3AM (or “The Mystery of the Green Rubber Band”)

At 3AM, The Boy let out a loud cry and came running into my room.

“Mommy! Mommy!” he wailed.

“What happened, buddy?” I asked, sitting up.

“I had hiccups and reached for a towel to wipe my nose and I swallowed a green rubber band!” he said in a rush. Even at that early hour, I could tell he was agitated.

“Where was the rubber band?” I asked, still trying to wake up.

“On my shelf,” he explained. “Mommy, I’m going to have to go to the hospital!”

I had to fight the instinct to laugh. Ever since he was a mobile toddler, Cute Husband and I had warned him against putting anything into his mouth that wasn’t food, drink, or medicine, explaining that if he swallows something he shouldn’t, he’ll have to go to the hospital to have it taken out. And that’s true… to a point.

“No, baby, the rubber band will come out in your poop,” I said gently as I got out of bed and picked him up to carry him to his own room.


“Well, it’s small enough to go through your intestines and come out in your poop. But does your tummy hurt?”

He paused. “No.”

“Okay,” I said, sitting down on his bed. “But if it hurts tomorrow, make sure you tell Ms. M or Mrs. G.”

“I will,” he promised. “And I’ll make sure I tell you, too.”

“Why did you eat the rubber band?” I asked.

“I didn’t mean to,” he replied. “It was an accident.”

“Well, it will be okay,” I assured him. “It was an accident and you didn’t mean to. Just make sure you don’t swallow things that aren’t food, okay?”

I managed to get him to settle down and go back to sleep, and I went back to bed. Cute Husband was still awake.

“Was it a nightmare?” he asked.

“I don’t know. I treated it like it was real.”

“It’s plausible,” Cute Husband said, “but he’s got such a sensitive gag reflex. I don’t think he could swallow a rubber band. I mean, he chokes on spaghetti!”

I agreed, but it didn’t completely assuage my fears. He was so serious, so very earnest in telling me what happened. I can’t imagine how he could have swallowed a rubber band (we don’t typically keep them in his room, but I can’t be totally certain there wasn’t one there last night), but I do think I responded to him correctly.

This does not mean I’m going to be checking stools for the next few days, though. I’ve already done that for medical tests; I’m not going to do it for fun.


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