At first, it is really cute noticing how literal children can be. For example, you might ask your child to draw a picture of his favorite sandwich. He draws a Halloween-type witch wearing a black pointy hat, walking by the ocean. Get it? Sand Witch!
It is not so cute, however, when you say to your child, “You need to jump into the tub and take your bath quickly so we have time for a bedtime story,” and they take you at your word. A running leap creates a tidal wave, which, if not hurriedly attacked with every available clean towel, will seep through the floor and leak through the living room ceiling! Not to mention, jumping into the tub can be dangerous! I should NEVER have said “jump into the tub!”
When children first discover the joy of flushing pee, poop, and paper down the toilet, I’m sure all mothers go through a litany of things children should not put into the toilet and/or flush. I’m pretty sure I told my children not to PUT “too much paper,” toys, clothes, food, their sibling’s stuff, etc., in the toilet. I’m pretty sure I also told my children not to FLUSH said toilet if, by some accident, any of the afore-mentioned items, by some miracle, happened to jump into the toilet on their own. (Note my misguided use of that dangerous word “jump” again! I have vague memories of rescuing toy army men that had “jumped” into the toilet.)
Unfortunately, I did not realize that I needed to specify “CD’s” on my list of “Forbidden Items For Flushing.” I returned home from an out of town visit with family to discover that my husband had had to call the plumber in my absence for a clogged upstairs toilet. The plumber retrieved broken CD’s from my son’s toilet. Problem solved. (Note: Slow spreading water from overflowing upstairs toilets results in the same seeping through floors, and leaking into living room ceilings, as bathtub tidal waves!)
I was also remiss in my motherly duties by not giving my children a comprehensive list of items that should not be allowed down bathroom sink drains. FYI: Disposable contact lens will, over time, clog sinks! (I used a small plumber’s snake myself to remove the offending lenses and avoided a plumber’s fee in this instance!)
I had heard stories of my friends’ children getting foreign objects stuck in their noses and ears. I feel sure I must have warned my children against such danger by sharing the horror stories I’d heard about beans sprouting and growing in children’s noses and ears. Obviously, I did not give my children a lengthy enough list of things not to put in their noses and ears, since I neglected to specifically tell my son not to put my daughter’s fake pierced stick-on earrings up his nose.
We were spending the weekend at my parent’s home when this incident occurred. Feeling panicked, with visions of hours spent in an emergency room ruining our trip, I called a family friend, who was a pediatrician. I explained the situation. He told me to bring my son over to his house and he would try to remove the earring.
In the meantime, while I was on the phone, my daughter calmly put her little hands on her brother’s chubby cheeks, looked into his eyes and said, “Bubby, blow your nose like this!” He followed her lead, and the offending earring shot out of his nose, onto the floor! Crisis averted. (I’ve wondered ever since why it didn’t occur to me to just ask him to blow his nose!?)
As my children got older, they continued to show me that even though I thought I had covered all my bases, there was ALWAYS something I didn’t think of! I had not specifically told my daughter not to put hairclips in her mouth while lying in bed wearing her retainers (which kept her teeth from clamping tightly together.) Said position allows hairclips to slip between teeth and straight down a throat. Who knew? When she came downstairs, I thought she was about to throw up, since she was making heaving sounds. Instead, she was choking.
This required a trip to the emergency room to be sure the clip did not open and perforate any body parts. Once the x-rays showed the clip had passed through the stomach, Mommy was obliged to have a daily treasure hunt until we were certain it had passed through my daughter’s other end. This event also led to my teaching my children the universal “choking” sign!”
Other things I have learned:
When I said: “Don’t eat those cookies, they will spoil your supper,” the warning should have contained a comprehensive list of ALL items not to eat. In the alternative, I could explicitly say, “Do not eat ANYTHING until supper, and I mean EAT ABSOLUTELY NOTHING before suppertime!” Otherwise, your child will not be hungry at suppertime, and then tell you, “You didn’t say anything about not eating apples and bananas,” or whatever food they ate that you did not expressly prohibit!
From prior omissions, I learned that I needed to make comprehensive lists of rules concerning dangerous activities, with lots of crazy caveats! Do not jump off the roof OR balcony into the trampoline or the pool. Do not jump off of ladders, cars, trucks OR ANYTHING ELSE onto the trampoline or into the pool, or on to anything else. NO RUNNING around the pool. NO RUNNING around the pool. NO RUNNING around the pool. NO RUNNING AROUND THE POOL MEANS NO RUNNING AROUND THE POOL. (Repetition is also required!) Similar comprehensive rules were applied to kids playing with sticks, bats, water guns, paintball guns, and Airsoft guns!
My kids trained me well! By the time they were in middle and high school, I knew that I needed to cover all my bases when dealing with them! This is an approximation of my “comprehensive one size fits all” admonishment for when my kids were going to be with their friends: “I don’t care if everyone else’s mother lets them do X,Y or Z, you are not allowed to leave your friend’s house and go anywhere, or do anything, without checking with me first, unless you are with the parents. Even if you are with the parents, and the parents say you can do X,Y or Z, if it is something you don’t think I would approve, or something you know you should not do, or if you KNOW it is against our rules, call us. If you are at all uncertain, you need to check with your Daddy or me, first! AND, do not smoke, drink, or do drugs, and DO NOT EVER get into a car with anyone who does! If your ride or date is drinking and driving, or if you find yourself in ANY dangerous situation, call us, day or night, and we will come get you, and you will not get into trouble, because we love you, no matter what!”
What have you learned that you should have told (or not told) your child/children? Please share YOUR stories!