Mommy, my son is Sean.

Nurse: And what is your son’s name?

Me: Sean. S-E-A-N. Sean. He’s two.

Nurse: And how old is he?

That’s when I take the phone and start hitting myself in the head with it.

Eventually she asks me how many pills were in the bottle, how many pills did he swallow, how many pills are left and lots of other questions about pills to which the answer was “I don’t know.” And she would say, “You don’t know?” And I would again say, “I don’t know.”

After many precious minutes spent trying to convey my personal information to Nurse Killmenow and a game of “Questions You Don’t Know But I’ll Keep Asking Anyway” (which caused a flashback to fourth grade math class) she advises me to just watch him and that any extra medication would probably be excreted in his urine. Which is exactly what Mr. Google said.

And then I hung up and waited for CPS to come and get my child so he could be raised by wolves or someone more responsible than me.

Alas, all’s well that ends well, but I shaved a couple of years off my life that day and we all know I don’t have that many to spare.

48 thoughts on “Wherein By Comparison You Feel Better About Your Own Parenting Skills

  1. Oh man, have I done those phone calls. And at the end they always dispense some sage parental advice:

    “In the future, you really should make sure the child does not have access to ant poison.”

    “Please try to ensure that your child not put anything foreign in his or her mouth.”

    “You should not continue to juggle knives and razor blades now that you have a child in the home.”

    What, go back to rubber balls? It has soooo been done.

  2. It’s not the countertop parenting, it’s just the parenting. Your entry reminded me of something that happened when my son was 3 or so, check out my blog entry for today. The good news is, the kids live to tell about this stuff…

  3. A friend of mine’s daughter (less than 2 years old) drank toilet cleaner with bleach, so don’t feel bad! 🙂 They went to the emergency room and the doc called the number on the back of the bottle and they said she’d be fine but her throat might hurt. Seriously???

  4. Last week, I was upstairs getting dressed and left my kid downstairs finishing breakfast. Next thing I know, she’s climbing the stairs saying “I’m having trouble with the knife”, and carrying the knife up the stairs. Turns out she was trying to cut up her toast and just couldn’t figure it out. And it wasn’t a sharp knife or anything. But still. Heart stopped.

    Glad Sean’s okay!

  5. I still remember when I was about 5 and my baby brother was about 1 he somehow opened the little bottle of baby aspirin. By the time my mom found him hiding behind the chair the whole bottle was empty.

    A few days later (after having gone to the emergency room and having his stomach pumped of course) she was vacuuming under tat chair and found the little pile of baby aspirin – all accounted for.


    Glad Sean’s ok – and you too. 😉

    Love, Michelle

  6. You made me feel much better about my son spraying Shout into my other son’s hair…my oldest daughter drinking finger nail polish remover…and my first son getting a bit of Oxy Clean in his mouth…I FEEL YOUR PAIN!!!

  7. Too freaky on the timing! I was just looking at my basket of pills in the bathroom and congratulating myself on the fact that my Synthroid bottles all have child-proof caps. Guess it’s time to move the basket waaaaay out of reach, eh!

  8. I’ve always maintained that my children are much safer when I’m farther away from them. Because, seriously, they’ve only ever really hurt themselves when I’ve been standing really close by. Like the time, my 18-month-old son fell off the chair (yes, I let him stand on the arm of the chair!) and hit his head on the baseboard, which is a serious thing in a 100+ year old house because the baseboard is 10″ high and has really pointy bits that cause your son’s head to bleed profusely. One of my finer parenting moments.

  9. Nurse Killmenow. . .HILARIOUS.

    Oh. Whew. I needed that today.

    My mother often wonders how my brother and sister and I all lived to tell the tales of our youth.

    When Thad was a newborn, I clipped his nails to keep them from scratching his cheek. . .but the skin was still attached underneath, and they bled. I felt SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO bad, and the nurse did not help matters. My mother, however, wisely said, “If that’s the worse thing you ever do to him, then it’s not that bad.”

  10. I just had to call poison control last week on two of my little pill poppers. It was junior strength tylenol. The man on the other end of the line reassured me that they would be ok but if for some reason they injured themselves that day, I probably wouldn’t need to give them anything for the pain. HA!

  11. I think we’ve all done it. My almost-two-year old’s drug of choice was allergy tablets. The dr referred to him in the ER as “the decongested boy in room 9”.

    They need to get people well-versed in hysterical mommese though, my conversation with poison control was quite similar.

