Yesterday afternoon, I caught the scent of bleach. Danielle had come home earlier, and I expressed my concerns to FosterEema.
"She's probably just cleaning her bathroom," FosterEema replied.
I was working, and I was in the middle of a task and didn't have time to check. FosterEema was busy, too, and I didn't want to get into a squabble over who should check on what the kid was doing, so I just let it be.
We probably should have checked.
This morning, Danielle showed us a formerly-grey zippered sweatshirt that was now a sickly, mottled pink color. Apparently, she had wanted to wash it so she could wear it to school this morning. Instead of tossing a load into the washer, she decided to hand wash it in her sink.
Unfortunately for the sweatshirt, instead of using laundry soap, she grabbed the bottle of bleach.
When we asked her about it, she said she hadn't bothered to read the label. She "wasn't paying attention," and just dumped the bottle into the sink without bothering to check what she had in her hand.
She was absolutely mystified when the color started coming out of the garment, so she rinsed it out and put it in the dryer, not understanding what had just happened.
This is exactly why I'm afraid to leave Danielle alone for any length of time. Although this mistake was relatively harmless, in that it was her clothing that she ruined, she operates in a state of oblivion that really concerns me. In our house, there's no mistaking a bottle of bleach for a bottle of laundry detergent, because the brands we buy are in completely different containers. I can readily identify the difference between detergent and bleach, just by the shape and heft of the packaging, even if I don't have my glasses on. Even if I were totally blind, I would still be able tell the difference by the smell, as we use unscented detergent, and regular household bleach.
The only way Danielle could have made this mistake was that she was completely oblivious to what she was doing.
In the past, she's put food in the microwave, mistakenly set it for 20 minutes instead of 2, and then walked away, nearly starting a fire. When I detected the resulting smoke and yelled at her to open the windows so our pet parrots wouldn't suffocate, she stood there dumbly, trying to argue over the necessity of doing so.
For whatever reason, Danielle can't or won't think things through. Every day she will say and do little dumb things, and when we point out her error, she'll agree that she was being dumb. "Oh yeah...duh!" she'll often exclaim.
We try to be as kind and gentle as we can when we point out her mistakes, but they really worry me. Her lack of attention frequently has her walking into closed doors, bumping into people, or even walking straight into the side of our RV.
She can see. Her pediatrician and the school have checked her vision. She just doesn't pay attention.
Perhaps this one little incident will seem "normal" to those of you who have neurotypical kids. The problem for us is that this is just a tiny sample of a pattern of conduct that doesn't seem to get any better. Sure, Danielle might say, "I've learned my lesson, I'll never make that mistake again," but the truth is that she will. She doesn't seem to really learn from her goofs in a lasting way, and we both worry that if we leave her home alone, she'll end up making a mistake that could cause her or our pets permanent injury or worse.
We are afraid she might accidentally set fire to the house, because it seems like she still hasn't developed any common sense.
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