I had to call poison control this week.
I was cooking, mixing ingredients for a dinner casserole, when the smell of nail polish suddenly came wafting into the kitchen.
I rushed into the nearby bathroom, realizing things had been a little too quiet for too long, and discovered Jessie with an empty bottle of clear nail polish and her plastic tea set. Initially frustrated by her wastefulness and the mess, I grimly indicted, “What are you doing young lady?” with my most stern mom-voice.
Tears sprung from my ladybug’s eyes, knowing she was caught doing something she shouldn’t have been.
But as I assessed the “crime scene” further, my displeasure turned to fear. “Did you EAT the nail polish, Jessie?”
Her crying stopped. She looked directly in my eyes trying to read the degree of concern in my question while contemplating her response. Then she simply responded with a nod of her head.
Shocked, I emphatically exclaimed, “You ATE the nail polish, Jessie?!” Then probed further, “How much nail polish did you eat? A little or a lot?”
I asked again. “Jessie, how much nail polish did you put in your mouth?”
She hesitated and then replied, “A little, mama.”
“Just a little. Oh good! Nail polish is really…“
“Actually, it was a lot. Most of the bottle,” she interrupted.
My heart sank. “Jessie! Why would you EAT nail polish? It’s not good for you! That’s dangerous! You could get hurt!” I shrieked. “Did it taste good?”
“No.” Jessie started wailing.
Anxiously looking for my phone to call poison control, I inquired, “Did you know you shouldn’t be eating or playing with it?”
“Yes,” she remorsefully cried.
We hustled downstairs. “You know you aren’t allowed to open the drawer without permission, right?”
“Oh, Jessie, I don’t understand. You knew you shouldn’t be playing with nail polish, but you did it anyway. Then you ate it when it didn’t taste good?!! I don’t get it. Why would you to that?”
“I don’t know, mama. I wanted to,” Jessie sobbed.
I found the number to poison control and started dialing, holding my sweet girl in my arms. I proceeded to tell Patti, the woman responding from the poison control center, about the situation. Patti assured me that even if Jessie had consumed a huge bottle of nail polish it wouldn’t be toxic enough to harm her; it isn’t poison.
I hung up the phone and sat in silence holding tightly to my Jessie-Girl as she continued to whimper. My mind raced, bewildered by her choices: Why does she do things she knows she shouldn’t do, even if she doesn’t like it? Why does she disobey even when she is aware there will be negative consequences?
The questions turned inward: Christina, why do you do things you know you shouldn’t do? Why do you disobey even when you are aware there will be negative consequences?
Deeply aware of the very-real poison in my own heart, and overcome by God’s abiding love and forgiveness for me, I took Jessie’s face in my hands, looking her directly in her eyes, and affirmed, “I love you so much, Jessie-Girl. I forgive you for eating nail polish. I totally forgive you. I love you so much!”
God’s grace is poison control.