a purple martin

There have been a few times in my life when I’ve discovered, too late to stop it, that disaster was about to strike.

There was that time in June that I realized that my phone was still in my back pocket just in time to watch it meet its doom in the toilet.

Then there was that time when I was in my earliteen meeting at camp meeting, and some troublemaking boy moved my chair when I stood up during song service. When I sat back down there was enough time between where my chair should’ve been and where the floor was to figure out that humiliation was forthcoming, but not enough time to stop it. After landing in the clumsiest heap you can imagine my tweenage gangly limbs forming, I let out an appropriate awkward yelp. My friends helped me up, loyally glaring at the perpetrator while attempting to stifle their giggles at the sight of me. I have never forgotten the indignity of that moment, and I’m pretty careful to always keep contact with my chair during the sitting process.

Those were both moments in which time passed painfully slowly, yet far too quickly to allow for any kind of rescue. But neither of those times have made as lasting an impression on me as my latest shenanigan.

Let’s go back in time to last Friday. Imagine with me, if you will, that your baby son has had a yeasty diaper rash since the beginning of May. You have tried everything. You have let him roam bare-bottomed around your house to dry the rash out. You have tried prescription powders and creams. You’ve tried disposable diapers when cloth didn’t work and cloth when disposables clearly weren’t helping. You’ve tried different wipes. You’ve tried baking soda baths. And you’ve read that there’s a natural remedy out there that will eradicate that nasty yeast in just three days. But there’s a catch, of course.

Gentian violet is supposed to be a miracle cure for diaper rash like Baby Guy had, and it’s also purported to cure ringworm, thrush, athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, chronic ear infections, and more. The only thing is that it stains. It really stains. In the words of my pharmacist, “everything you use it on will turn goofy grape.”

Goofy grape nethers seemed like a small price to pay to finally defeat the yeast, so I went for it. I paid about $11 for two ounces of the stuff and we switched back to disposables again. Twice a day I used a dab of the gentian violet on his rash, applied with a cotton ball and covered with either cornstarch or Desitin (I’d read both were helpful, so I opted to alternate). On the evening of the third day, this Monday, I was applying what I was hoping would be the last dose. The rash had healed pretty nicely, as far as I could tell. The dye had actually made it a bit difficult to see how red his skin was, but I could feel that almost all of the little bumps from the rash were gone. Gentian violet had saved the day!

Well, until about 12 seconds later, when I reached down to get some of Baby Guy’s pajamas to wear for the night. Because I know how wiggly my boy is, I held on to his leg firmly while I bent down and looked away to get his clothes out. When I stood back up to dress him, the horror that met my eyes was just too awful.

That little boy of mine had sat up (his leg still firmly in my grasp), leaned forward, and grabbed the uncapped bottle of gentian violet. What I saw when my brain finally processed the situation was the bottle tipped to my son’s lips, and deep purple liquid cascading down his body and onto the changing pad.

I grabbed the bottle out of his hand and tried to hold him so he couldn’t put his purple hands to his mouth. I said casually, “I need help!” to my mom and husband who were hanging out in the living room. They came running, and after the blur of the next few moments my son was in the bathtub being scrubbed down while I called poison control in shame and ignominy.

Well, it turns out that gentian violet is “not very toxic,” as the kind poison control man told me, and “it might cause some vomiting and diarrhea, but nothing beyond that.” He also assured me that Baby Guy would’ve had to have ingested “a lot” of gentian violet to cause a reaction. However, I did notice that he took down my full name as well as the name of my victim, so I guess I have a rap sheet now.

Meanwhile, in the bathroom, my son stopped screaming in terror (probably mostly caused by my panicked reaction and the speed with which he was plopped into his normally relaxing tub), and had commenced being scrubbed (with very little success). Thankfully, his Dad and Grammie had made some headway on his face, but the rest of him was splotched with or completely covered in quite a shocking shade–think a jewel-toned eggplant.

In case you were wondering, this is post-bath.

My hand suffered a similar fate, and there were several items on the changing table that were disposed of because there was no way to rescue them. Rubbing alcohol is aiding the removal of purple from the table itself and the tub, but there is a lavender tinge that may be permanent in a few places.


It’s been a few days and I can laugh about it now, but only sometimes. Other times I’m explaining to strangers that my son does not have purple tights tattooed on his legs. I have toyed with the idea of telling curious nose-pokers that Baby Guy robbed a bank and suffered the consequences of an exploding dye pack, but I haven’t actually done anything except try to explain the truth (which doesn’t make me sound like the world’s greatest mom, either, by the way). Honestly, what worries me the most is when people don’t ask me why my son is purple.

Tomorrow I’ll be bringing a faded purple Martin to Sabbath school. He’s still got some spots from the latest round of mystery pox, too, so violet hands and feet may at least serve to garner some more attention. People are so used to seeing us arrive late to Sabbath School with our weekly rash that it’s taking more and more to get noticed. I don’t know what we’re going to do for next week, but I guess I’d better think of something.

I wish you the happiest of Sabbaths, free of rashes, disasters, and artificial colors.

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About mrsmartin

I love to camp, hike, read, take pictures, spend time with friends and family, play word games, and learn stuff about all kinds of different things. I'm a Seventh-day Adventist Christian. I'm a vegetarian teetotaler. I used to be a teacher and now I'm a wife and a mom.
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3 Responses to a purple martin

  1. Tami says:

    Oh boy! At least this too shall pass. 😉 Blessings on you and your royal home. 😄

    Like

  2. Pingback: if i only had a brain | a teacher's work is never done

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