Yesterday when I went to pick Punkin up from school, I was rushed at the door by a lady who I did not recognize.
"Before he sees you, he swallowed one of those little arts and crafts pompoms and he's pretty upset. He threw up and he's crying."
"Um, are you the nurse?"
"Yes I'm [name unintelligible because she was rushing]. He seems okay, but I'm afraid to give him anything to drink. I don't want it to move in to his airway. But he's breathing and talking fine."
I went to find Punkin in the bathroom with his teacher and as soon as he saw me, he started bawling.
"I (breath) swallowed (breath) uh (breath) POMPOM!"
He was so upset. He kept saying it was in his throat and he was coughing like he was going to vomit again. I wrapped my arms around him and let him cry and told him we would call the doctor and that he would be fine. I snagged one of the pompoms for reference and started to get his things to leave. His teach sidled over to me when he wasn't looking and said "He asked me if he was going to choke and die. I wanted you to know that." The nurse stood next to her nodding her head solemnly.
My heart skipped a beat. Awesome. Now his teacher thinks I'm exposing my child to morbid information about death and how he's going to die one day. I tried to laugh it off.
"Oh. Uh, ha ha. Um, yeah when I tell him not to put things in his mouth and he asks why, I tell him he could choke."
Which is true. He and Skeeter both like to play a fun game of "Let's See How Many LEGO We Can Fit In Our Mouths!". So when I tell him not to do that and he asks why I say because you could choke and he says "and die?" and I say maybe.
So now of course, I feel terrible about even entertaining the idea. But honestly, I feel like he needs to know how seriously hurt he could get. So on this day, when he had this traumatic experience, I told him "This is why I tell you not to put LEGO in your mouth".
"Because I could choke and die?"
"No, you're not going to die" (because I felt awful that he thought he was going to die)
"So....I'm just going to keep choking?"
I had no idea what to even say. Punkin saw a dead squirrel with Austin one time, and Austin tried to explain to him that the squirrel wasn't going to wake up because it died. I could tell after they came inside and had that talk, Punkin was having this internal struggle of trying to figure out what it meant to never wake up. Maybe he was too young to explain it and have him understand. I guess I just feel like this is the circle of life and there shouldn't be anything scary about that. Of course I don't want him to think he could die at any moment. But I also want him to know that life is precious. And that some times we lose people we love and that's just the nature of living and that living is so wonderful. So I don't want to shield death.
Being a parent is hard. I'm certain most days that everything I'm doing is wrong. Maybe this is wrong, too. All we can do is follow our gut.
But to the pressing matter at hand, Punkin is fine and he's rather looking forward to the prospect of pooping out the pompom.