Mom of the year / by vanessa

I have just spent the last thirty minutes googling, My two-year old ate a tube of lip balm. I suppose I should have been watching him. He is a toddler, after all. In my own defense, he's a really good toddler, I'm playing single mom tonight, I'm really tired and I can't find the pacifier he should be over by now, so when he's sprinting around the house well past his bed time refusing to be tamed and suddenly gets quiet in the other room, I consider myself lucky and use the opportunity to Amazon shop on my phone.

Until, of course, he comes in, his doe eyes widened, holding the remains of minty sweet lip balm and looks up at me and says, "Num num." I glance at what's left in his hand. His tiny palms contain what was literally the first time in probably a decade that I'd bought a brand whose ingredients could likely be substituted  for auto fuel. I got suckered in by the cute packaging and the fact that I saw a girl at work whose makeup is always Kim Kardashian-on point using it. Christ. There are better times to fall prey to marketing and one's own insecurities.

"This information is applicable for small, unintentional ingestions. If your child becomes unresponsive, please call Poison Control immediately." Small? Unintentional? I need something more quantifiable than just "small," but also I'm not sure that "unintentional" is relevant when it comes to poison. One cannot be a little bit pregnant. Even in the throes of crisis I still find time to be critical of web copy.

"Toxicity level: Minimally toxic in small amounts such as a taste or a lick." Guess that answers that.

"Possible symptoms of an overdose/toxicity: An episode of vomiting, loose stool or diarrhea." He is now sitting on my lap, looking up at me while I'm asking him if his stomach hurts. "Stomach," he answers, though it's clear he's just parroting what I'm saying. "Jonah, why did you eat that?" I cry. "Num num," he logics. I take the next few minutes to hold him tightly, watching his stomach for signs of protrusion which he mildly resists. When I first became a parent I tended to call the pediatrician at every sneeze. But by the time of his first birthday I became so tired of my own baseless paranoia that I resolved to set a higher threshold. I'm not even sure what could make me call anymore. Probably blood.

So in those seconds of wrestling between fear and pragmatism, I did what makes virtually zero sense to the thinking mind: I pictured him a veritable zombie, drained of his vibrant and engaging personality by the effects of too much Soft Lips. I missed the sweet softness in the way he said, "orca. whaaaale." to any stranger who would listen. I longed for the son I once knew and hadn't yet lost. I teared up and panic-blamed my boyfriend over a series of spiral texts for leaving us at home while he went to a barbeque.

I googled again. This time I found a Facebook post in which the poster's daughter ingested Eos brand lip balm. Eos seems close enough since I almost bought that brand instead. The company responded to this woman's post stating that while they've had many questions about this, they've yet to hear of serious injury. Their post was followed by tens of other posts of parents saying, "Thank god I found this post." Irrationally, I too felt solace.

Jonah looked up at me, winced his face, and said, "Poopie." He got up and ran to the bathroom. Oh no. Here we go. I pictured diarrhea in a training potty and wondered how I'd clean it up. I closed my eyes, held his hand, and waited. He sat there for a moment, then got up and and looked at me, proud of himself. I looked down. His delivery was underwhelming.

Now, as the night has passed, it appears that his appetizer was only that. The visions of a different life--one in which I'm blamed on the Internet for being a shitty, neglectful parent--have waned. And with only 2 hours and 31 minutes remaining to receive my items on Tuesday, I finally hit purchase on that Amazon order.