Yesterday, we spent most of the morning biking out to Anglesey Abbey, which, with a couple wrong turns, was more than a 2-hour ride. I had been longing to bicycle through the British countryside, but, by the end of our ride, Sophie was insisting that I sing endless renditions of “Wishy-Washy Washer People,” to keep her content in her back bike-seat, under the wide sky and open fields. The view was so open that the poor girl felt like she didn’t have anything to do. I told myself that I spend most days catering to Sophie’s whims and it would be good for her to cater to my whim just this once.
She was superb in the Abbey, though, probably because we started off with cake & ice cream before exploring the gardens. She loved the “Green Tree Tunnels,” whenever tree branches met over the top of the path. She loved naming the colors of the flowers, commenting on all the naked statues (“man taking bath; another man taking bath”), and running on the grass while cheering herself on: “Go Sophie go.”
But I miscalculated how long a walk back it would be on the zigzag path from the millhouse, and then she fell asleep on the bike, bouncing and swaying back there. I don’t know how she doesn’t break her neck, sleeping on that bike-seat. When we got to quieter roads, I just got off and pushed the bike, to smooth out Sophie’s ride. She slept in that uncomfortable way for 45 minutes, at least.
She woke up just as we turned into our apartment complex. It was past noon, and I figured she would be hungry, but mostly she was just mischievous. There aren’t many firm rules around here. No slapping anyone in the face, that’s one rule. And no putting your barrettes in your mouth. That’s pretty much it for indoor rules, really.
Sophie pulled her little pink barrette out of her hair and put it in her mouth. “Ick,” I told her, “spit that out, please.” She impishly ran around, daring me to catch her. I didn’t want to make this into a game. I chose to ignore her. I was buttering our crumpets, betting that she would spit out the barrette in favor of the crumpet. But she kept darting around, showing me the barrette on her tongue, jogging away. I poured us our milk. I told Sophie that the barrette could hurt her, but she was in a mood. She ran into her room. Finally, I went to fetch her. I picked her up, carrying her to the kitchen table, telling her I was going to have to get that barrette out of her mouth. It was then that I saw that her lips were blue.
Quickly, nearly automatically, I placed her stomach down on my knee, pounded hard on her back, and – thank goodness – that barrette came flying out on to the middle of the carpet. I’m not sure when all those posters “WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CHILD IS CHOKING” snuck into my brain, but the knowledge was there, and it worked. Thank God.
It took a while for her lips to lose their blueness. “Sophie mouth boo-boo,” she told me.
Now we have another rule: Sophie is no longer allowed to wear barrettes. She won’t keep head-bands on, and she doesn’t like hair-bands, so she’s just going to have hair in her eyes, I guess, at least for while.
It took a while for me to breathe normally again. My heart’s pounding, even now, a day later, while I type this. I tell myself that every child has near-death experiences every now and then. I tell myself that I should just be happy that she’s okay, that I remembered the right first-aid move, that everything turned out fine. But, sheesh, that was scary.