Out the mouth of a teen

My middle school students tend to have an attitude problem. Not all, certainly, but many of them are...well, they're teenagers. I can usually cross whatever communication barriers they like to put up without much trouble - I'm still mistaken for a student sometimes - but they are certainly different than my elementary students. 

A girl came in to use the restroom that I recognized from my last two years, at my old middle school. She stuck out in my mind as I recalled the difficulties of trying to get her to wear glasses, and the attitude she gave me in retort. As she was washing her hands, she was staring intently at me. "Didn't you used to work at [the old middle school]?" I said yes, slightly fearing what her reaction might be. (This girl gave me serious attitude in the past.) Instead, I heard: "Cool. Nice to see you here!"  And out she walked. Teenagers aren't always so bad. 


Honesty is the best policy

I walked into my office this morning to be greeted by my two favorite lice girls. School policy dictates they need to be screened when they return to school after being excluded for lice, so for once they were following procedure by checking in with me before going to class. I could see a head full of nits at arms length on one of the girls, and before I could say it aloud, her sister pointed out, "She's got nits." I asked them if they had pointed the nits out to their mom before coming to school, and the older sister's answer is why I love kids. "Yep, mom knows, she just said to send us back home when you found out." Kids are honest when they don't know when not to be, and I love it. 

I sent them home, the same poor girls home that have missed over half the school year now on account of mom. I've met with mom, done a home visit, made a public health report, CPS reports have been filed, and yet, these two girls are still not in school. The growing history and paper trail, and continued lack of action by anyone in power, makes me wonder...would anyone do anything if I took them home myself? 



I call the mother of one of my diabetics (High Maintenance boy) every day so that she can log his blood sugars. This is not a complaint; I wish Spitfire's parents cared just enough to remember to pack her meter every day. The only unfortunate bit is that High Maintenance's mom can be pretty talkative, and I can have a hard time getting off the phone with her. 

Yesterday, she started chattering about this and that (I have to admit to only half listening, as I call her during the "lunch crunch" and am trying to cure supposedly broken limbs and mysterious stomachaches at the same time), and I was "uh-huh"-ing her as usual. I tuned back into her when I could tell she was about to hang up, just in time to hear her say quickly, "Thanks for all you do honey, you work hard for him and I really appreciate the way you take care of my son." 

Parents, there is nothing that makes the day of a school nurse (or a teacher, or anyone else more accustomed to receiving complaints than compliments) than hearing some kind words and being made to feel like we're doing something right at work. Happy Friday. 



Everyone knows when there's a substitute, kids get to go free in the classroom, right? It was moments before my lunch rush normally begins when a herd of screeching second graders pushed their way into my office. There were three girls "hurt," two grabbing their ears saying they had earaches, and one crying of a headache. I sent the rest of the herd out to lunch, and asked one of the earache girls what was wrong. "My class was too loud and now my ear hurts," she said. I asked the other earache girl the same question, and received the same response. The girl with the headache was now sobbing on the cot and I asked her, "Was your class so loud it gave you a headache?" She nodded her head in response, and I asked the girls for some more information. Turns out they had a sub, who apparently let the class get so out of control that these three girls couldn't handle it. Lovely. 


Nurse Ratched

A first grade girl claiming to be sick came into my office, and with the flu going around, I've temporarily quit my efforts to stop anyone from trying to go home. I dialed the number and let her talk to the mom, and after she hung up I asked what her mom had said. 
Girl: "My mom said she'll call back."
Me: "Okay...Is she going to come get you?"
Girl: "I don't know. She was on her lunch break and she doesn't like to be interrupted. She'll call back when her break is over." 

Awesome. I was stuck with the girl while we waited for her mom to call back, a girl with a scratchy, grating, and LOUD voice, that never stopped talking:
Girl: "Sometimes my dad plays funny games except they're not really funny to my mom."
Me: "What kind?"
Girl: "He says i'm going to call you tonight and then he doesn't. He lies! My mom doesn't like it."

