Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nobody Nose

And then there are situations when, even in a state of semi-panic, I can still visualize the blog entry that will come out of it.

So Friday I decided that the acrid smoke of distant forest fires that has blanketed our county for the past week was probably not the best thing my young children should be inhaling. And instead of coming up with some neat craft or indoor game for us all to enjoy together, I plopped the kids on my bed with some popcorn to watch Peter Pan, while I settled myself into the office chair and started pecking at the keyboard, determined to get in some uninterrupted writing before a.) Elsa decided she'd rather come sit on my non-existant lap and start pressing random keys until I gave up and paid her attention, or b.) Rollie lost interest in a movie he's already seen fifty billion times and started leaping from the bed to the rocking chair until he miscalculates one jump and winds up with a massive head wound.

Amazingly, I was able to get out about 800 words or so, lost in the creative process (or I may have already gotten distracted by emails, Yahoo headlines and the fact that I could stuff a few Oreos in my pie-hole without having to share with my children), before Rollie's sweet, angelic face appeared at my side.

Rollie: Momma?
Me: Yes, darling son?
Rollie: ...I did something.
Me (thinking in German accent--alahm, alahm!): ....Uh-oh. What did you do?
Rollie: ...I...something's in Elsa's nose.
Me (leaping up as quickly as I can in my delicate condition--which is actually still pretty darn fast. Kinda like when an elephant suddenly spots a mouse): What is in Elsa's nose?
Rollie: I'll show you.

I followed my son into my bedroom, where Elsa was perched at the foot of my bed, staring slack-jawed at Peter Pan crowing onscreen. I leaned down and peered into her nose, where I saw a uncooked popcorn kernel lodged in her right nostril.

So many times we moms are confronted with the strange, the incongruous, the macabre. I've found things in the most interesting of places: a quarter shoved in my computer's disc drive. A purple pipe cleaner sticking out of a doorknob. Play-doh in places play-doh has no business being. These things are usually somewhat innocuous, and may even make us chuckle at our children's creativity and manual dexterity.

And I'm not one to freak out at little things. I try to take most of the jack-ass things my kids do in stride. I don't gasp when they take little tumbles. I don't have hissy fits when they draw on the carpet or wig-out when they jump on the couch. I used to think this was due to my being a really cool cat, but right now I actually think it's because I'm usually on the brink of passing out from exhaustion, and most forms of freaking out require more energy than I can physically summon at any given moment.

But man, when I saw Elsa's little nostril obstructed, I went into this total hand-wringing, mother-hen mode that even I didn't recognize.

Me: Oh. Oh no. Okay, hang on a second guys.
Elsa (tearing her eyes from the screen long enough to notice me gaping helplessly at her nose intruder): Rollie did it.
Me: I know, hon, it's okay. Just don't breath in, okay?
Rollie: Why not, Momma?
Me: I don't want it to get stuck in there. I might not be able to get it out.
Rollie: Why not, Momma?
Elsa: Rollie put popcorn in my nose.
Me: I know, I know.
Rollie: I was trying to put it in her mouth.
Me: Your aim is way off, buddy. Elsa, breathe through your mouth, okay? I don't want that popcorn to go any deeper in there.
Rollie: Why not, Momma?
Me: Rollie...just...gimme a second here.

I snatched a tissue from the dresser and held her left nostril closed, then instructed her to blow. But as she did, I had a hard time discerning whether she was exhaling or inhaling. Which sent me into further panic. What if I can't get it out? What if I have to take her to the emergency room? What if they can't get it out without performing open-nose surgery? Is there such a thing? I'm such a terrible mother.

With visions of her inhaling the kernel further into her nasal passage, and from thence either into her brain or down her windpipe and into her lungs, where it would lodge itself in a nice, warm, dark corner of her alveoli and sprout into a cornstalk, I grabbed my daughter off my bed and hurried into the bathroom, Rollie trailing behind, uncharacteristically quiet. Probably stewing in his own juices of guilt and self-beration.

I set my human Whirly Pop on the counter and dumped out the entire contents of a manicure set my mother-in-law bought me like, eighteen Christmases ago and I hadn't used since Rollie's birth. Inside was a small tool designed to both push back cuticles, and fish tiny objects from the delicate nostrils of children. It's long, thin, and bent at the tip, sort of like a hoe for tilling the world's tiniest garden. With flashbacks of playing Operation, I inserted the tool into Elsa's nose and pried the popcorn kernel out.

Elsa: You got it!
Rollie: Lemme see.

I held the offending kernel out for Rollie to study.

Me: Never again, Rol. That could have been really, really bad.
Rollie: Why?
Me: Because I might not have been able to get it out. And then we would have had to go to the hospital.

Perhaps it was seeing me in such an unusual state of concern. Or his own conscious crushing down on his little blonde head. Or the fact that Elsa was getting all the attention. But whatever it was, Rollie looked up at me with those gray eyes and burst into tears. And I just had to pick him up and cuddle him, even though when I do so now his feet dangle past my knees and my OB doctor would probably kill me for lifting such a big load.

Me: It's okay, Rol-Rol. She's fine. Just promise me you'll never, ever put anything in anyone's nose ever again.
Rollie (sniff sniff): O-kaaaay.
Me: Not your nose, not Elsa's nose, not your friends' noses.
Elsa: Ollie's nose.
Me: Not Ollie's nose.
Rollie: What about his ears?
Me: No. No one's ears, either. Okay?
Rollie: Okay.

Whew. Crisis averted. For now. Although I can just imagine the trouble these two are going to get in down the road. Elsa will be Rollie's guinea pig, always the one to try the asinine things he comes up with. Which is pretty much how my own relationship with my big brother was. Which means I have a few more trips to the emergency room in my future. Sigh. At least it's only 15 minutes away.

So...discussion time! What's the weirdest thing your child has ever inserted into an orifice?

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