Saturday, March 07, 2009

Pine gum and poison control

I'm visiting my sister in Dayton over the weekend. We were chatting about how many times we have called Poison Control. I've called twice--once when Zari dipper her finger in dish detergent, and another time when she got into a container of all-purpose nipple ointment. She's called six times. The last time was when her youngest ate a piece of cello rosin. Rosin is made from hardened pine sap; you rub it on the horsehair of a violin or cello bow to create more friction against the strings. Poison Control was stumped. Rosin was nowhere to be found in their databases. The woman on the phone commented, "and we've heard it all, so that's saying a lot!" They finally figured out that it shouldn't be too worrisome.

This reminded me of a tradition in my mom's side of the family--chewing pine gum. When I was growing up, we traveled west almost every summer to visit my grandparents in Utah and Idaho. Chewing pine gum was a rite of passage when we went on mountain hikes. You find a hardened, crystallized piece of pine sap and cut off a small chunk, about the size of a marble. Then you start chewing. It crumbles in your mouth, sticks to your teeth, and tastes like Pine-Sol. It's really terrible. You start salivating and so you spit and spit and spit for the next few minutes. Then, like magic, the crumbly sap turns into gum that tastes of alpine air and pine trees.

I'm definitely passing this tradition on to Zari.


  1. You know, a few years ago I saw this documentary on PBS about monks in, I think, Japan? I think they were Buddhist. When the old monks approached the time of death, they'd chew pieces of pine trees and sap. Somehow it contributed to body preservation, sort of like formaldehyde. They ended up becoming a sort of a mummy. So I always associate pine trap with mummification now. I'm not sure of all the details in this story, as my husband and I saw the documentary quite a few years ago, but we both talk about it on occasion.

  2. Makes me once again glad to have relatively incurious children (about the cleaning solutions and other hazards, anyway). In 8 years of parenting, 3 kids, I've never called poison control.

    We did take Sally to the ER after she (possibly) swallowed half a bottle of Tylenol.

    Because, besides being thankfully and usually incurious, they can all open childproof containers faster than I can.

    (Too bad the sap doesn't taste like maple -- think I'll stick to chewing fresh mint.)

  3. LOL!!!!

    I've called once when my first drank a tiny bit of window cleaner.

    Then there was a real scary time my fourth drank some lemon bleach! But we rushed him right to the ER, apparently bleach is actually mild on the system and the one to really watch out for is liquid Drano. Still, we no longer keep bleach in the house!

  4. Very interesting about the pine gum!

    Did the child eat the rosin? Why did Zari touching detergent count as poisoning? did she lick it?

    We have only had one (horrible) incident; With my firstborn being a gentle girl who much preferred human interaction to destructive mystery-solving, and my secondborn being kind of a shy borderline fearful little guy, our wild and indescribably curious baby#3, Casey, was alwasy doing weird scary stuff. Well, one time he DRANK THE WATER DRIPPING OUT OF THE window unit AIR CONDITIONER.
    Is that the sickest nastiest thing??? He was almost 3, so there is just no reason whatsoever...anyways I went hysterical and called poison control who told me to just wait and see if anything happened and nothing did. So disgusting!

  5. oh wow! I've made it 8.5 yrs of parenting and haven't had to call yet! *of course we've had stictches and all assortment of bruises and whatnot to make of for it)

    But now.. you mention rosin.. and the only thing I can think of is Jon Denver, "thank God I'm a country boy".

    so now... it will be playing in my head all day ;)

  6. We've called twice. Once because Roan got the dog's pill out of her dish when she some how smartly decided not to eat the tiny thing.

    And once when they got into the bag of tile mortar and threw it all over the place. He had a small chemical burn underneath his eye from his tear mixing with it, but otherwise no problems what so ever.
    what I love about poison control is the fact that they call back to check up on your child. =)

  7. also about the window cleaner above.. my mom told me one time about my brother drinking cleaner.

    My mom was mopping the floor. He came over and "bottoms up" drank the cleaner. She grabbed it from him and said "God!! Did you not TASTE THAT?? blech!!!"

    He's 37 and fine now. lol

  8. With three boys I've had to call a few times, but I don't remember the specifics on all of them. I think one time was when Josh decided to drink Benedryl. He had to take this awful liquid anti-seizure medication every morning, and I guess he figured that if he had to take medicine anyway it might as well taste good. His logic was good even if the method wasn't.

  9. Housefairy--yes, she did a "dip & lick" with the dish detergent. I called just to know what to look for in case she had ingested a lot more than I thought (which wasn't the case, but it's nice to know the possible symptoms).

  10. YOu called because Zari put her finger in dishsoap? I'm sorry to giggle; maybe I'm too cavalier; maybe I've had past experience with dishsoap, but a fingertip of it won't hurt anyone (although I understand the concern that she might have drank some). Now, my brother did eat a container of paste-like eyeglass cleaner--we did call PC for that one.
    I don't think we've actually called for any of my kids--my son is tactile defensive, my one daughter is 'normal' and the other is oral seeking but there's never been anything too harmful (chalk, water colour paint...)

  11. Well, I called but it wasn't in a panic or anything. Powdered dish detergent can be fairly caustic, and I didn't see how much (if any) she ate so I wanted to know what to look for if she had ingested a lot.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...