The Menacing Toothpick

Curious, sensitive, bookworm, and drama queen would be key descriptions to characterize 7-year old me. I was raised in a loving and considerably functional, united home. My father was a real estate agent with exceedingly advanced social skills. My mother was our teacher, she made exceptional meals that consistently amazed us, and she loved and possessed great talent in the arts and crafts. My sister sang her heart out with angelically composed pitches. My brother fixed almost anything, and strangely enough; he enjoyed it.

My parents always cared deeply for each of their children. We were constantly given advice on how to behave. They also worried about how our curiosity could jeopardize our lives. We were assured that our “blankies” were not capes that allowed us to fly, which I believe, thankfully prevented a catastrophe. Our inquisitiveness had gotten my head stuck in a chair before, so I told myself it was always best to listen to parents from now on.

“Never put objects that are not edible in your mouth, or you could accidently swallow them…and possibly…die,” often warned my parents. We were all somewhat terrified of any toy that contained the “choking hazard” warning.

The family was accustomed to have dinner together and watch the television for a while afterwards. One particular evening, we had chicken with rice, and each conversed about the day’s adventures. No one knew my next adventure was in the near future. As we all congratulated mom on another delicious dinner, dad handed us all toothpicks. As everyone went to the living room and my brother rushed for the remote, I sat on the house stairs.

I was always pondering about the smallest details and began to think deep thoughts unlike what most children were accustomed to. As I sat there figuring out who I wanted to be growing up, I unintentionally chewed on the toothpick rather fiercely. I thought maybe I’d be a doctor so I could be rich, then I realized there was a vast amount of mathematics and science involved in the medical field; both subjects of which I did not appreciate. I thought I could be a professional figure skater, until I saw how often I would have to fall and get back up. Even on carpet I would occasionally trip, and quickly figure skating was crossed off the possible future careers list.

As I continued to envision myself with different jobs, I persisted in nervously biting the toothpick. Suddenly, I lost grip of the toothpick as it made its way down my throat. I tried to cough it out but it was already far too late. I remembered hearing about how swallowing inedible objects could potentially kill me. I panicked.

I let out the most gut-wrenching scream my lungs could ever produce. I forced myself to recall the memories strongly believing these were the last moments of my existence. I formed a speech in my head sorting out how I would say my farewells. I hadn’t noticed my entire family frantically asking what evoked that shout. As they all spoke over each other anxiously I abruptly yelled “I am dying!” My parents told my siblings to hurry back to the living room as my mother rubbed my back as she did when I needed calming down.

Once I regained control of my breathing which I had lost due to the panic, I commented to them about the toothpick incident and that I was dying. I told them that I loved them both deeply. As I was weeping uncontrollably and now choking on not the toothpick but my very own tears, my parents interrupted the initiation of my parting discourse. Holding back chuckles they assured me that if I was able to swallow the toothpick I was not choking and therefore, I would be okay. Soon after that I broke out in hysterical laughter. I ran to my siblings to converse over what had just occurred. At that moment I thought the best thing I could be growing up would be an actress. I had now realized I had great expertise in being excessively dramatic.

From then on my parents made sure that their admonitions didn’t cause us to be afraid and overly apprehensive children. We were forced to distinguish the balance between carelessness and irrational fear. I decided that I would allow time and experience to depict who I’d become. At the moment, I would be a free and cheerful child.

6 Comments

  1. I always wonder about what I am going to be when I grow up too 😉 It’s amazing how we think as kids how much we want to be adults, and once we get to be adults we wish we could be kids again. I have decided that I would like to keep the innocence and creativity of childhood along with the freedom of adulthood. I think it would do us all some good to keep hold of the free and careful child that you speak of, whether you are 8 or 88 😉

    Great story and insight on what it means to grow up, thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. I completely agree. To be honest I also wish I could go back to childhood. It’s amazing that we’re given a chance to learn from both perspectives. Your way of thinking is rare and very much needed in society. Thank you once again.

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