Raising a boy can be a challenge. They are creative, clever and between the ages of 5 and 12 trouble somehow seems to find them even when they aren’t looking. When my son, Colby, was 9 years old, he and his younger sister, Courtney and their cousin, Kelsey, decided they were bored. What kid isn’t bored in June….two weeks into summer vacation? They wanted something “to do” and so I suggested they go outside and blow some bubbles. However, we were out of bubble mix. So, I thought I’d teach them the “old fashioned” way to make bubbles and gave them a bottle of lemon dishwashing liquid, water, a plastic container and bubble blowing wands. I told Colby the correct soap to water ratio and sent them outside to be creative and have some fun.
Fifteen minutes into the fun, Colby came back into the house with a greenish tint to his complexion. He said he thought he might throw up. I asked him why? What was wrong? And….he quietly confessed that he had drunk some of the lemon dishwashing soap. Straight out of the bottle. Of course I was shocked, worried and very confused as to how this happened. He told me that Kelsey and Courtney told him to do it. And so he did. That old question, “if they told you to jump off a cliff, would you do that, too?” came to mind, but I held back. Instead, I picked up the phone and called the poison control center. After a conversation with them and estimating he drank a hearty swallow’s worth of the soap, I was advised to make sure he drank a lot of water or other clear liquids for the next 12 hours and that he may throw up and/or have diarrhea. He did neither, thankfully, but had that terrible fake lemony flavor and smell in his system for days. Even now, 15 years later, he refuses to buy lemon dish soap at his own house. Some painful memories still…..cause nausea.
Zoom ahead 13 years to find out the REST of the story. While at a family party, something reminded me of this incident and so I retold it to a few who hadn’t heard it before and a few who had, but didn’t mind the retell because that’s what you do at family gatherings — tell stories. When I shared the fact that his sister and cousin had told him to drink the soap, both girls became very insistent that was NOT the way it had happened. Not at all! In fact, Kelsey specifically remembered Colby asking the girls, “Do you dare me to drink this?” My son, now laughing about the whole thing, confessed that he had lied all those year ago to avoid getting into trouble. Trouble? We were just happy he wasn’t seriously injured! The lingering, slimy soap taste was punishment enough.
Lessons learned? 1) Don’t give large amounts of liquid soap to a 9 year old kid without supervision, and 2) don’t believe everything your kids say. No matter how much you want to think they would never purposely do something dumb – they will.