It was just another Friday night.
I got home from work and my husband, a stay-at-home dad, looked appropriately exhausted after chasing our 2-year old around all day. As soon as I had unloaded the groceries from my car, he promptly announced that he was tagging out and taking a well-deserved nap.
Supermom that I am, I had already planned for this eventuality and purchased a rotisserie chicken from Costco, in spite of my husband’s regular admonishments that they aren’t organic. Screw it, tonight we eat antibiotic- and hormone-infused chicken!
I served the painstakingly prepared meal while sporting my Wonder Woman pj pants, and my son sat at the table gobbling his Costco chicken, Costco croissant, and Costco organic Fuji apple while I looked at the mounting pile of crap on the kitchen table. Ooh, the picture frames I ordered for the school photos! I didn’t know these arrived. I’ll just put the photos in the frames while he eats his dinner. I’m such an amazing multitasker and mother. This totally makes up for giving him chemical-infused toxic chicken.
As my husband snoozed in our room, my son shoved handfuls of food in his cake hole, and I finished putting his photos in moderately priced Chinese picture frames from Amazon, I realized that I had to pee and it couldn’t wait.
I moved my son’s food out of reach and asked him to swallow what was in his mouth. That was my way of insuring he didn’t choke while I was in the bathroom. See, I told you I am supermom! I clicked on the TV, which is all Paw Patrol all the time up in here, and headed for the potty. Yup, I regularly call it “potty.”
I was gone for less than two minutes—enough time to pee quickly and wash my hands. There was no dawdling, no Facebook on my phone, just a quick trip and back, 120 seconds tops, probably less. When I got back to the table, there he was, my precious toddler, with the scattered remnants of the picture frame boxes in front of him. I still don’t know how he reached them.
He was trying to hand me something, which I assumed was a piece of cardboard. I mentally tried to reconstruct how he had managed to MacGyver the cardboard packaging into his grubby paws when I reached down to take what he was handing me. As I went to grab the item, he said, “I ate it,” and I saw that he was handing me one of those little silica gel desiccant packets that say “DO NOT EAT” all over them.
I wrenched it from his hand and began feeling it for moisture to see if it had been in his mouth. It was dry and intact. Thank god. I asked him if he had put it in his mouth, and he said, again, “Yes, I ate it.” That’s when I saw it: the empty silica gel packet, corner missing, damp with his saliva, a few of the little beads rolling around on the table. I’m not really sure what happened to my body physically, because I was already in crisis mode, but I’m fairly certain that I had an adrenaline spike big enough to wake a dead elephant. I screamed for my husband, searched my son’s mouth for pellets, and began unsnapping him from his booster seat.
I screamed for my husband again, and since he was wearing earplugs, he didn’t wake up until I came barreling in, flipped on the lights, and told him to get up now. I tossed my little troublemaker on the bed as I told my husband what happened. Mind you, this all occurred within seconds of me finding the empty package. I ran for my phone, couldn’t find it, then ran back into the bedroom to get my husband’s phone. Thankfully, he is ever the Boy Scout, and Poison Control is in his contact list.
Unlike 911 in Los Angeles County, the phone was answered very quickly. A pleasant and professional woman answered, “Poison Control,” and I said “My toddler ate the silica gel desiccant package.” Mentally, I was changing out of my Wonder Woman pj pants, which I absolutely did not deserve to wear anyway, and was plotting the most expeditious route to the children’s hospital. She said, “This is probably our most common call. He’s fine, I promise you.”
She then went on to explain that the package says “DO NOT EAT” because the packet itself is a choking hazard. The pellets are harmless and as long as he’s breathing and not choking or in distress, he’s totally fine. She then politely took some statistical information and disconnected our call.
My husband had since walked into the room and could tell by my demeanor that everything was fine. I relayed the pertinent information to him, and then, I calmly placed his phone on the kitchen counter and burst into a full-on, snot-dripping-down-my-face ugly cry—definitely not worthy of the Wonder Woman pj pants.
To add insult to injury, my little man had walked in behind his dad and started picking the pellets off the floor and eating them. We cleared his mouth and took him out of the room while we cleaned up the area, and I cried some more. He could have died. He could have died. If it were poison, he could have died.
My husband took me aside and consoled me. “He was never in any danger. He’s fine. I’m going to put the laundry in the dryer. Try not to kill him while I’m gone.”
It was just another Friday night. And when I really think about it, I’ve already survived so many and so has my son. Perhaps I am worthy of the Wonder Woman pj’s after all.
But seriously, fuck that silica gel.