CHENNAI: Every day, before the children come home, I chant a mantra. “I must, I must, I must increase my …” no, no not that one. That was from middle school. The mantra I chant in my head is “Whatever happens, keep your cool, keep that smile on your face even if you grit your teeth to powder! DO NOT LOSE IT.”
Every day, my 5-year-old ensures that I break this vow.
Last week, we were walking home from the bus stop, I am chanting away in my head, when one of the boys’ friends comes up to me and gleefully reports “Aunty! S swallowed a one rupee coin in school!”
Now, of course I dismissed this. What 5-year-old swallows coins? I laughed and ask my son
“Did you? Really? Ha ha!”
“Yes! In the snack break”
“Why? Did you think it was a chocolate coin? Ha ha ha!”
The 8-year-old kept looking at me with his “Why hasn’t she flipped out yet?” look on his face. And then it hit me. My son was telling the truth. No matter how many times I asked him, his version of events, like Mohanlal’s in Drishyam, did not change at all.
“I was in the sand pit. I took the coin. Flipped it in the air and when I was looking up, my mouth opened and it slid right in.”
Yeah right. Who did he think he was Rajinikanth? I’d like to point out that both grandmothers found it ENTIRELY believable that the coin entered his body exactly as he described. “Of course,” they both blustered “It could happen like that to any of us.”
So off we went to the doctor, whose question “Betu, why would you do such a thing?” was answered with “So I could have my own money.” Well, that settled that. He’s a living piggy bank.
We were sent to the hospital to take x-rays. And as I stood in the queue to register this charming new patient, sweating away and Googling about swallowed coins and anal suppositories, my children were having a kung-fu lite-sabre fight in the reception. The 5-year-old asked an orderly for a wheelchair as “…I have swallowed a coin and if I don’t poop it out I might die.”
Don’t lose it. Whatever happens. Smile and the world smiles with you.
We soon have evidence. In a sea of black x-ray film, a lovely little silver line, kind of like a UFO in the sky. The next morning I am standing guard outside the bathroom as he does his business armed with a ginormous plastic bag. Nothing. Day 2 — I take my nephew’s advice and switch to a long stick.
Distance may not make the heart grow fonder but it does make you want to puke less. After rooting around in poop, I strike silver. There it is, the tiny stowaway. I sterilise it in boiling hot water and contemplate cutting my hand off.
I want to let you all know that I have stopped chanting my mantra. Clearly such matters are not in my hands. I might as well go back to my middle school chant… who knows? I may go up a cup size after all!
(The writer’s parenting philosophy is: if there’s no blood, don’t call me)