The Missing Pen Top

pen saga.png

“Have you swallowed it?”


“Oh f…”.

That pretty much sums up our afternoon.

The day had started well. I worked in the morning, then we went for a lovely afternoon out with Daf’s parents, everything was going fine. Then we get home, and SB is bibbling around the living room, I’m sorting some clothes out in the bedroom, I hear Daf talking to SB and…

“Where is it?”.

Three little words that strike fear into the heart of any toddler parent. You never want to hear those words. If something is small enough to get lost, you don’t want it to be within your toddler’s reach.

I walk into the living room to find Daf fairly frantic, SB looking totally unrepentant, and a black biro with a missing lid.

“Where’s the lid, SB?”.

She points at her mouth. Oh fuck. 

I’m not prepared for our first swallowing incident. I’m ready to do that weird sucky thing on her nose if she shoves a pea up there. I know the protocol for if she jams a crayon in her ear. Swallowing a biro lid? Uh-uh. Nope. I’m floundering.

“Have you swallowed it?”.

“Yep!” she announces, proud of herself.

Oh fuckety fuckety fuck.

She’s not choking. She’s not upset. She’s definitely not in pain; riding around on Daf’s back. But she’s (potentially) swallowed something that she’s definitely not supposed to swallow, so – as any good parent would – we panic, and call NHS Direct, who tell us that it doesn’t sound like she’s in any danger, and it doesn’t sound like she’s swallowed it, but they can’t be sure so they’re packing us off to A&E.

After charming everyone at A&E, playing with every single noisy toy in the waiting area and being that child at A&E who totally embarrasses her parents because yes we know she doesn’t seem poorly enough to be here, she’s not poorly at all, she’s just a pint-sized plank who may or may not have eaten the lid off a biro – we asked for an estimate of waiting times. Two to three hours to even be seen – and this was after we’d already been there for about two hours, long after SB’s dinnertime and bedtime – and, with it being a Saturday night, the waiting time was only going to get longer.

At this point, we called it quits. SB was acting totally normal, playing happily, and it seemed daft to keep her in the waiting room, surrounded by actually sick children – so we figured that if she had swallowed the pen, we’d know about it soon enough.

One week later, after some intense NappyWatch, there’s no sign of a pen lid. We don’t have a child who eats random dangerous objects; we just have a child who says “yes” to every question you ask her; including “did you eat that pen lid?”. She’s definitely keeping us on our toes.

In hindsight it’s funny, but I’m not going to lie – I could do without another mad dash to A&E thinking our child has swallowed a foreign object for a while. Like, forever.

It’s a good job she’s cute.




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