No Need to Explain (#451)

I had forgotten to turn off my cell phone and, in the midst of explaining how the different dialects used in ancient Greek literature provide evidence of the so-called Dorian invasions, off went the melodic ring tone.
It was Charlie’s school.

I know that Charlie’s new teacher has things under control, but my heart still froze as memories of hearing these words came fast into my head: “Hello Dr. Chew, this is the school nurse, how are you? I wanted to tell you that Charlie….. that he knocked his forehead on the floor five times and he was brought to the office. I administered ice.”

“Ah…… uh…….”. I turned off the ringer, acutely aware of having violated the”no cell phone policy” on my syllabus.

I looked up to my nervously smiling class. A student whom I taught last year shrugged, kindly.

I shook myself and looked back at the map of classical Greece.

“The Arcadians. Arcadia is a remote area in the mountains and the dialect spoken there is very ancient, suggesting that the Dorians were unable to go that far…….”

A voicemail (which I instantly listened to as the students left) was from the new school nurse, regarding the information on Charlie’s emergency contact card. When I called later, her only question was about Charlie being on the gluten-free casein-free diet. “He has celiac disease,” I explained. “Ohhhh,” said the school nurse. “I send in his lunch and everything else,” I said, that having been the case for the past five-plus years. “Sure, well, just let me know if anything changes,” she said.

I tried to think of something else to say, but that was all.

Later, Charlie accompanied me as I went to the bank, the UPS store, and the grocery store. He always goes straight to the sushi case and indeed raced off as we soon as we entered the store. And then I found him, staring at a case of frozen French fries which, since he got mad while on vacation and put a dent in the wall of the rental beach house (which the owner seems kindly to have overlooked), we have not bought. Charlie stayed rooted to the floor for several minutes. My very enthusiastic, and repeated, utterances of “you don’t need those!” “those gave us trouble, not this time” brought a few puzzled looks from hurried Friday shoppers.

I smiled and shrugged and let the sight of my smiling boy (intently examining each packet of sushi) speak for itself.

3 Responses to “No Need to Explain (#451)”
  1. kyra says:

    oh! i know that voice so well! the enthusiastic, “we don’t need those!” “we’re not getting those today!” and “we’re not doing that today!” you have such wonderful cheer and confidence with your sweet charlie. i’m glad the call wasn’t anything serious.

  2. Daisy says:

    I understand — the moment of panic when the phone rings is different for those of us with special needs children. I, too, check my voice mail and email frequently. My “alert” level is always at yellow, at least. It’s never on green.

  3. Charlie’s teacher emails regularly—-helps my nerves, for sure! I think I may always be on red alert.

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