Lucy was chewing on something the other day, which I thought was strange because I hadn’t put out any food and I hadn’t seen her in the snack shelf in the fridge. Our conversation went something like this:
Mommy: Baby, what’s in your mouth?
(Lucy is smiling and trying to be cute so as to distract me from whatever she’s doing. She is very good at this. I’ve only recently caught on.)
(This is my skeptical “Hmmmm….” And it goes with my skeptical face. She recognizes them immediately)
Lucy: I have something in here, Mommy!
(She’s pointing to her mouth and teasing me.She knows I’m imagining a small rubber ball that can be perfectly wedged into her larynx)
Mommy: What’s in there, Bugs?
(I’m acting calm, but she knows any minute I could go commando and pry my fingers into her mouth and fish around for the offending object. We have history here. Once, I went in convinced she had eaten cat poop. She was eating turkey. She’s barely forgiven me.)
Lucy: (Laughing) I’ve got somethin’ in here…
(She’s pointing to her mouth and saying it all sing-songy, like she’s the class bully and she’s holding my puppy over the well. I flash back to kindergarten)
Mommy: Okay kid, what’s in the mouth?…Fork it over.
(She ignores me. It’s like I’m not even in the room. Again, I flash back to kindergarten)
Mommy: Do you have an M&M?
(At this point, I’m wishing for lint-covered stale M&Ms from under the couch)
(She dives into her mouth, fishes around in there and pulls something out. I squint. I know she’s holding something – she’s not a very good mime - but whatever it is, it is invisible to me.)
Mommy: What’s that, baby? What do you have?
(I take her hand gently and steady it. I lean in closer. I see something. A bit of translucent something. I am perplexed. My mind runs through the possibilities. I come up blank. I think it might be a bit of rat poison.I panic. But then I remember we don’t have rat poison. I feel better)
Lucy: I ate my toenail, Mommy!
(Sure enough, there it was…I recognized it now - a sliver of clear toenail that had been gnawed off by a toddler. She was laughing and jumping up and down with the toenail in her hand. She carried it with her in the pocket of her corduroys all day. She was proud)
Me too. I'm considering including this story on her preschool applications.