Sunday, October 30, 2011


          Middle school students are usually very aware when they are going to be pulled out of school early for an appointment.  It adds sparkle to an otherwise dreary day.  Leaving school early is a little bit of Christmas at the end of the day.  It’s also fun to announce it to your fellow students like it’s a prize you won that they didn’t get.  We all look for our little shots of joy where we can find them, and checking out of school early is like winning $100 for a middle school student.

            I was surprised when I got a call from the office 7th period saying Naomi’s mom was checking her out early.  Naomi hadn’t said anything about it, so I decided it was probably a surprise to her too.  Her face lit up with a big grin when she was told to report to the office.  She actually skipped out of the room to her locker.

            I was curious (snoopy actually) about it the next day.

            “Naomi, did you forget about an appointment you had yesterday?”

            “No.  I didn’t know I was going to leave early.”

            My inner adult told me to mind my own business, so I let it drop.  But Naomi wanted to talk about it.

            “I had to go get a shot.”

            “Oh yeah?” eyebrows up.  “You got your flu shot?”

            “No, I got the flu stuff in my nose.  I got a Gardasil shot.”

            Oooh, I thought.  Not going there.  End the conversation now!

            “It’s a vaccine shot,” Naomi added.

            “I got a vaccine last week along with my flu shot,” I offered trying a diversion.

            “What shot did you get?”

            “Well, I got a Tdap.  It stands for Tetanus and some other things.  You have to get it every ten years so you don’t get Tetanus.  Now I’m done with my shots for the year.”

            “What was my Gardasil shot for?”

            “Well, (Oh phooey) it keeps you from getting sick in the future.  That’s what vaccines do.  They help you not get sick.”

            “What does Gardasil keep me from getting?”

            How do I get sucked into these conversations?
            “What did your mom tell you about the shot?”

            “She just said I had to get it.”

            “Because your mom loves you and wants to keep you safe.”

            “Safe from what?”

            We were now in the stupid realm.  Naomi knew when I was evading a question, but if her parents wanted her to know what the shot was for, they would have told her.

            In the movie, “Chicago,” there is a great scene where Richard Gere plays a lawyer skirting around the truth in the courtroom.  A voiceover announces, “And now ladies and gentlemen – a tap dance.”  Richard Gere verbally dances around his arguments, while literally tap dancing.  I suddenly had the mental picture of me tap dancing in front of Naomi.

            “Weeeeelllll, the vaccine prevents you from getting warts.”
            “How will I get warts?”

            “You won’t get them.  The vaccine keeps you from getting warts.”

            Ta da! I thought.  Great save.

“Oh.  OK.”

            Success!  I had effectively tap danced my way out of the conversation.

Two periods later Naomi was back in my room with Roberto for a reading class.  As I was putting the attendance in my computer, I overhead Naomi talking to Roberto.

            “Is that a wart on your hand,” Naomi asked.

            Roberto studied the side of his pinky finger.

            “Yeah.  I’ve had it burned off twice, but it keeps coming back.”

            Naomi studied his hand closer.  I could see it coming just like a train.

            “You really should get a Gardasil shot.  I got one and now I won’t get warts.”

            Roberto studied his finger closer.

            “I don’t like it when I have to get the wart burned off.  I’ll ask my mom about it.”

            I minded my own business and stayed out of the conversation, but a part of me wished I could be a fly on the wall when Roberto asked his mom when he could get his Gardasil shot.

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