This morning my husband had to go to work earlier than usual, so my five-year-old son woke up early, too. I was too groggy to get up and start my day, so I informed the boy that he needed to stay in bed.
After a few minutes, he shouted that he had to go to the bathroom. From my nice warm covers, I yelled back permission. Mind you, he knows the rules: get up, do your business, get back in bed.
Of course, he rarely follows the rules and I know it, but I was too exhausted to care. Unfortunately, I was only to get a few more precious minutes of "sleep."
It was just after 6 a.m. when I got out of bed. My son was sitting on his bed, back against the wall, holding his "cloth" up to his face (really a cloth diaper that he uses as a handkerchief every night after I put him to bed - hey, it's better than putting his boogers on the bed sheet, 'cause you know he's going to go digging in the dark). He was whimpering in a forced kind of way, like he knew he was in trouble and was trying to drum up some pre-punishment sympathy.
I asked him what he'd done. No answer, just an increase in the fake crying.
Did he hurt the kitty? No answer, but the crying was turning real.
Without patience, I shrugged and left him to it. Downstairs, with my coffee brewing, the crying increased and got louder. I ignored him, figuring I'd get the answer eventually.
I could hear it when he stood at the top of the stairs crying, and as he slowly descended. Finally, when my son had worked himself up to sobbing, I informed him that he had to the count of three to tell me what the problem was, or he was going to suffer a time out.
He came downstairs and stood miserably before me. I pulled him into my lap and comforted him, thinking, shoot, he must have done something pretty bad to put on such a show. I entreated and cajoled, but now he couldn't tell me what he'd done because he was crying so hard.
I was certainly getting worried at this point. Much as I wanted to know how much damage-control was needed, I hesitated promising him he wouldn't get into trouble if he would just tell me what he'd done. Maybe some other kid might be okay with it, but I know my son, and it would be a huge mistake to give him immunity like that. He'd for sure remember it the next time.
So I patted and rubbed his back as my neck got soaked with tears. Finally, finally, he calmed down enough to tell me, but the words were garbled.
He repeated himself three times until I made out the confession, "I ate some soap."
I was glad his face was pressed against my shoulder so he couldn't see my wide grin. "You ate some soap? How much soap?"
He sat back and pinched his front teeth between his finger and thumb. "It got stuck on my teeth."
I knew immediately he was referring to the peach-colored bar of Dial sitting in the soap tray in his bathroom. We mostly use liquid soap for hand-washing, but that bar has been around for ages.
After he calmed down enough, I gave him a glass of rice milk to take the bad taste away and snuck upstairs to examine the soap. The bar was fully intact, no big chunks missing, just two tiny parallel marks, like a snake bite, gouged out of one end.
Once I stopped laughing, I went down and gave my boy a refresher lecture on poisonous things in the house. He didn't get a "lick" of punishment - I figure after all that fuss, the residual taste in his mouth was punishment enough!