By Paige Tucker

My little one, now two and a half, has long put just about anything and everything in her mouth. Pacifiers, her fingers, her whole hands (while teething), stickers and a marble. Yep, you read that right, a marble. And there was one bright red marble she did not spit back out.

One day, we were playing over at the home of one of Julia Reynolds’ best buddies, Kip, when they spotted Hungry Hungry Hippos on the dining room table. Remember that game? What a classic! It wasn’t Julia Reynolds’ first time seeing it. She’d played with the hippos before at my parent’s house, still in tact from my childhood. But, I had hidden the marbles.

Turns out, Kip does not put everything in his mouth so his marbles were right there with the hippos.

I was helping them pull out the game board with the hippo heads, standing right by the table, leaning down over them and the game. I was cautiously eyeing the marbles when my little Houdini shoved what looked like three marbles in her mouth. My friend Stephanie and I panicked as I fished one marble, then two, out of my daughter’s mouth.

Stephanie and I frantically started counting marbles. Nineteen. I scanned the box, desperately looking for the game contents knowing full well it wasn’t nineteen marbles. There it was in black and white right next to the choking hazard warning — four hippos and twenty marbles. In our defense, we were planning to full-on helicopter mom while our under-three toddlers played. We counted the marbles several more times, always reaching nineteen.

My first feeling was utter relief that the tiny marble had slid down her throat without choking her. Actually, I was desperately relieved and more in a state of shock over how quickly it had happened, as a far worse scenario flashed before my eyes.

Anyone whose child has swallowed something that’s not food knows what comes next. We went into “Operation Red Marble” mode and alerted anyone who might change her diaper about the “foreign object” we needed to be on the lookout for.

We did some investigating, if you will, over the next few days as we finally exhaled over the little marble mayhem.

Boy, kids sure do keep things interesting, don’t they? I’m so thankful for the excitement, adventure and laughs that come with raising Julia Reynolds. Life would not be nearly as bright without her in it.

And in this season of celebrating mothers, I’m beyond grateful to be hers and delighted to have friends on this same stretch of life’s highway to keep me entertained with texts like, “Any sign of the hippo food?” Let’s just say we still owe Kip a game piece.


After twelve years in local news, most recently as evening anchor of NBC 26, Paige Tucker is now a work-at-home mom and freelance journalist. She produces two series for NBC 26 TV, First Responders and 26 Women Today, and you can see those stories on Tuesday nights. Paige and her husband have one daughter, Julia Reynolds, who is two and a half years old.

This article appears in the May/June 2017 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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