    You were at least nearby with Sean…:)

  12. Thanks for the laugh! I can relate to your feelings. When my daughter was less than 4 months old, she was scooting around the kitchen in her walker and reached up and grabbed the cord of a perculater coffee pot, pulling it down and dousing herself with hot coffee. She spent three days in the hospital. What sort of idiot mother leaves a cord dangling within reach of a baby? And I had done it for the previous two years with my son! Somehow he got by unscathed.

  13. This story and all of the succeeding stories crack me up! I’m 9 mos. pregnant with my first child so I have much to be aware of….thanks in advance that I’m not alone with making mistakes!!

  14. Just last week, I was in the kitchen stealing chocolate from my son’s Easter basket, and I turned around just in time to see Harry with his hand on the trigger of the carpet stain remover and the nozzle in his mouth.

    I almost couldn’t scream “No” because I had a mouthful of purloined chocolate, which I had been craving to the point of theft in a perimenopausal frenzy. At least you weren’t stealing Sean’s candy while he poisoned himself. Now THERE’S guilt.

    Feel better?

  15. I have poison control on speed dial and all the staff know me by name (well, almost). My first child NEVER put anything into her mouth, the second sees EVERYTHING as a food item. Plants, dirt, latex paint which by the way is totally safe to eat in small quantities and will turn the poop a lovely shade to match your walls.
    Might I also add that when I was 9 mons pregnant, I myself drank a glass of CLR (calcium/lime/rust)remover. You know the one with the skull and cross bones on the label. It was by mistake of course, trying to delime the toothbrush cup holder. It didn’t taste very good and I’m wondering if that is why child #2 eats everything?
    Thanks for the funny post. Glad to hear that I’m not alone.

  16. Oh my gosh, some of these coments are as funny as your story!! Lots of Moms are great writers!! I guess we’ve all been there or else there wouldn’t be so many comments, right??

  17. My brother drank turpentine. What is it with children? They’ll eat poison and drink gasoline but they absolutely REFUSE to take a little antibiotic. Sheesh. It’s not about bad parenting – it’s about little kids making us think that they would never put something yucky in their mouths and then eating the synthroid.

  18. Scary! I’ve had to call poison control twice from my toddler eating things he shouldn’t, one was Wite-out, the other was antifungal cream. Nothing makes you feel like a worse mom then having to tell someone you let your kid eat something dangerous!

  19. We’ve had to call Poison Control a few times. Jonathan ate potting soil, you know, the kind with the little white balls in it? Yuck. Jackson rubbed dry detergent in his eyes. That was fun.

    Of course, Mark and I have our own stories too. Mark ate baby aspirin, and fed some to his little sister. I drank turpentine. My brother had his stomach pumped when he was about two for taking some pill that were in my Mom’s purse. Maybe it is genetic.

  20. I did this to my mother too, except I crawled up on the counter myself and ate aspirin. I had to go stay in the ER for a night and have my stomach pumped. Wonderful fun for all, I’m sure.

    My own daughter has sucked on some nasty little white thing from a department store dressing room. I don’t know what it was. It didn’t smell like a mint, though. . .

    I expect those daily calls from the DHS too, but so far so good.

  21. Oh. See? And I thought you were a perfect mom. Like me. Because, I’ve never, EVER dropped my infant on his face. Nor have I ever, EVER sat him on the counter. And allowed him to, oh, I don’t know … grab the chef knife… Or touch the hot stove top. Or watch my son fly face first into the floor… No. I’ve never done anything like that. Of course not. I’m perfect. Like I thought you were.

    [whistling and rubbing the tip of my shoe into the ground, while looking sheepishly around]

    Thank goodness that God made our kids so resilient, ya know what I mean? So, cheers to normal mothering, my friend!

  22. I love your Nurse Killmenow. I thought I was laughing hard *before* I read all these comments. I think Robbin’s comment about stealing the kid’s chocolate is going to make me laugh for a week! Gosh, what is it about kids and yucky things?

    While we have had one kid in the hospital for burns (another coffee incident – I didn’t drink coffee while the baby was awake for a year!), we’ve been really fortunate. My hubs is freaky about safety, so we don’t have anything within reach of the kids. Although that doesn’t stop them from falling (they do all have scars) or eating dog poop. But at least that’s organic, right?

  23. We were leaving on the first real trip since my daughter was born. I was busy packing when I noticed lots of tiny white marbles rolling between my feet.

    I turn around, and there is my 3 yr old eating the dog’s medicine by the fistfuls.

    Yep. Been there, done that. The counter swan dive too. 🙂

    Just love your writing. Really great!

