Parenting 101

If you’re the type that might report me to DFACS or who know my parents, please stop reading this post. What I’m about to describe – while certainly not illegal, dangerous or gross – might cause you to wonder why I became a parent and question my skills, judgment and frame of mind.

I’m just saying. Last chance to surf away.

No? OK then.

So having two kids isn’t really that different than having one. You just happen to have less time and effort to devote to either one individually, but it isn’t hard splitting time and focusing your energy.

I’m not eating a 3,000 calorie diet or creating grand spreadsheets to organize our lives. Though maybe I should. You decide.

Raelyn didn’t want to ride her bike. Simple enough. It was windy and she hasn’t ridden it in a few weeks.

Sure, Santa brought it for Christmas but we’ve also had a good bit of winter around Georgia this year. Add to that the fact that we’ve spent the last few nice weather weekends going to birthday parties (a lot of kids turning 5 in Rae’s Pre-K class) and running errands, we just haven’t gotten much family exercise.

So we spend 20 minutes bundling and preparing and gearing up for the outdoors, in the vain hope of seeing the sun and getting Owen some fresh air, only to have Raelyn blow up. Not literally but she did have one of the loudest existential freakouts regarding falling off her bike I’ve seen a kid have.

She acted like she’s literally never been on the bike before in her life. Complaining loudly about the pedals, her helmet, steering and whether or not I’d catch her if she’d fall.

Despite tender, kneeling, fatherly reassurances she piteched a fit. Jumping off the bike (which had the potential for more harm than falling), crying, screaming and making a scene in front of the neighbors.

Those same neighbors offered the support that their kids – the same ones lazily riding their own bikes in the driveway while the folks read on the porch – were just as difficult learning to ride.

Sure they were.

Everyone went home in a huff.

I carried the bike.
Jenn pushed Owen and guilt-tripped Raelyn with talk of Santa repossessing the bike.
Raelyn cried.
Even the dog was dejected.

If the story ended there it’d be bad enough, but when we got home Jenn ordered Raelyn out of her site. More tears, more apologies.

All was well until Raelyn burst through our bedroom doors sobbing. Not crying or hysterical, but very concerned and contrite.

She wanted us to look in her mouth. She said she had a zipper struck in her throat!

We looked and told her, no, it wasn’t there. Tears welled in her eyes and the corners of her mouth turned down. “I must have swallowed it!” she yelped.

While Jenn did her best to put the fear of God into Rae by describing the potential medical and surgical outcomes of this act, I called the doctor.

After giving my information to the on-call person, we got a call back from the nurse and put her on speakerphone:

Nurse: How old is the child?
Me: 4 and a half.
Nurse: And she didn’t do this on purpose?
Me: Nope. She was throwing the pull-tab and fastener in the air. They came off a little pen case she has in her room.
Raelyn: Maybe I should’ve kept my mouth shut.
Nurse: *Laughter* Is she in pain?
Me: No.
Nurse: *Laughter* Is she wheezing?
Me: No.
Nurse: Can you see the zipper?
Me: No.
Nurse: Well, *Laughter* you’ll just have to wait for it to pass. Give her some bread and crackers with dinner to help push it down.
Me: Ok, thanks.
Nurse: You’re welcome. *Laughter*

I suppose if she wasn’t laughing she’d be crying at the guilt we’d sewn that bore neglectful fruit in the form of an unattended preschooler tossing a zipper into the air and catching it in her esophagus.

The things they don’t tell you about when you have a kid.

And the guilt trip we laid on her about the bike-riding isn’t half what we felt ourselves when she swallowed a zipper. My kid swallowed a zipper.

Jenn would have to fill you in on the discussion she had with Raelyn about surgery but needless to say a preschooler is much more concerned about being naked than being cut open. Who knew?

Again, the things they don’t tell you about when you have a kid.

Feel free to chastise me in the comments or commiserate. I need a little of each today.

5 thoughts on “Parenting 101

  1. Haha, we can definitely relate to the tantrums and ruined afternoon, but I have to admit the zipper is a first. You shouldn’t feel guilty about it. She sounds fine, which means instead of a tragedy, it will instead become part of your funny family lore–something she’ll eventually tell her own kids.

    I’m just amazed she caught it in her mouth! My wife and I are both decent M&M catchers, but I think we both developed the skill as adults. If your not-yet five-year-old is already catching things, she may be a prodigy. Now if there was only a pro circuit or something…

  2. I love this story. Has me wondering what a similar call would have sounded like when my brother Brian jammed a dry corn kernel in his nostril or when my brother Kevin swallowed a marble.

    Ahhhh the advancement of our lives thanks to technology – now we can share the laughter with nurses and friends all over the world!

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