Today something happened in my home that could have been life altering. I want to share it because sometimes we all need reminding that we cannot become complacent as parents.
It’s easy to do, we fall into our daily routines, let our guards down within the comfort zone of our own childproof homes and never expect tragedy will ever hit us. It’s easy to think “that won’t happen to us” but IT CAN, it can happen to anyone and everyone. I have no doubt that thousands of accidents lead to tragedy each day. All it takes is the turn of a head, a lapse in judgment, children just playing or a parent momentarily preoccupied for an accident or mistake to happen.
Before I go further, I want you to know that I am well aware I will be judged for this. That the parenting police, childless experts and the self-proclaimed perfect parents will persecute me. They’re going to say “Where were you?” “Why weren’t you watching her? “that “This would NEVER happen to me” and “My child would never do this” BUT the fact is, it’s impossible to watch them 24 hours a day and accidents CAN and WILL happen.
Sometimes accidents are small, they’re broken pot plants, a smashed vase or a bump on the head and sometimes they’re life-changing, like a child falling into a pool, running out behind a car or like today, it was a child getting into the medicine cupboard and overdosing.
LISTEN: If your kids spend all night on Facebook and Snapchat instead of snoozing, this will guarantee they wake up fresh as a daisy.
This morning we had guests over, my Aunty and my cousin with her two children. My three-year-old was playing happily and quietly in her room with my niece and the two littler ones played outside in the fresh air and sunshine, making the most of the good day before winter sets in, while we kept eyes on them. I didn’t give it a second thought to leaving her inside a few steps away in her room, after all our home is totally safe and kid proof. Well, how wrong I was and let this serve as a reminder to NEVER underestimate the determination of a threenanger.
When we came back inside shortly after, I found the dining chairs that we have stacked (to prevent our one-year-old from using them to climb) were moved to the other side of the kitchen. I didn’t give this too much thought, that was until I found the empty medication container on the floor. Then it all started to click and that gut sinking feeling started to set in. See, my three-year-old ALWAYS tries to take my six-year-olds tablet each night when we give it to her and each night we explain to her that you DO NOT EVER touch medicine unless a Doctor gave it to Mummy and Daddy to give to you.
Today the determination to have what her sister has overcome her. The medicine cupboard is higher than my head, above our microwave and difficult for even me to reach, but she managed to push both stacks of chairs from the other side of the kitchen and use them to scale to the height of the cupboard, open it and get the half full container of prescription medication and some brightly coloured cough lollies sitting next to it down from the cupboard.
I questioned her;
“Where is the medicine?”
“Show Mummy where you put them?”
“What did they look like?”
“How did you do that?”
Coy, with signs of pride beaming through she reluctantly replies “they’re all in my tummy Mummy, Sissy’s green and white ones and the big blue ones tasted like berries”.
After quizzing her a few times to make sure she did, in fact, eat them, a thorough and quick search to make sure she didn’t dispose of them anywhere else, I can say without a doubt, she did, in fact, manage to consume 20 to 30 capsules and six cough lollies. That’s dedication, you wouldn’t be able to force most kids to swollen one capsule, let alone 30.
Off we rushed to hospital. Riddled with guilt and total shame I said to the triage nurse: “My daughter just over dosed on prescription medication," a phrase I thought I would never say and would be happy to never repeat again in my life. A quick call to the poisons line, a chat with the nurse, a quiet giggle after I told her how she managed to get hold of the medication and a bit of a wait for the doctor, we were then home and well.
There are two silver linings to this story. The first is that the medication she overdosed on was slow release Melatonin which is the artificial version of the naturally occurring hormone in our brain that helps us to relax and go to sleep. There are no negative side effects to taking it other than she might have a decent sleep.
But the real kicker is, she didn’t even start to fall asleep until 4.30 which was more than four hours later (trust one of my kids to maintain hyper state after downing melatonin) which is two hours before bedtime. What a waste of a potential day nap and a killer for bedtime tonight.
The second is that we have an array of various prescription medications sitting in the medicine cupboard that could have been potentially deadly if she had decided to overdose of them instead.
Here is a not-so-fun fact I learnt today too. In the United States, approximately 60,000 children per year are rushed to the emergency room after getting into medications. That’s roughly 165 children under five years of age that are treated daily who unintentionally overdose or consume prescription medications. I don’t know what the statistics are for Australia, but you would have to assume they would be similar based on percentage per capita.
While you may potentially be on your high horse judging me, it really isn’t something that is that uncommon.
You can never be too vigilant when it comes to your children but also remember accidents happen to all of us, even the most cautious of us. So don’t be too quick to judge, instead, you too can learn from my mistake.
Tonight, I’m going to bed a few hairs greyer and a few wrinkles deeper, thankful for the healthy children I have tucked securely and safely in their beds, knowing tomorrow will be a better day (touch wood).
Note: After receiving criticism online, Stevie wanted to reiterate that the cupboard was 2+ metres high, and her warning to other parents is that you should lock medication cupboards even when out of reach.
This post originally appeared on Stevie Niki's blog My Tribe of Six, where she documents, shares and embraces her beautifully chaotic life as a young mother of four, on a very raw, real and intimate level. You can read the original post here.
Too much noise and not enough time?