Choke List

Zone Defense

New parents are filled with a sense of duty. There is a love and adoration for our children that brings out characters that most of us don’t know we have inside; Provider, Nurturer, Educator.

We feel like we can be these things for our children. That may be true at some point but your main job, from baby learning to roll over until they leaving for college, is Zone Defense. Kids are born with a need to harm themselves in the most creative and imaginative of ways. They are drawn to danger like blonde chicks in horror movies or suicidal Lemmings looking for a good cliff. Nothing good is in the works and you need to be constantly on watch. Curiosity is the culprit and curiosity killed the cat.

One of the scariest things for me as a parent has to be choking. I have the baby Heimlich maneuver constantly on my mind. Of course no one thinks about that in the moment and I violated procedure once by digging a tortilla chip out by hand. It was a game-time decision and I could see around the side of it so I made the call and it worked out. I need structure and order in my life so I started a list of the things my kids seem to choke on the most so I can be on the lookout and more proactive. I am also into helping others so I would like to share that list below.

  1. Air – Most of the time it is nothing at all and they are gagging over snot or watching Dora too intently and forgetting essential things like breathing or going to the bathroom.
  2. Snot – Does this ever stop? I have moderate success asking them to blow their nose but most of the time they sniff it in the wrong way and it must cascade down their throat into a full-on turkey bone of a clog. They cough and do this disgusting swallowing face instead of just spitting out whatever they coughed up. It’s a miracle that humanity has made it this far.
  3. Juice – A liquid for God’s sake. A liquid. A fluid that takes the shape of its container. You shouldn’t even be breathing while drinking juice and unless you are actively trying to not drink this item it should drain right down the back of your throat. Like the other hazards this one is a product of not paying attention and switching over too soon from one essential function to the other.
  4. Fingers – I shouldn’t have to write this one but I do. It is a direct cause and effect. Finger down throat equals gagging and choking. Normal people think, “Huh, maybe I don’t want to do that again.” My kids end up looking like an Olympic diver drowning in a kiddie pool, total experts failing at the most basic functions. I am so confused that I almost forget to help. I watch and think surely to God you are going to get this concept. Just stop already.
  5. Food – I am so scared of food that I almost mince everything at this point. But then it is easier to shovel in by the handful until they don’t have room to close the mouth and swallow properly. Guess what? Yup, choking. That’s it, screw it! Smoothies for everyone. Forever. Until Armageddon breaks out and the power grid goes down and blenders are no longer an option. Wait a minute… liquids are number three on the list. Dammit.
  6. Hair – This one isn’t as common as the rest but as a man with no hair it happens more than I expected. With five girls in the house who shed more than the dog it is not hard to believe that hair is everywhere. It gets wrapped on pacifiers, makes its way into cereal bowls etc. I have watched a child pull hair out of their food that was an easy two feet long.

I am at a loss for advice. I guess just be at the ready to hold them face down parallel to the floor and work them like a black smith’s air bellow until whatever foreign object is stuck pops free. Most of my kids have experienced a moment or two of blue face and panic. Time slows to a crawl and while half of my brain is outlining what I should do step-by-step the other half is recording a TV drama with sad music that has me so panicked I have trouble moving. Kids are our weakest link.

If you obsess about uncontrollable things like choking on air, this is for you. You’re welcome.

Underdaddy to the rescue.