Sometimes You Just Have to Call Poison Control Twice in One Week

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.


  1. i had to call poison control twice in one week too once, except both calls were for myself. the first, not so interesting and involved cleaning chemicals and hair dye. the second, involved accidentally ingesting Advantage flea control juice, mistaking it for melted butter.

    the closest i've been to level 5 emergency status would be when i got home from work one day and noticed something was very wrong with the dog. she couldn't stand without falling over, she'd flinch when i petted her, and she couldn't make eye contact. one vet bill (and nerly a nervous breakdown) later i learn that she had gotten into my stupid ex's stash of weed.

    ugh… i have no idea what i would do if a real life human being was on the verge of poisonous death and it was on my dime.

  2. We called poison control after Grey drank some Oxyclean. They said it wouldn't hurt him, but I still think it played a part in Billy Mays' death.

    I've also had some close calls with my kids eating my paint. Fortunately they didn't eat the cadmium based colors.

  3. I laughed so so hard, right until that one paragraph when I became appropriately solemn and horrified, and thereafter laughed some more. You are one hilariously incompetent parent. Er, I mean… well, you know.

    We've called poison control far too many times. It turns out those baby proof medicine caps that thwart me constantly are no match for actual toddlers. I just figure their liver needs a nice work out as they grow up; you know, for character.

  4. Well Weed a lot of this is funny. I'm so glad Satan survived. Fathers will never be a match for daughters, no matter what the age. Get used to it!
    Merry Christmas and keep that girl locked up!

  5. I can attest to the effectiveness of the new-and-improved child lock. Maquel and I spent literally almost five minutes trying to open it and failed rather spectacularly.

  6. Have you seen this? It's a list and description of 24 hours worth of calls received by the Illinois Poison Center. And some of them are hilarious. And they're bound to make you feel slightly more competent regarding Viva's brush(es) with being poisoned.
    You should feel especially superior when you read about the mom who gave her child methadone while thinking it was Children's Tylenol. I mean, at least you didn't feed Viva the cleaner on purpose, right? Right?!

  7. Weed-I always imagine an evil mastermind is sitting in a room somewhere designing childproof stuff (insert evil laughter). "Those clueless adults will never figure this out." Sitting at his feet is his maniacal assistant, The Toddler.

    I'm so glad miss Viva is ok.

  8. Ah the parenthood initiation rites…for me it was tootpaste sucked out of the tube and squirting 409 into the mouth…it's in the contract you signed, didn't you read the fine print?

    Barb Huff

  9. Whoa. I laughed hard at all of these comments. You guys are hilarious. No kidding, every one of these stories should be a blog post of its own. And those actual calls Wodin? Classic! Glad to know that I'm not alone in my poison control experiences.

  10. I think Viva has a long lost sibling in the form of Miss P at my house.. 7 seconds to destroy a room.. bout the same record here. I've called Poison Control for: injesting of at least half a pkg of birth control pills, which were "candy" according to her, eating a 1/3 of a tube of lipstick, which was again "candy", sucking on a handi-wipe (hand sanitizing type thing but not quite as much alcohol) because she was thirsty and last but not least, drinking a rather large gulp of real beer, because it was in a brown bottle like root beer – however this bottle had been used as an ashtray and had a couple of butts in it.

  11. Not to self:
    NEVER let Weed watch my kids.

    Also- the Jedi Mind Power would explain my own reaction when Viva emptied the entire bottle of Baby Powder all over my bedroom! Not only was I NOT even REMOTELY UPSET, but I wanted to pick her up and squish her cute little cheeks(since CPS probably does have a tap on your Blog and all comments thereon, I should explain I mean "Squish" in that Auntie So and So Can't Resist Squishing those cheeks- NOT in a Feed my Child Detergent After She Does the Housework Almost Abusive sort of way) and even find something MORE messy for her to play with!!

  12. @Kristin–Oh man, I think we're dealing with kindred spirits here, for sure. Those are some hilarious poison control moments!

    @Katie–I'm so glad to hear that her parents are not the only victims of her Jedi Mind powers! Also, thanks for clarifying about the cheek-squeezing… I totally thought you meant the bound-to-end-up-on-the-news-and-police-blotter type of squeeze until you specified. (Note that never stopped me from allowing you to babysit Satan.)

