I've had the conversation with Penny about not sticking giant things in her mouth and cramming it full of bread, or ribbons, or her sister's feet, about a million times. I did not specifically tell her not to cram Legos in there, but I guess I should have.
I was making dinner on Thursday night when I heard Penny wail. Not something that gets my attention, actually, because it happens every 30 seconds, like an oversensitive fire alarm when you're frying chicken -- but this time it sounded more frantic than usual, so I stepped out into the living room to find she had wedged a rather large rectangular lego into her mouth sideways, so that her mouth was jammed open. She wasn't in danger of choking, but nothing I did could loosen the lego, and her jaw was locked in this horribly uncomfortable position, her cheeks stretched and tears streaming down her face. I held her in my lap and tried to calm her down enough to work it loose but she was just screaming and began to gag on her own spit and tears. Argh.
I felt a bit alarmist, but called 911 because, you know, better safe than sorry. The operator was really, really nice. "That's her screaming?" she said. "Well, so that's actually good, we know she's breathing." She listened as I tried to calm Penny and said I was doing great, that I was calm and that was the best thing, which is the kind of praise I lap up greedily. I heard the sirens arrive downstairs and told Penny "they're coming to help you, honey!" and -- you know what happened next. The damn thing popped out of her mouth and into my hand!
The paramedics, 5 of them, came up the stairs, and I said "Yay, here come the fireman guys!" so she wouldn't be scared. They took one look at her and could see I wasn't calling just to be alarmist; she was still quite panicked, and her huge eyes just goggled at them. Her face was still red, her eyes sorta bruised from the crying and screaming. My landlady flew in in a panic, and reminded me that she's a nurse, I should call her too. Then her oldest son came in and she scolded him for not asking permission to enter. "Here's the rule," I told her. "If paramedics are coming into the apartment, you're invited."
Anyway, they looked her over and pronounced her fine; she didn't even seem to have lacerations inside her mouth. We're planning to make a lego-shaped cake for them -- they are just up the street and had left dinner bubbling on the stove. I want to include a copy of the article i did for Scholastic Math about firehouse cooking, if I can find it.
The best part was that the whole time, Abby was never scared. She's such a little joy-bubble. The more Penny panicked, the more Abby tried to cheer her up, frantically making "Dee dee dee!!" noises and goofy faces. And when I got off the phone with 911, Abby repeatedly picked the phone up, dialed random numbers, and handed it back to me. She had to help. She had to fix it. She's such a dear.
I am so, so glad this was not more serious. Obviously, it's now a funny story, and I am so grateful for that. And for the quick care from the SFFD. My heart goes out to any parent who has had to make that scary call and hope for the best while putting on a brave face for an ailing kid. Sheesh! More grey hairs!