The good, the bad and the button battery

Did anyone catch the top news story recently about a man who led police on a three-hour semitrailer chase?

Sounds a little exciting, right? A bit OJ Simpson.

Scratch below the surface and it was anything but.

The man surrendered peacefully (ho hum). But the best part - the chase occurred in California!

And this is the top story for some of our well-known Australian media. Such a good example of a bad news story.

Isn’t anything occurring here on home soil that would be of importance to us? Something more than the overabundance of cars crashing into houses that the media seems to be obsessed with of late?

Each day I receive Google alerts in my Inbox highlighting stories in the media that might be of interest based on certain key words I have identified as important.

For me and Juno ChildSafe, those words and sentences include “kids/children”, “accidental”, “poisoning”, “medication”, “hand sanitizer”.

But I remain surprised and disappointed that accidental medication poisoning in young children rarely gets a mention.

Every two hours in Australia a child aged under five years is treated in an emergency department for accidental medication poisoning. Where are the stories about that? Where are the medical experts being interviewed? Don’t we, as parents, have a right to know?

But there has been a little ray of sunshine recently, with some of the other words on my watch list making a starring appearance.

You probably know them – “lithium”, “button”, “batteries”.

Every week, about 20 children in Australia attend a hospital emergency department with a button battery exposure. To date, we have had two deaths.

You may have seen the startling footage of a button battery eating away at a pork sausage. It’s done the rounds of the news sites and social media, including our own Facebook page –

Thankfully, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, along with other organisations, have been doing their bit to put this story on the news agenda.

And then today, my little Google alert sent me this – Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, Energiser Australia, Officeworks and other major retailers have adopted a voluntary industry code designed to reduce the number of Australian kids killed and injured when they swallow button batteries - see here for details.. 

Finally, some good news!

The joy of shoving peas up your nose

I have this very clear memory of my mum from when I was two-and-a-half. It was when she went to hospital to have my younger brother.

But apart from that one little glimpse from that time, obviously seared into my brain thanks to separation anxiety, not much else. I know I was happy and loved. But remembering exactly what it was like being a 2-3-year-old - total blank!

It’s probably why we, as parents, can sometimes find it difficult to understand our kids – their behavior, their emotions, how they could possibly enjoy drinking out of the dog’s bowl or sticking peas up their nose.

But to be the best parent we can be, we have to be able to tap into that child’s view of the world - “Oh honey, I understand how sad you can feel when someone calls you a poo head"; “Of course mummy wants to jump on the trampoline for the 50th time today … despite the fact my bladder is threatening to explode with every downward bounce thanks to all the trampolining that went on in utero before you were even born!”

It’s what we do so they feel loved and happy and understood – and simply because we want to hang out with such delicious little munchkins.

But we also need to think like a kid in order to keep them safe.

As an adult we know it’s not a good idea to munch on dog poo, chase a ball onto the road without looking, stick our hand in fire. But little kids don’t know this. We have to do their thinking for them by thinking like them; by tapping into our three-year-old self – if I were three, a pair of sharp scissors might look like a fun toy, so the adult me had better take them off the table and put them out of reach.

I was told recently of a little girl who broke into her dad's backpack searching for his jelly beans. Nothing dangerous there, right? The only problem was that her dad carries lollies because he is diabetic. He also carries medication for his diabetes that reduces his blood glucose level.

She found and ate this medication instead – because she is a little child who doesn’t know how to be anything else. Instead of spending Sunday playing, she spent the day in Emergency.

A three-year-old doesn’t think that a bag full of goodies can turn on them. It’s us, as adults, who have to think that for them. 


Just when I thought it was safe ...

Little Miss D is my easy child.

Put it this way, after twin boys as first born, most kids would probably seem a breeze by comparison.

The twins can claim at least part responsibility for my safety consciousness - the rest is me I guess, plus just being a mum.

I’ve experienced toddler wielding butcher’s knife; toddler running onto road; the great shopping centre escape times about 20; the “let’s run our own bath while mum isn’t watching”. Been there, done that, seen the therapist.

We used door locks, cupboard locks, fridge locks. Even tried those harnesses to go out walking – ever seen a mother stretched starfish style as two little boys tear off in opposite directions? That was probably me.

When we renovated our house a few years back, the twins had a direct hand in design and decor.

Lovely Juliette balcony off our bedroom. Scrap.

Open staircase to maximize natural light. Scrap.

Funky bunk beds. Scrap.

Window locks. Tick.

Stair gate. Tick.

Low deck with high balustrade. Tick.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Yes, little ticking time bombs they were. Waiting to go off as soon as my back was turned – and often when it wasn’t.

And then Little Miss D arrived. She’s easy. Sweet and trustworthy. Eager to please. She ‘listens’! She’s 4 going on 24. She’s mature and sensible.

So when I stepped out of my car in a busy car park the other day, I didn’t feel the need to remind her to get out on the same side and stand by me. That’s our rule and she knows it.

But not that day. A little baby brain explosion.

Before I knew it she was out on the other side and walking behind the neighbouring car. It took me a few seconds to realise that she was out and in a very vulnerable position.

All quickly rectified and thankfully no damage done.

But it shocked us both. She was even a little embarrassed by her error when we talked about it later.

So what am I trying to say?

There are kids you can trust and kids you can’t.

But at the end of the day, they are all just little kids. And even the most trustworthy, sensible and predictable ones can still take us completely by surprise.