Poison Tasting


A view of our back yard. OK we have done a lot of work since this photo was taken in May but you get the idea – lots of tasty plants/weeds to try…

My oldest son nearly poisoned himself last week and I was totally clueless.

First of all let me say that he is the biggest hypochondriac I have met. Seriously if he got a bad enough hang nail he’d probably ask to stay home from school. Every little thing hurts him BIG time.

So when he instantly came down with a scorching sore throat last Thursday I rolled my eyes and told him to get a cold glass of water.

In my defense I had just given birth three and a half days earlier and was not feeling good myself. My sympathy meter was malfunctioning. OK it was non-existent. I didn’t feel good and I didn’t want to hear how someone else didn’t feel good. Especially when he was playing with his cousins two minutes before then and acting just fine.

But we were starting to eat dinner and he couldn’t possible eat. His throat was hurting too bad. I told him he might have a stuffy nose and his throat was probably dry because he was breathing through his mouth.

He sprayed some sore throat spray and I loaded him up on medicine. We ate dinner and put him in bed.

The next morning he had flaky skin and a pimple-like rash on his chin. His bottom lip was also swollen.

That’s when I knew something was up.

After questioning him for several minutes he confessed. He was playing in our jungle-like back yard with his cousin when he pulled a leaf apart. Inside was a white, milky substance that he decided looked delicious. (I don’t really know if he thought it looked delicious but something had to possess him to lick it.)

He sucked up the juice! The juice from an unknown plant, probably weed, from our unruly back yard! And then he tried to cover it up by coming down with an instant strep throat.

I was scared and mad all at once. And boy did he hear about it.

What?! Who eats the juice from a random leaf? Did he know how dangerous that was? Did he know it could have been poisonous?

We were lucky it didn’t entirely close off his airway! I don’t even know what plant it was! I explained to him that if he got worse in the night it could have been deadly. I told him that I know he didn’t want to confess to what really happened but he needed to. He should have. (I tried to speak calmly, but those of you who know me know that’s a serious struggle for me.)

What did he have to show for his taste test? A raw chin and swollen mouth. Which, actually, is much better than a hospital stay for poison control. We were lucky.

I took my newborn to a check-up the next day and asked the pediatrician if he thought I should bring him in. Luckily he said no. He said my son was probably just having an allergic reaction but to watch it if it got worse.

Thinking the fire-burning throat would deter him from sucking juice out of anything in our yard again, we teased my son as he was heading outside to play the next day.

“Don’t drink anything!” we said.

“I know, I’m allergic to that one plant,” he said. “I’ll stay away from that.”

“No! Stay away from ALL of the plants!!!” my husband and I shouted in unison.

Ironically the next Monday at school a group of gardeners from Thanksgiving Point came to the school to teach his third-grade class about plants. They taught them that tulip bulbs are edible and let them cut them open and taste them. Seriously?

You better believe I threatened my oldest with his life if he started digging up my bulbs and tasting them. If he isn’t afraid of poisoning himself, he better be afraid of me!

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