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As I waited at the nurs­ery gates, I saw a mop of curly black hair and a cheeky smile rac­ing to­wards me. It was my four-year-old, Ste­fan, proudly wav­ing a piece of pa­per. ‘Do you like it, Mum?’ he asked.

He’d drawn his dad, Shehu, brother Matthew, 10, and me, along with a house, blue sky and sun.

‘I’ll stick it up as soon as we get home,’ I smiled.

The liv­ing room was turn­ing into an art gallery of Ste­fan’s splodgy mas­ter­pieces.

And, when he started school this Septem­ber, more art­works were sure to fol­low….

On his first school run that term, Ste­fan sat in the back of the car in his new navy blazer and trousers with his brother.

On the way, I was lost in lis­ten­ing to the ra­dio when I sud­denly heard a shriek from Matthew.

‘Mum, Mum, Ste­fan’s chok­ing on a pound!’

Dart­ing my eyes to the rear-view mir­ror, I saw Ste­fan gasp­ing for breath, turn­ing bright red.

‘Oh, my God,’ I pan­icked, brak­ing the car to a halt in a side street.

‘Mummy, I can’t breathe,’ he choked, in a panic.

I spun round the car to the rear door. Fran­ti­cally search­ing his mouth, I couldn’t see the coin.

I tipped him over on my knees and bent his head as I slapped his back – the method I’d learnt as a nurse.

But I couldn’t dis­lodge the coin. I was los­ing him!

Matthew stayed com­pletely silent, look­ing ter­ri­fied.

A passer-by rushed over. ‘Help me!’ I screamed.

‘I used to be in the Army,’ James Green said, as he be­gan slap­ping Ste­fan’s back.

An­other man came over. He was a doc­tor, and told me he’d al­ready called 999.

When the am­bu­lance ar­rived, Ste­fan had stopped chok­ing. He must have swal­lowed the coin…

He was retch­ing be­tween gasps of oxy­gen through a mask.

‘Looks like it’s now in his stom­ach,’ the doc­tor in A&E said. ‘We’ll have to wait for him to throw it up.’

Stroking his head in the wait­ing room, I won­dered where Ste­fan had got the pound coin from.

‘It was in his school book bag,’ Matthew told me.

Of course! I’d put it in a brown en­ve­lope for his break­fast club. I didn’t ex­pect he’d eat it! Then – a clink on the mar­ble floor. Whip­ping round, I spot­ted the coin in a pud­dle of bile and drool. ‘Well done,’ I blubbed.

‘I did it,’ rasped Ste­fan.

We fi­nally left the hos­pi­tal at 11.30am. Some first day this had turned out to be!

In the car on the ride back home, Ste­fan grinned. ‘I think I fancy sausage and chips now,’ he said.

He’d put me through hell… but all that mat­tered now was his rum­bling tum! ‘Mummy, I won’t eat a pound coin again,’ he said later, squirt­ing his fries with ketchup.

And what have we done with the coin?

There was noth­ing else for it but to frame it like his other works of art. We’ve put it proudly on the man­tel­piece,


show­cas­ing how brave my lit­tle boy was.

I’ve since sent the two passers-by bou­quets of flow­ers to thank them for their help.

And I hide coins away from Ste­fan now, just in case.

I don’t fancy cough­ing up an­other morn­ing in A&E!

Michelle Ba­lo­gun, 45, War­ring­ton, Cheshire

Coin­ing it – my lit­tle artist, Ste­fan

Pricey work of art: the pound!

Ste­fan’s very first day at school was a costly one

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