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,
‘I WAS LOSING HIM!’
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