I use Formula 409 for almost everything, especially when cleaning the bathrooms in our home. With three young boys, I am wiping up urine around the toilet daily, so I keep a spare bottle in there. My children have never been gastronomically adventurous, so I have never worried much about them trying to drink the chemicals.

But I never thought much about what else they might do with chemicals either. One night last summer, in my haste to get everyone into bed and go to sleep myself, I left the bottle of 409 on the windowsill in the bathroom instead of inside the cabinet. All four children were snuggled and tucked into bed by 7:30pm. There was pure bliss for one whole minute as I sat down to read a book.

Then there was the blood curdling scream. “My eyes are burning, oh my eyes. Mommy, help me.” My daughter was upset and screaming in pain. I went tearing out of my room and ran into the bathroom. “Ow, my eyes are stinging.” It was hard to decipher exactly what she was saying besides having pain in her eyes. “What happened?” I asked, thinking to myself, how did you damage yourself unattended in less than 60 seconds? “It sprayed me.” Then it dawned on me, slowly, as she is still screaming. Oh No. She sprayed 409 in her face. What on earth possessed her to spray it at her face?

She does not spray perfume on her skin, she does not like to run in the sprinkler, and prefers baths to showers because she does not like water sprayed in her face. “Why did you spray that in your eyes?” I asked. “I don’t know.” As if a 3 year old would launch into an explanation about her thought processes before spraying cleaning chemical in her eyes. My two older boys came out of their room and were trying to figure out what happened. I am thinking out loud about how best to rinse her eyes out as quickly as possible. My oldest says, “Mom, go get a syringe.”

Brilliant! This is one of the reasons I had so many children. So they could help me during a crisis when I am unable to think fast enough to fix whatever mishap has occurred. I ran down the stairs and found a large medicine syringe and returned. It was like having a built-in, home-grown, expert surgical team that could read my mind. One son said, “I will hold her down”, and the other said “I will hold her head still.” I did not have to give one word of instruction, which was pretty impressive.

“The solution to pollution is dilution.” They held their screaming sister down without missing a beat. I used a 10ml syringe and a bowl of cold water and repeatedly rinsed her eyes out until it felt like enough. We dried her eyes; I thanked my boys, put eye drops in her eyes, and sent everyone back to bed for the second time that evening. This time they stayed asleep. My daughter has never sprayed anything in her eyes since. Lesson learned for her, my boys, and me. I hope.