On Sunday morning I woke to the swish-swish-tap-tap of Babygirl’s mosey to my bedside.  I could feel her standing next to me, waiting patiently.  As I willed my eyes to open, still blurry and bleary in the dawn, she whispered, “Here you go, Mommy,” and thrust something towards my face.

I registered the smell of mint.  “What’s that, Babygirl?” I whispered back.
“Here, Mommy, look.  I ate all your gum.  But that’s okay, right Mommy?”

Suddenly I was focusing, confirming that the object in her hand was, in fact, an empty packet of Orbit gum.  “Where are all the pieces?” I asked.
“In my tummy,” she said, placing both hands on her round belly for emphasis.  Then she pouted.  “But I’m still hungry.”
“You ate the gum?  All of it?”
“Yes, can you get up now?” And she trotted back out of the room.

My husband rolled over.  “How much was in there?” he asked me.
“I have no idea.”  I sat up and rubbed my eyes, looking at the clock for the first time.  6:15.  6:15am.  The paper hasn’t even been delivered yet and already it’s Sunday – 1, Mommy – 0.  #mommyfail

Damage control.  My husband and I followed Babygirl to the kitchen.  LittleMan was tucked under the dining room table, playing with Legos.  “Babygirl ate ALL the gum,” he hollered dramatically.  I could hear him thinking, Babygirl’s going DOWN.  (He probably could not hear me thinking, LittleMan: NOT a qualified babysitter at this point.)

Babygirl’s stool was pulled up in front of the junk drawer.  It was kitchen gum, and not purse gum, that she had gotten her hands on.  My husband counted the empty wrappers strewn on the kitchen counter.  Five.  (Later I would scavenge for a lost Lego under the hutch and find five more wrappers.  Ten sticks of gum, this child ate before the sun came up, and then she hid half the evidence.)  The worst-case scenarios were already flashing unbidden through my brain: What if she had choked?  What if she had played with the scissors?  What if she fell off the stool, while choking and holding scissors?  Does it really take 7 years to digest gum?  And I was SLEEPING!  Not paying attention at all!  ASLEEP, of all things, on Sunday morning at 6am!

Babygirl was fluttering around underfoot, demanding grapes and milk and juice and oatmeal to satisfy the hunger unsated by her morning meal of peppermint gum.  Then, of course, she sat at the table, ate three bites of yogurt, smeared some oatmeal on the wall and declared herself done.  #igiveup

I was talking to someone recently who joked that as a kid he fantasized about having the chance to save someone’s life, to be a hero.  Then he had two kids and realized his dreams had come true.

Chuckle, if you will, but then think about it.  Holy Moly, right?  Every time I grab her arm before she races off the curb; every time I realize he’s drifted into the deep end of the pool; every time we find, and confiscate, various marbles/pebbles/coins/dice/death hazards; every time we force them to “just take two sips” of water on a blazing hot day; every time we battle through sunscreen: saving LIVES.  Yup.  And every time we don’t do those things, every time we forget, or step into the other room to take a phone call, or — heaven help me — SLEEP PAST 5:30…well, you just never know, do you?  All hell could break loose.  Or something really, really awful could happen.

Or not.  More often than not.

All this to say: Parents of the world, you are single-handedly guaranteeing the continuity of the human race, one properly-installed child-safety seat at a time.  #nopressure

You know, if you Google “my toddler ate a bunch of gum,” you get lots and lots of results.  Pages upon pages of people who left their purses open, left the groceries untended, walked away from their desks at the wrong moment.  Misery loves company, and apparently even 30 (!) pieces of gum won’t kill you, though they will result in one hell of a bellyache.  So we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.

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