You've heard by now that peanut butter can be dangerous to your health. $1

Ingested alone, from a spoon -- or finger -- it can lodge in your throat, block your esophagus, fill your lungs and choke you to death.

After reading that, I threw down the paper, appalled. I have an 11-year-old son who eats spoonfuls of peanut butter every day of his life. "Stop!? I cried.

But he was in school. I paced the house. I had three hours to deal with the news, before I could warn him. I had two options: one, stop buying peanut butter (not such a sacrifice since it is now the price of gold), or quiety and effectively point out the hazards.

I would call my children together. They would come eagerly, their faces bright with anticipation, urging each other on, turning off the television, scooping up dust balls from the floor, straightening pictures as they came running. "Yes, Mother dear?"

"Safety notebooks!" I would intone.

They would look at each other with appropriate solemnity. If their mother called for these precious notebooks, then indeed, this was a serious matter. They would be hushed and reverent as they pulled these heavy, much-loved and thumbed-through tomes from the shelf.

"Food and eating section," I would rirect.

They would flip through the pages. "Here it is," one would eagerly cry.

"Very well," I would begin, "what is the number of this entry?"

"585,9418," my younger would sing out heartily.

"What's 585,940?" I would ask.

"Not to drink a Coke after taking an aspirin, in case you should get drunk."

I would not sagely, glad I had remembered that, some 10 years before they would become adults.

"And number 585,899?"

"Don't lick the icing off packaged cupcake wrappers in case you should inhale the paper."

"You mean I didn't tell you that one until after 585,938 others?" Humbled, I would be aware anew of the heavy burdens of a safety specialist.

And then in clear tones:

"Today's warning. Do not eat peanut butter by itself or it will choke you. Always spread it, no more than 1/16 inch (surely that would be safe) on a piece of bread."

My boys would write it all down, carefully, moved to have been spared so terrible a fate.

They would lay their books aside, take my hands, tears in their eyes, and say, "Oh, my Mother, we are grateful to you for taking care of us, for thinking of our safety all hours of the day and night."

I would blush and swell with pride.

Suddenly my boys burst into the house and somewhere between the kitchen and the living room where I was in reverie, the older one acquired the smell of peanut butter on his breath. My moment!


"What is it, Mom?" asked my younger son, spearing pickles from the jar. (Wouldn't that have been about 284,384 and 284,385, not to put pickles on a fork into your mouth lest you forget and accidentally spear your tongue? And not to put that fork which has your germs on it back into the pickle jar?)

"Peanut butter is very dangerous. Never eat peanut buttr directly into your mouth . . . ."

"And don't put ketchup in your ears," added the older one.

"Or strawberries up your nose," giggled the younger one.

"Or jelly in your hair . . ." the younger one crumpled up against the refrigerator.

I retreated into the living room.

I am like Cassandra, knowing about all the hazards and cursed with children who never listen. At best I can get maybe 2 1/2 messages a day to sink into their heads. And I have millions left! Millions of urgent warnings, wonderful serious things:

Don't eat poinsettias; don't stand up in the bathtub; don't ever get into iceboxes you see lying around empty; don't lean against car doors; don't spray deodorant in your eyes; don't sit so close to the TV; don't pet strange dogs; don't breathe too deeply when you're using glue; don't put your hands in your mouth after you're handled money, garbage, your socks.

Where IS everybody?