Oil and Water

Our girls get along really well when were not in the room. Most mornings, Anya will wake around 6:30am and come get in bed with us for a little cuddle and nurse. She'll usually stay put (sometimes sleeping, sometimes annoying me) until around 7:30 or 8 when she'll get up, go upstairs and wake Lily.

"Lily!" she'll call while banging on her door. "Wake up! Cereal!"

Lily is usually on her feet and chatting with her sister in just a few moments. Sometimes we'll giggle to hear from above us, "OK Anya. I'll get you some cereal, but then I'm going back to bed. OK?"

"K, Lily."

She never goes back to bed.

And they do great together, feeding the dog, playing quietly and waiting for us to get up and join them. Sometimes they'll get tired of waiting and descend upon us, tumbling into the room with a shocking bang of the door and leaping onto us all arms and legs and wide grins.

If one of us gets up to check on them or to let the dog out and then attempts to return to bed, all hell will break loose, with the two of them fighting. But seriously, as long as we stay hidden, it's all good.

Sunday, I heard the dog barking and so got up to let her out. I then foolishly thought maybe I could get back into bed. Shortly after, I awoke to screaming. Really awful, something bad has happened screaming. I ran upstairs to find Anya standing at the door, furiously rubbing her eyes and smelling like lemons.

"Why does she smell like lemons?"

"Donno." Lily shrugged and continued playing as if all was well.

"WHY DOES YOUR SISTER SMELL LIKE LEMONS!" I repeated, furiously looking around for the yellow remains of a piece of fruit I knew we didn't have in the house.

Lily shrugged again.

"Look, kid. I wasn't here to see what happened. You were. FIGURE IT OUT! NOW!"

Lily walked right over to the stool, climbed up to the counter and held up an open bottle of lemon essential oil.


I didn't really know what to do, so I stuck her head under the faucet, trying to flush out her eyes. It looked as though she had dumped a bunch on her head, it made her start itching and then she stuck her fingers in her eyes, burning them with the citric acid. I just couldn't think how to neutralize it, so washed and nursed her until the screaming finally stopped. I considered calling someone, but it was only 7am and didn't want to wake anyone and didn't think it was bad enough to warrant waking anyone with a screaming child on the other end of the phone. After lots of nursing she calmed down and with the added distraction of the television, she was finally OK.

Later that day I talked to a friend who is a Holistic Heathcare Practitioner (HHP). He pointed out the old adage of oil and water not mixing. "In fact," he told me, "when we're trying to get an oil to absorb, we used warm compresses, so yeah, not the best action on that one."

"What should I have done?"

"Do you have any grape seed oil in the house? Any light oil would have done it."

"You can put oil in the eyes?"

"Yep, would have been fine. I mean, lemon is just irritating, not too damaging. Obviously she's OK. But next time, dilute with oil, not water."

"Can there just NOT be a next time."

"We can all hope!"

I feel like such an ass. It's my job to keep dangerous things out of their tiny hands. But I didn't think of the oil as being dangerous, it has a child safety cap on it (which we all know kids are excellent at removing, so why didn't I think of that?). It was on a part of the counter that they normally cannot reach, Lily had pushed the stool around a corner to get it where it was. I simply hadn't even thought of it, forgetting it was even out. And then to not even think of using a carrier oil instead of water to flush her eyes? How smart am I?

I'm hoping there is a bright side to this little tale. I'm hoping Anya now knows that getting into things that are not hers can hurt her. I'm hoping next time she wants to inspect something like that, a little bell goes off in her brain. I'm hoping she may not find anything that could really hurt her. I'm hoping I learn to keep things away from them. Right now, I'm mostly hoping I can keep them safe until they're 18. Then maybe I won't feel like such a negligent mother if they get hurt.

Although, probably still will. Motherhood is, after all, for life.