  13. Laughed out loud. Wendel is asleep and I am next to him so I tried to keep my laughter quiet but it was quite a difficult task.

    We have those child-locks at CHS and they really do work quite well. I was struggling to open one just tonight.

  14. i looooved this post. especially the devious picture that accompanied it. i have an almost 2 year old who is eerily similar to this. no lock is too difficult, no chair is too tall, NOTHING is unreachable when she wants to get at it. it's kind of admirable, but also really nervewracking for me as a mother. gah!

  15. I got a good-mommy t-shirt prize yesterday after I fed my baby girl Cookie Crisp cereal and leftover fried rice for breakfast.

    I had to call poison control when I was pregnant with this little delight…I found her 4-year old brother sitting on the floor with the ziplock bag from my purse, chomping on my pregnancy nausea medicine, which included Unisom tablets and strong B5 vitamins.

    He didn't even fall asleep.

  16. may i link to this post in my blog? its about fighting (and sometimes losing) to my inner child… and I want my friends to find this blog 🙂

  17. I would nominate you for a noble peace prize if you could explain this speed boost that children get. I am not sure how this would relate to world peace but we can figure that out later. Our daughters seem to be from the same mindset. Most recently she managed to spill a sippy cups worth of juice over three cushions without removing the lid – in the time it took me to follow her to the living room and then she went for the lip gloss. Seriously I left the kitchen seconds after she did. Its good to know that she isn't the only special soul sent down from heaven with this skill set.

  18. So I'm a new reader as of today. A friend posted your 10 year post on her FB page and I can't stop reading. In a good way 🙂 Anyway, I have to laugh. My second is also Satan, in that he does whatever he wants. He's 6 now though I think I do need a therapist to figure out what in the world to try next. Anyway….I'm in love with your blog already. Something about those second kids….

  19. So I'm a new reader as of today. A friend posted your 10 year post on her FB page and I can't stop reading. In a good way 🙂 Anyway, I have to laugh. My second is also Satan, in that he does whatever he wants. He's 6 now though I think I do need a therapist to figure out what in the world to try next. Anyway….I'm in love with your blog already. Something about those second kids….

  20. My parents called poison control center so often for me that they knew me on a first name basis…

    I did it all back in the sixties and I'm still here, turning 51 on Tuesday.

  21. My husband had to teach me how to use those locks. And every time I have to use one I end up breaking a nail. Which means if he's not home I just can't do dishes, or sweep, because you know I can't break a nail. 🙂

    My husband had to call poison control once. He realized with that one call that they didn't know what they were doing so we haven't called again even though we had an incident since then. The first time (that he called) our daughter (first child) was about 6 months old and ate cat poop covered in kitty litter. They told him to rinse her mouth out with water and watch to see if she has any problems. The other time that I can think of that we should have called them my son had gotten our dishwasher packs out and played with them. We didn't know if he had eaten any but he did break them all which made it look like he had murdered a smurf on our carpet. The stain is still there.

  22. Ha! We have the same safety lock on our kitchen cabinet, but it's for our dog. Like Viva, our puppy Mackinac also enjoys chewing on stainless steal cleaning scrubs; and she knows how to open cabinet doors in order to access them. I'm still confused about the appeal… Steel wool (scratch city) filled with blue soap (probably bitter, I haven't tasted it) and somehow this is appetizing?

    Our dog is also an escape artist:

  23. Many moons ago, my nearly two year old came into my room holding an open bottle of kids' vitamins. "Mama, can I have one?"

    Childproof. Riiight.

  24. I can't stop reading your blog! It is So. Very. Funny! I have a 2 year old just like this. But, really, I just want to make a comment to say how happy I was to read your post on "coming out". We share a few things in common: I am a therapist of your same faith and recently my brother in law who is married with 3 children came out of the closet. This has been hard on many people in the family. I directed my husband to your blog and after reading it he said you answered so many questions for him and I believe he is going to be able to support his brother in a much healthier way after learning from your total honesty. Thank you for sharing your truth. I believe you are going to help countless people with it. I look forward to reading more. Oh, and your wife is a total rock star for loving you for who you are.

