article

10.21.08

How My Little Slice of Heaven Became My Toddler's Hell

The Project Runway star and mother of six on the unintended consequences of chewing Nicorette.

After thirty years of smoking three packs a day, my husband wisely decided to quit smoking. After two weeks of cold turkey, I sensed he was faltering and bought him some Nicotine gum. Having never been a smoker myself, I didn't understand the draw or fascination of cigarettes, until I tried a piece of his Cinnamon Surge 2mg coated Nicorette. Like ambrosia from the gods, I suddenly realized that Nicotine is the most amazing legal substance of the twentieth century. I was immediately, happily, and willingly, hooked.

God knows I credit Nicotine gum with everything from keeping me thin to saving my marriage, but it does have its hazards. Not health hazards, not any that I know about or want to acknowledge, but child hazards. If my husband Peter sits in any one place too long, at the computer or TV for example, he amasses a small pile of chewed pieces of gum. I want to believe that he has every intention of discarding of these properly, but it doesn't always happen, at least not in a timely manner.

This morning I was taking a bath, a rather long weekly bath where I try to catch up on personal maintenance. I heard my two year old, Finn, crying somewhere in the house and called in vain for someone, anyone, to check on him. It’s not as if there were not seven other people in the house who could have checked. Receiving no reply, I left my legs half shaven and got out of the tub. I found Finn in the living room, standing on the coffee table, wearing a t-shirt and no diaper, his little genitals completely embroiled in chewed Nicotine gum. So embroiled in fact, that his sex was impossible to determine; he looked like a little hermaphrodite.

I found Finn in the living room, standing on the coffee table, wearing a t-shirt and no diaper, his little genitals completely embroiled in chewed Nicotine gum.

"Oh my God," I said to Peter, who had been sitting in the room the entire time, "Look what he has done."

"Yeah, I saw that." Was his only response, delivered with no emotion or concern.

In all fairness, had it been a situation that was easier to deal with, like cleaning up the two hundredth spill of the day, Peter would have taken care of it, but this was, to say the least, a sticky situation. (You didn't really think I was going to pass that one up.) Well thank God for the amazing-citrus-power-of-late-night-as-seen-on-TV-cleaning-products, because it took half a bottle of Goo Gone to extract his little testicles from the side of his leg.

Despite the down side of gum chewing, I will continue to chew it because it is the closest I will ever get to Nirvana, and frankly for all I go through with this tribe of mine, it is a vice I deserve. When Peter falls asleep with a piece in his mouth, I will dutifully cut it out of his hair in the morning and thank god every day for my twelve piece blister pack of heaven.