Poison Control’s Got My Number

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A mom visits the ghosts of her family’s Poison Control past, wondering if her kids’ mind-boggling incidents were somehow preordained.

How many times have you called Poison Control? Surely you know those folks at the toll free help line, the people whom I envision sitting in nondescript offices fielding questions from hysterical parents in sitcom-like situations.

Secretly, I have a fear that, in the confines of their little cubicles, the Poison Control staff mock people like me, parents whose children have somehow eluded our superior caretaking and managed to consume an entire bottle of lavender-colored “Spring Meadow” scented dishwashing liquid, the special kind that purges bacteria and the thin top layer of your skin as you clean.

I’m one of the faceless thousands who have frantically called the telephone hotline after my children have eaten things that would make those folks on the reality shows, who VOLUNTARILY drink fresh cow’s blood, squirm.

“Are they creating a file on me?” I always wonder when I’m left hanging on the phone line awaiting their instant diagnosis. If I call too many times, do red “stupid parent” flags go up, prompting uniformed men to burst through my front door, handcuff me, and take my kids away to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory where everything is edible (just stay away from that chocolate drainage pipe that sucked the gluttonous German kid Augustus Gloop away to an uncertain fate)?

Unfortunately, I’ve had to call Poison Control a number of times. I feel quite guilty about it. You see, I don’t keep an unbroken eye lock on all three of my children during each waking moment of every day. There are times, I’m ashamed to admit, when I actually go to the bathroom all by myself. Sometimes I even shower and shut the bathroom door. Other times, I’m engaged in other domestically riveting activities—like washing dishes with Spring Meadow cleanser or cramming 25 loads of small person clothes into the disorderly mess that I wistfully call closets—and don’t remain on the same floor as the kiddos.

But I’ve got a fine, tidy reason for my semi-frequent Poison Control calls that don’t stem from the fact that I must be a negligent nincompoop. As with any instance when my parenting skills are called into question, I can just blame . . . drum roll please . . . my parents.

You see, I come from a family of consumers of questionable substances, so, in truth, it’s all their fault. Between my father drinking contaminated farm water from a white bucket when he was a kid—which triggered a glorious gut clearing vomiting and diarrhea session—and my brother Sean’s legendary knack for sucking down chemicals unfit for human ingestion, I suppose this whole Poison Control thing was preordained.

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