The framed nickel, autographed.
I'm a girl, safely nestled between four boys. Two older brothers, two younger brothers. My only sister, Barb, is five years older than me. Now that age difference doesn't matter. Back then, it was the difference between mudpies and dating. I resorted to playing army, or building forts, only when there was nobody to play Barbies or dance around the living room with me to "Baby Elephant Walk." I'm not exactly prissy but nobody would call me a tomboy either. You'd have to pay me A LOT to even touch a cricket, and I'd go days before I'd eat anything that didn't come from the grocery store. That would be in comparison to my brothers, who caught crawdads on string with bacon tied at the end in the ditch that ran across our front yard, when they'd bring them in, throw them in the soup pot, and this horrible-beyond-description grey foam would rise to the top. They'd stand over it and watch with anticipation as the crawdads died a slow death, then toss them down their throats with great pleasure.
I'm a girl. I thought I was prepared to raise a boy, having grown up in the middle of four hell-raising hooligans. I was not. After Sarah and Leslie had arrived, we were still so hoping for a son. Not a B.O.Y, just a son. There's a difference. God has a sense of humor. He's into character development, apparently. We got a B.O.Y. 150% rolling ball of dirt, knees torn out of every pair of pants, umpteen trips to the emergency room by the time he was 10, messy, dirty, loud, never sat still, ate with one butt-cheek hanging off the side of the chair so he could move on to the important stuff in life like jumping ramps in the street with his bike, or sitting on the railroad tracks with his buddies til the engineer had almost had a heart attack, or plowing down his 2nd grade teacher because she came between him and the basketball on the playground. THAT kind of B.O.Y.
Daniel was never quiet, or still. He had colic for 5 months, and the doctor's advice was to leave him in his crib, turn up the music, go downstairs and have a glass of wine. I was desperate enough that sometimes I did that, but my heart hurt the whole time. If I could go back, I'd just suck it up and rock him, with earplugs in place. When he stopped yelling out of stomach misery, he moved on to the garden variety of noise. For the sheer pleasure of it. He was never talkative, like his sisters. He was just Loud. And Busy. From the minute he woke up til the minute he went back to bed. We instituted "quiet time" in our house to keep our sanity. Everyone had to spend a chunk of time in their room, being quiet. I didn't care what they did, it just couldn't make noise. While his sisters curled up with books and dolls, Dan was in another world of bug shells, hornet nests, gobots, tonka trucks, playing cars on his cardboard town, or building towers to bash down. Books were reserved for bedtime reading, with his sisters. When it was his night to choose the book, he invariably picked Franklin in the Dark or Little Bear or some book on dinosaurs while his sisters sat disgusted with his choice.
When we went for our weekly trips to the library, in Carbondale, Illinois, the girls would head to their favorite sections. Leslie would go see if "her book", Pinnocchio, had been returned. Honestly, for a good two year span, she'd turn it in when we walked through the door, then right before we left, she'd go see if it had been put back on the shelf. If it had, she'd check it out again. She was convinced it was her book. I think the librarians must have thought so too; they just let us keep checking it out. Sarah just wanted to check out half the library. She was destined to be an English major.
Dan was not enthralled with the library. The only draw for him, at that age, was the plastic dinosuars he could check out from the toy cabinet. After our golden retriever, Lindy, ate the legs and tail off a couple of them and we had to replace them, we stopped checking out dinosaurs. We bought our own, and lived with the fact that none of them had legs or tails.
At the end of one particularly long visit to the library, Daniel was standing next to the checkout counter, bored. I was one floor down, looking up at him. He was safe. Trust me - the librarians knew Daniel....and NOBODY was going to take this kid. I realized he had something in his mouth, and asked him what it was. As he said the words, "Nickel" it got stuck in his little throat. Throat about the same size as a nickel. As he struggled to talk to me, I panicked and told him in a moment of insanity, "spit or swallow". Good Lord, I have no idea what I was thinking, except 'open the airway'. He, being a B.O.Y., swallowed it. The entire two floors of the library had witnessed what just happened, and we were all stunned. It was that feeling you've maybe had in a restaurant where someone starts choking and everyone just freezes. We all froze, then just hung there. He'd swallowed a nickel. Why not a dime, but thank God it wasn't a quarter. He was about 4 at the time.
After an expensive trip to see Dr. Paul Bennett (and yes, of course I remember his name, I saw the man almost weekly there for awhile), then the very familiar emergency room, we had an xray done. There it was. Metal shows up nicely. They told us we'd have to "watch" for the nickel. They suggested some sort of netting being placed over the toilet bowl, under the lid. Thankfully we ate a lot of popsicles in those days. The sticks came in handy. Oh, the digging was such fun! Another delight in raising a B.O.Y. After a week or so, with no nickel being discovered in our digs, we decided it must have passed, and we'd just missed it somehow.
Months later, as I was getting ready to swish out the toilet, there it was. Rusty in the bottom of the bowl. You bet your bottom dollar I pulled it out. I'd been hunting for that stupid nickel for months. It is proudly framed, behind glass, in a memory box. We let Danny, as he was called, autograph it.
Oh the joys of raising a boy. Just trying to keep them alive through the process....
This is Dan today; we both survived...
Now that he's grown up, and has grown into a S.O.N., now and then I see the nickel and remember back to when he was all B.O.Y. I wouldn't want to live through it all again, but I'm proud we made it through, and thankful for the adventure of raising him. Amazingly enough, he grew up to be soft-spoken, and quiet. I don't think he's been to the emergency room in awhile either. Having lived through oh so many hair-raising episodes with him, I came to realize it'll all come out in the end.
Labels: Glimpse of the Heart
posted at 8:44 AM