It’s around 12:30pm when my phone rings. I recognize the number immediately and answer. It’s the school nurse calling from my son’s elementary school. I know her number by heart because I usually get 2-3 calls a week from her. I feel like we’ve become buddies. “Hi Elaine, what’s he in for today?”
I remember the very first time I got a call from her, at the start of the school year. I was so nervous when I answered the phone and heard that my son James was in the health room! He’s in kindergarten so everything is so new to me. The nurse said he was in with a mild nose-bleed after bumping into another child on the playground. I explained that he’s very prone to nosebleeds and sometimes the slightest bump will bring them on. I asked if she wanted me to come in to the school. She calmly replied it wasn’t necessary unless I wanted to. I anxiously awaited his arrival home that day to check and make sure he wasn’t traumatized for life. He barely even remembered the incident.
After that I started getting multiple calls a week, always starting the same way; “Hi Mrs Watts, it’s Elaine in the health room…” and then she would go on to explain his most recent ailment. My favorite so far was the day he went to her because his pants were too tight. Another day was for itchy hands. He’s had three ‘head traumas’ where he had to stay in the health room for 30 minutes of observation and a special note got sent home about signs of concussion. Mind you, the ‘worst’ of these head traumas was when he fell out of his tiny chair in class and clonked his head on the cabinet behind him.
Of the dozens of phone-calls I’ve received so far this year from Elaine, only two warranted an actual pick up from school. One was because he had a fever and ended up with strep throat. Ironically, I didn’t believe he was sick the first time she called. He was only complaining of a sore-throat at that point, which he does nightly. But an hour later he was back in the health room with a fever, so I sheepishly went in to pick him up. The second time he was in for an upset stomach after lunch. I talked to him on the phone trying to convince him to go back to class. He wasn’t buying it, so I picked him up. Later at home, running around acting perfectly fine, he admitted to me that he was just afraid he would throw up in class and be embarrassed.
During one of the many phone-calls with Elaine, I asked if it’s normal for a kindergartener to come in to the health room as much as my son does. She said that yes it was quite normal, especially since kids that age are used to their parents fixing all their boo-boo’s for them. She assured me that she has other students who come in multiple times a day. I told her the year wasn’t quite over yet, that might be James too.
One day after school I tried to encourage him to only visit the health room if he felt really sick or had a really bad injury, not every little cough or bump. I explained that he was missing out on important school time when sitting in the health room for 30 minutes. His response? “Yeah, but Miss Elaine is just soooo nice to me, I kind of like going to see her.” So the truth comes out! My kid is in love with his school nurse. Well, at least it’s not the Principal.
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 5-year-old James and 3-year-old Luke.