Saturday, July 18, 2009

Adventures in parenting, ingestion edition

No matter how conscientious you are, and no matter how thoughtful and mature your kids seem to be, at some point, they'll have a lapse in judgement at the exact same instant that your attention is elsewhere. Case in point: That's an X-ray of my preschooler's gut. With a small lock in her stomach.

My 4 1/2 year old found a little Tiffany's pendent on the playground at school. She stuffed her new-found "treasure" into the pocket of her jeans, and was just as excited to rediscover it days later when the washing machine started sounding clunky and I fished it out of the filter.

Thank goodness it was clean, though. Because I don't know what made her think it was a good idea to put the tiny padlock in her mouth. And then swallow.

My husband spent that Friday evening hanging out with her in the ER, while I raced home from work to help with the other kids (who were hanging out with their teenage sister). Now, I fully expected us to end up in the ER with a child who had ingested something at some point -- as a toddler, our now-11-year-old son had an uncanny ability to find the single penny on the floor in any room and take a taste -- but I honestly thought it would be my 2 1/2-year-old son, who puts everything in his mouth, not my preternaturally serious youngest girl.

She's fine -- the lock was closed, it wasn't snagged or stuck anywhere, and the doctors told us to let nature take its course. Which it did, about 40 hours later.

I keep a running list of Things I Never Thought I'd Say As a Mom. There's another list in my head, of Things I Never Thought I'd Do As a Parent. The tiny-padlock-search-and-rescue mission ranks high on that list, as well as my "Things I Really, Really Never Want to Do Again" list. (Why? It involved a special container from the hospital, a disposable wooden chopstick, running commentary from my preschooler about her nether regions, and lots of gagging on my part.)

(Other things I never thought I'd do: Catch vomit in my hands, because that's preferable to having it land on the rug. Consider leftover chicken nuggets -- leftover, half-eaten chicken nuggets -- an adequate meal for myself. Think three consecutive hours equals a good night's sleep.)

The lock is currently sitting in a small bowl filled with hand-sanitizing gel, though truthfully I don't know if it'll ever be sanitary enough for me to look at it without wincing. It's a constant reminder of the unpredictable nature of parenting, the need to be constantly vigilant, and the understanding that, no matter how careful of a parent you are, you will slip up. As well as a reminder of how very lucky I was, this time.

What's on your Things I Never Thought I'd Do As a Parent list?

1 comment:

Annie said...

Oh My! Just have to comment on this. I am being asked to pitch story ideas to our local paper on parenting issues - either as part of a rotating column or reporting on parenting issues - I'm very new to the world of freelancing. Anyway - a quick goolge brought your post up and I just wanted to say 'been there done that' earlier this year - with MY four and a half year old daughter who swallowed a quarter. Took exactly 3 weeks to come out - and it's now in a ziploc bag high up in my kitchen cupboards. I too was sure she was beyond this type of thing and would have expected my two and a half year old son to be the one swallowing foreign objects. Ugh - ER trips, Pediatric GI trips and many, many rubber gloves later there it was ;) They keep us on our toes that's for sure.