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Friday, April 26, 2013

Constant Vigilance!

We have had a nice long run where we sort of feel like we're speaking Lily's language and Lily is making herself better understood.  And so as each day goes by and we celebrate its meltdownlessness, we feel like, "I've got this HANDLED, yo." 

Someone, a psychologist I think, at a recent re-eval asked us if we could leave Lily alone in a room.  It felt really good to have to think about that.  A year ago possibly, or definitely two, I would have said without hesitation, "No."  For starters she had a tendency to treat our absence from the room as permission to have potty accidents, but also books got ripped, things got knocked over, spills get the idea.

Time and experience have slowly reshaped the various rooms that Lily spends time in into Lily-friendly/Lily-safe zones, where the things Lily can reach are things that either A)  Cannot be broken or spilled or ripped, B)  We don't care about, or C) She has never shown an interest in touching/picking up/exploring.  And as we became more and more comfortable with Lily's interactions with her surroundings, I think we (but definitely I) started getting a little complacent.  

There haven't been any problems, so why would there ever BE any problems?  I guess that's where my mind was.  I think if I reexamine the room objectively, the same thing happens 9 out of 10 times.  What happened?  I'm glad you asked.  Or maybe not "glad" exactly.

Leslie dropped Emma off at her chorus concert.  Her parents left to go save us seats.  This is in accordance with the Book of Lily.  Divide and conquer, create a safe space, introduce Lily such that she has to spend the absolute least amount of time 'waiting' as possible.  She's not a spectacular waiter.

Two thirds complete with the process, I started cleaning dishes and tidying up before the timer went off to get Lily on the potty and we walked out the door.  Lily busied herself in the family room watching a movie.  I wasn't paying attention, but Lily eventually made her way to the kitchen table and grabbed Emma's plastic drinking glass.  "Uh oh," you say, "I see where you're going with this." you don't.  Why do you keep interrupting me?

So the plastic drinking glass has a lid, and it's more or less spill proof.  Yes, it has a long plastic straw that allows water to escape, but it's just a dribble, and honestly, if it's upside down, the straw isn't under the water, and it doesn't spill at all.  So this picking up and drinking from Emma's cup?  Not really that big a deal...until I heard the sharp splintered cracking sound and I snapped my attention to where she was standing with the cups straw in her mouth, chewing.  

The straw is rigid plastic.  Broken, even shattered, it's probably not sharp enough to cut you, but she had bitten off a piece of the end and was crunching down on it, the pieces in her mouth, and what I REALLY feared in that moment was that she would swallow them.  

"Nononononono!" I crossed the floor and wedged my finger into her mouth, sweeping the shards out even as she continued to chew.  She was not careful with my fingers, and it wasn't super comfortable.  

I was pretty afraid at that point.  I was staring at her, concerned, as she smiled back oblivious to my worry.  I opened her mouth again and swept it.  I couldn't be sure that I'd gotten it all, and my brain elected at that moment to show scenes of an imagined ambulance ride to the emergency room.

She seemed okay, then she started to cough.  nononono...then stopped.  I stared at her, asking if she was okay, listening to her breathing, watching to see if her mouth moved to chew something.  And that was it.  She was fine.  

It was all fine.  But what I remembered then was the question, "Can you leave her alone in a room?"  What if I had?  I do leave her alone in rooms for short durations, long enough to brush my teeth in the morning, or change laundry before I go to work, but what if she'd been alone and chewed AND swallowed?  My mind doesn't allow me to pursue that scenario longer than it takes to feel the dread start to blossom.  It's just scary shit.

As "Lily friendly" as the house has become, it's a good reminder that she's still a sensory seeking kid without a spectacular handle on her personal safety.

Like Mad-Eye says, "Constant Vigilance!"


  1. Oof. I feel your worry and frustration. In fact, we have such similar things happen here, too. Nope. Ever vigilant. :-/

  2. Had this exact thing happen just a few months ago with Alex! He did choke because he got some if the straw down before I reached him. Scary moment. I have since not let him use those cups,not left them where he can get them ( which is becoming increasingly harder because he has shot up in height) and all the hard plastic straws are gone. I use the bendy straws in them now. It is definitely " Constant Vigilance!"

    1. The stupidest part is that she'd done it before. We mostly replaced those cups with a thick, softer plastic straw version, you can bit on it, but it just squishes. But not that cup...

  3. Replies
    1. zoinks indeed. And she is good as gold, thanks!

  4. Definitely need constant vigilance! Tate is a chewer, too. We also can't leave him in the kitchen because he likes to play with water and has been known to overflow the sink...ugh.

    1. still...I'd take flooded floor over lacerated esophagus any day of the week!

  5. I can totally relate to this. While we've made great strides and seen such amazing improvement, Lily will still do things that show she has no real grasp of things that are dangerous or destructive. I find myself blown away sometimes by how smart she is in some areas and then she does something like shove pieces of paper towel so far up her nose that we have to go see an ENT to have them removed (more than once, with different items up the nose).... Definitely still needs constant vigilance.

  6. Ben just ate some styrofoam airplane a few minutes ago...not much though. Constant Vigilance, mate!

    This is long, but I feel compelled to share it. As told at a dinner party last year:
    I took Ben and the dog to Sugarhouse park the other day. I was throwing a ball into the pond there for Tucker. We were having a good time when he started yelping and struggling from the middle of the pond. It's like his leg was caught underwater, maybe a drain or something. It was horrible...I couldn't leave Ben - he doesn't swim and there's no way I could go in and leave him behind. I just started yelling for help. Ben started screaming like a banshee.

    Suddenly, this big blond German guy came running over from the basketball court. He dove straight into the water like something out of Baywatch and pulled Tucker out. The dog was looking bad - not struggling, not BREATHING. The guy pushed on his ribcage and a bunch of pondwater splurted out. Then the guy started giving him mouth to mouth!

    After a minute, Tucker barfed up some more water and started hacking and gasping in big gulps of air. I said to the German guy, "That was amazing! Are you a vet?"

    "Vet?" he said, "I'm soaking!"
    It was a quiet 30 seconds before they realized it was a joke.

    I refer to this as "prankin' the NTs", and have been admonished for it. I think it's an underutilized realm of humor and what our kids do whilst out of our sight may be a good source of material.


  7. I can't even imagine how frightened you, as a parent, were at that exact moment. And how tired you must be, by not being able to leave her in a room alone. That takes a special kind of patience that I don't think I have and am in awe of the fact that you do.

    You're doing a great job. Seriously.


    1. Frightened, absolutely. And not tired so much as "inconvenienced". I love how happy she is, and I hope for her that she gets to a place where I'll feel more comfortable with her being alone in a room, but inconvenience ain't no big thang...

      Thanks, Cassie.

  8. We've been there, except our Angel triplet doesn't normally chew, mostly just keeps it in her mouth. A few months ago, she discovered how to destroy a lampshade, that included chewing the plastic of the pleating - scary, scary, scary. Poison Control #s are nearly everywhere in our house.

  9. Glad she's okay. It must be so hard to never find a time to really relax as a parent.

  10. Glad she's okay!

    I admit that I get lulled into this false sense of "hey everything is okay and this is easy." Or okay... easy in comparison to how things were a year ago. And then something happens and I think OMG, no, this is most definitely NOT easy.