A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

The Story of a Baptism, a Magnet, Some Poop, and Karmic Retribution.

Four years ago when Bucket Head was just a baby, we had him baptized at our church one early Saturday afternoon.

Sadly, that was before I owned a decent camera, so I didn’t take a lot of pictures, and the few I have aren’t great.

But it was a beautiful sacrament and many of our local family and friends were there to celebrate it with us.

After the baptism, everyone came back to our house for a party. I had a brisket rarin’ to go in the crock pot for barbecue sandwiches and some of my famous vinaigrette cole slaw marinating in the fridge. My sister-in-law Ellen brought her slap-yo-mama-it’s-so-good squash casserole (I think she puts crack cocaine in it, just sayin’). And of course, there was cake. Everything was delicious.

After the meal, the kids were all playing quietly in our basement playroom with their cousins and friends while the adults hung out on the deck, sharing stories and enjoying the fresh air.

Looking back, it was the calm before the storm.

Suddenly, four year old Mini-Me steps out onto the deck, her body sideways and obviously hiding something, and says…

“Anyone want to see a magic trick?”

“Sure!” we all chimed together.

So Mini-Me slowly and dramatically turns her body to face us and points with both hands to her midsection while singing an enthusiastic “TA-DAH!!!”

There, in the middle of her belly, but on the outside of the pretty yellow sundress her Aunt Teresa had just bought for her, was a magnetic rock…”magically” stuck to her dress.

It was one of about 20 such rocks that came in a pretty velvet pouch with an educational instruction sheet about magnets…a Christmas gift from the kids’ Uncle Teddy. I thought it was a great gift at the time: educational, interesting, fun! So much better than the “My First Chainsaw” or pet snake I’m always expecting. It goes without saying, Uncle Teddy is their favorite uncle.

Seeing Mini-Me’s “magically” suspended magnetic rock, we all cheered and said “Bravo!” and “What a cool trick!” and “Aren’t you clever!” as doting relatives are wont to do, probably all (like me) assuming that she had on some kind of belt with a metal clasp under her clothes and that’s how the magnet was sticking to the outside of her thin cotton sundress.

I even said something like, “Don’t tell us how you did it because a good magician NEVER reveals her secrets!” (Wink, wink!)

Being only four, and genetically incapable of keeping a secret, she immediately blurted out “It’s easy! I just swallowed a magnet!”


D’ja ever see a grown woman in a party dress spray a fine mist of wine out of her mouth and nose in a six foot radius? You did if you were on my deck that day. Sorry about the stains, Nina.

And…cue the flashback:

One time, when I was three or four, I did my own little magic trick. It involved a piece of chalk, my toy box positioned upright like magician’s cabinet, my nose, and the phrase: “Now you see it… now you don’t!”  Yeah. That trick didn’t end so well. My dad especially enjoys the part of the story where the attending physician in the ER just so happened to be Mr. Most Likely to Succeed from his graduating high school class who smugly inquired “So, Ron, what are you up to these days?” Ouch. But I digress…

Wiping the wine from my face and chest, I began to question my daughter further: “Honey, tell me the truth… how is that magnet sticking to you?”

“I am telling the truth. I swallowed a magnet.” To prove it, she then plucked the magnetic stone off the front of her dress, lifted the sundress up to reveal her bare belly, placed the magnetic stone on her naked belly button, and let go. It totally stuck there, defying gravity and logic. Hand to God. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own four eyes.

I raced for the phone and called my pediatrician’s office. It was a Saturday, so I had to leave a message with the answering service and wait for him to call me back. Thankfully he responded immediately.

He was as astounded as we were. “Let me get this straight…there’s a magnet sticking to the outside of her belly? Through her clothes? Because she swallowed a different magnet?WOW! Those are some seriously strong magnets!”

Once he got over the initial shock, the main thing he wanted to know was HOW MANY magnets had she swallowed. Apparently swallowing ONE is fine (as long as she didn’t choke on it). But if she had swallowed more than one, we’d have to get her to an emergency room, STAT. Multiple magnets can cause the stomach and intestines to bunch up and stick together, even perforate internal organs in their magnetic pull to be together.

