One Christmas a couple of years ago my little brother sidekick gave my teenage boys some books. Not just any books – books called, “How to make mini weapons of mass destruction!” Isn’t that so sweet of my brother!?! My brother has four boys of his own and apparently these books are a big hit at his house and he thought my boys would like them, too. Actually, my boys DID like them! Very much. We created a little plastic bin where they could keep all of their little building tools and supplies organized and together. They would pull the bin out and sit at the table for hours making little weapons. A parent’s dream. Ha Ha.
Well the little dream turned into a little nightmare. About six months ago, my 15-year-old was in his room in a little “time out.” To pass the time he must have gotten the urge to make a mini weapon of mass destruction out of household items. What better way to kill time in your room on a sunny, Saturday afternoon? We heard his door fly open and he came running out in a panic with his hands around his throat and he managed to say that he had inhaled the sharp end of a safety pin. Then he paused, and after a brief look of astonishment and horror, he confirmed that he had indeed actually swallowed it. He swallowed it right there in front of our eyes.
After some brief questioning he went into his room and retrieved a few prototypes from the small arsenal he had been assembling. He had created some blow darts with the sharp pin-end of a safety pin on one end (making it not a safe pin anymore) and an equal length of cotton swab on the other end so they were sharp on one side and soft on the other and taped together in the middle. They were about an inch long. The plan was to blow them out of a hollow shooter – in his case – and empty pen barrel. He put a dart into the tube and put it to his mouth to blow it out but at the same time he took a deep breath he inhaled the dart into the back of his throat. Then probably the only thing he could do at that point, was swallow it. When the reality of what happened hit, my husband immediately took him to the emergency room. I stayed home with the other kids. No sense in having two agitated parents in the ER with him. We were both still quite a little upset about the reason he had been sent to his room for a time out in the first place. My husband went with him to to the hospital to do the worrying there and I stayed home to worry.
An x-ray at the emergency showed that the dart was indeed in his stomach but since he had so recently eaten they couldn’t do surgery to remove it, so it was a waiting game. While I waited at home I called my brother-in-law who is a radiologist and was able to get some information about what we could be looking at. I also consulted Dr. Google. Not a lot of calm assurance there. Another x-ray about 5 hours later showed the dart had moved into the intestines so surgery wasn’t recommended then, either. He was sent home to wait it out. It was now Saturday night. Nothing we could do but pray. And we did! Sunday came and went with no complications, no pain, no complaints from my son. He had a sharp pin moving through his system but other than that he wasn’t experiencing any discomfort. On Monday morning we went back in for another x-ray and it showed that the dart was no longer inside his system. Through this whole ordeal my son had been fine. He went to school on Monday after the x-ray and ran 6 miles at cross country practice.
I’ve been pondering the purpose of me telling the story on the blog. It is a good story, I can’t deny that. Everyone loves a good story with a happy ending. We get quite a few laughs and other great reactions when we tell the story. My son doesn’t mind us telling the story and even if he did I would tell him that my husband and I paid enough in ER bills that I actually own the rights to this story. Parenting is full of crazy, crazy adventures. It’s a miracle our kids survive some of the things they do. I think these stories, when they have happy endings, help us actually relax a little with parenting. We realize that everything will turn out ok. We remember who really is in charge. We rely on faith and prayer in circumstances where we recognize we don’t otherwise have any control. These types of stories fulfill our initiation into that unofficial group of parents who have lived and learned and loved and feared and hoped and cried and we can look back and laugh and see that everything is going to be ok. I’m still finding my place in that group. But I’m happy to begin to see my place in it.