I hate mushrooms, I’m terrified of them, they are some of the things that can keep this adventure travel momma up at night totally flipping out. While ya’ll spend your days planning for the zombie apocalypse I spend mine scouring over the terrain to ensure that those little killers are not invading our space. I freak out on hikes. It wouldn’t be so bad if our kids would just stay on the trail. But they get their kicks trying to identify edible wild stuff lurking amongst the trees.
Me? I’m on the trail begging them to get back on the trail because Coby and Elly find whatever their older siblings are doing far more fun than what Dan and I are doing. And don’t get me started on Dan. Dan is the biggest hiking rule breaker in the history of hikers. He never stays on the trail and it is his fault entirely that our kids ignore the most basic of hiking etiquette!
Take a stroll with me through the peaceful, meditative forests across the country and you will hear me, breaking the silence and the serenity, saying the following, ad nauseum:
“DON’T, DO NOT, touch that!”
“GET AWAY from that NOW!”
“What is he, what’s he? OH MY GOSH! Did you touch THAT? Did you eat it? Open your mouth. Say ahhhhh! Did you put that in your mouth? Oh sh*%… DAN!! DAN!! Come smell his breath. I think he just ate this.”
I sound insane. It’s a damn good thing we hike where others don’t because parents would be pulling their children away from me, all crouched and in a protective stance. But MY kids are the most important thing to me and so I can become overwrought with concern. Broken bones (of which we’ve only had 3) and stitches (I’ve lost count) do not scare me, I can see what is going on there and I can fix it, or rather, I can get it fixed. But things like head injuries and poison … I become neurotic.
And so when I noticed, in the dark, during a super crazy game of Man Hunter, some new little mushrooms growing in the playground I made a mental note to destroy them the next morning. But as with most things, that mental note went by the wayside. I forgot all about those seemingly innocuous little buggers and so, after a few days of rain, they were perfect for catching the eyes of a very inquisitive toddler.
Now this particular toddler is like none other that I have ever encountered. To meet him you’d think he was a very VERY short (and chubby) 4 year old. He has all the motor skills, the language and the athleticism of someone twice his age. He can climb anything, he can longboard (NO LIE), he jumps off of things irregardless of height. To impress upon you the severity of his dauntlessness, Coby can literally almost do a flip off the sofa onto the floor (almost, because after I visually saw this, I stopped his training immediately and forbid anyone to ever say the words “front flip” around him for the next 5 years!). He literally has no fear and, on any given day, you will hear a brother saying through laughter, “He landed it!” I give thanks, that he did indeed land it, and then I cease the activity. No two year old should ever land something. But I digress, this role model thing, this sibling encouragement, this is for another blog.
And, it’s for this reason, his seeming lack of self-preservation and his unending desire to impress the older boys that Coby is NEVER to be left unsupervised. He’s to have bonafide, reasonable, eyes on him at all times. So, as you can imagine, that leaves very few people qualified to care for him. There’s just no telling what he can get himself into. In fact, even when you are watching him, he has like a radar, and superpowers that allow him to get into precarious situations when you take your eyes off him for a few seconds to give Elly a push on a swing or answer a text or … write this blog! You turn back to your sweet little cherub and where he was playing on the ground behind you 5 seconds ago, he is now scaling the monkey bars. (True Story)
And so, I’ve become very accostomed to saying, “Insert Name, watch Coby for two seconds while I (insert activity).” And that’s where I found myself yesterday. I jumped up from running with Coby and Elly and said, “(Reasonable child), watch Coby for two seconds while I see how far I can jump off this swing.” (name of Coby watcher has been changed to protect the identity of the non-reasonable teen). I proceeded to pump like 6 times when I heard it, “Mushrooms, Coby!”
Time stopped. They were right behind me, like 10′ away, just out of reach of the swing I was on. I stopped pumping, jumped while yelling “(Reasonable child), get him away from the mushrooms!!” and ran over. Warning signals were blaring, and then I heard the dreaded words. I heard the once reasonable child say, while laughing, mind you, “Don’t eat them Coby.”
“What did he eat? Did he put a mushroom in his mouth? Coby open your mouth! Coby, say ahhhhh for mommy! Did he swallow any? Which one did he eat? Where is it? Coby, open again, mommy wants to smell your breath.”
