No matter how conscientious you are, and no matter how thoughtful and mature your kids seem to be, at some point, they'll have a lapse in judgement at the exact same instant that your attention is elsewhere. Case in point: That's an X-ray of my preschooler's gut. With a small lock in her stomach.
My 4 1/2 year old found a little Tiffany's pendent on the playground at school. She stuffed her new-found "treasure" into the pocket of her jeans, and was just as excited to rediscover it days later when the washing machine started sounding clunky and I fished it out of the filter.
Thank goodness it was clean, though. Because I don't know what made her think it was a good idea to put the tiny padlock in her mouth. And then swallow.
My husband spent that Friday evening hanging out with her in the ER, while I raced home from work to help with the other kids (who were hanging out with their teenage sister). Now, I fully expected us to end up in the ER with a child who had ingested something at some point -- as a toddler, our now-11-year-old son had an uncanny ability to find the single penny on the floor in any room and take a taste -- but I honestly thought it would be my 2 1/2-year-old son, who puts everything in his mouth, not my preternaturally serious youngest girl.
She's fine -- the lock was closed, it wasn't snagged or stuck anywhere, and the doctors told us to let nature take its course. Which it did, about 40 hours later.
I keep a running list of Things I Never Thought I'd Say As a Mom. There's another list in my head, of Things I Never Thought I'd Do As a Parent. The tiny-padlock-search-and-rescue mission ranks high on that list, as well as my "Things I Really, Really Never Want to Do Again" list. (Why? It involved a special container from the hospital, a disposable wooden chopstick, running commentary from my preschooler about her nether regions, and lots of gagging on my part.)
(Other things I never thought I'd do: Catch vomit in my hands, because that's preferable to having it land on the rug. Consider leftover chicken nuggets -- leftover, half-eaten chicken nuggets -- an adequate meal for myself. Think three consecutive hours equals a good night's sleep.)
The lock is currently sitting in a small bowl filled with hand-sanitizing gel, though truthfully I don't know if it'll ever be sanitary enough for me to look at it without wincing. It's a constant reminder of the unpredictable nature of parenting, the need to be constantly vigilant, and the understanding that, no matter how careful of a parent you are, you will slip up. As well as a reminder of how very lucky I was, this time.
What's on your Things I Never Thought I'd Do As a Parent list?