This is one of those stories that as a parent, you can laugh about LATER… after the fact. WAY after the fact. At the time, it was one of those heart-pumping crisis moments that you hope, as a parent, are few and far in between.
Personally, I blame the Flintstones.
Yes, my kids eat a fairly well-balanced diet -well, some of them, anyway. #5 would prefer to eat butter rather than anything resembling a vegetable- but even though my kids eat well, I liked to give them a vitamin a day.
And I fondly remembered growing up with Flintstone vitamins. The commercials, that is. We didn’t have vitamins at all growing up, because my parents didn’t either, and well, they turned out just fine, right??
So, the Flintstones. Oh, so cute. Tasty, sweet little pastel nuggets of nutritional goodness.
Image Courtesy of www.flintstonesvitamins.com
But the problem with Flintstone vitamins is that they taste so sweet and delicious- like candy. But anyone growing up in the 80s, like myself knows that just because something looks like candy, it doesn’t mean it IS CANDY. Remember this creepy little jingle from way back when??
are were kept sealed on the highest shelf of a kitchen cabinet, and dispersed by me with breakfast in the mornings. It became part of our routine; a full vitamin handed to each of the older children, and one broken in half to split between the two youngest.
Until one fateful day…. (sigh)
I can’t say it was one single error on our parts, but rather a series of mistakes. It started when I noticed that we were out of vitamins; I bought a new container. Unbeknownst to me, I had accidentally purchased the Flintstone vitamins WITH IRON.
(That fact will be important later.)
In my hurry that morning, I had neglected to distribute vitamins as usual. And one of my older children -who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty party- took it upon him/herself to take his/her own vitamin. Said child replaced the cap, but… loosely. As in, not sealed shut.
Later that day, it was the poison hour. Literally, apparently. A combination of factors made it a perfect storm.
It was post-dinnertime, and I was upstairs bathing #6. The two oldest girls were upstairs, which left our “middle kids” (3, 4, and 5) downstairs in the playroom. The Captain was also down there, but was absorbed in computer programming work.
So here’s what happened….
I brought freshly bathed #6 downstairs with me, and upon entering the basement playroom, paused to say hello to our two gerbils –the gerbils that I’ve become fonder of since their near-death experience. And as I glanced down into their glass cage, I noticed that their food bowl was crammed with something… colorful. Lots of colorful things, in fact. And they were thrilled.
And on the floor nearby was the formerly stocked vitamin container, which now had about… six left.
It’s safe to say that my screams grabbed the attention of the entire family, who had the nerve to look surprised.
And as I whisked my head around, trying to gauge who the culprit was, #5 smirked and spit out a tiny crumb of neon pink vitamin.
And as I looked around the room, there were a few random vitamins scattered about..
Where were the majority?? Were they on the floor, in the gerbil cage, or in the belly of the triumphant #5??
If you’ve ever tried to communicate with a 3 year old about such serious matters such as quantifying how much iron she may have just ingested, you’ll know that it was NOT a productive exchange.
Me: “Did you eat these?? How many did you eat???”
#5: “Ummmm….. THIS many!” (holds up three fingers)
Me: “Are you sure??? Did you eat a lot??”
#5: “Ummmm….. THIS many!” (holds up all fingers)
It hits me instantly that because these vitamins have iron, its quite possible that #5 could suffer an iron overdose. So I turn to The Captain, tell him to call poison control, and then proceed to melt… on the INSIDE.
Of course Poison Control was concerned about how many #5 could have eaten. So the gerbils were happily bouncing against my hand as I sifted frantically through their urine-soaked bedding, picking vitamins out and counting. And counting.
The gerbils danced.
#5 clapped gleefully.
#3 then admits that #5 had not only been seen eating a vitamin, but had, unbeknownst to The Captain, kindly offered to share her stash with her siblings, like a tiny sweet, vitamin-bearing fairy.
Of course Poison Control suggested bringing #5 to the emergency room for monitoring and to have her iron levels checked. So The Captain whisked her off while I continued to scour the room, internally pleading to keep finding vitamins. Because the more vitamins found OUTSIDE of her person, the less vitamins that #5 actually consumed.
Thankfully, it turned out that #5 hadn’t actually eaten more than four, which at her weight turned out to be acceptable. BUT, we were required to wait at the hospital for several hours for observation, which was nerve-wracking to say the least.
I did too, for the most part.
Of course, so did the gerbils. (I know you were worried)
It was one of those rare moments when, even as you think you’ve got everything covered, all is under control, every child is supervised and all is calm, a single moment can change everything. It was a moment of overwhelming parental guilt- how did we drop the ball?? Why at that moment did we cross circuits and leave room for such an event? Of course things like this happen, but as a mom, it’s so hard to shake off the sense that somehow, you screwed up.
It turned out to be a small moment in retrospect, thankfully, but certainly memorable.
Our little Iron Maiden is totally fine; other than setting off metal detectors at airports. And having a fondness for metallic juice bags…Six Pack Mom