As part of a new series we’ll call The Best of The Bearded Iris, the following is my most popular post of 2013 (originally published January 9, 2013).
Happy New Year, friends. Stay warm today!
Damn. Parenting is hard.
Every day is a veritable obstacle course of responsibilities and decisions.
And just when you feel like you’ve gotten one part of parenting down because nobody got a cavity this year or burned down the house with their new chemistry set, something else goes horribly wrong. It’s the Murphy’s Law of Parenting.
Like that time I finally decided to let my baby “cry it out” for the first time, only to discover he had a raging fever.
Or the time I chose to purposely stretch out my toddler’s immunization schedule and as a result he contracted the worst case of Chicken Pox my pediatrician had seen in twenty years.
Let’s face it, you just can’t put your kid in a bubble and protect them from every danger out there.
But at least I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that my kids weren’t being exposed to BPA in their water bottles! That’s right, I finally plunked down the big bucks on fancy-schmancy stainless steel water bottles for all three of my children so they wouldn’t have to hydrate themselves with substandard plastic water bottles full of petrochemical-based carcinogens.
Only, the joke is on me, because according to the news recently, even those water bottles are putting my children at risk…of accidental death or dismemberment!
Can’t a mother get a break?
No no, these stainless steel water bottles aren’t filled with radioactive isotopes or microorganisms that spontaneously combust.
Apparently our little darlings are sticking their tongues in those small-mouthed stainless steel bottles and their tongues are getting stuck, which can lead to tongue amputation or accidental suffocation.
Honest to Pete. I could not make it up if I tried.
Jeff Rossen of NBC’s Today Show did a special report about this very thing. And no, “it’s not a joke,” says Rossen.
The special report even included an animated graphic to help us fully comprehend the inherent danger of stainless steel water bottles:
No, that’s not a red Christmas bulb, or a ripened jalapeño pepper, or my dog’s red rocket stuck in that water bottle of doom; it’s little Mary Kate’s tongue and it is vacuum sealed into that metal sarcophagus tighter than I’m packed into my pre-holiday mom jeans right now. And due to the child’s swelling tongue, the vacuum effect, and the noose-like metal threading inside the bottle’s opening, there is no way to just yank out Junior’s tongue without causing severe, possibly even permanent damage to it.
Good God, y’all. Is nothing safe?
It took a team of emergency room doctors over three hours of high-risk surgery to remove Mary Kate’s tongue from her water bottle, and then she was in the ICU for three days. She’s fine today, thank God. But her warning to other kids? “Don’t thtick your tongue in there. Itth a really big rithk.”
I’m glad she’s okay. And I’m guessing her adorable lisp is just an age-related thing and not the result of trauma.
But all joking aside: what’s a parent to do?
I thought I was doing a pretty good job with most of my parenting. I’ve taught my kids about stranger danger and Good Touch/Bad Touch and washing hands after going to the bathroom. They know not to stick a fork in the toaster, or chalk up their nose, or chewed gum down their pants (anymore). They know how to dial 9-1-1, do the Heimlich, and avoid venomous caterpillars. But in all my thirteen years of parenting, I never once thought to tell my kids to not stick their tongues into their metal water bottles.
And you’d think it would have crossed my mind, particularly since Bucket Head went through that sniffing and licking phase a couple years back.
(Bless his heart.)
Which has me thinking…
Maybe it’s time we all sat our kids down for a heart to heart about where they should not stick their tongues. Because clearly, unlike other instinctive things like breathing, blinking, and sticking black olives on all their fingers, human children clearly do not automatically know what they should and should not lick.
Most famous case in point:
Folks, you may want to print this list out and laminate it so you can refer to it often and help your young children memorize it.
Kids, never ever stick your tongues in, on, or near the following objects:
- metal water bottles
- soda can openings
- frozen lamp posts
- 9-volt batteries
- ceiling fans
- escalator treads
- closing elevator doors
- electric carving knives
- garbage disposals
- food processors
- belt sanders
- circular saws
- electrical outlets
- speed boat propellers
- vehicle exhaust pipes
- dog anuses
- bathtub drains
- swimming pool filtration holes
- garden hoses
- laundry vents
- the wiggling ‘flashlight’ your mom keeps in her nightstand drawer
- cars’ cigarette lighters
- culinary torches used for caramelizing flan
- the spiral binding on your school notebooks
- curling irons
- toilet plungers
- subway hand rails
- grocery cart handles or wheels
- fishing reels
- vacuum cleaner attachments
- DVD players
- handheld gaming devices
- your dad’s nose hair trimmer
- the rusty toilet auger hanging in the garage
- hermit crab shells
- welding equipment
- public restroom floors
- used feminine hygiene receptacles
- ATM machines
- bear traps
- electric cattle fences
- lawn mower blades
- weed whackers
- pottery wheels
- waffle irons
- drill presses
- firework displays
- petting zoo exhibits
- cigar cutters
- hypodermic needle collection bins
Just you wait, at the rate our society is heading, this list could make me famous in the medical community, like the Bristol Stool Chart of Children’s Tongue Preservation.
Now if you’ll excuse me, my kids are in the driveway inventing new riding toys. Let’s hope I can persuade them to keep their tongues out of the wheels.