Monday morning was off to a harried start in the health office. Four students sat in the waiting area. I stood at my desk and phoned a parent to come for her first grade daughter who had a fever and now sat on the couch, huddled with her backpack. The other end of that couch held a seventh grade boy soaking an infected toe in a basin of warm sudsy water. I would need to call his parents to suggest a doctor visit. On a small chair a second grade boy waited after he had explained he was sure he had “the flu” and should be excused from swimming. I would check his temperature and then chat a bit about his fear of swimming (a recent issue). Finally, there was the 5th grade girl who had a note from home with a request for a vision check.
Into this mix burst 2nd grader, Eleanor! She raced to my desk with her dark brown hair flying and her large brown eyes full of desperation, and began to explain her dilemma. I motioned her to wait as I quickly wrapped up my phone call.
“Now tell me Eleanor, how may I help you?”
She held out her hand to show me the evidence…a metal clip. “You won’t believe what just happened, nurse. I sat down at my desk and this came off my jeans. It holds them shut.” I sat down at my desk and opened the drawer for my assortment of safety pins. As I began to look for just the right one she continued, “Oh, I hope you don’t plan to pin it closed. I need you to SEW this back on, PLEASE?” I sighed and asked hopefully, “Don’t you think a pin would work just for today, Eleanor?” She replied adamantly, “Oh no, Nurse Flemr.”
From the back of my drawer I lifted out the small sewing kit I never used. I knew attaching the metal clip onto the denim would be a challenge. Seeming to sense my reluctance, Eleanor patted my arm gently, and with sincere encouragement exclaimed, “Oh, Nurse Flemr, you are so prepared!”
As I began the arduous task I decided that Eleanor might be a counselor someday!
Epilogue: The task completed, Eleanor now stood ready to return to class. She glanced around at the other waiting students (now increased in number by two), once more patted my arm, and with a wide smile conspiratorially said, “Nurse Flemr, you run quite a business in here!”
Eleanor now probably works in national diplomatic services….