A Not-So-Chewy Tale or Two

When my eldest son was a toddler he had a habit of inhaling critters and swallowing food, so I became an expert at the Heimlich maneuver.  I must have saved his life maybe, seven or eight times.  Once at a birthday party he slid a hotdog down his throat and of course it got stuck.   As every parent knows you can’t keep a beady eye on your children All The Time – it’s just not possible.  You try of course and risk being called a ‘mother hen’ or worse, ‘clingy’ and ‘obsessive’.    That particular day he ran towards me with his mouth open and his eyes wide and I just knew he had done it again.  So I swung him up and turned him face down (that is how you do the heimlich on babies and small children – you don’t crush their ribcages) and slapped his back until the hotdog popped out.  You would think he learned his lesson after that.  Not so.  In fact it got so bad I didn’t cook a sausage or wiener again until he was in middle school (and I still didn’t trust he would actually chew it).

670px-Make-Chewy-Chocolate-Chip-Cookies-Step-11image: wikihow chewy chocolate cookies

Another time I was in the kitchen preparing supper while he was supposed to be paging through his favourite picture book in the sitting room.  He has always been a very vocal child so hearing him sing or talk to himself (or his imaginary friends) while paging through his books was a sign of good behaviour 🙂  but silence meant he was up to no good.  So when silence fell like a mantle I stopped what I was doing and caught him stuffing his nostrils with those tiny lead cartridges (or whatever they’re called) for clutch pencils.

I have been very open of the fact that as a child I used to eat well, anything that looked reasonably chewy and harmless.

I ate ants and mud and soapstone (very rich in magnesium by the way) and grass (yum!) and I know this is going to turn your stomach but you may as well know, I ate a couple of garden snails.  My sister and I boiled them first of course.  They were terrible. But we ate them.  We also ate a lot of other ordinary stuff of course.  Like our unfriendly neighbour’s peaches.

The thing is I think I was born with a problem. And my eldest son somehow inherited it.  When I was two I ate three nails.

My grandfather was a carpenter and had one day inadvertently left out a couple of nails on the table in the sunroom where I spent most of my time with my grandmother while my mother was at work.   I never got the answer to the question ‘how did you know I swallowed those nails? did you see me do it?’ but I am glad my gran somehow figured out I had.  I was rushed to hospital in an ambulance with a rosary around my neck and my gran kneeling beside me.

The remarkable thing (my gran called it a miracle, I call it faith) is I didn’t need surgery and the nails ‘passed’ through me without any internal damage.  A year later I went on to swallow a handful of headache tablets (paracetamol) that I discovered in one of my mother’s bedroom drawers.  I had to have my stomach pumped.

Were you a curious and ‘terrible’ toddler? 


22 thoughts on “A Not-So-Chewy Tale or Two

  1. Your son is lucky you had the skills needed to dislodge that hot dog!

    I just read about a teen who needed emergency surgery because she couldn’t eat or drink anything. In her stomach the surgeons found a 9 pound hairball (!!!) which completing prevented eating or drinking.

    Turns out she not only chewed on the ends of her hair, but she also ate any hair she found in the carpet. Ewwww . . .

  2. I know I shouldn’t laugh, but I did! I know this issue well. Both my daughters, while still toddlers especially – though some incidents like erasers up nostrils happened at school, were much given to stuffing things into various orifices which left me either digging, scraping, pulling or conveying one or other to the emergency room when things got dire. I laugh because, like you and your son, they survived it all and went on to become reasonable adults with very good manners and social skills 🙂

    I guess it’s just another way of experiencing the world. I enjoyed your story very much!

    • It’s ok to laugh Pauline, I know I do now. Not at the time of course:-) Your daughters’ antics had me in stitches! ‘digging, scraping, pulling’ oh I can imagine how they kept you busy. Thanks for your comment:-)

  3. I was pretty tame. But your hot dog story reminded me of my son’s behavior. When he was of high chair age, I cut up the hot dog , but he would jam many pieces into his mouth. (Same choking maneuver.) When he had his first hot dog on a bun, he bit into the middle. Who knew about end first? He still does things differently. – Lynn

  4. Wow! This was fascinating from beginning to end, I had to hold my breath about the nails, so glad your Gran had the rosary and ability to know to take you to the hospital! I had to give my daughter ipecac and shove my finger down her little toddler throat. She had taken four drawers out of her little dresser, to build steps up to her cough medicine at the top of a hutch that was on her dresser. This location was 6 feet high, which I am only 5’2″ and my ex-husband had left her medicine there. I did not condemn her, nor did I feel any anger at my daughter, just fear. I called the Poison line, they said to wait after she threw up, not to worry, probably would sleep but wake her up every hour… all turned out ok.

    • What a stressful and scary experience Robin, I’m glad she was ok. Your comment reminded me of how adept my sons were t constructing structures made entirely of furniture pieces and linen 🙂

  5. Yolanda you would have been a nightmare to keep watch on. I never ate anything like that, But as kids we use taste the flowers, lucky none of them were toxic. Kids still do that as my daughter mentioned they were making potions from flowers at school. I told her not to because there might be dangerous plants around…she raised her eyes at me. I am sure she would get much joy if she could see me as a child sampling the daisy’s.

    • LOL Kat! yes my sister and I were little terrors but I like to think curiosity or learning was our driving motivation. My eldest son commented after I posted that I forgot to include the fact that he munched on dry leaves. I never knew that. Eating daisies! I think they smell a tad bitter and that is why I didn’t try them but I did like marigolds (silky to the touch) 😀

  6. Yikes! And I thought it was bad enough that one of my cats loves to eat grass … and then throw it up, of course. Gross but not as gross as finding a long blade of grass sticking out of her butt one night. My husband had to pull it out. I was very picky as a child. My mother had more of a problem getting me to eat than she did keeping weird stuff out of my mouth and nose 😉

  7. Oh Yolanda, we have so much in common here! As you described tipping your son over like that I had visions of me doing just the same to my also eldest son as a baby when he inhaled a cookie (or a rusk as we call it here, made for babies to teeth on and which go all soft and mushy so not to cause choking, ha!). He was in his bouncer chair and I yanked him out, filpped him over, gave him a tap on his back and out the piece of rusk flew. It scared the daylights out of me. Thank goodness you knew what to do with your son all those times and that those nails didn’t do you any harm, yikes! But now I’m wondering about this trend…son also like to stick peas up his nose and I once ate an entire bottle of junior aspirin and had to have my stomach pumped. Maybe it’s something that runs in families 😉 And as for that silence? I agree…always a very worrying sign with young children. Love this post 🙂

    • I don’t wish this ‘disorder’ on anyone (I am convinced it’s a mental disorder) 😀 certainly having children has only made my life (and hubby’s) more interesting Andrea 🙂

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