I Do Not Swallow Nickels and Other Self-Affirming Statements

Last night, as I was on my way to my aunt’s house to return a photo album, my husband called me to tell me that my seven-year-old had swallowed another nickel.

This was his third nickel of the year.  He swallowed one in spring, and he swallowed one in summer, and given that it was now October, I guess we should have been expecting it.


Our first object was to try to figure out where the nickel was.  Originally, our son claimed it was stuck in his throat, but now he tried to assure us that it had gone down into his tummy.

My husband then wanted to know the why of it all, but as any well-grounded parent knows, there never is a why.  Unfortunately, my husband’s cross-examination proved fruitless as somebody had obviously already read our son his Miranda rights.

After my husband left, I decided to play good cop.  I sweetly asked him where he found the nickels.

“On the floors by the doors,” he said.

“And why do you put them in your mouth?”

“Because I like the lick of them.”

“Ah, I see.  And before you pick a nickel up, do you ever think, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t put this nickel in my mouth?’”

“Not until I’ve swallowed the nickel.  Then I think it.”

“Ah, I see. Do you think you could think it just a little bit earlier?”

He looked at me confused.  I tried to explain.

“So this is the problem.  We have a choice.  We can either take you to the hospital and pay lots of money for them to do tests on you or we can hope that the nickel is in your tummy and not sleep very well tonight because we are so worried about you.   What do you think we should do?”

“I think you should hope the nickel is in my tummy.”   We actually went with plan C and called doctor.  I won’t tell you what he said as I don’t want to be dispensing medical advice to any of you other desperate parents out there, but I will say that calling your doctor is a good idea.

Our dear boy is alive and well today.  He wrote twenty sentences that said, “I do not swallow nickels.”  I thought this more as a self-affirming exercise than a punishment.

After all, the poor boy had to endure just a bit of razzing.

Dad:  Hey I know what you should be for Halloween?  A vending machine!

Mom:  Noooooooo!  Then he’ll start taking quarters!

Brother:  Hey, if you keep this up, you might be worth twenty bucks by the time you leave home!

Mom:  Again, will you please not get him thinking about quarters?! !

The sweet boy asked his dad if he could hang up a sign in his room that said, “Don’t swallow nickels!”

“Ah,” asked his dad.  “But what if you find a nickel in the living room?”

He was stumped, and my heart went out to him!   Come this winter, I will do a thorough sweeping of our floors by the doors because no matter what anyone else says, our nickel swallower is priceless to me!

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What have your children swallowed?



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