I may have heard him say “internal bleeding” and then I think I heard the words “potentially fatal if not treated immediately,” but I’m not sure because the sound of my heart beating in my ears was drowning him out.

I asked him to please hold while I put my hand over the receiver and questioned Mini-Me as calmly as I could: “Honey, you’re not in trouble, just tell Mommy the truth. How many of those magnets did you swallow?”


“Are you sure?”

“Yeth.” (She had a really pronounced lisp at the time.)

“Doctor, are you there? She said one. But I don’t know if I should believe her. She’s only four and a bit…um….creative (aka: bitch lies like a rug). Should I take her to the ER?”

I think he told me that she would be in some kind of discomfort or pain if she had swallowed multiple magnets and they were ripping through her intestinal walls. So, no, I didn’t need to go to the ER unless she was in pain. So my next task was to make sure she “passed the magnet” sometime in the next couple of days. If she didn’t, she could have a blockage, and that could be bad.

Great. Not exactly the fantasy you envision when you dream of becoming a parent, is it.

So for the next couple days, I was Mini-Me’s designated bathroom buddy. Every time she pooped, I was there, with rubber gloves, digging for buried treasure.

It was truly, without a doubt, one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever had to do in my entire life. But I did it. Multiple times. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

Eventually, she passed the magnet and we all rejoiced. It was about the size of a nickel. I scrubbed it and disinfected it…a lot.

The reclaimed magnet, pictured next to a nickel for perspective.

Then I put it in a special little metal heart-shaped box. And I’ve been saving it in that box ever since.

I had always intended that I would have it made into a pendant for Mini-Me one day, with an engraved “This too shall pass,” somewhere on the necklace. In my mind, I pictured giving it to her after her first big break up, or when she loses her first job.

But one week ago, this well traveled little magnet temporarily disappeared from it’s special storage spot and my mother-of-the-year fantasy was shattered (once again).

If you follow me on Twitter, you may already know some of that story. It was a very difficult day around here.

But on a positive note; it’s been said that grandchildren are God’s reward for letting your children live. Thanks, Mom and Dad. I know I wasn’t the easiest kid, but you’ll be glad to know that karma is alive and well here in North Georgia.


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.


  1. Fiveogrrl

    Shit magnets are not the cops that you want to work with. Just sayin.

  2. Mads

    I’ve had to inspect poo a few more times than I would like to think about. This story was horrifying and hilarious at the same time. I’m so glad she was ok!

    • The Bearded Iris

      OMG, seriously? Human poo? Multiple times? Are you a licensed poologist? I’mma pray for you.

      And thanks, Mads – glad she was OK too! 🙂

      • Mads

        haha I’m SO glad I’m not a poologist. There was a “nature expert” that took our elementary school class on a field trip to inspect deer poo. I’m still scratching my head at what the hell that was all about.
        Also, my dog had worms and I had to help her out there. 🙁 Poor thing. You can read about that horror story here: http://lapetitepancake.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/is-that-string/

  3. Liza Martz

    I think I would have fainted when the magnets clamped onto her bare belly button. Perhaps you should swallow a magnet and take the keepsake into protective custody against your navel for the next ten years or so. (if you can hold on for that long.)

    • The Bearded Iris

      It really was scary!
      Shoot, girl, I’m so regular that magnet wouldn’t last a day. (Lots of raw kale salad!) Sorry, TMI?

  4. Julie @ mamamash

    Wait, so you found it, right? That’s such a funny story, and so neat how you plan to give her back the magnet.

    I love your brand of sentimentality. 🙂

    • The Bearded Iris

      Yes – found it. It’s safe once again. More details coming soon!

  5. Megan at declutterdaily

    Those were some seriously strong magnets.
    We had to go to the e.r. during a Tropical Storm for “Chocolate Covered Edemame Removal from the Ear Canal” shenanigans a few years back.

