Nathalie's Notes

Raising the Hardy Boys

The screw not swallowed


By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register




Clip - December 2014

This could just as easily be called, “The boy who didn’t swallow a screw.” It all goes toward describing a particular Sunday five years ago that we still talk about to this day.

In fact, it’s a story about how new holiday traditions are unexpectedly forged in families, sometimes through adversity. As a result, we now have a tradition of getting our Christmas tree as early in the season as possible, lest we get “screwed” out of the opportunity.

Let me preface this by making sure you know I was nine months pregnant at the time. And I wasn’t cute, basketball pregnant. No, I was waddling around using a geriatric grabber tool to pick up my toddler’s toys off the floor.

The day started normally enough.

As with all stories you don’t know will be important someday, you forget the ordinary details because you don’t think they’ll matter much. But I do recall we were a bit bleary-eyed, having lost sleep to a windy night that kept banging something into the side of the house.

My husband, Matt, and I were looking forward to taking little Sam, 2 at the time, out to cut a tree. The plan was to spend the afternoon decorating it.

In the meantime, I asked Matt to do something with a table that had been blocking the hallway for weeks. He said it needed some new screws, and Sam wanted to help.

As Matt ran downstairs for something, I heard a strange coughing and choking sound coming from upstairs.

Matt got there first, with me trailing. We found Sam was holding a screw in one hand and looking suspicious.

Me to Sam: “Did you put a screw in your mouth?”

Sam: “Yeah.”

Me: “Did you swallow the screw?”

Sam: “Yeah.”

Me: “Did you swallow a fork?”

Sam: “Yeah.”

Me to Matt: “This is not a credible witness.”

But Sam was holding his throat and looking pale, so I called the doctor. As I waited for a return call, I realized he was no longer our doctor, as Matt’s company had changed to Kaiser, and even though I was pregnant, I’d yet to line up a Kaiser replacement.

Yes, during my pregnancy. Is that even allowed?

I didn’t mention this change as I talked to the on-call doc, though.

She said it was unlikely he swallowed it in such a short amount of time with such a small amount of fussing. But she said sharp, spirally wood screws can be dangerous, so suggested we head to the ER for an X-ray, just in case.

I was pretty sure this was just a peace-of-mind exercise. That being the case, I packed our sweaters and camera in the car before we pulled out, thinking we could stop by the tree farm on the way home.

Matt, meanwhile, was intent on locating a metal detector so we could conduct a do-it-yourself scan. That involved a series of phone calls, including one to our local police department, and a visit to his beloved Bi-Mart.

Matt returned from Bi-Mart with a stud finder, but no metal detector. I couldn’t help but wonder if that was tantamount to me stopping by the scrapbook store on the way to the ER to pick up some materials we could use to document the event.

Because of the aforementioned Kaiser business, we had to drive clear to Clackamas.

Unfortunately, time was passing, and it became obvious the granola bar, fruit leather and pair of mandarin oranges reposing in the diaper bag weren’t going to pass for lunch for one, much less three. So we made a quick stop at Safeway as well.

We finally made it to the hospital, where Sam was awesome, despite being scolded by one pediatric-phobic nurse for being “too wiggly.” Even Sam’s stuffed giraffe wore a little paper towel “shield” on the X-ray table.

Many, many hours later we learned that no screw had been ingested. We were finally free to return to our home turf — that is, we would have been, if we hadn’t run out of gas.

Luckily, we were within walking distance of our house by then. So I waddled on home in the freezing cold.

With all the time we saved not cutting and decorating a tree, Matt was able to move the table I mentioned.

We planned to get one the following weekend, but other problems arose. I’d have to look at pictures to see if we actually ever got one that year; I’m not sure.

As a result of this fiasco, we no longer “plan” to get a Christmas tree at the Hardy house. Our tradition goes like this:

I start talking about how I want to make sure we get the tree right after Thanksgiving. At some point thereafter Matt takes the boys out for breakfast and they “surprise me” by bringing home a tree.

The three of them tromping through the house, dragging a fir tree across the floor, is my favorite moment. It kicks off this festive time of year, celebrating childhood traditions and creating new ones to, um, cherish.

Since she’s not busy ironing napkins — or anything else, for that matter — Nathalie Hardy has more time to write in the margins of motherhood. Something else will have to give, as she’ll be marketing her new book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They said there would be bon-bons.” Members of her family are supportive, provided dinner is still served. After all, they didn’t specify by whom. Feel free to drop by, preferably with food. To contact her, visit

P.S. Did you catch that in my new tagline – I did it! As I type this my first book, Raising the Hardy Boys, is being printed. So. Much. Yay!

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One thought on “The Screw Not Swallowed

  1. angie barnes says:

    Oh Nat this makes me smile and laugh!! Happy Christmas!


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