  24. “And how old is he?” I wish I had a dollar for every time I was asked a question to which I had already supplied the answer. I had a similar experience with the insurance moron who called to get our information for a new policy. I told her that our oldest son was mildly ADD and when I asked her if she knew what it meant, she said: “Yes…it means he’s mentally retarded”. My screams could be heard for miles.

  25. Uh, not that much better, sadly. I had poison control on speed dial for, oh, a year and a half because THE BOY LIKED TO EAT AND/OR DRINK THINGS. Like a 30 year old bottle of perfume. Gah.

  26. Thank you for your great posts! Your child puts stuff in his mouth, my children seem to think the ears are places for “things” – just this a.m. I took my daughter to the ped. cuz she woke up with a nasty rash – he then informed me that she also had something in her ear! Just 3 weeks ago I took my son to the ENT cuz he had something in his ear! My daughter is 4 and my son is 6 – and this is pretty much the first time things have been in “places” – I guess they’re late bloomers 🙂

  27. I can’t think of anything to say. I’m too busy laughing. See…all of these things will make for very humorous stories when he is all grown and has little ones of his own. They will them extremely amusing. And your grown man of a son will smile benignly at you. All will be well.

  28. I have two boys. I can’t use the bathroom while they’re awake. when they were 4 & 5 I gave the 5yod the job of putting away the silverware(no sharp knives of course) while I was in the bathroom he challenged his little brother to a “sword fight” !!@!@!@
    5yod had a butter knife, 4yod (he’s a thinker) climbed on the counter and got my 18″ bread knife!!! thankfully the resulting cut thumb (on 5yod no less) was bandaid size/depth. but still.. at least he’d never seen “Highlander” “there can be, only one…”

  29. I’m laughing so hard there is no sound coming out of my mouth – funny after the fact – terrifying while it is happening.

    In response to Wendy Boucher: “They’ll eat poisen and drink gasolene but they absolutely REFUSE to take a little antibiotic.”

    Wadyamean antibiotic? Try to get a little brocolli down them. Last I heard that is even a food item.

  30. Those kitchen counters are dangerous places, I agree. My son could reach things on the edge of them when he was 2. The morning of my sister’s wedding he decided to drink some nail polish remover that was sitting there. Another reason that was a day to remember.

  31. This is funny as I was just re-telling my not quite so extravagant story with my little one (click my name if you want to read it). Oh dear, the joys of motherhood.

  32. I started to worry that poison control would turn me into CPS when we’ve had to call them multiple times. I just have a very active son that likes to get into stuff. Everytime I’ve called it’s been the same kid (never any of his 4 siblings). At least now I know that a toddler boy would have to eat over a half a tube of toothpaste to get sick and the little dessicant packs that come in shoe boxes aren’t really toxic.

    I just wish there was some poison control-like help line that I could call when one of them sticks something up their nose because for some reason that happens all the time!

  33. One time, my baby fell and hit his head (nothing serious, thank goodness!), and I felt so bad that I told him if he ever found another mommy to take better care of him, just let me know…. Then my husband said he wouldn’t allow that….

  34. I hope CPS doesn’t read all these comments! LOL They couldn’t keep up!
    I’ve had to call Poison control for my son drinking Windex, albuterol, and infants tylenol, and the tylenol was the most dangerous! Supergluing an eye OPEN, cutting a finger open, burning a hand horribly on an iron, cutting a hand open, broken collar bone, broken ankle, broken nose,
    Not sure I should go on. But with 7 kids, you know the list gets big because the kids can’t repeat something the bigger one’s have done. Always something new!
    Trinity even cut her cartiledge in her ear open by falling on our 100 yo baseboards! She was excited to get to go to the ER and get popsicles. Yes, apparently we go that much.

  35. you’re a great writer, loved your testimony on your profile. what awesome things God must have planned for your little guy!
    my daughter at almost 2 ate a bottle of tylenol, fun times! first child, i freaked!! counting the crazy things since, i am so thankful that they are His kids and He’s got them covered.
    Blessings to your family!

  36. Oh, how I feel your pain! When my son was 4, he got into his prescription Claritin and took TWELVE TIMES his normal daily allowance.

    I called Poison Control who immediately sent an ambulance to our house.

    I think my son was more scarred by the siren screaming up to our driveway than the overdose! He ended up being totally fine (albeit extremely H*Y*P*E*R), but it’s been 7 years, and I still haven’t quite forgiven myself for leaving them within his reach that *one* time.

  37. Hilarious post, AM! I just hopped over from 2nd cup of coffee. Hang in there, and remember, tomorrow brings a new day, fresh with opportunities to mess up again. 🙂 My list of mess ups is long, but distinguished.

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