“You are not going out with that boy unless his parents are driving and that's that. I'm not just Spitting Grits here, young lady!”

. . . My father, John Thomas Cravey, USAF, to me in 1956.

Poison Control for Grandparents

My new best friends are Jane and Amy at Alabama Poison Control.

About a week ago, on a Saturday, I was here with my granddaughter Joanna Leigh and needed to, well, brush my teeth. As grandparents know, there’s no privacy with a curious toddler in the house.

Despite the sound of water running, I heard a thumping, dragging sound, not altogether unfamiliar, as Joanna Leigh drags lots of stuff around, like her rocker, the chairs to her art table in her room, the chairs to her play table in the den. I decided to at least finish brushing my teeth. I rinsed, turned off the water, and headed to the top of the stairs. I could see her downstairs in the den.


“What are you doing?” I called.

She kind of peeked around the door facing. Sheepishly. She had something.

“What is that?”

It was a bottle.

The bottle had reddish color stuff in it.

It’s the Tylenol! Children’s Tylenol. The measuring cap. There’s some in it!

“NO, you can’t do that!” I screamed.

I ran to her and grabbed it. There was also a glob on the chair. “No!”

She kind of handed it to me. “My medicine,” she said. “I don’t feel good.”

“No,” I screamed again. “You can’t get your medicine. Mama Jo or Papa have to get your medicine.”

I was panicked. I looked at the top. It had some in it. I look at the blob on the chair. I just didn’t know. I called my husband. He said I probably needed to get her to the emergency room. All I could see was an IV hooked up to her while her stomach was being pumped. Suddenly, I thought, No, that’s aspirin. Tylenol goes to your liver. It can shut your liver down. Oh, God!

I grabbed the phonebook. Poison control, poison control, where is it? There.

I dialed.

“Poison control,” said the voice. “This is Jane.”


“My granddaughter. She has gotten into her Tylenol. I don’t know how much she had.”

“Not good,” said the Jane.

She began to walk me through steps to determine how much she could have taken. I’m not sure I recognized them as steps, but I certainly realize now that they were indeed meaningful questions to her.

It seemed to take hours, when in fact it couldn’t have been long. I told her that all I did was brush my teeth. I heard her dragging the kitchen chair. I rinsed and ran downstairs. It wasn’t long.

Finally, the verdict: “I don’t think she could have taken enough to harm her. Here’s what we’ll do. You give her lots of liquids. Watch for abdominal pains, vomiting, and the like. I’ll call you back in an hour.”

Jane or Amy at the Alabama Poison Control continued to call during the day and evening, the next day, I think the day after, and maybe once more to close the case. In one of the later conversations I said, “And by the way, I forgot to tell you it was a child-proof cap on it.”

“Nope,” said Jane. “It’s not child proof. Don’t ever count on that. We’ve had 18-month-olds open those ‘resistent’ caps.”

“That’s false advertising,” I said.

“Well, that’s what we have.”

“Ok, it looks like I’ll have to get some kind of lock boxes. Our bottom cabinets are child-proofed, but who’d think she could drag a wrought iron kitchen chair over the rug, which is crumpled up, by the way, all the way across the room, get onto the counter, get the medicine out, get the child-proof cap off, get down, go into the den and start pouring into the measuring cap?”

“You got it,” said Jane.

Joanna Leigh was fine. But, guess what, once again I learned the lessons. Not to brush your teeth? No.

1. Call Poison Control immediately.

2. Don’t count on the pharmaceutical company – YET AGAIN – to do what it should.

3. Don’t assume even a pipsqueak like my granddaughter can’t do it.

4. Size up your child’s/grandchild’s personality and then deal with it.

5. Put the Poison Control number on an index card and tape it up around the house.

6. And, finally: Don’t, don’t NOT freak out. Freak out all you want, because. . .

I later heard Joanna Leigh putting Teddy into Time Out, yet again, poor creature. He is in such pathetic condition; his head lolls around on this weak neck. For more about Teddy in Time Out, see this post.

She said to Teddy, “Teddy, no getting the medicine. You’re going to Time Out.”

His head lolled around. She put him down on the floor.

Teddy in time out

I am very worried about poor Teddy. He has certain conditions, like terminal sticky fur, at the least. Believe me, I’ll freak out when Teddy goes to the Great Stuffed Animal upper room.



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