Welcome to the blog of science fiction author Eileen Rhoadarmer--where science fiction and Mommyhood collide!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Call a Hazmat Team!

It was bound to happen sooner or later.  But of course it would happen today, just to prevent me from getting back on track.  What I refer to is the fact that my son's nap has been getting later and later in the day, sometimes as much as 40 minutes later than I intend.  This is throwing our whole evening schedule off track and pushing dinner back to an unacceptable hour.  So today I really pushed to keep us on schedule.  Toddler fed, diaper changed, sleepsack on, drapes drawn... we're sitting down for a lullaby before naptime.  The time:  2:02.  Perfect!

Barely one phrase into the song, there's a large movement starting over my left shoulder and streaking toward the floor.  My son had grabbed onto the lamp without my noticing and pulled it over.  I loudly shout a word I try never to say in earshot of my son, and as I realize that I have no chance of catching the lamp the thought in the forefront of my mind is "there are three CFL bulbs in there, they contain MERCURY, they require special clean-up, I don't know what that clean-up is, they're going to BREAK!"  The moment ends with a crash as one of the bulbs shatters all over the carpet.

Well, great.  I set my son in the only handy, contained space available--his crib--and go about collecting plastic bags for the debris, paper towels to wipe down surfaces, and Banshee Baby's nemesis:  the vacuum cleaner.  Banshee Baby makes his appearance as I set about removing the evidence from his bedroom.  Broken glass picked up, floor vacuumed, all flat surfaces in immediate area wiped down with damp paper towels, throw rugs vacuumed and removed for more cleaning later.  My son actually does quite well:  after he calms down, he doesn't even seem particularly afraid of the vacuum cleaner, so maybe he's moved beyond that.  All clean-up supplies removed from bedroom:  we're done, right?

Wrong.  As I go to pick him up, I see a piece of glass IN his crib.  The crib he's been sitting in for the last twenty minutes.  Oh joy.  Sleepsack removed and replaced, hands wiped down, sheets changed, teddy bear vacuumed (never thought I'd string those words together!), blanket removed and replaced.  The teddy bear is probably fine--there was only the one piece of glass I found in the crib, probably it was an isolated bounce.  Finally, I'm ready to sing to my child and put him to bed.  I close his door at 2:40--as far behind as we've ever been.

The next thing I do is put his sheets in the washer.  Then I get online and pull up information on cleaning up broken CFLs.  Activate overactive imagination and initiate panic sequence.

The first step:  evacuate and ventilate room for 15 minutes.  Oops.  We both stayed in there while I cleaned.  Child is now sleeping in closed room that was never ventilated.  My child is going to get ADHD and it's all my fault.  Tiptoe to bedroom door and quietly open it partway to help ventilate.  Take deep, steadying breaths.

Another step:  dispose of any clothing or bedding that came into direct contact with glass or mercury powder.  Do no place in washing machine as mercury could contaminate washer.  It is a fact that I have already started the washing machine.  My developmentally normal child is going to develop autism because of contaminated bedding and clothing.

It is also a fact that I am probably not going to dispose of the sheets or the sleepsack.  I'm definately not going to dispose of the bear.  Repeat to self:  "There was one piece of glass in the crib.  It was a fluke.  He'll be okay."

Most of the actual clean-up steps I more-or-less got right.  It says I should ventilate the room the next few times I vacuum.  Should I not let him play on the floor of his own bedroom anymore?  Is he going to get ugly sores on his hands and feet and have developmental delays if I let him?  Force self to close all open internet windows on CFLs.  Tell self to stop panicking.

Remind self that a cousin's child broke a CFL lamp in our house several years ago at Thanksgiving, before we ever knew they contained mercury.  Nothing noticable ever happened to us.  "But," says the nagging doubt, "you and your husband are adults.  Your son is young, growing, and his brilliant mind is in a state of massive development."  Tell nagging doubts to get stuffed.  Remind self that the then three-year-old who knocked the lamp over doesn't seem to have any developmental problems.

At least next time (and I have no doubt that there will be a next time) I know what I'm supposed to do about the dang bulbs.  I probably won't forget in a hurry. These things are supposed to be environmentally friendly--but do they have any warnings about not using near small children who are liable to break them?

Do I ever get to stop worrying about him?  I know the answer to this, and I accepted it as part of becoming a parent.  But I wish I could evict my overactive imagination when this sort of thing happens.

1 comment:

Sue Lewczyk said...

Congratulations on inheriting (or learning) the overactive panic mode. I'm not sure whether to laugh or weep. Love ya. :)