  25. The truly helpful Poison Control folks are the Animal Poison Control hotline. There is a charge for each call, but they are incredibly helpful, thorough, compassionate, and competent. Just in case you ever need to make a call on someone other than Viva, here is their number: 888-426-4435

  26. Hilarious post! You really had me going.

    On a slightly serious note, I do want to say something about Poison Control. I know you're joking around about the generic script thing, but I just wanted to say something about this in case someone is interested. For seven years, I worked for a company that trains 9-1-1 dispatchers. Not all jurisdictions are trained by this company, but many are. In general, 9-1-1 dispatchers can't help you with poison cases. I mean, if someone is throwing up blood, or passing out, or something obviously serious, they'll send the paramedics. But otherwise, they just tell you to call Poison Control, because Poison Control actually has a big huge list of all the potential poisons and toxins and knows what to do about them. It's a specialized area of knowledge, and they really are the best ones to handle it. Many potential poison cases really aren't serious, and they'll tell you what to do at home to take care of it. Otherwise, they'll either tell you to get to the emergency room or even send the paramedics in a truly urgent case. Poison Control is your best bet.

    Anyway, I know a lot of what you're saying was in jest, but I just thought some of you might appreciate that bit of inside knowledge.

  27. When I was a kid (27 now) I was taking a bubble bath, and it was lunch time, so my father brought me a tuna fish sandwich, which I used to like to dip at the time. Must've been hungry, because I dipped the sucker right into the bubble bath and got a few good bites of it. He panicked.

    Called Poison Control (I think I had to tell him where the number was, because I had put the stickers on everything I could reach) and they told him to make me drink a glass of milk and I'd be fine.

    Still makes me laugh to this day, and still brings out the protective panicky parent in him.

  28. Oh my, this post makes me feel soooo much better. I basically stopped calling poison control a long time ago because I now know whats dangerous and whats not (and got rid of the dangerous stuff a long time ago). My second child is satan too. And he's training his younger brother well as his sidekick (and his older brother seems to be picking up on the idea as well). Thank you for making me feel better about thinking that of him. I actually have contemplated making a whole blog about his (and his brothers') adventures. It would probably be a hit. Or send CPS to my house…Anyway, I love your blog. You've become one of my favorite people!

  29. I never knew the correct diagnosis for my 6 year Old's mind numbing, heart melting smile as he did things like climb up onto the counter and pour a whole bottle of olive oil followed by various bottles of spices into our unzipped over night bag sitting in the kitchen waiting to be zipped and taken out to the car. Satan. Is there a ICD-9 code for that?

  30. I can't believe I just found this blog, I LOVE IT. Your humour is awesomely wicked (meant in the good sense of wicked, not in the satan-sense). Don't feel bad, I had to to call poison control 3 times in TWO DAYS when my daughter was 18 months. My son has just been born and I'm pretty sure she was expressing her disgust in her own way, as she wasn't that mischievous (although he certainly turned out to be!) First day, she managed to eat an unknown quantity of Advil (likely to have been three), the next day she was found sucking on a handful of disinfectants wipes which she chased with an entire bottle of gripe water later that night. I was certain that Poison Control would be sending Child Protection over later that night!

  31. I had to call poison control once when my daughter started getting mobile. She was about seven months and she was crawling/learning to stand and as you know, kids move freaking fast… next thing I know I am smelling the butt paste, so I go in her bedroom and there she is covered in the thing and her mouth stunk like it. I freaked out and they told me the exact same thing they told you. It was freaking terrifying. BTW, Viva means alive in Spanish, but in Dominican Spanish, it is used to describe someone who is incredibly intelligent and street smart. Just fyi since your girl seems to embody that!

  32. Heads up. That cupboard lock has a very simple flaw: pull hard and it pops open. One firm jerk on one or both cupboard doors and you're in.

    Most little kids can't do it, but some can. As we've learned.

  33. My daughter drank the oil from the pan we keep under my husband's old car to catch the oil leak. They (poison control)just read off the same 3×5 card you mentioned above. I was amazed that she wasn't going to die! ….and grateful 🙂

  34. they don't always say that. my son ate menthol muscle rub straight from the tube when his sister was about four days old and his father was in iraq. i left the room for like seriously not kidding maybe two minutes before he did that. poison control wanted me to call an ambulance. instead i drove him to the emergency room, which was like five minutes away. they had to run multiple tests on him. it was pretty horrible. but they don't always say it's fine. though, they did say it was fine when he ate vaseline lol. twice.

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