It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Battery boy

Remember William and his little brother, Gronk?

Gronk of the hale and hearty, happy and healthy primordial good cheer? The friendly cave man? I forgot to tell you a story about Gronk, and I’m really not sure how I could have let this one slip for so long.

One morning, William and his daddy showed up without Gronk. Just the two of them. Where was little brother? HE was with his 8-months-pregnant mommy, on his way to emergency. Not life-and-death, exactly, but Gronk was strongly suspected of having ingested a battery.

I lie. Not just one battery. THREE. If there’s a kid who’d do that, he’s it. Gronk does love his food! But how, I wondered, how do you even get a battery down? You can’t chew them.

Not to worry! They were button batteries! No chewing required. Those things slip right down… just like all those enticing pills in the medicine cabinet which no one will ever let him near. But these? They weren’t in a locked cabinet far above his head! They were right there in the dining room!!

Okay, they on the table, so he had to push a chair out and climb onto the table. And yeah, they were also inside the little lava lamp belonging to his older brother. But hey, it was the matter of a minute or two to clamber onto the table, give that lamp a solid whack or two, and then chow down on the weeny little pills that fell out when the bottom fell off! Silver pills. Shiny silver pills!

And then it was but the work of a moment after that to scramble back off the table, leaving the dismantled lava lamp behind, for mummy to find when she went to put breakfast on the table.

When you are the parent of a child like Gronk, it is NO stretch at all to look at askew chair + dismantled lava lamp – three of four button batteries and immediately assume that = ingested batteries. They did a thorough search of the room, of course, just to be sure.

And then, just to be SUPER sure, off they went to emergency for x-rays. Because that’s just what you do, isn’t it?

Three hours later, mom deposits Gronk. The x-rays showed… nothing. No tell-tale spots in the boy’s innards. This does not mean, however, that they’re not IN there. It could mean that they’re not in there, yes. It could also mean that he ate them the previous evening, not that morning, and they’ve travelled far enough down the tract that the x-ray didn’t catch them. No to worry, mom, says the tech: if they’re that far down, they’ll be out of too soon to do any damage.

THIS is absolutely NOT good enough! Mom NEEDS TO KNOW her baby is not going to die of corroded innards when one of those batteries gets digested enough to leak battery acid into her baby’s gut. She NEEDS to know this. Of course she does.

Which is why, in addition to her battery boy, she hands me three pairs of surgical gloves.

Of course she does.

“Could you…?”

Of course I could.

It wasn’t hard. I found the best technique was to press the … output… between my carefully-gloved fingers, seeking that tell-tale hard spot. At the end of the day, I am pleased to inform dad that I have unshittedearthed one of the missing batteries.

“Oh, that’s great! His mom will be so relieved. One down, two to go!”

And mom was relieved. Only…

She really needed to KNOW.

So picture Mary, kneeling on the kitchen floor by the garbage can, wearing another pair of those surgical gloves, looking for the particular diaper with its particularly toxic cargo. There had been more than one poopy diaper that day.

Oh, yes, there had.

I only had to open three stench-filled packages before I found The One. And then dredge out the battery, clean it off with a baby wipe, and put it in a zipper bag.

I hand it over to dad the next morning.

“I can’t believe she asked you to do that.” He gives the teeny still-silver, entirely poop-free button a wary glance through its hygenic packaging.

And while I’m quite happy for dad to think I’ve earned my Super Caregiver Gold Star for having fondled shit and excavated garbage cans gone the extra mile…

I get mom. Of course I do. She needed to KNOW.

But I am glad this was all on a Thursday/Friday. The other two batteries emerged on HER watch.

And yeah, I sort of miss Gronk.

Sort of.

April 19, 2010 - Posted by | health and safety, parents |


  1. I had a similar experience when my daughter swallowed a small bolt. In my case, though, I can tell you that I found yet another good use for ziploc bags. My husband conveniently had to go out of town that week, so it was all me for the big reveal. Yay toddlers!

    Comment by tuesy | April 19, 2010 | Reply

  2. I MIGHT have done the initial checking for the batteries for Gronk’s mom. However there’s NO way I’d have searched through the nappies again.

    You are a super carer Mary. You don’t just go the extra mile, you run a whole marathon! You are a truly awesome carer.

    Comment by Maisy | April 19, 2010 | Reply

  3. Well, I’m glad that I have never had that experience!!! I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to step up to the plate. God Bless you.

    Comment by Theresa | April 19, 2010 | Reply

  4. So THAT’S why most kid’s toys with batteries have them screwed in tight. I must say that I never had a child who would deliberately open up a lamp and swallow the batteries. I shudder to think about what Gronk will do next.

    You are a saint.

    Comment by Marci | April 19, 2010 | Reply

  5. OH. MAH. GAH.
    That is crazy. I get the wanting to check the pooh, I really do – though I’ve heard good results come from mashing with a fork, too, which at least puts a bit of remove between you and said, erm, output. But to make you dig it back out again instead of taking your word for it, knowing your experience and caring? Uh, no, I think that’s a bit beyond the pale, even for a freaked-out mom.

    Comment by kittenpie | April 19, 2010 | Reply

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