Most of my students earned a homework party at school today. In my class, anyone who brings their homework in every day during the month gets to eat lunch in the classroom on the first day of the following month. To a second grader, this is huge. They smile ear to ear as they carry their lunch tray through the hallway while kids from other classes pass by, staring and wondering what they did to earn such awesomeness. It's a wonderful way to spend a lunch, eating alongside happy kids for 20 minutes - just joking around with them. But today, on my way back to the classroom, I noticed an ominous text from Linda, "Call me." It knew it had be about Violet, and it was. After a morning of Violet's inconsolable moaning, refusing to eat, congestion, and lack of wet diapers, Linda decided another trip to the doctor was necessary. It was a good thing she did because it turned out that Violet's cold had progressed into an ear infection and bronchiolitis. It was a strange thing, listening to Linda relate the news, my heart sinking, while my students laughed with each other in the background. All I wanted to do was rush home. I kept trying to tell myself what all other parents are telling me - that their kids went through it and that Violet's going to be okay. But this is our first time. We've never witnessed Violet pull through something like this, so there's always this nagging doubt, a terrifying shadow peeking out from behind all those reassuring thoughts.
But by the time I got home, Violet had a smile for me. The doctor told Linda that we could use ibuprofen (the infant’s Tylenol had done nothing for Violet), but no more than twice a day – apparently it taxes the kidneys – and it gave us a window of an hour or so when Violet was more like herself – raspy and stuffy, but she was there. Now, she is sleeping in the bedroom, and we sit on the couch, listening, wondering if her breathing is too shallow, hoping a wet diaper awaits us, feeling too powerless for comfort.