This morning as usual, Ashley, our 18-month-old smiley, toddled into our room and climbed into our bed. When I administered the morning kiss, I felt something gummy on the back of her head. Turning her around, I was horrified to see a big, double wad of bubble gum firmly embedded on the back of her head—pressed flat against her skull by a long night of wollering around in the bed. With the hair and gum all mixed together, the back of her head looked like road-kill possum.

My husband—Michael Pearl’s unsympathetic son, Nathan—laughed, said “Good luck,” and went off to work.

I asked a couple people for ideas. Some people said ice, others said Vaseline or lotion would do the trick. They made messes and that’s all. I was about to resign myself to the idea that we would have to shave the whole back of her head when I decide to try the World Wide Web.

I found out that peanut butter leaches the elasticity out of the gum, causing it to become flaky. I smeared a handful onto the back of her head, and, so as not to peanut butter the house, sent Ashley and her big sister out to play.

A few minutes later, while I was in the house cleaning up the peanut butter mess, I heard a cry of distress. I ran to the front porch where I found Ashley pinned down by our clumsy Basset Hound pup. He was joyfully licking the peanut butter off the back of her head. I was laughing so hard I hardly had the strength to rescue her. I brought her back into the safety of the kitchen and gave her the jar of peanut butter, telling her to smear it on the back of her head. I got distracted, and when I finally thought to check up on her, she had taken the opportunity to not only coat the back of her head but the top, front, and anywhere else she could reach. I made sure the gum was coated, and after 20 minutes we were gum free but peanut butter battered. Five shampooings later, Ashley’s hair was shiny, gum and peanut butter free, and smelling sweet.

The moral of the story is: Don’t let kids go to bed with gum. Big Papa says his moral to the story is: Don’t let children under 6 years-old chew gum.

Zephyr Pearl