Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I'll be the first to admit that I like gum. I have apparently always liked gum--at least that's what my older siblings tell me when they remind me that my nickname as a toddler was "Chief Gimme Gum." Apparently I walked around the house saying "Gimme gum! Gimme gum!" (Then again, maybe they made this story up. They have been known to torment me...) In high school, my gum habit got so bad I ended up with tendinitis in my jaw. Really.

These days I still keep gum around, though I don't chew it much any more, except for when we are on long trips and need something to help us stay awake. The main reason I have it is that Sky (like other kids on the spectrum) is easily calmed by gum. Apparently, the repetitive chewing motion is very soothing. In fact, Sky can be on the verge of a meltdown or about to turn into a human pinball, and if I give him a piece of gum, he will immediately pull himself together.

The problem is that when I give Sky gum, Pink P also wants a piece. She has not mastered the art of chewing gum without swallowing it, though we have talked about it and tried practicing it. So, if I give her any at all, it is usually just a half of a piece. Even with this tiny bit of gum exposure, though, it has become clear that she takes after me in her obsession for gum. When she thinks gum might be close at hand, she starts pleading (screaming): "Gun! I need gun! Give me gun!" (As you can imagine, this leads to awkward stares from strangers.)

Yesterday, I think, perhaps, maybe we stumbled upon a solution for Pink P's gum obsession. And, really, I only have a distracted Ren and a persistent Pink P to thank. See, yesterday Ren decided to wash and wax the car, so he took Pink P and went to the self-wash where he spent a good 45 minutes washing and waxing the car while, presumably, watching Pink P playing inside. "Wow," he thought, "she's doing a great job entertaining herself."

Any parent of a toddler should know that this thought needs to be followed by grave concern. No toddler plays that well for that long unless they are up to something. And it turns out that Pink P was up to something. She was up to digging my gum stash out of the glove box and consuming NINE pieces of it. Consuming. She did not chew it and spit it out. She ate it. The thing is, even though Ren saw the open glove box, and even though he found the 9 empty wrappers, he couldn't fathom that she'd eaten the gum--particularly since she was adamant in her denial of the alleged offense.

There had to be another explanation.

So he didn't mention the missing gum to me. Not until she started complaining about a tummy ache a good 8 hours after consuming the gum. And even then, because she is also working on a good (as in bad) sinus infection, I assumed the tummy ache was due to drainage and not to the giant glob of gum that must have been sitting in her stomach. It was only after she came out of the bath with the same funky smell she had before going in (imagine decomposing mint breath) that I realized she had indeed probably consumed a large amount of gum.

By the time we were concerned enough to call the doctor, everyone was gone for the day. Fortunately, internet searches in Japanese and English together with a call to the 24/7 pediatric nurse hotline confirmed what we already suspected. It will pass. It won't be pretty (and it will smell funny), but it will pass. I'm hoping in the end, at least, she will have finally learned not to swallow gum.

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