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  • Writer's pictureNeal Hagberg

A Different Take on Choking

When our daughter was five years old, we left her with Elsabet, our 13 year old neighbor/babysitter.  It was hard to get my wife, Leandra, out for dates.  She didn’t want to leave her with just anyone.  But one night we finally went out to dinner with friends.  In the middle of the meal, we got a phone call from home.  Madeline was on the other end.  She said to Leandra, “Guess what, Mommy?  I was eating grapes for dinner!” (Leandra had done research and five year olds eating grapes was okayed by the experts then.  Leandra always checked everything with the experts.  I always checked nothing). “And one of the grapes got stuck in my throat!  And I couldn’t breathe!  At all!  And then Elsabet came over to my side of the table.  And you know what she did?  She hit me on the back!  Hard.  That hurt.  And then she hit me again!  And then she got behind me and lifted me up and pulled on my tummy!  And guess what?  That grape flew all the way across the table and rolled right onto the floor!!!”  She said this as if it were the most exciting adventure in the world, and Leandra was going paler by the second.  I knew we would never have another date again.  I heard Leandra say, “Could you put Elsabet on the phone, please?”

Elsabet confirmed that Madeline’s account was, indeed, correct.  We found out Elsabet had taken the Red Cross Babysitting Training Course before babysitting.  And it literally saved our daughter’s life.   We have told Elsabet all these years we owe her a million dollars.  (We have also told her she will need to collect from Madeline, since we don’t have a million dollars).

Madeline is 17 now and starting her senior year in high school.

I want you to think of this the next time you are choking in a tennis match and it bothers you.  (And, by the way, we all choke in matches.  Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking otherwise).  Remember that choking is not that big of a deal.  Really.  Unless you are serving grapes.

Happy hitting.  Remember why you are here in the first place.


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