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).
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?