A bean in his ear

So there I was, minutes before I had to go onstage to host a candidates’ forum last week, trying to suck a bean out of my son’s ear with a turkey baster.

You can’t make this kind of stuff up. Someone, for whatever reason, had strewn a bunch of Tic-Tac-sized beans or seeds of some kind around our first-grader’s elementary school playground. Andy, because he is that kind of a kid, picked one up and concluded immediately that the best, most logical thing to do with the bean was to insert it into his left ear.

First, we got out the tweezers. But because the bean was about the same size as his ear canal, there was no getting around it to grab on. Then, while Jen ran down to Google “stuff stuck in your kid’s ear,” I had the bright idea to put a tiny drop of super glue on the end of a Q-tip, then try to attach it to the bean. That didn’t work, either, and I know what you’re thinking and will respond: I did not succeed in gluing the bean in tighter, even though my wife tried to hang such a rap on me. Water was applied (yes, let’s make the bean swell), as was something called an “ear candle” acquired from the local head shop. Andy was intrigued by the flames and smoke dancing so close to his head, but budge the bean it did not.

As I trotted up the stairs with a stick of gum (don’t ask) and the turkey baster, I had to laugh because I know that there are two kinds of kids in the world: those who stick things in their ears and up their noses … and those who do not. My wife is one of the latter, while I must confess that I was the kid who stuck the rubber tire off a Matchbox car up my nose when I was about Andy’s age.

“Why?” my wife wanted to know. “I don’t get it.”

I told her I understood it, but couldn’t explain it. Maybe it’s curiosity of the “I wonder what’ll happen if …” variety. This gives cause for concern, because this is the basis for the actions depicted in the annual Darwin Awards. I’m not sure there’s always a correlation, though. Just because you stuck an AquaDot up your nose at age 6 doesn’t mean you’re going to try to get the lid off a pickle jar with a 12-gauge as an adult. But still …

Interestingly enough, the more people I told about Andy’s bean, the more people revealed similar stories, either autobiographical or anecdotal. And it wasn’t just a boy thing, either. Men and women alike told me of rubber bands up noses, a rock and a quarter ingested, a Tic Tac in the ear, etc. It reminded me of how everyone has an outrageous barfing story; once you trot one of these gems out, everyone in the room has another to share.

But back to the object at hand: Our local doctor couldn’t budge the bean, and Andy’s howls convinced him to send us to an ear, nose and throat specialist. The super hero in this case turned out to be Dr. Casey Strahan in Edwards, who had Andy lie down on a table, looked in his ear with a fancy-looking microscope thingy and swiftly removed the bean with some kind of probe.

We cheered the kind of cheer generally reserved for a happy outcome in a 72-hour labor. Andy assured us that he has, indeed, learned a valuable lesson, and life resumed as usual with the addition of a few more gray hairs for Jen and me.

And now I can’t help but ask readers: Please, if you have a good story along these lines, send it along and I’ll include it in a future column. If nothing else, it will help convince parents everywhere that we are not alone. …


Alex Miller is the editor of the Summit Daily News. He can be reached at 668-4618, or amiller@summitdaily.com.




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