Warning: Do Not Let Toddler Consume Chocolate-Covered Espresso Beans

Jolina Petersheim Southern Belle View DailyI came back into the living room after loading the washing machine with clothes. My toddler-aged daughter, who I often call “Miss A,” was standing next to the coffee table with three bags in front of her.

Two were bags of prunes. The other was a sandwich baggie of chocolate-covered espresso beans that I keep hidden in the back of my cupboard when I need a boost of energy–and fast.

Miss A squealed when she saw me coming and grabbed two prunes in one chubby fist. I knelt and sniffed her breath like a kindergarten cop, searching for the scent of coffee.

I tried to pry her fist open, but she shook her curls, pushed against my chest with her free hand, and said, “No!”

Okay, then.

I filled a Sippy cup with milk, grabbed her satin-edged blanket that she can never resist cuddling, and inched closer to the nursery. She toddled along behind me in her pink velour jumpsuit—reaching for the blanket with one hand but keeping the other close to her chest.

I waited until her belly was full of milk, and my off-key version of that heartbreaking Dumbo theme song was lulling her to sleep. Then I pried her fingers open and plucked out those two squished prunes, dumping them in the trashcan next to the diaper genie.

Pulling the door behind me, I looked at the coffee table scattered with espresso beans and prunes that my daughter’s body—with its tiny loops of lightning-fast intestines—was now digesting.

Something told me this did not bode well for our twelve-hour road trip.

We left at 3 a.m. The question of whether to drive straight through or get a hotel room was answered by the fact that I didn’t finish packing until 8 p.m.

I am not a morning person under the best of circumstances. My husband, on the other hand, treats our annual trips to Wisconsin—where he participates in the opening day of buck season—like Christmas. He all but whistled as he made his coffee, snapped the lid on the sugar, and slammed the cupboard doors.

Meanwhile, it was all I could do to drag my body out to the truck, strap the seatbelt around me, and curl up with my feather pillow that is almost as dear to me as my daughter’s satin-edged blanket. My husband was the one who made sure our daughter was fetched from the crib and strapped in as well.

Good dad.

Foolishly, I’d thought that since Miss A had taken a nap with no combustive diapers that she hadn’t consumed much—if any—of the espresso beans and prunes.

However, I began to worry when two hours passed and she was still peering around the truck with pie plate eyes.

“You think she’ll sleep?” I asked my husband.

He quirked his mouth and shrugged. I reached for my husband’s gas-station coffee.

We started playing the “last resort” Curious George videos at 4:45 a.m.

Twelve hours later, as we pulled in the drive of the Wisconsin dairy farm, Miss A had slept a total of one and a half hours.

Curious George 1 and 2 had been played a total of six times.

At that moment, I really wished I hadn’t forgotten those chocolate-covered espresso beans.

Dear readers, what’s your favorite road trip memory?

Library Journal named Jolina Petersheim’s debut novel, The Outcast, one of the Best Books 2013: Christian Fiction. Her sophomore novel, The Midwife, will release on June 1. Jolina and her husband share the same unique Amish and Mennonite heritage that originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but now live in the mountains of Tennessee with their young daughter. Whenever she’s not busy chasing this adorable toddler, Jolina is hard at work on her next novel. You can visit with Jolina at www.jolinapetersheim.com

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Jolina Petersheim is the bestselling author of The Outcast, which Library Journal called "outstanding . . . fresh and inspirational" in a starred review and named one of the best books of 2013. She holds degrees in English and communication arts from the University of the Cumberlands, and her writing has been featured in venues as varied as radio programs, nonfiction books, and numerous online and print publications. Her blog is syndicated with The Tennessean's "On Nashville" blog roll. Jolina and her husband share the same unique Amish and Mennonite heritage that originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but now live in the mountains of Tennessee with their young daughter. For more information about Jolina's sophomore release, The Midwife, follow Jolina and her blog at www.jolinapetersheim.com.

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  1. Lisa Wingate says

    LOL! Oh, Jolina, thank you for the laugh this morning! It’s not a road trip story, but you made me think of the time my youngest, still in diapers, discovered the plum tree in full fruit in the backyard. Man oh man, was that a harvest to remember! A couple dozen half eaten plums and a toddler in diapers are not a good combination. No diaper in the history of the world is engineered well enough to withstand that scenario :-)

    I sang that Dumbo song many, many times too! Somethings must be universal.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!


  2. Rachel Hauck says

    Oh no Jolina!! That’s too funny!

    I don’t have a road trip story like that but we did come home one evening to discover our dog had somehow nudged open the pantry door and snacked on the open bag of semi sweet chocolate bits.

    She hate 2/3rds of the bag. It was late. We were tired. But I could feel her heart racing and knew we had to run her to the vet E.R.

    While I was looking up the phone number, she threw up, on the carpet. It looked like an oil slick.

    What a mess. But she was fine after that and we made sure we kept chocolates and goodies off the bottom shelf of the pantry!


  3. Shellie says

    I’m loving all of the stories this morning. Ironically, the mention of road trips didn’t immediately set off a number of family memories with the kids, though I do have plenty of those. No, I thought about a particular road trip with fellow author, River Jordan from our 2009 Great Southern Wing and a Prayer Tour! I do believe I’ll share that one Friday! How’s that for a tease? Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

  4. says

    What a story! I have a feeling you’ll be talking about it for years to come — and I’m so relieved that Miss A’s low sleep was the only result of her errant snacking. It reminds me a little of the cross-country trip when my son alerted me to the fact that our 2-year-old daughter was trimming her bangs with scissors that I had oh so wisely packed in his activity pack. In my defense *he* was 7 at the time, but I will never forget seeing those pointy ended scissors (and let me tell you that blunt-little-kid scissors never looked so sharp!) mere inches from the eyes of my precious little daughter!

  5. Cissy says

    This brought back memories of an early babysitting experience I had. And, what an experience it was! I was 13 years old and the mom and dad left me with instructions to give their baby some prune juice while they were gone. They didn’t tell me how much and I didn’t think to ask. (They probably should have told me how much, but they were newbies, too, at this baby stuff. Bless their hearts!) So, I filled the baby bottle with prune juice and he drank it all. Suffice it to say, it was an experience that included not only a major diaper change, but a tub bath over EVERY part of his body….it was even under his armpits. It’s been a very long time since that happened, but I can still see the little fella to this day lying prone in the bathtub with his little arms raised. Bless HIS heart!

    • says

      That is a hilarious story, Aunt Cissy! Prune juice terrifies me for this very reason. Diaper explosions on road trips are the worst. I gave Miss A some raisins yesterday and was holding my breath for almost twelve hours. ;)

  6. Julie says

    We have traveled with our wee kiddos to 48 states…so road trip warrior stories, I have tons. Maybe I’ll do what Shellie is doing and share some of them as a blog post soon. Some…you wouldn’t believe :) Hope your sweet family enjoys your holidays in Wisconsin and that your return trip brings lots of peaceful sleep for you and Miss A. j

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