I’ve been pretty much overwhelmed by all the responses to my last post. Truly. All those lovely comments, emails, FaceBook messages – literally hundreds. Thank you. From all my family. We’re very touched by every single one. (I also thought about responding to each of the blog comments, but it would have simply been a series of “Thank you”s. So here, instead – to each of you – thank you. I love this little community we have.)
I also feel a bit guilty (Irish, Catholic, parent – three strikes etc), for two reasons. Firstly, I wasn’t trying to guilt you all into condolences. It was purely for future reference, for when you find yourself in the vicinity of death and are unsure of the protocol. (There is no protocol, really, but simple contact is never a bad thing.)
Secondly – many people commended the post, and I feel bad that I didn’t make more of an effort. I just wanted to post something – anything - which would bridge the vast emotional space between Before and Now, so that I could get back to my usual craft of Giving Out. It felt a bit slap-dash to me, but I’m simply not a good enough writer to write eloquently and properly from the heart. So an apology to you, dear reader, for not trying hard enough. But thank you all, again, for your kind words, nonetheless.
And with that: shall we resume normal business? Or at least as normal as I can muster? Let’s.
Did I tell you about the Baby’s recent-ish penchant for sticking random shit in her various bodily orifices? She’s been a fan of teeny-weeny things for ever: seeds, beads, grains, coins, nuts etc. She hoards them and calls them Seedy or Beady (or Grainy or Coiny or Nutty, as appropriate), announces that they’re her pets, and cries Great Tears Of Sadness when, inevitably, they go missing.
Sometimes, however, she cried Great Tears of Pain if they go missing about - or more accurately, inside – her body. Firstly, she swallowed a coin. SHRIEKING and WAILING – because it was sort of a big one, but also she had broken the No Putting Things In Your Mouth rule, and so had to balance her distress with the inevitable Mummy Annoyance. “Am I going to die?” she whispered (she has a bit of a thing for death at the moment), so I put aside the Annoyance and reassured her that no (but that her bottom might hurt in a few days).
And then, a few days later, as I was dallying over what to have for lunch – because the excitement of sitting down for the first time in several hours was distracting me – I got a call from her nursery saying She-has-stuck-something-up-her-nose-and-has-gone-nuts-and-please-come-and-get-her. It was a pebble, and if I was creative enough, I’d be able to come up with a Limerick (‘There once was a girl who loved clothes, and sticking small things up her nose…”). As it was, I used all my creativity on finding a solution (“stick her face in a saucer of water and tell her to snort in through her nose” – and BY GOD it worked – one sneeze and out it flew. Incidentally we still have the pebble. Or Pebbley, as it’s called.)
THEN she swallowed another coin (she rattles when shook) and THEN I caught her in the process of finding a home for a piece of rolled up Play Doh – in her ear.
So. This all brings us to last night. She was in the bath, where I sometimes dump her if I want an hour of peace, because she loves her baths. She had about 58 small plastic toys in with her, including this little fellow:
(Let’s call him “Boy-ey”).
Once the water had gone cold and she had started to shrivel, I picked her up, wrapped her in a towel, and plonked her on the bed while I organised pjs etc. She suddenly appeared by my side – “Mummy I have something to tell you” - and then burst into big fat tears, sobbing and gulping and howling. I assumed she’d eaten a lizard or something, but no: Worse. “One of the toy thingies has gone UP MY BUM.”
There followed an inquisition of which a Spaniard would be proud. (Are you sure? YES! Which one? THE BOY ONE! How on earth…? I JUST SAT ON IT! Are you sure you sat on it, or did you maybe, by mistake, push it in with your finger? I AM SURE! I SAT ON IT!)
So between the sobs and the howls and the terror, what appears to have happened was this: She was playing in the bath with 27 of these little things and also a bar of soap, and things got very soapy, including both the boy and her bottom, and then she sat on it and it hurt her leg so she fished it out, but then it went back into the soapy, opaque water, and she must have sat on it properly this time because IT HAS DISAPPEARED AND NOW ITS IN MY BUM….
So. I had a look. And as you can imagine, your average just-turned-4-year-old doesn’t have the most generous of bottom-openings. She lay there, screeching and crying and saying I CAN FEEL IT IN MY BUM, but truly, I couldn’t see a thing – but then the bottom is a mysterious thing, so I could neither confirm nor deny the colonic presence of a small plastic boy. There followed some rather disgusting measures, which made me laugh then, and again now just thinking about them, because she went fucking MENTAL – which only served to make me more dubious; how could a toy slip into her bum without her registering it properly? At the same time, I couldn’t help thinking of a doctor friend of my sister’s who maintained that in A&E, 25% of his work was dealing with sheepish men arriving shrouded in a sheet / blanket / bed cloth and insisting that they’d fallen on whatever it was that was now lodged up their arse.
So I left her and went back to the bathroom and had a snoop around – maybe she was mistaken? - and then she arrived beside me and insisted AGAIN that she could feel it IN HER BUM, and was she going to die*? But – oh thank you Lord – then we found the toy, under the bar of soap – where he’d been all along, that sneaky fucker – and, in the Baby’s words: OH PHEW MUMMY.
Phew indeed. Because frankly, I’m too old for this shit.