If anyone in my class finds out why I went to the hospital yesterday, I’ll quit school. I don’t care if I’m the first sixth-grade drop out…I will never…did you hear that? NEVER go to Mount Sinai Middle School again! I’ll just have to convince Mom to convince Dad that we have to move. Staying will be detrimental to their daughter’s social health. If you don’t know what detrimental means, I’ll spell it out for you…harmful; damaging; injurious. Mom will have to agree since it was her fault.
This is what happened yesterday evening, just as the sky was turning into swirls of orange and raspberry sherbet…
I was practicing handstands and front-walkovers when my mom called me in for dinner. The smell of pork chops and sweet peas drifted outside. The mere thought of chewing those chops was enough to make me gag. I pretended I didn’t hear her and did five more walkovers to perfect my landing. Many times my arms gave out and my head pounded the damp grass that needed mowing. I knew I was out of time when Mom called my full name in her “I’m warning you” voice.
“Emily Ann Peterson, you better march your tush in here right now…your father will be home any minute. And I need this table set, pronto!”
I shook the stray leaves out of my hair so I wouldn’t have to shower. That’s when I felt the bump behind my ear. It felt like an uncooked pea was plastered to my head. Worried that it might grow to grapefruit size by the morning, I approached Mom for a diagnosis or an explanation of my UGO (unidentified, growing object.) Mom had a name for it alright:
“A tick!” A blood-sucking-parasite hooked into my scalp. Yuck!
Most moms would attempt to pull it out or light a match. My mom panicked. She rushed me to the emergency room, asking, “How did this happen?” As if I had a terminal disease.
At the hospital, I never heard so many “whats” before. The volunteer who checked me in; the curious old man in the waiting room; the nurse with poor posture; a chorus of the sick and injured…they all had the same question. “What? Did you say tick? Let me turn my hearing aid up.” Chuckles followed. It was the first time I wished I had a broken arm or a gumball lodged in my throat. Tick surgery got no respect.
The doctor was worse. If he was an old man, a grandpa, I wouldn’t have cared. But he was handsome – looked a lot like Jake Zimmer in my class with his jet black hair and green eyes. I froze when he introduced himself…
“I’m Doctor Zimmer. I hear we have a serious case of tickitous.”
You can imagine how I felt. Would he discuss his work at home – with Jake? And say: “You got to hear this one…a mother brought her daughter to the emergency room for a tick removal!” And he might say: “She was your age. Do you know an Emily Peterson?”
And Jake would laugh. “I can’t wait to tell everyone at school!”
Isn’t there something called patient’s rights? I have the right to keep my tick story from “show and tell.”
I still looked like a cherry popsicle when Doctor Jake’s dad told me his plan. “You’re going to feel a cold tingly sensation. Mr. Tick will feel like he crawled into the Ice Age.”
Before I could say “Jake Zimmer”, it was out. The tick went in; the tick went out. That simple. Except that 3 mm invader may have ruined my life.
My parents don’t get it. They’re insisting I finish school.
“My stomach hurts.”
Mom adjusts my ponytail. “You’re not sick, just worried. Remember the Bible verse you memorized. ‘Be strong and courageous…for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’ Even at school.”
“Okay, but how come you were scared of a teeny tiny tick? Maybe you shouldn’t try to pull the speck of sawdust out of my eye when…”
“Here, smarty pants.” Mom hands me my lunch bag and kisses me. “Is that a mosquito bite?”
I run to the bus before she can call 911.
Note: Inspired by one of my embarrassing memories.
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