If you're skipping around, trying to find the scene where the child gets into something dangerous, don't bother. In a movie, the toddler is always exactly where it needs to be in order for the movie to progress. Even if they get lost in some zany shopping mall scene, it's always a case of him running around, just missing the adult who is frantically chasing him. Not once have I seen the kid stop and open a bag of candy and just start pigging out, the way an actual child would. But in the real world where turning your head for three seconds is enough time for your kid to disappear, candy is the least of your worries. Even in your own "childproof" home.
I used to get heartburn a lot. I'd eat Rolaids like popcorn, and they were always at my computer desk within quick reach. You don't really think of that when you have kids. Rolaids are harmless, so there's no reason to keep them under lock and key, right? It's something you don't really have to question.
Until you've woken up to find that your kid got up 30 minutes before you, quietly strolled into the living room, found your box of "candy" and made that his breakfast.
Believe it or not, you actually can overdose on antacids, though the likelihood of your kid dying on them are next to zero. But when you're a new parent and you see your child sitting in a pile of spilled medicine, no matter how mild or "harmless" it seemed before, your mind puts it on par with rat poison.
Luckily, we only had to deal with him having a stomach ache for a day, but then that made me remember that I was 4-years old when I figured out how to open a childproof bottle of prescription pills, and I'm a dumbass. And that when I ate candy like M&Ms, I did it a handful at a time. And that Advil is shaped like an M&M and is sugar coated. And that an Advil overdose in an adult can put you into a motherfucking coma.
On the upside, his headache is totally gone.
Instantly, everything in your entire world just changed. All of those overprotective parents you used to make fun of ... make complete and total sense to you now. You start noticing all of the stuff in your house that you once considered harmless: The toaster, just big enough to get a little hand or butter knife down inside. The blender, easily accessible and one button to operate. In the world of movies, the only danger a blender poses is the kid turning it on without the lid, shooting food all over the kitchen. Not cramming their arm down inside to see what the shiny metal thing is at the bottom and then bumping the puree button with their other hand, sending chunks of their flesh geysering through the air like a scene from Army of Darkness.
All of this can happen in the blink of an eye while your head is turned because a 3-year-old on carpet is like a fully trained ninja ... and they can climb. And because of this, you'll realize that it's impossible to completely childproof your house, short of locking everything you own in storage and only bringing it out when you need to use it. Even then, you'd have to stand directly over it ... most likely while your kid is stuffing staples into an electrical socket while your attention is on the appliance.
What scares me in retrospect, is remembering that I used to own a 9 millimeter handgun. We got rid of it after four days for the exact reasons I just described.
Every parenting comedy in the history of film has one scene that is exactly the same, no matter who made the movie. The baby is up crying all night, and the new parent isn't used to it. The next day, they look like hell and are nodding in and out of sleep. Then as the plot dictates, they move on from that premise, they're magically back to normal, and their day goes on. In real life, it gets much, much worse than a few hours of lost sleep.
Just last week, I was sicker than I've ever been in my life. My temperature reached 103.9 -- 104 when you're squarely in "see a doctor NOW, dumbass" range. I couldn't move from the couch. Everything I wore was soaked in sweat within a matter of minutes, and I just had to lay there in it, freezing my ass off and burning up at the same time. My lungs were on fire. I couldn't eat or drink anything. By day two, I was dehydrated to the point that I drank 40 glasses of water and went to the bathroom only twice. I should have been hospitalized.
"Thank you, stereotype. Now if you'll just show me your tits, I'll be on my way."
At the same time, one of my sons came down with the same thing. And just like that, my illness didn't matter. I had to grit my teeth and take care of him because while my girlfriend was at work, there was nobody else to do it. Yeah, my oldest son helped out with lunch and getting us drinks, but when it came to dosing out medicine and monitoring his temperature, that was my job. When he couldn't quite make it to the toilet and vomited on the floor, I had to clean it up. When supper needed cooking, I just had to do it even though the smell of food was enough to send me on the same bathroom sprint.
Now consider this: Over a quarter of all children in the U.S. live in single parent homes. Which means that many of you reading this will be doing the parenting on your own. Which means that many of you are going to find yourselves in this exact situation. Now, let me get to the horrifying part ...
On day two of my illness, I was drifting in and out of sleep on the couch. It was 4 a.m. My fever was spiking to dangerous levels. My kids and girlfriend were asleep, and I didn't have the strength to yell out for help. I woke up just long enough to realize that I was at the threshold of what my body could handle, so I reached over for my phone, intending to dial 911. I wasn't even sure that I had the strength to talk to the person on the other end of the phone, but I knew that a trip to the hospital was imminent. Before my hand got to the phone, I blacked out.
I also time traveled back to 1952.
The lucky part was that I started to get better by the time I woke up the next afternoon. And that my girlfriend happened to be off work. And that she lives with me at all. But if she hadn't been there, that would have left my kids alone -- including my son who was just as sick as me -- while my body and brain silently cooked itself from the inside out. My 6-year-old daughter depending on my 12-year-old son, who obviously has no medical experience and would just assume that Dad needed his sleep in order to get better.
All you can do is hope that you have someone to help you out. Go to the doctor and try to get better. And in the meantime, just grit your teeth and take it because you have the ability to take care of yourself. Your child does not.
"No, you get some rest, Dad. I got this shit."
Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to discourage you from having kids. I'm just saying if your image of the struggles of parenthood involves a harried Steve Martin chasing a toddler around a birthday party with a wacky, exasperated expression on his face, you need to brace yourself for the genital blood.
For more cheese, check out 5 Ways to Avoid Your Terrible Parents' Mistakes and The 4 Most Important Things to Know as a Gamer Parent.