I am not a bad parent.
At least that’s what I tell myself over and over and over when weeks like the one I’m about to tell you about occur.
It all began when our second, Viva, became mobile. She is a very sweet girl with a cheerful disposition and easy smiles that she’ll flash at anybody. And she is also Satan.
What I mean by this is not so much that my child is the General Antagonist of the Religious Universe, but more that whenever she wants to do something, she just does it, no matter what we say. (That qualifies, right?)
|The huge mess behind her? Took her about seven seconds to create. With her eyes closed. And gloss all over her hands.|
Not only does she kind of do whatever she pleases, but she also uses her smiles and cuteness as a force-field and/or Jedi mind trick.
When she decides to take every single DVD off the DVD rack, my internal parent monitor says “Initiate discipline protocol immediately” but then, then she smiles, and I end up short-circuiting so severely that I then find myself helping her take the DVD’s myself and then asking if she wants to also dismantle all the furniture in the entire house for fun. Then she walks away cutely and I look around and say “What the…” And then I realize what happened.
Satan got me.
The combination of this short-circuitry with Viva’s general resourcefulness makes for interesting times.
The first incident of near-death was actually more funny than anything. I was in the office doing whatever it is I do in the office which may or may not involve lots of Facebook games when suddenly I realized that the Silence of Terror–you know, the phenomenon that has been pointed out by every single Mommy Blogger on earth where an unearthly hush falls upon the activities of a normally rambunctious toddler indicating some sort of disaster–had creeped into our home, and my daughter was probably about to die.
I perked up, tested the wind direction with a wet finger, and then said aloud “Viva? What are you doing?”
Here is the image as I walked into the kitchen: Viva is sitting on the floor. There are indistinguishable cloths everywhere around her. The cloths are gray. She is cleaning the floor with one of them. As I near her, she smiles, and I almost short-circuit and start cleaning the floor with her until I realize that what she is cleaning with is actually chemical-filled stainless-steel cleaning wipes and one of them is, ominously, half gone.
And she has some frayed cloth hanging out of her mouth.
So yeah, when I called poison control they were like “the stainless-steel cleaning wipes should have no effect on her. She may vomit. But she should be fine. If she shows any sign of fever or delirium, take her immediately to the emergency room.” What they didn’t say was “Hey, stupid, why did your daughter have access to chemical filled wipes and why did she have enough time to empty the pack, eat one, and then do your chores before you noticed?”
There are those who would learn from this incident. There are those who wouldn’t just shrug and say “Maybe I left the cupboard under the sink open… I’ll try not to do that again,” and who would actually figure out what happened that allowed a one-year-old access to bottles with skull-bones on them.
I am not one of them.
Which is why, two days later, I heard Wife call from the kitchen: “Get in here quick! Viva just ate a dishwasher soap tablet.”
This one wasn’t cute and it wasn’t endearing and it wasn’t a photo moment. It was terrifying. She was choking badly, and I went into Superdad mode and was like “Is it in her mouth?” and Wife was like “I don’t know” but held up the partially dissolved tablet part of which might have been in her gullet and I knew it was my fatherly duty to fish it out of her in case she was choking so I swiped her throat twice and it wasn’t there and she was just choking because the stuff, apparently, is pretty caustic.
That paragraph was not supposed to be funny. If you laughed you are a callous unfeeling jerk and probably kick puppies and maim kittens and hate rainbows and eat spiders because you like the taste.
Anyway, this time when we called poison control they were like “YOU IDIOTS. Figure out what the crap you are doing so you don’t keep calling us and so your daughter doesn’t DIE. Also, we’re calling CPS on you.”
Or at least that’s what they should have said. What they actually said sounded eerily familiar. It was: “the tablet should have no effect on her. She may vomit. But she should be fine. If she shows any sign of fever or delirium, take her immediately to the emergency room.” And it was then that I realized that poison control is probably just some old crotchety lady reading the exact same response from a 3×5 card, filling in the blank with the appropriate household item, and that if I actually need help with poison, I should either look stuff up on the internet or, as a fail-safe, just suck the poison out with my mouth as I learned to do with snake bites back when I was a Boy Scout Who Didn’t Get His Eagle Because His Mom Said “I’m Not Doing This Thing For You Anymore.”
After everything had calmed down and we knew that Viva was safe due to our extensive internet research and the fact that she hadn’t vomited or become delirious, we replaced the child lock and then said, “Viva, can you open the cupboard?” She smiled coyly, walked up to the thing, and, through the perfect sequence of yanking, jiggling and arching her little back, popped the lock right off in about three seconds.
So instead we got this:
|Even Satan can’t open this beauty.|
Okay, so actually we got this very effective child-lock.
(It’s so effective I can’t even open it. And I’m a grown-up. Kind of.)
And it works. Well, it works to stop Viva from getting into the cupboard under the sink. It does nothing, however, for helping me to not open the bag of marshmallows she disobediently scaled the pantry to steal so I can then watch contentedly as she eats every single one for breakfast and then spreads pieces of the shredded plastic bag throughout the house, all because she smiled at me.
Father of the Century Award? Achieved yet again.