It Just Takes a Moment: A Mother’s Story
by Kendra, A Sonoma Garden
While I was doing online research for cloth diapering five years ago, I heard of how you can clean your house using simple products like vinegar and baking soda, and I dabbled with them for a while, but two years and a half years ago something happened that turned me into a complete ‘safe-cleaning’ convert. Though I experimented in using things like baking soda and vinegar, I still had things under my kitchen sink like bleach, Cascade and Comet. But it was all tucked under safely behind childproof cabinets, or so I thought.
Two years ago, when my son was barely two, I was making lunch in the kitchen and my son was playing on the floor with the pots and pans as we frequently did. I was telecommuting from home at the time and had to be active with my e-mails, so while he was playing peacefully I stole away for a moment to run to the office to hit ‘refresh’ on my Outlook.
Just seconds later while I was quickly reading an e-mail, I heard him wail. Now as a mother, you quickly get to know your baby’s cries. Some are just cries of frustration, and others are ones that make your adrenaline start rushing immediately. His was the latter. I bolted into the kitchen to find that he had broken through the childproof locks on our sixty-year-old rickety cabinets with the jar of Comet in his hands and a mouth full of that horrid green powder.
I screamed, he was still screaming and I was just certain that I had poisoned my dear son beyond repair. I grabbed for the nearest dishtowel and started wiping out as much powder as I could out of his mouth. I used water to get as much out as I possibly could. Luckily when my childbirth coach years before had instructed us to put the Poison Control hotline number (which is 1-800-222-1222) on our refrigerators, I dutifully did so and I immediately called it.
The nice man on the other end of the line calmly told me that my son was going to be okay, I had done the right thing by getting it out of his mouth and to call if he started to have trouble breathing. I needed more reassuring so I called our local ER and a wonderful nurse also calmed me and said that he probably didn’t get much, if any, down his throat and that the reason he was crying was because of the awful taste in his mouth. As per her instructions, I gave him a glass of milk to get the taste out of his mouth and put him down for his nap.
As soon as he fell asleep and while my body was still racing with adrenaline, I went through our house like a madwoman, throwing out any and every cleaning product that was toxic. And if we couldn’t live without it, I placed it way up high where he could never reach.
I was lucky. He turned out to be just fine, but it was certainly a call to action. We harbor things in our cabinets that we don’t even realize are poisonous. Did you know that many mainstream body lotions have a warning that if swallowed call Poison Control? And adult toothpaste is all too tempting (and fatal) for a toddler to squeeze into his mouth.
It may be impossible to rid our houses of everything dangerous, but cleaning products are an easy thing to change. And I’ve come to find that baking soda plus a little lemon juice is even more effective at scouring sinks that Comet ever was. You just sprinkle the bottom of the sink with baking soda, squeeze half a lemon over it to moisten and scrub with a damp sponge or dishcloth. For many more ways that you can clean with baking soda, try this site and please do refer back to Melinda’s earlier post on how to clean with vinegar.
Now if my youngest son, who’s now almost two, breaks into our cabinets all he’ll find is a squirt bottle of vinegar and a sealed jar of baking soda. And I never leave them alone in the kitchen! Lesson learned!