A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: grandparents

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.


The Gräfenberg spot, or G-spot, is a female erogenous zone which when stimulated leads to high levels of sexual arousal and powerful orgasms. Or so they say. I’d love to tell you more about it, but sadly, that is all I know at this point. My husband and I have yet to find this Holy Grail, try as we might, and I am not about to spend $1500 on a shot of collagen up my hoo-hoo to puff up my G-spot like a pink balloon and make it an easier target for my man to hit. Seriously ya’ll, women are doing that. It’s called a “G-Shot.” Google it. But honestly, there is not a single thing on my body that I want to even remotely resemble Meg Ryan’s lips, thank you very much. Besides, I have way more important things to do with $1500… like get an invisible fence so my dog will stop trying to exhume the gigantic dead Basset Hound my neighbors just buried on our property line.  So today, I’ll have to talk about a different kind of G-spot. Today, G is for Grandparents and the G-spot I’m referring to is the safe, loving haven that can be found in the home and arms of these special people. Bait and switch. I know. Whatever works, eh? But don’t leave just yet, this is funny stuff. I promise. 

Once a week, 19 month old Bucket Head does a sleepover at his Nonni’s house. Ya’ll, Nonni is Italian for Grandparents. Nonna means Grandma. Nonno means Grandpa. There. Now you’re bilingual. You are welcome. Don’t say I never teach you anything. 

I got this weekly slumber party idea recently from one of my sisters-in-law who lives in Michigan.  She told me that her 2 year old spent the night once a week with her in-laws and I was beside myself with jealousy! WHAT? You get one night a week free? (She only has one kid anyway and she’s farming him out 1/7th of the time?)  Damn. That is brilliant. Way to delegate, girl! And then I thought, shoot, why can’t I do that? I have in-laws who live exactly 7 minutes away and are the most loving, dedicated Grandparents one could ever hope to have. Why on earth am I hogging this baby all to myself?    

So I thought about it for a whole split second and then I remembered exactly why my kids don’t spend more quality time at their Nonni’s house. Safety. Call me overprotective, but I went to a lot of trouble to make and birth and get my kids this far along in the life cycle… I am not about to purposely threaten their lives with the perfect storm of basic child safety code violations that can be found “over the river and through the woods.” I mean damn, the wolf in the grandmother’s bed in Little Red Riding Hood is like a sweet, fluffy kitten compared to the cavalcade of dangers at my in-laws’ home. Those Brothers Grimm must have had similar grandparent issues to craft a story so timeless and poignant.

Lest you think I’m exaggerating, please allow me to share some of the more egregious health and safety issues we face at the Cosa di Nonni. Here, check this out and let me know if you think I’m over-reacting.   

  1. It is completely not baby-proof. Every outlet is exposed. Every corner is sharp and right at eye level. And the last time we were there, Bucket Head came toddling out of the kitchen carrying a double edged serrated sickle-shaped Cuisinart blade in his little baby hands with one edge pointing directly at his jugular and the other pointed at his round little toddler belly. I definitely pooped in my pants a little when I witnessed that. Who knew I could hurtle my body through space that quickly? Good thing too… I didn’t leave any stains on the couch.   
  2. There are always several decorative bowls of nuts and hard candies on the coffee table. ALERT. ALERT. ALERT! Choking hazard! Place your hands in the air and back away from the candy dish! 
  3. My in-laws are both 79 years old and not in the best of health. My MIL has had a mini-stroke and valve replacement surgery, and she has mobility, hearing, and vision challenges (in addition to numerous random aches and pains and strange odors emanating from her ears that she’d just love to tell you all about). My FIL has had both knees replaced recently and has a bit of trouble getting up and down stairs and getting up from a seated position. He’s also the single most flatulent man I’ve ever encountered, but that is not really a safety issue as long as you don’t smoke or caramelize flan around him.     
  4. There are myriad medicine bottles, recycled sandwich baggies, and several of those daily MTWThFSS pill divider boxes chock full of a lovely potpourri of pills, looking like an irresistible cache of candy, just laying about all willy nilly, everywhere you turn. Totally. Not. Childproof. One time when Klepto was about 2 and we were visiting, she got into the pills and swallowed some Coumadin (prescription blood thinner)… right under our noses!  When I noticed her chomping on something and saw the pill organizer open, I had to call 911 because I couldn’t find the phone book anywhere to look up the number for Poison Control. That was the day I learned to enter Poison Control into my cell phone like this: “1-Poison Control.” Doing so puts it right at the top of my directory so I don’t have to search for it when I’m in an all out panic. Ah, good times. 
  5. There is a convicted sex offender who lives a few houses down the street.  Seriously.  And I’m not talking about an 18 year old boy who got busted doing it in the backseat with his 17 year old girlfriend by her shotgun wielding parents.  I’m talking about a vile old man who asks little boys to help him find his lost puppy and then sodomizes them. Yeah. That guy. He did some prison time and was released, and now he’s renting a house a few doors down. I found him on a National Sex Offender Registry. Makes my skin crawl. Gotta love the Internet.   
  6. There is a Pit Bull Terrier in the yard next door, contained by only an invisible fence.  His name is Zero. He paces back and forth along that invisible fence line like a hungry tiger in a cage… watching the sudden, darting movements of my babies and licking his chops, silently willing them to venture over to his side of the wire. My children think he’s cute and always want to pet him. 
  7. My in-laws watch Fox News. 

So there you have it.  Not baby-proof. Convicted sex offender neighbor. Pit Bull next door. Choking hazards. Sharp blades and corners at every turn. Easily accessible prescription pills. Mobility issues. And perhaps the most alarming and dangerous: Fox News.  

And yet, you know where my baby is right now? Sleeping at his Nonni’s house.  

You see, I’ve been thinking of grandparents a lot this week due to the untimely passing of President Elect Obama’s beloved Grandma Toot. My Grandma also passed away recently. She was a huge part of my life and we were very close. She taught me how to needlepoint, and make homemade applesauce, and play Gin Rummy. She and I shared a love of soup and big band music. I loved sleeping over at her house and did so often from the time I was a baby until I got married. I sure did love that lady. 

There is a very special bond that happens between a Grandparent and a Grandchild. My kids totally get it. They walk in that door and go straight for the biscotti jar and know that Mommy will say no, but Nonna always says yes. They say the reason Grandparents and Grandchildren get along so well is because they have a common enemy. My children need that connection, and I need a break. And my in-laws LOVE having my kids over. It is the brightest part of their week. These lovely people successfully raised twelve of their own children. Yeah. You heard me. Twelve. Surely they can handle a single toddler overnight once a week. And with that Bucket on his head, at least he will be protected when he walks head-first into the pointed corner of their kitchen counter. 

So I’ve decided to “Let Go and Let God” and trust that my in-laws will protect the kids from pedophiles and Pit Bulls and pills.  This is a win-win-win situation. I get a break, Bucket Head gets the undivided, unconditional, un-nutritional love of his Nonni, and my in-laws get their weekly baby fix. It’s all good.

I mean really, as long as Poison Control is on speed-dial, they have lots of Elmo band-aids on hand, don’t let him play outside, and have extra wipes around to manage the cookie-only-diet-induced-diarrhea, I think they’ll all survive. This is definitely a G-spot that I can find and keep visiting. And hopefully I can eventually undo the Fox News Poisoning with lots of love, reassuring hugs, and read alouds from The Nation. Keep us in your prayers, eh?

Mommy, look! Shiny!

Mommy, look! Shiny!

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