Jake, PJ, and the Marble

DSC_0887-2“PJ’s swallowed a marble!”

They–five of the six kids–greeted me with this news when I stepped in the back door Monday evening.

PJ was front and center in the group. He was just as loud as the rest. “I swallowed a marble, Mom! A marble!”

“Well,” I said, “since PJ is talking clearly and nothing is obstructing his airway, I think we’re okay.”

That’s when Jake lost it. “Noooo!” he wailed. “He swallowed a marble! I don’t want my brother to die.” He buried his face in my shirt. Behind him, big sister Emily was nodding her head and mouthing, “He’s been really upset–way more upset than PJ.”

I tried reason first. “Jake, hon, PJ is fine. Just look at him.”

He continued to shake his head. “His birthday is next week. I want to celebrate it with him. I don’t want him to di-i-i-e!”

He was completely serious.

It was, in some ways, beautiful to see. I’ve always known the two brothers loved each other (though when Jake pushed PJ off a deck over a toy, I had my doubts), but this was very real anguish.

I picked up Jake and hugged him. “Honey, a marble is smooth, with no sharp edges. Since it didn’t get stuck on the way down his throat, it will most probably just pass through him. No problem.”

He didn’t believe me. “Do you want me to look it up online?”

Yes. (What does that say when your 8-year-old trusts the Internet more than his own mother?)

I Googled “What if your child swallows a marble?” and read the headings aloud to Jake (all of them said what I had said).

Jake stopped crying and looked at me. “So he’s just going to poop it out?”


He was off to find PJ. “Do you need to poop? It’s just going to come out of you.”

I had to explain to his that it wasn’t immediate, but for the next two days, Jake asked the question nonstop. “Have you pooped yet?” (I once asked Dave when the boys would outgrow ‘potty humor.’ He rolled his eyes at me and pointed at himself. “Jen, look at me! Boys NEVER outgrow potty humor.” He has a point.)

After things settled a bit, I asked PJ how he had come to swallow the marble. I assumed–being PJ–that this had been a purposeful experiment on his part, but no! He had peeled and segmented an orange and was eating the pieces as he watched Jake and Maddie play a game with marbles. Without looking, he reached down for a piece of orange and picked up a marble instead. He swallowed it and then said, “I think I just ate a marble!”

I asked him. “Didn’t you notice the orange was awfully round and hard?”

He just shrugged.

There is never a dull moment in this house.

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