If there is one thing I’ve learned about parenting, it’s to never be smug.
The moment you are smug about your well-behaved child, for example, is the moment he throws himself down on the floor of the grocery store and has an all-out poltergeist-style tantrum. The moment you say, “Oh, my child eats lots of vegetables” is the last day anything green that’s not candy will pass her lips.
So don’t you even dare utter aloud, let alone think quietly to yourself (as I did) that you have passed a treacherous phase in child rearing.
Thursday was a busy day. It was a how-can-so-many-people-have-a-deadline-for-me-on-the-same-day kind of day. So when four-year-old Girlchild came into the room just as I was about to throw together some sort of suppertime sustenance for the family and said, “Mom, I stuck a cupcake up my nose,” it was not really something I wanted to hear.
“It won’t come out.”
Immediately my heart leapt a way up towards my mouth and pounded around for a while as I scurried to get a flashlight and take a look. See, this wasn’t any old cupcake – this was a teeny tiny toy cupcake from one of her ridiculously small doll sets.
Sure enough, after some peeking I could see a round pink something stuck in her nose. We tried blowing and squeezing. Nada. I briefly (as in a microsecond’s consideration) contemplated grabbing some tweezers and trying to get it out myself, but my hand’s not that steady and I certainly didn’t want to be the one responsible if for shoving it further down into her lung. I can hear it now. “Yeah, if she’d just taken her to emerge we could have avoided breaking open Girlchild’s chest and cutting the cupcake out of her lung.”
So I gathered up books and snacks and crayons and health cards whilst Boychild and Groom-boy “helped” Girlchild get ready. Girlchild, by this point, had come to the realization that, perhaps, shoving a toy cupcake up her nose was not fabulous.
Girlchild (sobbing): “I don’t want to go the hospital!”
Groom-boy: “Well, maybe you shouldn’t shove cupcakes up your nose! That’s kind of a crazy thing to do!”
Girlchild (wailing): “I don’t want to go to the hospital!”
Boychild: “Don’t worry, Girlchild, you probably won’t have to have a needle. They’ll probably just stick something in there to get it out.”
Sigh. I’m not kidding when I say it had been mere days earlier when the quietest thought had passed through my tiny little head: “My kids have never stuck anything up their noses. I guess we’re past that point now.”
So I managed to extract my hysterical daughter from the clutches of Mr. Obvious and his son, Master Optimism, and we popped over to emerge.
After a blissfully short wait we were greeted by a cheery nurse who said, “So! You have something up your nose? Let me guess…is it the wheel off a toy car?”
Girlchild shook her head.
“Is it a pea?”
I laughed. That would have been my first guess. Girlchild shook her head and buried her face into my leg.
“I’m told it’s a teeny tiny toy cupcake from a teeny tiny toy doll set,” I said.
I can’t say the doctor was delighted to hear that it was a hard plastic thingy instead of a nice, soft rubbery one. We were all impressed, though, by how still Girlchild lay on the stretcher. I held her arms, the nurse shone a light up into Girlchild’s wee nose and the wonderful doctor wielded a set of long tweezers with the steadiest hand I have ever seen and, within a minute or two, out popped a small pink cupcake-shaped object that was not, actually, a toy cupcake.
“Huh!” I exclaimed. “That’s a knob off of Dad’s backscratcher.”
Of course. You can never be sure what little treasures my magpie is going to tuck into her various toy boxes.
So, we had a happy ending. Girlchild is fine and she learned not to shove things up her nose. I learned to never think thoughts again.
And someday I’ll tell you about the silly smug thought I had about my fish tank last week. Sigh.