This week, the staff at our school took the Red Cross first-aid and CPR training course taught by my friend Kim Lines. She’s a dandy instructor and really knows her stuff. We all left the better for learning these life-saving techniques. They’re skills everyone should have.
As the day waxed on, people shared their own experiences and we heard a few hair-raising tales of burns, breaks and obstructed airways; in particular, times when kids were choking.
I had a couple too.
Several years ago, I paid a visit to a lady with three children. We sat sipping tea in her kitchen while the kids played and the youngest, around 18 months old, sat in his high-chair. All was well until she flipped him a boiled wiener to gnaw on. I’m talking about a whole honkin’ wiener tossed onto his tray with a wet, wobbly thud!
It was not chopped into tiny bits to ensure an easy passage down his esophagus, nor was the child watched to see how he would make out with the mushy, throat-clogging meal. In fact, as I recall, the woman walked away, leaving me with this tiny toddler who sat methodically mangling his limp lunch.
Naturally, the next sounds to be heard were those of noisy gagging followed closely by chubby arms raised in distress (his and mine). I scrambled from my chair and leapt to his side, but his mother called calmly from the hallway.
“Just leave him alone. He’ll be fine,” she said. Thankfully, he was, and presently he managed to work the whole business down his gullet. I however, was not fine. I shook with fear.
My own children had every morsel of their dinners cut to a fine shred and were told to chew long and carefully. Each mouthful they took was observed at close range.
As you can imagine, this attention was a trifle unnerving, and once they turned 25, was no longer appreciated, but I TRIED.
Of course, one cannot be present for every foolish morsel their children choose to ingest. For instance, I had no idea what was happening on the day that five year old Aliyah reclined on the grass in our backyard stuffing a toadstool into her mouth, or that Justin would try to swallow the equivalent of a side of beef at his uncle’s dinner table.
However, they both lived.
I wasn’t so sure about that same child on my next visit to visit the woman though. This time she tossed a plum onto the kid’s plate. I watched in horrible fascination as the little fellow chawed his way down to the stone and then popped that in too.
“Hey!” I hollered, lunging to my feet once more. “”He’s just eaten the pit!”
She yawned, and almost leisurely stood as the child began the familiar refrain of retching that I assume was a regular occurrence at their dinner table.
Moving to his side without haste, she dragged him from the chair and suspended him upside-down in mid-air.
She delivered two brisk raps to his heaving back, the stone flew from his mouth and she placed him back in the chair to continue with his fruit, unperturbed.
What would Kim have done in that situation I wonder?
Probably handled it better than me. I couldn’t take the stress, and never went back.