At one point, when I'd had enough of her motor mouth, I told her she asks a lot of questions. Her response, without missing a beat: "That's what my mom says, she says I ask too many questions and talk too much." 

By this point, the cute-ness bonus factor that all kids get when they walk in my office was waning. As the lunchtime rush began to come in and she continued talking and asking questions with hardly a pause for breath, the Nurse Ratched came out in me: "Look, your throat is never going to heal if you don't stop talking and let it rest." 

She didn't make another peep the rest of her time with me, but I felt kind of bad about what I said to get some peace in my office...oops. 


Home Visit

I had the pleasure of doing a home visit on a couple of kids whose absences reached the "unacceptable" level in my book. Each are averaging a "present" rate of just over 50%; that is, each are absent almost half the time. I've written about these kids before (here and here), they're darling 2nd and 3rd graders now, that just aren't at school enough. I've sent them home for lice many times over the last couple of years, and when they go home, they don't return for a week or two, sometimes more. 

Another nurse and I went over to their house and woke up their bleary, red-eyed mother at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday. The living room wasn't in too much of a disarray, but I caught a glimpse of the kitchen: wine and liquor bottles all over the table, mostly empty. No wonder the mother looked so awful. She was pleasant enough to our faces, feeding us what can only be called a load of B.S., telling us that her daughter(s) "just don't want to come to school." I'm no parent, but I can hardly imagine my 8 year old daughter being the one to tell me when she will and will not go to school. She claimed her neighbors are "cop callers, you know that kind" and call the police if she tries to take her daughter to school and the daughter throws a tantrum. To that, we replied, even better: when the police arrive, ask them to escort her daughter to school in the back of the patrol car. The idea had clearly never occurred to her. (The idea to be a parent, and act like it, that is.) She denied that the repeated lice issues are due to any inability or lack of knowledge about the little bugs, and stressed that the absences have been related to social issues, not lice. We outlined the truancy process and informed her that truancy letters would begin arriving, and then were on our merry way out the door. 

This week I found out that one of the daughters had been sent home on Friday - the day after that home visit - for lice. Of course. 


The flu.

It's taken over the news, and I'm sure you're all aware that it's flu season. But really, it's flu season. I've had the same thermometer for years, and it's never it's never showed me with a temperature greater than 98.0 degrees...Until Thursday evening. I went home shivering and was dealt my first fever in my adult life - yes, somehow I had strep throat in August without a fever. So came a sick day on Friday where I spent literally the entire day in bed, drifting in and out of feverish sleep, not even able to eat or drink. It was one very miserable day, followed by a terrible headache the next day - no doubt due to dehydration, followed by another couple of days of fatigue and goiter sized lymph nodes. After another...oh, say, 14 hours of sleep yesterday, I'm finally on the mend today. How nice it is to see the world again.  

There's nothing quite like your first fever in adulthood to make you more sympathetic to the sick kids you see at work, and also, no, I didn't get a flu shot this year. Oops. Anyway, everyone, just stay home when you're sick, and I sure hope you have a Netflix subscription you can access. Good luck getting through flu season!
I will be returning to my regular programming here tomorrow, where I'll share with you the story of a home visit I did on Thursday just before the delirium of my fever set in. Yay! 


1st CPS case of the year

A second grader came to me today with a cheek so puffy it looked like a squirrel storing something tasty in his cheek. I looked inside his mouth to find a hole - I repeat, a HOLE - in his teeth. It was positioned squarely between two teeth, so that two semi-circles were carved out of each. It went all the way down to the gum, and appeared to be a cavity gone wild, very wild. Poor kiddo could hardly talk. :(


Aaaaaaand we're back!

A new year, new beginning, or something like that, right? My brain is still on vacation, so I bring you some links instead of a real post:

Bad news: Allergy bullying: When food is a weapon


Good news! Obesity among young children declines slightly. Did you know more than 1 in 10 toddlers are obese? Me neither. At least the numbers are going down ever so slightly.