Let me start off by saying he’s fine. Better than fine. Everything is fine.
I had just sat down with my sandwich when the phone rang. I toyed with not answering it, but on the fifth ring decide to pick up. “Hello?”
It was the nurse from Short’s school, never the voice you want to hear on a Wednesday during school hours. “Hello, Mrs. MOVela? I hate to tell you this: Short was injured at recess.”
In the two seconds she paused between that and her next sentence (“But he’s fine,”) my brain already had him in a wheelchair and blind. Or hooked up to life-support machines. And deaf.
Mowing right past the one bright flower (“he’s fine”) in a garden full of monster weeds (“was injured”), I tried to backtrack.
“Well, I’m not really sure, I wasn’t there and—”
Short was a verbose child. He took after his older brother this way. If his mouth was sore, he might say, “The number 7 tooth on the lingual side is bothering me, let’s go see a dentist,” or if he had a stomach ache, he might complain, “My lower intestines are acting up, I hope I don’t have Inflammatory Bowel Disease,” or if we’d been swimming he might offer, “This ear infection is troublesome, I wonder if my Eustachian tube is blocked.” He never had an issue pinpointing the problem. If the nurse did not know by now what exactly had happened, there was only one logical conclusion: All his teeth had been smashed out of his face and now he couldn’t communicate.
I heard the words escape my lips before I could stop them: “Is there blood?”
“Oh, no, no blood. I, uh, I don’t see any blood. Umm, well, I don’t think so.”
Were we going to have to have a discussion about what blood looked like? What kind of nurse was she, anyway? Was this just a high school student volunteering for college credits? Either you see blood or you don’t see blood. You shouldn’t have to think about it too much. Red and oozy, not red and oozy. Done.
She interrupted my internal monologue. “A ball hit him.”
Oh, God, everyone knows balls can be lethal. WHO THE HELL LET MY CHILD PLAY WITH A KILLER BALL?!? That’s it, I’m writing to my Congressman right now, balls need to be outlawed.
My mind, never one to sit and relax and shoot the breeze with some wayward neurons or ask a couple dead cells how they were killed (“Alcohol? Or did having kids do that to you?”) chose this moment to bounce ahead like, well, a ball.
“What kind of ball? Tennis ball? Football? Soccer ball?” (oh, please do not let it be a heavy soccer ball, those things were like cannons) “Golf ball? Basketball …”
“It was a basketball …”
“But, but, but …” (why did I continue to interrupt her? why could I not let the poor woman with no medical training whatsoever finish a sentence and tell me exactly what was wrong with my child? “Nurse, please tell me one thing, just one thing: did the ball hit him in the … head?”
I said head in a terrified whisper. I would rather have a child in a wheelchair who could not walk but still was mentally sharp than a vegetable child.
The school nurse could sense my agony through the phone wires.
“Mrs. MOVina, no need to worry! The ball did not hit his head … it hit his eye.”
Now, I myself have not been to medical school. My extensive background in health and medicine was pretty much gleaned from nine weeks of flight attendant training, one entire week of which was devoted to How To Fold Linens to Look Like Swans for first class service. But I do know that an eye is part of a head. Unless his eye fell out of the socket and was dangling somewhere back on the playground, maybe from the monkey bars.
“Short,” I heard the nurse say, addressing my deaf/ blind/ crippled/ life-support youngest child for the first time in the conversation, “Short, Honey, come over here and talk to your mom on the phone because she sounds hysterical.” She didn’t really say that last part, but her tone said it for her.
A tiny corner of my brain rejoiced: he could walk! he could possibly talk!
“Short, Sweetie? It’s Mommy. What happened, are you okay?”
“The basketball hit my eye, so the pediatric surgeon gave me some ice.”
Was now the time to set him straight that the pediatric “surgeon” was not a surgeon, nor probably even a registered nurse, and that she was not really sure what blood was or where eyes were located.
“Short, Darling, put the nice surgeon back on the phone with me.”
“Mrs. MOVetterson? Can you come pick him up, then?”
“Sure, sure, I will be right over.”
Fortunately, we live a three-minute drive from the school. I made the drive in approximately 22 seconds.
“Wow, were you driving on this street when we called you?” said the “nurse” be way of greeting. “You got here awfully fast.”
Short limped out of her office with a small ice pack on his ruddy face.
“May I see your eye?” I murmured. He took the ice off and his face looked okay. I could finally breathe again. “Let’s go then, Short.”
I picked up his backpack and we headed for the door. The part of my brain that likes to have the last word and say inappropriate things and ask annoying awkward questions and exhibit blatant disregard for social niceties such as avoiding awkward confrontations chose this moment to quench her curiosity thirst.
“Excuse me, nurse? Thank you for helping Short and all, but, uh, are you a real nurse? I mean, I am just wondering what kind of training you have?” We were at least by ourselves so I was not calling her out in front of all the office employees or teaching staff.
She laughed. “Oh, gosh, no. I am not a nurse. For the position of school nurse, once you’re hired, you just have to get a basic certification. I have that.”
“So,” continued Nosy Brain, “you did not go to an actual nursing school.”
She smiled her most sincere smile and replied kindly, “I was not trained as a nurse. I am a lawyer.”
I hope she doesn’t sue us about the blood in her office.