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 happened...you 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." No...no 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!"