Hey, did I ever tell you about the time my children tried to murder me?

It was about a week ago and I let them make cookies made cookies for them while they dumped flour on the floor. Then when the cookies were baked, I pulled the hot cookie sheets out of the oven and put them on the cook top to cool... away from tiny hands. The girls went into their room to play and were being uncharacteristically quiet. Too quiet, it should have occurred to me. But it didn't because I wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth. So I accepted the fact that they were playing together without fighting over who gets the exactly-the-same-princess-dress and who gets the other exactly-the-same-princess dress and that I didn't need to get up and referee or yell at them that I was going to get both the princess dresses if they didn't stop arguing about it.

Also: I am a moron.

I went back in the living room to catch up on some work and I forgot all about those cookies for awhile.

As the minutes wore on, I started to notice that the air in the house was getting a little thick, but I didn't think to do anything about it because I was sleepy. So sleepy. And a little lightheaded. But that could have just been one too many Diet Cokes for breakfast, I thought. So I continued on, deconstructing database code (because you know how riveting that can be) and thought to myself how I'd go get something to eat in a bit when I took a break and that would probably make me feel better. I went back to my computer screen and a few more lines of code. Then suddenly when the lines of code began to dance around on the screen, taunting me and performing unspeakable acts on each other, I realized something might not be right here. I snapped back into the present and sniffed. The whole room smelled of gas. (Thank goodness they put that smell in there.) I went into the kitchen and found a chair next to the stove, the cookie sheets ajar, a dozen half-eaten cookies on the stove top and the knobs of two of the burners turned to the ON position but unlit. The entire kitchen and adjoining living room were filled with gas.

The Ankle Biters had snuck (I know that the correct word is sneaked, but it always sounds so wrong to me) into the kitchen, and quietly pulled a chair up to the stove to steal cookies. In their haste and clown-like agility while getting down, they had accidentally knocked the burner controllers, turning the gas on without lighting the burners. I have no idea how long they'd left it like this. Let's just say I'd been enjoying the first extended period of quiet while they were both in the house in over a year, so I wasn't going to rock the boat by checking on them or anything. They'd gone on to bigger and better things in the basement and weren't even in the vicinity anymore. No telling what would have happened had I not been in the living room but I'm pretty sure at least the cats would be dead.

It occurs to me: perhaps it's time to raise the legal age when children are allowed to stay home alone.

While I was opening all the doors and windows and turning on every fan in the house (also: glad that I'd never decided to start enforcing smoking as a punishment), it occurred to me that this wasn't the first time my life had been put in peril by my children.

And I'm not alone.

Last week a friend showed up at church with a cast on her foot. I asked the obvious, tired question, "Ohmygosh, I just saw you last week; what happened?" (As if her life didn't continue in the time that I wasn't there to observe the facts of it.)

"Oh, it's Johnny's fault," she said, nodding toward her eight year old son.

I looked up quizzically so she elaborated, "He was in trouble and I told him to go to time out. But he wouldn't go. So I was trying to pick him up and take him there. He did that thing kids do where their bodies turn into melted butter and he slumped to the floor and under my foot just as I was stepping down. I knew I either had the choice to step down on his leg and probably break it, or I could try and miss him and trip over his jelly-like body. As I was flailing to the ground, everyone in the room heard a giant CRACK." Then she added sarcastically, "But it's good because he's okay."

Then we laughed and laughed because, haven't we all been there?

When The Dormouse was an infant, she had this habit of head-butting me in the face. I'd be sitting in the rocking chair, singing a sweet lullaby, trying to give her sustenance from my own body. Suddenly, without warning and in a split second, she'd randomly rear up and knock her noggin into my nose, or my zygomatic arch, or something else in my face that was incredibly tender and easily breakable. More than once, I heard that telltale crack in one of those incidents and nursed a swollen nose for days afterward. I never bothered to go to the hospital because I'm adept at using the Mel Gibson shoulder technique. Plus I'm convinced that if I ever disappeared and they found my body somewhere in a ditch that The KingofHearts would be immediately arrested on suspicion of spousal abuse because they'd find multitudes of remodeled hairline fractures in my cranium. So the hospital would have asked too many questions.

I believe it was my brother who kicked my mother in the face at about nine months old and gave her a black eye. (Or maybe it was me and I've chosen to believe it was my brother to avoid the guilt.)

We all put our lives on the line for our children. If not through actual bodily harm inflicted at the hands of the children themselves, then from some other child-related cause, like driving to work after your seventh consecutive night of sleeping a total of only two and a half hours, but in fifteen minute, non-consecutive stints. Why do we do it? Well maybe because at the end of the day, it's all worth it. Or maybe just because parenting sucks, but we're totally addicted. Children are basically an abusive boyfriend who sidles up next to you on the couch during House and kisses you on the cheek and tells you he promises he won't break your nose again if you only just buy him those clip-on earrings because it makes him feel so grown up and you're the best mom in the whole wide world. And we fall for it... every time.

From the outside, parenting doesn't look like a life-threatening job. I know there are people way braver than I am in the world. There are people - soldiers, police officers, auto mechanics - out there who go into work every day thinking "today is a good day to die." But I'll wager that none of them thinks that their death will be at the hands of a three year old who would gleefully kill you over a cookie.

*prize of my undying respect to the first person who can name all the movies these stills come from