I hope you never have to use it, but keep it handy just in case.
With each child you bring into this world, you realize just how different he or she is from your previous offspring. I know, that's a profound statement that I'm sure none of you would ever have thought of. It's true, of course, and there are moments when these differences come rocketing up to the surface of reality. Today, one of those rockets hit us square in the face.
Emerie is our third child. She is, for the most part, lovely and easy-going. But lately she's been pretty irritable due to teething. One molar, one incisor. Being outside is one of the few things that keeps Emerie decently happy, so we played outside. I was unloading groceries, and Cody was watching her pitter-patter around the backyard. But of course, as adults it's hard to just watch our children play. We adults like to find things to do that need to be done while the children play. We adults like to call it "killing two birds with one stone" or "efficiency" or "using our time wisely." Whatever.
So Cody appears at the doorway, handing Emerie to me, and mutters something about "I think she just drank Citronella Oil from the tikki torch." He immediately goes outside to investigate the tikki torch, trying to decide how much oil was in it and how much oil Emerie might have ingested. I began wiping Emerie down, and stuck my nose in her mouth. Sure enough, the strong scent of citronella oil filled my nostrils. It's probably fine....she's not acting like it's bothering her, was my first thought. This is often the thought process present with most third or fourth children. Us Mothers of Many don't get out of sorts too frequently. We rely on previous experience, and my previous experience was telling me that I've weathered a multitude of true emergency-type situations: stitches on a chin, goose-egg sized bump on head, torn frenulum (look that one up), choking, lost child, car wreck with newborn, croup, etc. These situations cause panic and worry. The guzzling of citronella oil only caused borderline worry.
Still, I thought of my Poison Control magnet on the coffee pot, and I took that as a sign that I should call. Just to be on the safe side. I also decided not to light any candles around the house. (Good thinking, Angela.) As I'm talking to the Poison Control technician, he immediately curtails my fears by saying that the ingestion of the oil alone isn't that harmful. The breathing in of the vapors is what could be bad. It could burn her lungs, air ways, esophagus, etc. As we continued to engage in phone diagnosis, I was fairly certain we were in the clear. That is, until Cody comes running into the house with the bottle of oil. It didn't say Citronella Oil. What it said was TORCH FUEL WITH CITRONELLA.
Okay, so this is where the panic began to set in. My eyes scanned the label and rested on the words: fatal if swallowed. The Poison Control technician was still talking so I quickly took over, only as a mother bear could do, and stopped him mid-sentence by using a rather loud, stern, commanding voice and said, "Sir, I'm sorry to interrupt you but I need to tell you something important. My daughter did not ingest citronella oil, but rather TORCH FUEL." Man, I felt like a loser. But I was also weak in the knees waiting for his response. Are you readers weak in the knees, too?
The news was good. And here is the lesson that all of you with children need to learn. If your child should happen to drink any kind of gas: kerosene, lighter fluid, citronella oil, or even TORCH FUEL, the most harmful thing part is the vapors that may burn the insides of their bodies. The amount ingested is a big factor, as well. And luckily, we were able to determine that it would have taken some mighty strong sucking power for Emerie to have ingested enough to warrant a trip to the ER. The liquid itself can cause nausea, diarrhea, and upset stomach.
Here's another lesson I learned today: Emerie is different from Kellie-Laine and Landrie. KL and Landrie were not curious or explorative. I never had to child-proof my cabintets. A simple "no touch" was enough for them. But Emerie is not Kellie-Laine or Landrie. She is a climber. She is a fighter. She likes to explore things with her mouth. And apparently she has an affinity for drinking TORCH FUEL from tikki torches. I cannot rely on all of my previous parenting experiences with Emerie because some of them do not apply. I need to monitor her better. To pay more attention. To allow myself to worry or panic in certain situations beacuse I'd rather worry too much than not enough.
Emerie is fine, and I am so thankful for this event for many reasons. I'm thankful that God is a great and mighty protector. I'm thankful for the nice man at the Poison Control center who was patient and kind and informative, and called me back a few hours later to check on Emerie. I'm thankful to have been reminded of how precious our time here on earth really is because sometimes we blink and it's over. And I'm especially thankful that I'm never too old, too wise, or too experienced to learn some very important life lessons.
Keep this number handy, people. You never know when you might need it, but I pray that you never will.
As a side note of humor, Emerie's poopie diaper tonight had the strangest, strongest sulphur smell. Better stick to a "no candle" policy at the Beeler household for a while.