• adventures in babysitting

    Thing Two and the Silver Balls

    I had a little practice in motherhood today. I was baby sitting Thing Two while his mom attended some luncheon or other. (Thing One now attends preschool so I often just babysit Thing Two all by himself.)

    So there I was sitting on their cushy corduroy couch reading Dwell magazine while Thing Two sat at my feet playing with a special toy that is usually kept up high and out of his reach. It’s kept out of his reach for good reason too because it has little silver magnetic balls about the size of a dime that can be ingested by three-year-olds. The silver magnetic balls attach to these x-shaped pieces and you can build things out of them. It’s kind of a nifty toy. Something I would have liked to keep on my desk in corporate-land to play with while on long conference calls.

    Thing Two is three years old. Of course he is too young to be playing with toys with small pieces. But he’s super smart (seriously, he can already read). I figured as long as I kept my eye on him, he’d be fine. Besides it was a special treat. Usually his big sister is around and she pretty much runs the show. It was super fun for him to play with something special all to himself.

    While he played and I flipped through a magazine, I told him to make sure he didn’t put any of the little silver balls in his mouth.

    Big mistake. That’s like telling kids not to swing from the chandeliers. They’d never even think of swinging from the chandeliers until you mention such a forbidden pleasure. So just as I say not to eat the silver balls, into his mouth goes a silver ball. His eyes are on me to see my reaction.

    “Spit it out!” I shout a little more suddenly and loudly than I meant. His eyes widen. I’ve startled him. Down his throat goes the little silver ball. He starts to choke and I rush to the floor and attempt a Heimlech maneuver on him. I try to keep my cool. “Can you spit it out?” I ask, hoping he’s just tricking me. At this point I’m thinking, either it better come up or it better go down. Just please please please don’t get lodged half way. It’s been a long time since I took that baby sitting CPR safety class and I really don’t want to have to use any of those skills they taught us.

    He starts to cry. I can tell the little silver ball has gone down. Part of me is relieved that he’s not choking but the other part of me knows I have to do something now. The ball is small enough, he’ll probably just pass it. But I have to be responsible and call 911 or call his mom. I decide to call his mom and interrupt her luncheon. Something I really hate to do but this seems like a big enough emergency to warrant an interruption.

    Thankfully, she’s really cool and doesn’t get mad at me first thing like I expect. I mean, I was watching him. How could I let this happen? If I was her I’d probably be mad at me. She says she’s leaving the restaurant and she’s on her way home right that minute. I can tell she’s scared. I feel horrible.

    I sit Thing Two down at his lunch table and give him some juice. He sputters and cries but is easily distracted by a puzzle he’d left on the table earlier. He forgets all about the silver ball, stops crying and plays with the puzzle. I wait for his mom to get home.

    On her way home she calls their doctor and the doctor gives her the same diagnosis I guessed at. Thing Two will probably poop the little ball out tomorrow and he should be fine. He just needs to be watched carefully for the next 24 hours to make sure he doesn’t have any intestinal pain that could mean some kind of blockage. Still, it’s scary.

    I can tell his mom is really freaked out about it. She tells me he’s putting things in his mouth a lot lately. She attempts to have a heart to heart talk with him but he’s bouncing around the room singing a song from this alphabet video we watched earlier. He seems completely normal. She decides to go back to her luncheon and have a glass of wine because it’s been “one of those days”. I stay and make him lunch and chalk it up as another lesson in parenting.

    Phew! Am I ready for this?