On Monday morning Caroline had a little bit of a tummy ache. That’s right. I just called it a tummy ache. It sounds so much cuter than gastrointestinal issues. I wasn’t sure if I should send her to school or not, but she insisted she felt fine and didn’t want to stay home.
Thanks to my indecisiveness we arrived at the school about ten minutes after the tardy bell rang. So I walked her to her classroom and told her teacher that if Caroline complained of a tummy ache she should send her to the nurse and I would come pick her up.
(As a disclaimer I’m pretty sure I didn’t say “tummy ache” to the teacher because I wanted to appear mature and mom-ish. I used the more sophisticated “stomach ache”.)
Meanwhile I went back home, changed into my workout clothes and continued my never-ending quest to run three miles without stopping. The truth is I’m still much closer to the couch than the 5K, but the warm weather and the realization that I’ll have to wear a swimsuit out in public in only two months is providing a much needed kick in the running shorts.
I was at the furthest point from the house when the school nurse called my cell phone to inform me that Caroline was in her office complaining about her stomach. The nurse did not call it a tummy ache. I immediately said I would come get her and the nurse replied, “Well, she said you told her you’d come get her. She may feel fine but just want to come home.” I responded that I would feel better if I came and got her since I knew the tummy ache had been a legitimate issue earlier.
I huffed and puffed back to the house, drove up to the school, and walked into the nurse’s office expecting to see Caroline lying on one of those green cots. Perhaps with a cold compress on her forehead to make her feel better. I know all about the green cots and cold compresses because I was a wee bit of a hypochondriac/drama queen throughout junior high and high school and spent many hours in various nurses’ offices with maladies ranging from cramps to the flu to my boyfriend broke up with me and I can’t quit crying in English class.
But Caroline wasn’t in the nurse’s office. She wasn’t lying comfortably on a freshly Cloroxed cot. I walked in to where the nurse was sitting at her desk and said, “Hi. I’m Caroline’s mama. I’m here to pick her up.”
She looked at me and said, “I sent her back to class.”
I can’t remember for sure but I think I just stood there with a blank look for a few minutes before I asked, “Why did you send her back to class? Did she want to go back to class?”
“No. But if you sent her to school with a stomach ache, then I can send her back to class with a stomach ache.”
I’m sorry. Can you repeat that? Because I couldn’t hear you over the sound of me biting the inside of my bottom lip until it bleeds to keep me from giving you a lecture about tummy aches and seven-year-old girls who are sick and want their mama to come pick them up from school. Seven-year-old girls who have never EVER gone to the nurse and asked to come home.
Instead I said, “Well, I want to take her home.”
“You’ll have to go to the front office and have them call her to come in.”
And so that’s what I did. While I talked myself down from the ledge of righteous indignation and thought about the days of yore when nurses were like sweet, compassionate Cherry Ames R.N. with her dark black hair, rosy cheeks and twinkly eyes.
(Please tell me I’m not alone in my love of Cherry Ames books. Anyone? Anyone?)
Caroline came walking down the hall with her little book bag slung across her shoulders and said, “OH MAMA. I KNEW YOU’D COME GET ME. THANK YOU.”
Then we went to HEB to load up on Gatorade, Sprite and saltines. And then we came home and spent the rest of the day watching movies while intermittently complaining about an upset stomach. Mine started feeling a little queasy as well, but I think that was when we started watching Land Before Time and I have a hard time tolerating dinosaurs that speak in baby talk voices. It’s not natural.
Not that it’s natural for dinosaurs to speak at all. But still, baby talk seems like a big stretch.
I’m happy to report that the tummy woes only lasted about twenty-four hours and all is well once again. Caroline went back to school and I went back to doing whatever it is I do around here. Which largely consists of using a lot of Clorox wipes on countertops in an attempt to look productive.
It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.
Kind of like being a school nurse.