Danger: Now Available in Bubble Gum Flavor
About two years ago I had one of the biggest scares a mom can have. It truly shook me in a way I was not expecting.
Peanut had been playing with a small doll clothes hamper that belonged to his sister. It opened and shut with a lid that snapped and was just big enough for his little hand to hold.
It also made the perfect place to hide things; like children’s medicine.
Bebe had been complaining about a scrape on her knee and was mad that I wouldn’t give her anything for it – “Anything” meaning some acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
It was a scrape. We don’t give medicine for cuts and scrapes in this house. But she being a very independent girl, disagreed and at some point, took the bottle of children’s acetaminophen chewable tablets and hid them in her doll’s clothes hamper.
Do you see where this is going?
Now you can yell at me all you want about not paying attention; go ahead and do it if it makes you feel better. I’ll wait.
When Peanut brought me the hamper and his little mouth smelling of bubble gum (the flavor of the tablets) I immediately started asking questions about what he ate, where did he get it and his best toddler comprehension told me it was candy from Bebe.
Immediately I was on the phone with poison control, finding out how many were in the original bottle, grilling my daughter to the wall about how many she had taken out of the bottle, where did Peanut find the clothes hamper and giving the raw numbers to the person on the other end of the phone to find out if I needed to take him to the Emergency Room.
My head and heart raced, I was out of my mind with fear, and anger at my daughter for disobeying me. Clearly keeping medicine in our bathroom medicine cabinet wasn’t enough anymore.
Luckily Peanut had not taken even a remotely dangerous amount of tablets and he’d be fine. The lady from the poison control hotline told me what danger signs to watch for, how much he’d need to have taken to be in danger and what to do if he exhibited any signs of poisoning.
After I was calm enough to see straight, I had a talk with my children. A very. Long. Talk.
We went over being safe and why it was important to listen to me when I say no. We discussed that the tablets would not help a scrape and that they would have to tough it out a bit, that medicine wasn’t needed for every little ache and pain they had.
We also talked about what they learned in school about drugs and medicine. I was stunned to learn that none of them knew that our helpful children’s medicine was really a drug which as much as it made it good to take when needed, it was also dangerous.
By the end of the talk, the kids had a new understanding about drugs, medicine, safety and why it’s important to listen to me. They also got a very firm talk about the fact that too much medicine, even the kind that is made to help us when we’re sick or badly hurt, will and can kill us.
The whole experience made me a wiser and more conscious parent. I assumed that my kids understood that the medicine we have for headaches and pain are drugs too and that they can be bad for us as much as they can be good for us. But then we’re always focused on saying no to the other kinds of drugs because that’s what kids are taught to be afraid of. Children are not taught to be aware of how over the counter medicine and prescription medicine can hurt.
It was a hard lesson for my children to learn. It was a hard conversation for me to have.
Then again, none of the important lessons are ever easy ones are they? It’s the hard conversations that we have with them that are often the most important conversations we will ever have.