The other night at bedtime, my three-year-old was clutching a costume jewelry pearl necklace and, of course, refused to hand it over. Being a mother of weak fortitude and one that would probably let her kids sleep with a pet monkey if it meant they would sleep soundly all night, I shrugged it off and told her I’d be right back. I had a nagging feeling about her holding the necklace as I’d seen her put it in her mouth, but I went down the hall to check on my oldest daughter.
“Right back” turned into about five minutes and of course my wild girl was awake and out of bed when I opened her bedroom door. She scampered across the room and scrambled on to her bed, an impish grin plastered on her face, and I saw she was still gripping the necklace, only I could tell it was broken and some of the fake pearls had spilled on her rug.
“Miss A, you didn’t eat one of those beads did you?”
“Um … yes.”
“How many did you eat?”
“Um, one, two, three, four!” She wiggles her fingers as she counts aloud, clearly amused with herself.
The inquisition begins.
“Are you kidding mommy? How many did you eat? One … two?” My voice reaches a new level of pitch with each question.
“Yes. One! Two! Three! Four!”
Miss A responds with pride as if she’s just eaten brussels sprouts.
I assume she was just feeding off of what I was asking, but I don’t doubt that she swallowed at least one pearl.
I gave her a stern talk about not putting things in her mouth because she could choke.
“I could CHOKE?”
“Yes baby. You could choke and DIE.”
Her eyes got big as saucers.
Hey, you don’t mess around when it comes to ingesting foreign objects. I’ve never had to perform the Heimlich and I don’t want to start with my own children.
Then I feel bad and soften it with, “Oh but you’re just fine. You’re just fine. It’s in your tummy and you’re going to poop it out. But it might hurt.”
Her eyes grow wide again.
Okay, so I am a sadist. I don’t want this to happen again. I mean business!
“Oh, it will be fine. Just fine. Just don’t EVER do that again. We only eat food, OK?”
“Okay … not gum?”
“No, just food.”
I spoke to the nurse at our pediatrician’s office and we’ve launched Operation Poop the Pearl. She laughed and assured me that kids eat weird things all the time.
But Southern ladies in training should wear their pearls, not eat them.