The other day one of my boys (let’s call him Boy Who Will Not Be Named) came into the kitchen with a proud look on his face.
"Guess what I just did?" he beamed, giggling.
"What?" I asked. (Note to self: if they’re giggling, don’t ask).
"I stuck my tongue in the toilet water!"
I had one of those parenting moments where no complete word or sentence can escape your lips. "Wh…you did…toil…wha…YOU DID WHAT?"
Obviously not picking up on my horror, he continues to giggle. "I licked the toilet water!"
Can we just pause for a moment so I can tell you that most of the time, in the moment of crisis, I can keep a fair bit of cool. But this one, for some reason, was too much. I walked to the edge of the Deep End and jumped right off. With great profundidty, I shrieked, "THAT IS THE STUPIDEST THING YOU’VE EVER DONE!" (Note: "Stupid" is a bad word in our house.)
Boy Who Will Not Be Named looked at me in surprise. "Mom! You said a bad word!" Clearly, the child’s Don’t-Tick-Mom-Off-Anymore-Than-I-Already-Have filter was turned off.
More verbal stumbling from mom. "Yes, well, it just…sometimes…I…well, it’s the only word that fits!" I marched him up to his room for a toothbrushing session that removed most of his taste buds and threw the toothbrush in the dishwasher.
And then, why-oh-why, I asked him, "Son, why did you do this?"
"Because my brother told me to."
"If your brother told you to jump off a building, would you do it?" I’m telling you, the profound parenting statements were just flying out of my mouth.
The Boy was picking up on my horror, though I could tell he couldn’t quite register why this was such an offense. Still sputtering, I launched into a tirade about how there are things in poop, and therefore in toilet water, that can make you extremely sick, SO sick you have to go to the hospital, SO sick…[pause for dramatic effect as I get ready to unload the Dryer Family Wost Thing That Can Happen To You]…SO SICK YOU HAVE TO GET A SHOT.
And, he was undone. Completely undone. There was wailing and gnashing of teeth as he apologized profusely and suggested that we pray together that he doesn’t get sick. And I’m standing in that parenting rock-and-hard-place I often visit, stuck between wanting to teach him a lesson while not overreacting to the point of traumatizing him for life.
All’s well that ends well. After I calmed down, we had a more rational discussion about why it’s not a good idea to drink toilet water (since, you know, it’s NOT OBVIOUS), what will and won’t send you to the hospital, and when it is and isn’t a good idea to do what your brother tells you. (Said Brother received an equal talking-to).
I love that boy. Oh, I love him. But I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to KISS him again.