Monday, April 12, 2010

Maybe Pockets Would Have Been a Better Idea

April 12, 2010

When Danielle was about three, she was fascinated with rocks of all shapes and sizes, and all of them were her 'favorite'. She was a proud collector. Don't ask me why, although, I'll have to admit they were a cheaper toy than the cars and Barbies that the other two were always after. So although I thought it was kind of weird (Danielle has always marched to her own drummer), I didn't do too much to discourage her interest, and consequently there was a never-ending assortment of rocks in her bedroom, in the living room, in my get the picture. Whenever she was napping, a few of them would disappear, and she was none the wiser, so we managed to keep her habit from taking over our house.

One weekend, we had been down to visit my sister in southern California. Just as we were loading up the van for the five hour trek back home, Danielle spied a few of her 'favorite' rocks on Lisa's driveway. "I want to take these home! They're my favorite rockies!" She began to scoop up several treasures in the up-turned end of her dress, like a farmer's wife gathering eggs.

"Let's just take a few," I said. I spied in her collection a fist-sized rock that would make a powerful pelting weapon, should Nicholas decide to get bored on the way home. I had a flash of me slumped unconscious over the steering wheel, careening off the road with my three babies strapped in their car seats holding on for dear life. "Let's maybe leave this one here for Aunt Lisa. How about that?"

"But that's my FAVORITE!"

"I know. But it's Aunt Lisa's favorite, too, and she'd be sad if we took it from her yard. Let's just take some of your other favorites, okay?" After a little cajoling, we narrowed her selections down to a few and settled in for the trip home. She begged to hold all of them in her lap, but I'm a safety girl, so I thought rocks might be safer on the floor of the van rather than in the hand of the toddler sitting in the car seat behind me.

"Can I hold this one? Just this one? It's my favorite." She held out a pebble the size of an M'nM. Hmmm. Even if she chucked this one right at the back of my head while I was driving, it wouldn't be too much of a distraction. Plus, it would appease her. Five hours in the car with a cranky toddler is the equivalent of 18 normal human hours.

"Yes. You can keep that one in your hands. Of course!" I am a reasonable woman, after all.

So we were off. Southern California traffic kind of stresses me out, so I was concentrating on making sure I wasn't getting rear-ended or missing freeway on-ramps. (This was in the days before my beloved GPS, Elizabeth. Yes, we named my GPS. She's a part of the family. Since we had no GPS, and my sense of direction is as highly developed as that of a two year old, if I got lost it was going to get ugly. Oh--did I mention that this was also before I had a cell phone? Taking wrong exits and ending up goodness-knows-where with all of my kids was one of my biggest fears.)

So--there I was, concentrating on, you know...DRIVING. And the kids were being quiet, and all was going well, until...

"AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! Mommy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

I nearly had a heart attack. "What? What is it, Danielle? Bree, what's wrong with your sister?" I was at a particularly difficult interchange on the freeway--all kinds of cars trying to merge in and out, including me. Danielle's panicked scream did not help.

"Get it out, get it out!" she screamed, crying and frustrated.

"What? Get what out? What's wrong?" Bree couldn't see any blood or obvious signs of distress, other than the contorted face of her sister, who was continuing to scream and bellow.

"Danielle, listen to me. What IS WRONG?"

"Rocky! Rocky in my nose! Get it out! Favorite rocky in my nose!"

If she hadn't been so upset, and if I wasn't still actively trying to avoid being smashed into by the L.A. racecar drivers who were my companions on the road, I would have laughed hysterically. Maybe she got bored holding it. Maybe she wanted to see what it smelled like. Maybe she just wanted to see if it fit. Whatever the reason, my baby had stuck her favorite rocky right up her nose. And yes, it fit. It fit tightly. It fit so well that a tiny finger sent up after it to retrieve it had no room to wriggle it out. It only served to push it up further into the tiny nostril, where it got stuck. I knew that kid had been too quiet for too long.

She begged me to pull over so I could help her, a virtual impossibility in the current traffic. "Did you try to get it out with your finger?"

"Yes! Rocky out, please! Stop, Mommy!" she yelled frantically.

"I can't stop yet, Danielle. Did you try to push it down with your finger from the outside? Bree, can you reach across and help?" Man, it was noisy in that van with all the yelling and the panic and the frustration. Yes, she had pushed it from the outside. No, Bree couldn't reach her to help. And no, I still couldn't get over to pull off at the exit. Still much yelling, and Danielle kept sticking her finger up her nose to try to get rid of the rock, lodging it deeper and deeper. "Don't, Danielle! You're making it worse!" Try reasoning with a three year old sometime. I dare you.

"Rocky out, ROCKY OUT! Mommy, PLEASE!" She wasn't hurt, just really, really annoyed.

Finally, Nicholas, who had been unusually quiet, piped up from the back seat. "It's not that hard, Danielle. Just plug your other nostril and blow it out."

Good solution. "Hey--how did you know that?"

"That's how I usually do it." I didn't even have time to contemplate how often he stuck things up his nose in order to have a 'usual' way to address the problem.

"Okay, we'll try that. Danielle, push your finger over the other side of your nose and blow really hard." She closed up the other nostril and blew. Through her mouth--a big fat raspberry. "No, sweetie, blow through your nose." She tried again. Blew through her mouth again. I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw her looking at me like I was crazy. How could she blow through two plugged up notrils? "Blow like you're blowing your nose, okay?" Have you ever seen a three year old blow his or her nose? Ineffective. She stopped crying long enough to blow through her mouth one more time.

"Stop, Mommy! Rocky ouuuut!!" She was near hysteria, big tears rolling down her blotchy red cheeks, exercising every bit of her lung power.

Finally I was able to pull out of traffic and onto a ramp leading to the middle of nowhere. I drove up and down a few side streets until I could find a spot to park so I could get out of the van and help her. Meanwhile I was scanning the local street signs hoping to see something pointing me in the direction of a local hospital. If I couldn't get the rock out of her nose, there was no way we were driving four and a half more hours with her screaming like that.

I parked, jumped out of the van, and opened the side door to get to Danielle. Just as I was opening her door, I heard a thunderous sneeze. The door slid open to reveal a triumphant Danielle, slimy rock in her grubby little hand. "Look, Mommy--my favorite rocky! Rocky out." She smiled sweetly.

"Yeah, sometimes a sneeze works, too," chimed in Nicholas The Expert from the back seat.

After a sigh of relief and a few moments to get my heart rate back to normal, I got back in the van and headed for the on-ramp, favorite snot-covered rocky deposited discreetly by the side of road in the middle of nowhere.


  1. LOL. Great story. And isn't it funny how long it takes toddlers to figure out how to blow anything out of their nose. haha. Just something you really can't teach.

    Love your resident expert. He didn't seem too concerned!

    How did we manage before cell phones and GPS? I know we did, but HOW? :)

  2. It is a wonder we haven't had a nervous breakdown by now Donna. I remember when Brandon was 2 yrs. old he swollowed 12 small marbles that went with his construction set/dump truck. I left him alone for 2 minutes to go to the bathroom and came back to continue our construction play when I realized the marbles were gone. It took the longest 3 minutes of my life trying to determine whether he had indeed swallowed them. I called the doctor. He told me to go through his diaper for the next few days. I found 10 of them over a 2 day period. I wonder what ever happened to the other 2?? ha Caroline

  3. too funny! Thanks for sharing! maria