The Things We Do For Love

things we do for loveDo you get a shock these days when the home phone rings? It’s a little bit exciting for me because I don’t have caller ID, which makes it kind of like a lucky dip. It could be Mum telling me that she’s just moved out of her house because of a nearby bushfire; it could be a telemarketer trying to get more than one word in before I hang up; or even more rarely, it could be a good friend wanting a chat over a cuppa. If it rings after 9.00pm, however, it’s either an overseas call, or bad news, neither of which is terribly welcome when my head’s just hit the pillow and I think I’ve got through another day without incident.

There’s one particular type of call that I really don’t like, because my heart stops every time, even if just for a minute. It’s the phone call from school.

“Hello, Caylie? It’s the Kindy here. There’s been a bit of an incident.” Or, “Hello, is this Catherine Jeffery’s mother? I don’t want to concern you but…”

Of course, most of those calls involve a forgotten lunchbox or a swimming bag, but every now and then, it goes a little like this:

“Umm, hi Caylie. It’s Will’s Kindy teacher here. Yes, he’s all right, well, sort of. Umm, I don’t know why he did it, or how, but it appears Will’s got a bead stuck up his nose. You’ll have to come and get him.”

“A bead stuck up his nose? But he’s five years old, Emily. He’s been handling tiny items for more than two years now. What on earth was he thinking?” I was not happy.

“Yes, that’s exactly what I said to him. He said he just wondered if it would fit. Apparently, it does. Perfectly.”

Yes, yes, I know. It was hardly a broken arm, or a tooth knocked out, but it still involved visions of naso-pharyngeal surgery and a hospital stay. All because the little man was inquisitive, impulsive and not particularly bright for three seconds of his life.

I didn’t hesitate to share these thoughts with him all the way to Dr B’s surgery, who was unusually excited when I called to ask if we could see her straight away. I soon found out why.

When we arrived, I was still shaking my head in exasperation, telling Will all sorts of horror stories about how they were going to have to extract the bead. He thought it was hilarious. We were ushered into a treatment room and only had to wait a few minutes before Dr B walked in, rubbing her hands together excitedly.

“I’ve been waiting for one of these to come in! I’m really glad it’s you, Will, because I think you and your Mummy will do a good job of helping me to get that bead out of your nose. By the way, what on earth were you thinking, putting a bead up your nose? Aren’t you five?”

See, I told you. He’s a goose.

Anyway, Dr B said she’d learned of a technique to remove small items from a child’s nose without surgical intervention, but she’d never seen it in practice. Would we be willing to try it?

“Of course,” I said, feeling intrigued and a little nervous. “We’ll try non-invasive first and then see what happens.”

“Great!” she said, enthusiastically. “I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve invited all the staff in to watch and learn. I hope it works!”

So, in crowded seven other doctors and nurses, to watch and learn.

And this is what they saw…

William sat on the bench and was asked to blocked the ‘other’ nostril with one finger. You know, the one without a bead in it. Sigh. And then he was told to open his mouth wide. That’s where I came in. I had to put my mouth over his mouth, and blow, hard and fast. Being his mother, and not wanting him to experience any kind of surgical procedure, I did as I was asked, fighting off a strong desire to gag. I’ve never been good with bodily fluids, despite a decade as a nurse. I blew hard, and what happened next involved a huge amount of snot which covered half my face and an inordinate amount of laughter from the peanut gallery.

I shook my head in disgust while Will and the medical ‘professionals’ (I use that term loosely) watched me wiping mucous off my face, tears of hilarity streamed down theirs.

In my nursing training, I’d seen videos of African mothers saving their children’s lives by sucking mucous out of their nasal cavities to help them breathe. At the time, I gagged in awed admiration, never thinking I’d be doing something similar.

“But where is that green bead?” Dr B asked, sounding uncannily like a Mem Fox story we know so well.

“There it is, Mummy, under some snot on your ear.”

More laughter, and a slap on the back from Dr B, had me ranting all the way to reception, where I refused to pay on the grounds that not only had I performed the procedure, but had provided important medical research and entertainment for the whole practice. Suffice to say, she bulk-billed me and I could still hear them laughing as I stomped down the steps.

So, the happy ending to this disgusting tale is not that a mother’s love will make her do anything to save a child from pain and suffering. There is no moral. Only advice.

Get caller ID on your home phone. Never pick it up if you see the word ‘school’ or ‘kindy’ written on it.

Don’t believe the packaging that says, “Children must be three years of age to play with the tiny items inside this box”. The new age should be eighteen, when they’re old enough to drive themselves to the doctors and to explain how the bead got up their nose in the first place.

And last but not least, NEVER trust a doctor who’s rubbing her hands together with a smile on her face.

Will still likes sticking things in his nose… Boxes of jokes and tricks for Christmas just encourage this sort of behaviour!



Caylie Jeffery

Writer at Caylie Jeffery
Caylie Jeffery started her career as a nurse and counsellor, but after a close call with London terrorists, she took a fresh view of the world and sailed around it for two years with her husband, David. Caylie chronicled their incredible journey via an online log book and the stories of this double-handed voyage were printed in sailing and parenting magazines around the world.Caylie now lives in Brisbane with David and their two children, Will and Kitty, who keep her busy but provide endless amounts of material for her notepad!

Caylie writes weekly essays on her blog, Distractions of a Busy Mother, to help people feel less alone through shared laughter, tears and inspiration. She works to transform everyday events into vivid sketches, showing an understanding of what parents, women and people in the community are going through.

Her first book, Bedtime Stories for Busy Mothers, is now available for purchase online, at selected books stores and via her website.

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