Losing my marbles


As a child growing up in rural South Dakota, my house was always filled with extra kids. My mom ran an in-home daycare for over 18 years and I can remember always having extras around throughout our days to play endless hours with. We had so much fun, which included a few funny jokes every now and then.

One of those jokes was asking some of the kids from time to time, “Hey, where did your marbles go?” One of the boys, who belonged to a dear family to us, would always respond, “I left them at home in my drawer.” And the giggling would ensue. I can remember sitting around the snack table and laughing with all the kids as we ate our Ritz peanut butter crackers about “losing his marbles.”

Marbles. Thirty years later and as a mom of four kids, I never thought that marbles would have such a significance again for me. This last week I had a true initiation into motherhood and all circled back to those marbles from my childhood.

My youngest boy, Otto, just turned 2 years old over the holidays here. Last week we were playing make believe in his toy kitchen. Stirring objects in a pot, pouring pretend coffee, and opening his little toy oven to make some cookies were all a part of our play routine.

Just like any other mom, I started multi-tasking during our pretend play. I turned my back for a couple of seconds to pick up some other toys in the room. When I turned around I realized that Otto had something in his mouth. I quickly freaked out, saying, “What is in your mouth? Spit it out!”

Hard swallow.
I watched him swallow and I freaked out as my heart stopped. Running to grab him, I started beating on his back to start the Heimlich. I yelled at my oldest to call 911 when it hit me.

He was OK. He was looking up at me scared and said. “Mama.”

Wait – what? Did he really swallow something or was he just continuing to play kitchen still? There was no real food or snacks in sight, so what was in his mouth?

A million questions and scenarios run through my mind. And then I see them. Some pretty red glass marbles in the bottom of a dish on the play kitchen stove. These are the kind of red marbles that you buy at the dollar store in a net bag to decorate and often used at the bottom of a vase of flowers. My older girls love to use them for craft projects. Somehow these red glass marbles ended up within his reach at some point in time and then in his play kitchen. Now I was left to question – were these red marbles now in his belly?

Only one way to find out – thankfully with a perfectly content and healthy boy, off to the emergency room we went. That content and happy little boy was not so happy when we had to get an x-ray of his belly in that emergency room. The x-ray confirmed my worst fears – not just one marble, but TWO now sat all nice and happy in his belly.
The solution? Wait for him to pass them. Since the marbles were smooth and no sharp edges they were confident that he would pass them in a bowel movement in the next couple weeks. My job, make sure that his bowels stayed regular and nothing out of the ordinary, otherwise to contact our primary provider.

Back home I went with my discharge papers on poop patrol, and now I had to do the inevitable and ask our poor daycare provider to look for marbles in his diaper with every bowel movement. The irony in this asking my daycare provider to look for an object in bowels seemed too good to be true as the memory of marble jokes from my childhood in my mom’s daycare streamed back to me.

With two days of no marbles and no bowel movements, our primary provider recommended a little help from MiraLAX. One dose resulted in a poop explosion and thankfully produced two red marbles that I couldn’t have been happier to see. However, I was not present for the poop explosion and celebration of marbles. Of course this happened at daycare. So yes, my dear daycare provider supplied a Snapchat picture for me to be reassured that all marbles had cleared the system, and I still think I owe her a bonus for that week.

So, the next time you sit down at a nice restaurant and notice those nice glass marbles in the bottom of a vase, smile knowing that some little boy will someday get to have these on his graduation table to give everyone a good laugh about the day he almost gave his mom a heart attack in the process of losing her marbles.