  6. Anne @ Domesblissity

    Goodness gracious Iris. Never a dull moment, is there? I was decluttering a kitchen cabinet myself this week when I also stumbled across a hospital specimen jar containing a miniscule toy car wheel which had been stuck up my son’s nose and surgically removed by an ER doctor. One of many times. Karma has got me BIG TIME with my son. I didn’t realise I was so naughty? LOL

    Anne xx

    • The Bearded Iris

      A mini car wheel??? OUCH! Good thing kids don’t have a lot of nose hair!

      And hey, we weren’t “naughty,”… just curious/creative/brave/fun/adventurous. (Can you tell I’m trying to put a positive spin on it to protect myself from the shame spiral?)

  7. Allison @ Motherhood, WTF?

    I actually remember my parents telling me, when I was little, that they hope I have kids just like me. Well, I did.

    This story is terrifying. How long did she have to wait between swallowing the magnet and becoming magnetic? Was it immediate? Did you keep track of the magnet’s journey by sticking the magnet on the outside and keeping track of it’s descent? Now there’s a born entertainer. I van just picture her delight when she came up with the mind blowing, crowd pleasing feat.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Yes – it was immediate. The magnet was heavy, so it must have just slid down her esophagus like it was a tiny slip n’ slide right into her tummy. But after it left her tummy and traveled into her intestines, we couldn’t find it anymore with the magnet on the outside. And then it was about two days later that I found it in her poop. Ack!

      Oh, she’s a born entertainer alright. Pray for me.

  8. Made in Suisse

    Is it wrong to laugh at a poor child’s possible imminent death? Heck no!
    My sisters and I went through a weird phase of sticking things far up in noses: (in no particular order): the pit from an olive, chewing gum and jewellery beads.
    You have a never ending supply of embarassing stories to tell at her wedding!

  9. Allysgrandma

    Well apparently I was extremely lucky. The worst I had was changing my daughter’s bandage when she had a pylonidal cyst removed….but it was gross and I had to do wet to dry dressings, tucking them into the wound…..yuck…..she was 17 at the time.

    I swear you have the most hilarious life. Irene missed Beaufort, SC so we are just having pleasant winds and a bit of rain, perfect for walking outside. Flying home Tuesday.

  10. Jellyhead

    Yum, squash casserole…recipe please! Yes, I can think about food despite the rest of that story. Ah, memories. Thanks for the smiles, as usual.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Ooh, that’s a good idea… thanks Jelly! I will attempt to share her recipe soon. It’s VERY Southern and traditional… i.e. take fresh beautiful veggies and render them completely anti-nutritional with ingredients like cheese, butter, and handfuls of crushed up potato chips. But once you eat it, you won’t want squash any other way. Coming soon! Thanks!

  11. Katybeth

    The crap our kids put us through. I was amazed how calmly you handled it–most parents would have grabbed kid and raced for ER. I am so not a fan of emergency rooms (unless you have been shot or hit by a car) that I always applaude anyone who has the courage to avoid it–

  12. Livin In Duckville

    My kids have swallowed bunches of things ….that I never knew until I changed their diapers…. The worst was when The Lego King swallowed 7 cents… a nickle & 2 pennies….Dug through poop too…. Did you know it takes 3 days for a baby to make change?….

  13. Gina

    One of my sisters stuff a piece of crinoline (yes, the petticoat stuff) up her nose. Many months and many doctors later it was retrieved. And she didn’t even get in trouble. And with 6 grandchildren, I am amazed that we haven’t had more drama than we have.

  14. Susan S

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Oh, and hee, hee, hee, heee, heeeeeee! Really, a great story!

  15. By Word of Mouth Musings

    My kids have no party tricks … there is probably something wrong with them and if so, they totally got that from their Father’s side ….

  16. Merrilymarylee

    Funny story now, but holy moly…!

    First, I’m really impressed that Little Missy was able to come to that conclusion at age 4.

    Second, I’m surprised that her momma didn’t just hold a magnet over the poop and wait for the flying turd. I suppose you had to make sure, huh.

    Love the clever idea you had for the magnet.

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