Disclaimer – I know my reaction to the following scene was an overreaction, and that is an understatement. Although I am a part-time sunshine who tries to keep a positive outlook, I am also a full-time nut job who can fall into a vat of emotional turmoil in a single breath. Come hold my hand and breathe with me…
The loudspeaker blared throughout my school interrupting first period. “Mrs. Lucas, please come to the office. Paging Mrs. Lucas.” In case you didn’t know, I am Mrs. Lucas, high school English teacher.
I pushed my classroom call button connecting me to the office and said, “I’m in the middle of class. Do you need me right now?”
The secretary replied, “Yes. Your daughter’s school is on the phone for you. Mr. Jones can cover your class.”
Whoa! The secretary already called for classroom coverage. This didn’t sound good. And why did she page the whole building instead of just my classroom? I felt like a kid getting sent to the principal’s office. It is alarming to get jolted out of class for a surprise phone call, especially one about your own child. Since students can’t be left unattended, teachers realize whoever wants to speak to us has an immediate, important concern.
Mr. Jones quickly arrived, and I raced down the steps as fast as I could in my new navy high heels. Clip-clop, clip-clop. Who called, I wondered? The high school or middle school? Which daughter was this about: Cara or Elena? Was she sick or hurt? Was she in trouble? Oh my my! Did she cause trouble? My concern from the loudspeaker, turned to anxiety as I hurried to the unknown caller.
I sped down the deserted halls to the office which seemed further away today, like it relocated to the moon. Finally, I pushed through the teachers-only door where a substitute-secretary warmly greeted me. It was as if she had been waiting for me the whole four minutes since she paged me, eons ago. “Mrs. Lucas, I’m sorry I used the school intercom, but I was confused on how to page your room for you. Here, you can sit at the desk to talk.” As a fill-in, maybe she was afraid to lose my call. Or maybe she was just polite and letting me use her chair while she stretched her legs. Or maybe this was a huge emergency.
I accepted the seat and pushed the red blinking answer button. My caller spoke with a friendly, high-pitched voice and chirped, “Mrs. Lucas?”
“Yes, this is she?” What were the chances the secretary got confused again and my caller was actually an extra-appreciative parent who wanted to tell me, voice-to-voice, how thrilled she was with the lessons I taught her teen?
“This is the school nurse at Cara’s high school.”
Dang it! It wasn’t a thankful parent. “Hi. What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Cara had an accident in gym class and hurt her finger. She was doing box jumps and somehow slammed her hand into the box.”
“Oh, nuts and bolts! Will she be able to throw the javelin and discus tomorrow for her first track meet?”
“I don’t think so. Her finger is a little crooked.”
“Crooked?” I asked looking at my own shaky, sweaty, but not crooked, fingers. “Can I talk to her?”
“Yes, she is sitting right here with an ice pack.”
Cara chuckled, “Hey, Mom!”
“Cara, why are you laughing? Are you delirious?”
Still giggling. “I don’t know what that means, but it was so funny. Bella and I were doing box jumps, and then I accidentally hit my hand off the box and now it looks like a hook finger. It was so random. We were cracking up!”
“Are you messing with me? Are you seriously hurt?” Cara is a prankster who celebrates every April Fools’ Day and obnoxiously loves joking around about things mothers don’t find funny.
Cara, quick to profess her discomfort, said “Uh, my fingers look like the letter ‘W’ and the bent one is throbbing.”
“Oh, I bet it hurts. What’s your pain on a scale of one to ten?”
“I’m going with W!”
“Why are you being so silly, Cara?”
“Lighten up, Mom. I’m the one with a bent finger. When you come get me can we stop for some chicken nugs? The nurse wants to talk to you again. Bye!”
The nurse got back on the phone and convinced me that the finger was a serious injury and probably broken. “I recommend you take her to the emergency room and get it checked out. She can’t straighten it.”
“Oh boy! I’ll be there as soon as I can,” I uttered. The anxiety that started with the intercom got worse, and that crooked finger was enough to push my panic button. My heart beat out of my chest and my stomach swarmed with butterflies. We aren’t a bone breaking family. We have our share of accidents but nothing that cracks our skeletons. From my chest up, my flesh burned with nervous electricity, and my ears rang with piercing dog whistles that muffled the school bell. My nerves zoomed from zero to ten to ‘W.’
“Okay. See you when you get here. Drive carefully,” the nurse advised.
“Umm. Who am I coming to get again? Cara or Elena?” Add short-term memory loss to my list of worrywart ailments.
To be continued with “Reconnecting with my Teenage Daughter in the Emergency Room.”