Since about two weeks after Chester was born, I have had all three kids home with me every day. We removed them from preschool because they were only in there as I was on bed rest in the late stages of my pregnancy. Given that I don’t “work” a traditional job, there’s no real excuse to spend the extra money on having someone else watch them. And I do love them so much and love having them with me.
Parenting three kids is HARD. I never really knew how hard it would be. Being that they are all so small, they each take a lot of attention. Dex is at an age where he’s pretty self sufficient, and I can trust him to be good for the most part. And Chester is so small and immobile that I can set him in his pack & play and know he’s safe. The real nuisance is Dan. He’s somewhere in the middle. He’s totally mobile, able to get into or onto ANYTHING and he’s still too young to really understand what is off limits. He loves to climb everything – he drags boxes, coolers and small furniture around so he can climb them and reach things he’s not supposed to. He doesn’t “get” time out yet, laughing uproariously when I try to punish him, and since I don’t spank my kids, I have trouble getting through to him.
All of this I can deal with, but the biggest trouble is that when Dan decides to be naughty, Dexter follows suit. He’d never instigate it himself, but if Dan steals a cookie from the jar, Dexter will let him do it and then share in the spoils. As long as he can blame his brother, he will join in the “fun.”
At first it was not a big deal. When I went downstairs and found that they’d stolen the tub of baby formula to make “snow” in their bedroom, I was amused and only slightly annoyed. It was an easy clean up and not that big of a deal. The only thing that bothered me was that it was expensive formula!
And then, a few days later, I was listening to them play downstairs in their room when Dexter came upstairs with a “present” for me. He’d painted me a picture… PAINTED me a picture… Yep. Somehow my craft room door had been left slightly open, and Dan had ventured in, opened all of my acrylic and craft paints, and they’d got paint EVERYWHERE. Not just on the paper (which turned out to actually be a legal document from my file cabinet!) but on the carpet, on their bedroom walls and all over themselves. Ugh.
My kids are frickin’ Houdinis!
A few days ago, as Mark and I enjoyed an early morning conversation in bed, the kids were upstairs playing. I realized it was slightly too quiet, and that’s when Dexter entered the room.
“I love you, Mommy,” he said.
I knew. I knew immediately he’d done something.
“What did you do, Dexter?”
“What did you DO, Dexter?”
“Are you mad, mommy? Or are you sad?”
“I’m not mad OR sad, kid. Just tell me what you did…”
With that, he held out his hands… covered… in ten different shades of nail polish. I hadn’t even noticed it on the underside of his chin and all over his shirt, as it was barely light outside. How had he got in SO much trouble before sunrise?? And of course, Dan entered the room at that point, completely covered in nail polish, as well.
I turned to Mark and said, “You KNOW they didn’t just get it on themselves…”
Mark sprang out of bed and ran upstairs and began to groan. Yep, they’d gone behind our easy chair to apply the paint and had got it ALL over our curtains and on the hardwood floors.
I didn’t even bother taking photos of them or of the damage. I just plopped them into a bathtub and left Mark in charge so I could go buy some nail polish remover. I stopped by Starbucks, as well, as I knew it would be a day that called for a lot of coffee.
This past weekend, Mark and I finally made it a priority to try and make the house a little safer for our kids. We went out and bought a few baby gates and set them up in strategic areas of the house. One on the laundry room door, one for our office space, a couple for the kitchen. We figured that left the living room, their upstairs play room and their bedroom. But unfortunately I forgot one important area – our bedroom.
So on Monday evening, Mark called on his way home from work and said he had a few errands to run. While I was on the phone with him, the kids headed downstairs. In less than five minutes, I knew they were too quiet, so I went to check on them. I started down the basement stairs and saw something that stopped my heart. Pills. Everywhere. An open bottle of what turned out to be biotin scattered across the carpet.
I ran down and grabbed them up stuffing them in the bottle as I yelled for the kids. No response. I couldn’t see them anywhere. It turned out they were hiding under their bed. And as I began yelling at them for getting into my vitamins, Dan crawled out with a handful of orange pills – aspirin. Candy-coated aspirin. OHMYGOD.
I looked under the bed and found them with THREE bottles of opened pills everywhere. They had eaten the whole bottle of gummy vitamins. There was the aforementioned aspirin and another bottle of magnesium supplements. I began to cry.
They had found them in my bedside drawers, where they’d been since we moved in. I had been meaning to clean them out, but I hadn’t made it a priority.
As you can imagine, I was frantic. I called Mark and told him to get home NOW. I gathered the pills, gathered the kids and we rushed to the hospital. The whole time I was lecturing the kids while also trying to ascertain exactly what they’d taken. Dex said he’d eaten the gummies and that he hadn’t liked the orange ones but that Dan had eaten some. He also was complaining his stomach hurt.
When we got there, they were super excited. They thought it was quite an exciting adventure. They were all smiles.
I was trying to distract them from what I knew was coming, so we took turns taking pictures.
The nurse came in and took their vitals with a tiny baby blood pressure cuff and an O2 monitor stuck to their fingers. They loved it.
And then came the bloodwork. Never has either kid had blood taken, so this was scary for me. But they were so brave. Dex volunteered to go first. I could tell the nurse was dreading it, but I had a feeling it would be okay. She tried to find a vein in one arm, but there wasn’t one readily available so she switched to the other side. Thankfully, he didn’t even flinch. She gave him some empty tubes to hold while she did it, and he was a little rock star. She was amazed.
Then it was Dan’s turn. I held him on my lap, and while he cried for a second, he, too, dealt with it amazingly. The nurse was bragging to the other staff how awesome they were.
Dan, it turns out, is a bit of a bleeder, though (like mom!) so we had to stuff some extra gauze under his bandage.
And then the nurses came in to fix up a nice batch of activated charcoal. The doctor had explained that they don’t pump stomachs anymore. They make them drink activated charcoal, which soaks up the poisons inside. It doesn’t taste great, though they add cherry flavor for the kids. After four hours they take more blood to check toxicity levels.
Thankfully, the doctor also reassured us that the only matter of concern here was the aspirin. The gummy vitamins didn’t have iron in them, so realistically all of the pills were fairly safe. But the aspirin…
The kids were not fans of the charcoal, as you can imagine. Dex started out thinking it was interesting, but he eventually lost interest and wouldn’t drink any more. Dan tried it and then decided it was more fun to play with and splash on daddy.
Then it was a matter of waiting. None of us had eaten dinner yet, so everyone was starving. As the kids seemed fine, and the doctor had reassured us so well, I was not too worried at this point. So I asked if they were allowed to eat. The doctor said yes, and the nice nurse gave them some chocolate milk and cookies. I ran down to the restaurant and got Mark and me some food. The kids were grateful.
Then we just waited for the second round of bloods. We were less nervous this time, but it turned out that the kids were scared this time. We ended up needing an extra person the help hold them down while they screamed and cried. Heartbreaking. But the news was good. All levels were fine. Kids could go home.
Our story ended very well, but the lesson stayed with me. I am so angry at myself for not ensuring that our medicines were properly stored. Kids can get into anything. All four bottles of pills had child-proof caps on them, and yet they managed to open them in no time at all. As soon as we got home, I removed everything from our bedroom and put them on the top shelf of a kitchen cabinet, where they will remain.
I’ll be honest – the mom guilt is HUGE on this one. Our story could have ended SO differently. If you take anything out of this please let it be to remember to keep all medicine out of reach of little hands. Kids like to investigate everything.
And yes, boys will be boys, but our job as parents is to protect them from themselves. And sometimes from our own stupidity.