I’ve always felt relatively comfortable in my role as a father. I’m blessed to have been there for every milestone so far, from crawling to first words. One milestone, if you would call it that, made me feel terrible. It was one of those moments where even though it really isn’t your fault, you still feel terrible and like a failure.
On the east coast we didn’t have much of a summer. It was nice to only hit ninety degrees a handful of times. One such day, when humidity was particularly unbearable, I decided a cold lunch was necessary. Not wanting to have a showdown between the air conditioner and the stove, sandwiches were my sustenance of choice.
“What do babies like?” I wondered to myself.
The kids had finally gotten enough teeth in their craniums and this was during the transition to solid meals. I settled on peanut butter sandwiches and banana slices.
I remember being extra proud of myself. The food was laid out nicely, looked like the type of thing you might see on Pinterest! Oh the kids, they loved it! I was dad of the day, nay, the century! As I double fist pumped and the kids finished their meal I set up the daily entertainment, Mickey Mouse (Oh Toodles!!).
About fifteen minutes went by before I noticed anything. Killian began to break out in red splotchy spots. Suddenly my son started to look less like my son and more like that one muppet character, Janice, from the band.
When I realized what was happening i went into what I can only describe as robot super dad mode. As I called the pediatrician I also started applying Aveeno to my son’s body. I’m starting to think Kim Kardashian has a spy camera in my house because her latest picture is a direct rip off of how my child looked.
I’ll make it known right now that Diana’s parents and I do not get along. There is a longstanding hatred there that may never dissipate, but someone needed to watch Nicolas. As I sacrificed pride and all sorts of hatred toward her parent I called. I was told they were “busy”. I told them “don’t worry about it then” and hung up. As I got the kids ready I received a call that they would be on their way.
One awkward car ride later I’m carrying my son into the ER. Now I’ve never been the greatest with talking to people, or words, whatever. As I walk up to the desk I announce rather loudly, “I’ve poisoned my son!!”
I swear to you, orderlies are house elves or something. Five appeared. Five! Out of thin air, I was surrounded! As the receptionist stared quizzically at me I remembered you can’t just get to the point anymore and revised myself.
” I gave my son peanut butter and I think he is having an allergic reaction”
“Does your son have a peanut allergy?”
“It fucking looks like it!” (Remember the lack of social skills?)
As the order of apparating orderlies ushered me into triage I tried my best to remain calm about the situation. I’ve always been a nervous laugher and an inappropriate joker. Making light of situations is my coping mechanism and I would be a liar if I told you on the inside I wasn’t freaking out. The nurses in triage didn’t share my sense of humor. I might have also been a bit on edge, so my comments were rather dickish and insensitive. I didn’t want to sit and talk, I wanted my son to stop his transformation into a muppet.
“Hi, how are you?”
“Not good, I’ve poisoned my son with peanut butter”
“Okay, does your son have a peanut allergy” (this again, really??)
“No, he just likes to break out in hives randomly for shits and giggles, apparently its his thing.”
“You know, allergic reactions can lead to Ana-”
“Anaphylactic shock, I have google and webMD, are you going to help my son or what?”
As we got Killian weighed and into a hospital room his skin and swelling had gone down. I explained to them I had used Aveeno on him immediately and the doctors decided to keep us a few hours for observation. Occasionally my best friends, the nurses, would peek in and check on us.
“How is he doing?”
As nurse visits became surprisingly less frequent, Killian and I became anxious to get out of there. An orderly apparated in the hallway and I asked him if we could go. The doctor came around with his gang of glaring nurses and released us. Before we left head nurse “taught” me how to use an epi pen. I say taught in quotations because I’m pretty sure she purposely showed me how to do it wrongly on purpose, all the while emphatically telling me how bad it could be if I used the Epi wrong. Luckily my amazing webMD and Google skills, coupled with my ability to read directions, prevented me from stabbing myself in my finger while trying to prevent the next accidental poisoning of my son.
Now obviously there was no way I could have known my son would react that way to peanut butter, but that doesn’t change the terrible feeling I felt. In that moment I felt like a horrible parent. It’s just one of those things that happens and you move past it, but you don’t feel any less bad about it.
Things like this happen, I’m sure throughout parenthood. From poisoning my son to any other parenting hiccup I’ve learned that you can’t beat yourself up, you have to move on and continue parenting. So while I might have felt like the worst parent that day, I learned a good lesson in the naivety that comes along with parenting. I also know I sure as hell won’t be feeding Killian any peanut butter again.
Have you ever had a parenting hiccup? What was it? How did it make you feel? How did you move past it?