The Girl’s Gotta Chew – Dealing With a Super Oral Kid
Summary: She chewed her dolls, the furniture and anything she could get her hands on. You can’t stop her from chewing but you can stop her from chewing the good stuff.
How many water-filled toys have we tossed? All of them. Usually within a day or two of buying them. Balloons were popped by mouth long before they deflated naturally. Rocks were tossed back like they were pills. Anything that could be popped, punctured, gouged or crushed was soon destroyed by my daughter. While she was teething she chewed grooves into the bottom shelf of our entertainment center. Long after all her peers were playing with marbles, fake jewelery, and little toys, our daughter still had to be restricted to anything that couldn’t completely fit in her mouth. She was a 24/7 walking choking hazard.
Since I was already cursed with a constant anxiety around my daughter choking , this just fueled my fears. For years I’d go into her room before I went to bed to still see if she was breathing. If I couldn’t tell right away I’d lay my hand on her torso to feel the gentle up and down motion of breathing. If that didn’t work I’d put by finger by her hose until I felt her hot breath. Sometimes, if I woke up in the middle of the night I’d go and check one more time for good measure. How could I not? If you wake up and you wonder if your child is still breathing, you just got to check, right? Better to waste two minutes calming an irrational fear than to find out you were actually right after all.
My partner just thought I was a little nuts.
I just thought I was realistic. OK, it was a little nuts, but at least it was a harmless little nuts.
But my fears were not totally without merit.
One time at the park she grabbed a fistful of sand and stuffed it in her mouth. I grabbed the back of her neck and scooped out the now wet clump of sand with my finger. Just as I went for the sippy cup to rinse her mouth, she knocks back the second fistful of sand.
“Jesus Christ, you can’t be serious!”
Yep, she had two fistfuls of sand. I was so fixated on the first one that I didn’t notice she had a back up supply.
It was ridiculous. Kids much younger than her could be trusted with a little bead while I had to tell my daughter not to eat rocks.
I still can’t trust her. Even at six years old she will still eat crap out of a garbage can at a park. She’ll eat food and candy she finds on the floor. She’ll eat food from other kids lunches. And it’s not like we’re slackers. She’s had the “don’t eat stuff you find on the ground and only eat stuff that we give you” talk darn near her whole life.
Of course, none of this is really a surprise anyway.
Her First Victim
Right out of the womb, at 10:40 pm sharp, my daughter was starving and ready to go. I was the first one to hold her while the nurses cleaned up my partner. She looked right at me and stated moving her lips. Out of curiosity I stuck out my tongue and touched her lip. She latched on immediately.
She took to the breast right away and nursed three times in fours hours the first night. And she was just getting started. For the next year and half she would nurse at least twelve to fifteen times per day, twenty minutes each time. Basically non stop eating. I’m shocked my partner has nipples left at all. You think they would have dissolved by now.
When she added solids to her diet she was equal ferocious. I would try feeding her with one of those tiny rubber coated baby spoons. It seemed really slow and I could tell my daughter was getting frustrated. One day I hold up the jar and tilt it towards her mouth.
“You want to just eat it right out of the jar?”
I don’t remember if it was an actual nod, but she made some kind of lunging motion with her mouth wide open. She opened up and I just poured the food into her mouth. She was so happy.
Her Second Victim.
My daughter’s first doll was brown baby. This was intentional. We noticed early on that whenever a black person would appear on the television or was featured in a book she would spend a little extra time checking it out. Obviously she found that skin tone interesting.
Now it’s no secret of that images of white people dominate and our media. It’s also obvious why. White people are the majority. We also know that the media portrayal of darker skinned people is disproportionately negative in comparison to the portrayal of white people.
Additionally, her parents are white, all her relatives are white, she’ll be growing up in an overwhelmingly white town and she herself is white. So it made a lot of sense for us to introduce a brown-skinned baby as her first doll. If she can’t have any real dark-skinned human role models around her, at least she can have an artificial one.
Brown baby was relatively safe at first. My daughter had no teeth so she would just slobber all over it. But as the first teeth came in and the teething pain kicked in, brown baby took a beating. It was a slow progression, much in the same way an ancient river wore down the earth to create the Grand Canyon. At first there were just some grooves on the forehead and nose. Eventually the grooves gave way cracks and the cracks to holes. Then one day her face just fell off. Then a couple of fingers. You could say she loved it to death. Even after the introduction of pink baby, brown baby could get no relief. She was the favorite and no way that was gonna change.
Victim Number Three
Once my daughter started crawling, then walking, nothing was safe. And neither was she. We thought we’d baby proofed the house but she had nothing to do all day but find the cracks in the system. And she found them quick. If there was some stray piece of material, some little gadget, some object that was not completely secure, she would find it and put it in her mouth. Yes, I know, all toddlers do this. But she was on a whole different level. Everything went in her mouth. It wasn’t a phase, it was her primary means for exploring, relaxing and entertaining herself. You’d think she was blind, deaf and missing all her sensory nerves in her fingers and all she had left was her mouth.
It took us a while to notice but she would gnaw on the second shelf of our entertainment center. I guess we must of saw her doing it but it didn’t quite register until we started noticing the groves. And this was supplemental chewing. She had all the teethers and chew toys imaginable plus some of my homemade teething rings, yet she still had to chew the shelving as well. It’s like when you buy a cat a scratching post and instead of switching from the couch to the post, the cat just adds the post to their list of things to shred.
And she didn’t grow out of it. Everything still goes in her mouth. Not as often, and she’s more selective now, but still I still have to watch it.
One Pill Makes You Larger
Last year at Blue Ball Park, when she was five years old, I see here huddled over by a bush with her friend who’s just turned four.
“What do you got there?”
“It’s candy! We found it on the ground and we ate it!”
“Give me the wrapper, now!”
I look at the wrapper and it’s not a wrapper at all but a blister pack for a pill.
“Did you really eat this? Tell me the truth.”
“Yes, we broke it in half and shared it!”
She’s still bragging about what she did and I just feel like popping her at this point.
“What color was it?”
“Fuuuuck!” I mutter under my breath through clenched teeth.
I look closely at the wrapper and realize it’s a common allergy pill. Whew! I guess she’ll just have clear sinuses today. Still, it’s unnerving to think that opening up a pill packet she finds on the ground and then eating it still seems like a good idea to my five-year old.
That’s it for now.
File Under: Dealing With Oral Children – Toddlers and Teething – Choking Hazards -Baby Proofing a Home – Toddler Chewing Furniture – Stopping Toddler From Putting Things In Mouth