Incredulous, the no longer reasonable child, who has lived with me well into the teem years was looking at me like I was crazy. Have you not been listening to me FREAK out about mushrooms for over a decade, child? Have you no recollection at all of all the mushroom lectures? Who are you?
“He didn’t eat it. He just put it in his mouth and spit it out. See here’s the piece he spit out. It’s fine.”
“FINE?” And then my head spun and I don’t remember (that’s my story) leaving Coby with the doofus teen again to go investigate and try to identify this one mushroom out of millions of species. Dan googled, at my urgent demand, and I googled. Grady googled. I finally called poison control … I dread this call as I’m certain there is a database of every mom in the world and how many times they have to make this call. I’m certain that once you hit the too many phone calls threshold, you are flagged as a potentially negligent mom. But he possibly swallowed some mushroom of unknown origin! UGH!
I called Poison Control and was told to go to the ER.
I mean, I call Poison Control and they tell me not to worry. I’ve never ever been told to do anything but relax. I called our Dr. in Colorado. Same thing. Dan told me they were crazy. He was 100% against going to the ER. “He has no symptoms of anything. He is fine.” Fine?!?!?
So, Dan and I went to the ER, with the promise of Fat Eddy’s (an ice cream place in Summersville, WV) the next day if everyone held it together and there were no fights or broken things when we got back. Luckily Grady, Brody and Kady really are amazing babysitters– they’ve had a ton of practice — and everything went fine.
We waited in the Summersville ER for two hours. I was a nervous wreck, I had been on Google and read all the stories about how precious children died after eating even the smallest bit of a poisonous mushroom. I abhor Google. It specializes in eradicating common sense from the people who need it most … moms.
But common sense, in it’s most raw form was sitting next to me in the chair, reading Popular Mechanics Magazine. Dan’s instinct is unwavering. His brain is immune to fear. After 22 years, I wish I would just listen to him. He is ALWAYS right. Back at the RV as I was overwhelmed by the fear of the what if’s he had recommended simply using activated charcoal, just in case, instead of the just in case ER run. But since our doctor, whom I trust inherently, recommended the ER, Dan went with me so I could sleep.
AND, you know what? As always, Dan was right. The ER said the exact same thing Dan did, activated charcoal, just in case. The Dr repeated exactly what we had read on the Mayo Clinic’s website! The first 6 hours he could have diarrhea and throw up if the mushroom was mildly toxic. But, and here’s why I didn’ fall asleep until 4:07 am that night, if the mushroom was one of the extremely toxic ones, the following 6 hours would show systemic symptoms. Like liver and kidney failure. Great. I watched Coby all night until 4:05 am for excessive sweating and any sign of discomfort. Praise God, he was fine. In all likelihood he never even swallowed any part of the mushroom.
But it got me thinking. Danger is right around the corner, it lurks everywhere, inside, outside, it doesn’t matter. Dog bites, car accidents, crazy psycho people with evil in their blood, and yes, even mushrooms. Sometimes, when I let the fear of the unknown and the what-if’s get to me, I become overwhelmed. I feel inadequate for the job. There’s just too much to protect against. The super flu, ebola, the list just goes on and on. The consequence of failure is unthinkable.
Moms, we are akin to superheros fighting off danger at every turn. Fighting unknown, invisible organisms, bad guys, and all the lurking dangers. Most of the time we win, most of the time our God-given intuition serves us well. And, I’m so incredibly thankful that when I lose, it’s to some fear that never really manifests itself into reality or a minor injury that can be treated and fixed in a matter of an hour or so. But it’s the possibility of a great unimaginable loss that invokes the greatest fear known to man. It keeps us awake at night, it compels us to check on our children while they sleep, to scour the Internet in search of symptoms, to rush to the ER and to worry, worry, worry.
I once was lamenting on how terrifying being a parent was, about how much could go wrong in just a blink of an eye. A friend looked at me and countered, “But so much can go right.” Touche’! I’ll never forget that comment. As long as I live, I’ll never forget that glimpse of optimism. I’ll also never forget what is important in this life. I’ve sat at the side of a hospital bed, climbed in to cuddle my sweet sweet child and prayed and prayed that God would make everything right. I promised the moon that day. I promised to never get caught up with worldly things … nice cars, big house, designer clothes, diamonds and excess. On that day I told God I would live in a box on a mountain if he would please heal my precious child. I will never forget how insignificant even food was to me that day.
So always always remember, in the midst of all your worry and concern that So, So much can go right.