Have I written on this topic before? Because I REALLY feel like I’ve written on this topic before. Because this topic is such a never ending, unrelenting, top of mind topic that I’m virtually positive I’ve written about this before? Surely, surely, surely it cannot only be in my mind that I have written this letter?
Ok, well then….here goes.
Today I received the phone call that every mother dreads. You know the one. The one that pops up on your smart phone indicating that your child is in the nurse’s office. If you work outside the home, it is likely to come when you’ve just started a super important meeting. Or if you’re like me, it always appears when you’ve reached the far reach of your sales territory. Normally around the ’90 miles to home’ marker.
Typical conversations include discussion of fever, some injury, symptoms that would lead the nurse to believe the child should be picked up from school. Typical conversations also include what the nurse has done to alleviate pain, reduce symptoms and comfort the child. Typical conversations.
But many of you know my family is anything but typical.
Today was a blessing….for several reasons. Fortunately, when the dreaded call came in, I happened to be working locally and was actually having lunch with a friend. Fortunately, I was also seated when the nurse said, “This is the school nurse. I’m filling in today and I wanted you to know there has been a little accident…………….(what seemed like a ten minute pause)…………………..but your son is ok.”
My heart began beating again.
Apparently my son and another boy bumped heads while playing basketball at recess. A little blood for both boys but neither was seriously injured and she was simply calling to make me aware of the incident. I thanked her for her consideration and asked her to give my son a hug. I was grateful no one was sick or seriously hurt. I finished my lunch, paid my bill and headed to my van.
Exactly nine minutes passed when the same dreaded contact showed up on my phone.
I chuckled when I answered this time, thinking she had forgotten to give me some piece of information regarding my son’s little basketball accident. However, this was a call regarding child #2 who had apparently darkened the door of the nurse’s office.
For the second time in an hour.
This happens to be the child who would spend equal time in the nurse’s office as in her classroom, given the opportunity. The nurse seemed to have overlooked the fact that two kids with the same, rather unusual last name had graced her office…….three times in 60 minutes. In fact, even though she had called and fully introduced herself to me no more than ten minutes earlier, she explained who she was and what her temporary role was at the school again. In hindsight, I’m sure she was slightly frazzled and trying to figure out what to do with the girl child who likely wanted to hang out and talk. And discuss school thermometers. Or chill on the vinyl cots for a bit. The child who seems to think a visit is in order.
I suspect my daughter misinterprets the role of the school nurse. I suspect this only because it has been a bit of an ongoing issue in our house for the last……oh……THREE YEARS. This particular child apparently desires such a close relationship with the school nurse that we have FIRMLY instructed her to visit the nurse on two occasions.
Blood. Or. Vomit.
There MUST be bleeding or vomiting.
I have repeated it until I’m blue in the face. Which in itself is probably a nurse worthy condition but I’m not heading to my own nurse BECAUSE I’M NOT BLEEDING OR VOMITING.
I cannot count how many times this child has been to the nurse in the last 2.5 years. If I had chosen to keep them all, I’d have a stack of notes three feet high stating that my child visited the nurse that day and her temperature registered 98.5. Or 98.6. Or 98.2. Or 98.1. Because apparently my child thinks it is an educational requirement to have a school thermometer in her mouth once a day.
So, to you, dear School Nurse, Nurse Substitute, Nurse’s Aid, Parent filling in for the Nurse, to you I have these words:
Dear School Nurse,
Let me first applaud you for the fact that you simply show up to your job each day. You willingly choose to deal with sick kids all day long. Or as is the case in this instance, you chose to deal with ‘faux sickness’ all day long. You lovingly hand out band aids and call parents to inform them of a variety of boo-boos and maladies. You take temperatures and hand out comfort in heaping doses. You expose yourself to the walking Petri dishes we call elementary students. You gave of yourself today. Thank you.
Regardless of compensation, there is no way they’re paying you enough to deal with my children. For that, I’m truly sorry. I know that hangnails and cold elbows and itchy foreheads and tingling ears and wiggly teeth and bendy knees and misaligned piggy tails and broken zippers and uneven eyebrows and a fallen eyelash and the realization that your pointer finger is shorter than your middle finger and tight waistbands and saggy socks and mosquito bites and bad tastes in the mouth and ear wax and forehead tenderness and being tired and being wired and growling bellies don’t typically fall under your umbrella of care. So please, please, please accept my sincere appreciation for your consolation and consideration and compassion and care when each of those ailments and maladies showed up in your office. Maybe all at once. And likely always from my child.
I want you to know I am grateful for your care of my child during the day. And I often think of you at night when I’m facing the ever pressing ankle bumps and knee twitch and elbow aches and hair part problems and wiggly eyes and toe cramps and jawbone itch. Please feel free to greet my child at the door tomorrow with these five words-
“Are you bleeding or vomiting?”
The mother of the child who interrupted the very writing of this letter to ask if someone could take her temperature.