Sunday 25 September 2016

Mid-life Crisis: Poor Junior - she nearly had her chips

Published 09/06/2014 | 02:30

Brendan O'Connor
Brendan O'Connor

I saved my child’s life the other night. As if my children didn’t have enough to be grateful to me for already. You might think I’m being dramatic here. But I’m not. My wife definitely reckons she was on the way out. Obviously there were chips and messing involved.

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We had Chinese for tea and were palming the kids off with chips. I should say they had already had a proper, healthy tea. But they always have room for some chippies. So to buy some peace and quiet while I had my lamb in garlic sauce and my Singapore noodles, I ordered some extra chips.

There was huge excitement when the delivery man came. They ran out to the door as if to greet a long lost relative. Then Junior said, “Who’s that man”, and Senior explained to her, speaking quite slowly as if explaining a great mystery of life: “That’s the man delivering the chippies.” 

Junior said, “Thank you, man.”

Due to the festive nature of things, what with a man delivering chips and all, and due to them having eaten already, the mealtime soon degenerated into messing. Junior was running around laughing with a gob full of chips, and, as it happened, a throatful of what you could only call chip paste, a hard glob of semi-mashed-up chip. I know what was in there because she showed it to me a minute later.

So suddenly she was standing across the kitchen from me, reaching out to me, making kind of glottal sounds. Now you know yourself, children are nearly always choking, and Junior has the touch of apnoea as well, so you never know when she will briefly stop breathing. So I’ve learnt to live with it and not to panic.

This time seemed slightly different. There was a pleading in her little eyes as she kept grasping at us. I think Sarah alerted me first, or maybe I realised it myself. I went casually across the room, picked her up, pulled her stomach towards me while bending her slightly over my arm.

And out popped the chip gunk and on went the messing. She didn’t miss a beat, apart from the few she possibly missed while not breathing. I was cool as a cucumber the whole way through and thought nothing of it. If the newspapers had been present I would have said, “Aw shucks, I’m no hero. I just did what anyone would have done.”

There was just one thing that freaked me out though, and that was when my wife kind of yelped my name as I was performing what I can only assume was some version of the Heimlich Manoeuvre that I picked up from comedy shows. There was panic in her voice. And I was completely freaked out. We were suddenly in one of those situations where people are shouting and things are going terribly wrong.

I berated her for panicking and freaking me out. Everything was fine, I said. Panicking didn’t help. All I was doing was calmly dislodging some chips.

Meanwhile the mother was busy hugging the unsuspecting child close to her. The child, who was as oblivious as I was to how close to death’s door she had been, accepted the hug as she would any other. She is generally up for a hug and if she is not she will roar, “NO THANK YOU!” when anyone tries it.

And then my wife explained to me that as I calmly went across the kitchen the child was actually changing colour. “Blue?” I asked. “No. Grey,” she said.

I’ve been a bit rattled since, to be honest. Did the kid nearly die? If it wasn’t for my quick thinking and my half knowledge of emergency medical procedures, could that casual little incident have become something much more serious? Is that how close to tragedy we are sailing all the time? And obviously it slightly makes me feel like God too. Junior is too young now to understand what I did for her. But when she is older, I will remind her of that day. I will remind her many, many times.

Personally, I reckon the chips would have popped out of her mouth anyway. I am not even prepared to face the appalling vista. But, as with everything to do with the kids, I’ll take my wife’s lead on this one, so, clearly, I saved Junior’s little life.

As you can imagine, this is driving my wife insane. She does everything for them and then I step in and do the big dramatic bit and then I compound the annoyance by putting it in the newspaper.

Sunday Indo Living

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