Swallowing the Ladybug, Part I

So, I have two daughters, ages 8 and 4.  My eight year old likes to think she’s 13 but I’ll end up writing about that another time.  My four year old is very easy-going, and up until this past December there’s been no “drama” with her (her sister’s had stitches in her forehead twice, not due to anything cool like sports, but general clumsiness).  That all changed when she swallowed a lady-bug.

I had just come back from my shift at a newspaper late night and was sitting at my computer, probably reading texags or something.  Suzie, my younger daughter, stays up a little later than her older sister because she doesn’t have to get up as early, and she likes to snuggle with my wife before she goes to bed.  I think my wife (Laura) was in the dining room putting together Christmas invitations for the party we were having in two weeks.

Anyway, Suzie comes up to me and wants dessert, even though it’s 9:30.  I put some yogurt pretzels in a little bowl and she comes to sit on my lap while I’m back on the computer, reading random crap (I have to keep up on my random trivia for QRANK).  She then notices the ladybug on the desk.  Laura had just cleaned off the desk in order to display a nativity scene at the top which meant a lot of junk hidden behind the pictures of our kids we normally keep up there got pushed down to the desktop.  One of these lost treasures was a necklace charm shaped like a lady bug, which lit up with blinking lights when the back was twisted.

This is the infamous ladybug

She immediately grabs it, correctly identifying it as a ladybug.  The battery inside was long dead so I couldn’t show her how it lit up, but she didn’t care.  She examined it a bit, and then  went back to eating her yogurt pretzels – I saw her grab a pretzel from the bowl so I thought her interest in the charm had faded. [Now here’s where I apparently wasn’t a good dad].  Suzie asked me to sing the “Yo Gabba Gabba” song “There’s a Party in my Tummy!” with her, so I raise my voice an octave and start singing it, tickling her tummy [note to parents: don’t do that while your kids are eating].  Suzie started giggling but then started gagging and coughing; something was apparently caught in her throat  so I put her down and called to Laura, thinking she swallowed a pretzel wrong.  Actually I was a bit frightened; I had seen my daughters get food caught before but this was different – for a moment I could tell Suzie couldn’t breathe.  So my calling Laura was more out of feeling of utter helplessness and a hope that my vet wife could fix her.

But practically as soon as the gagging/coughing began it stopped – Suzie spit out some fragments of yogurt pretzel into my hand and I felt relieved that THAT was over.  But then Suzie started crying, and as I started to try to console her she said those four words that would lead to one of the longest nights of our lives:

“I swallowed the ladybug!” /sobs

To be continued…

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