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The Practice Corner: How to Turn a Quarter into a Thousand Dollars In Minutes

by Daniel DeWoskin
Trial Attorney

As we approach the holidays this year, I have had one of those rare parenting moments that my folks told me I would have on this journey. My son swallowed a quarter. I have three older brothers, and of the four of us, three of us swallowed coins and/or non-edible items. I swallowed E.T. when I was about my son’s age. He did finally come home.

My son did not intend to swallow the quarter, he says, and did so with one of the four quarters my wife gave to him for helping out with household chores. The incident took place while she was in the shower, and was particularly surprising to us both since neither of our kids regularly put things in their mouths that are not food. For me, it meant that I got to take him to the doctor to make sure that he was okay. The doctor’s appointment led to an x-ray, so I decided to keep the situation light-hearted and tell my son we would get a really cool picture of his insides.

While at the hospital, I entertained myself by chatting with my son and asking him what we were going to spend the quarter on when we got it back. He said toys. I told him that this was a good reminder of why I am always telling him to wash his hands before dinner, after playing at school, the playground, or touching things like money. My son tends to be fearful of germs, in general, but if you turn your back for a second, he will have his face pressed up against the handrails on a MARTA train. The mere thought gives me chills.

The doctor was concerned about my level of confidence that there was just one coin inside the tummy bank, but I confirmed with my wife that there were still three quarters left of his payment for chores, which gave me 99.9 per cent confidence. Thus, when the technician took one x-ray showing plainly that the quarter was not lodged in his esophagus and was actually toward the bottom of his stomach, I told her that we would not require a second x-ray and that we had achieved the doctor’s goals. Of course, it was Friday after 5:00 and there could be no confirming with the doctor’s office. As it turned out, I was correct and I did not need to expose my son to another zapping.

Like the doctor, the technician was concerned that the doctor may have wanted to look for other hidden treasure, but I told her that I was only joking when I wanted to see at least a penny in interest there alongside the quarter. As we left the hospital, I explained that the fun part of this was over, and that ensuring that the quarter returned to the eventual stream of commerce was not something to which his mommy and I were looking forward.

For those of you who are parents, there are unquestionably moments when you have experienced things like this, though probably not as bizarre, where you can almost put yourself in your child’s shoes. Perhaps it was not a particularly good memory or feeling, but you had the opportunity to handle it differently than your parents may have and change how the event transpired for your child. That was my goal, although I don’t particularly remember anything really negative about the time I swallowed E.T. Also, I cannot speak for the other DeWoskin boys who thought they could turn a quarter into two dimes and a nickel.

Once I knew that this was not a crisis, I was happy to make sure that the lesson was learned and that we could salvage our Friday evening. I am rarely the person who internalizes the “This isn’t the end of the world” mentality, so when I can find silver linings, I try to exploit the heck out of them. I really felt like it was a great moment for me as a dad.

I have many friends who are facing extremely difficult challenges this year, ones for which the solutions are potentially as difficult as or more so than the challenges themselves. It is these little experiences like our trip for an x-ray that make me appreciative of the little challenges, the ones where the problem is not insurmountable and the handling of the situation can define or signify the relationship I have with my family.

My family does not send out holiday cards, but if we did, I think you can see what this season’s winner would be. My son was truly a champ throughout the ordeal, despite lots of waiting room time. He has promised that in the future, he will find more sound investment vehicles than his intestines to deposit his money.

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