Sunday, April 7, 2013


            I sat in the padded chair oddly feeling like I was a student who was in trouble. 

            I had a meeting with the school counselor to set up schedules for next year, but her 9 o’clock meeting was running long. I sat in the outer office waiting for her door to open.  Even though the bell had rung and classes were now in session, a steady stream of people still moved in and out.  After five minutes, the stream fell to a trickle.

            From where I sat, I could see directly into the nurse’s office.  Landon didn’t even notice me as he came into the office and walked directly over to the nurse’s door.

            “I need some medicine.  My mouth hurts.”

            The nurse looked up from her desk.  “Do you have a sore throat?”

            “No, it’s my mouth.”

            “What about your mouth?”

            “My braces.  They hurt my mouth.”

            Landon was facing the nurse sitting at her desk, so I could see his profile.  He had a sad, sad look on his face, and his mouth hung slack, slightly open.

            “Are your braces irritating your gums?”

            Now Landon looked puzzled.  “No.  I just got them.  They’re tight.  They hurt my teeth.”

            The nurse stood and looked down at him.  “Do you want me to loosen them?”

            Landon dropped his mouth open and tilted his head up.  “Uh huh,” he said awkwardly looking up.

            What in the world?

            The nurse was smiling now, and sympathetically patted Landon’s head.

            “Sweetie, I can’t loosen them.  Your dentist wouldn’t like it.  But I can give you a Tylenol.”

            Landon’s face collapsed and he closed his mouth.  “OK,” he groaned.

            I watched the nurse get a Tylenol and a glass of water.  Landon tossed the pill in his mouth, drank the water, turned, and walked out.  I gave him my “S’up?” nod as he walked out.

            “Hi, Mrs. Jones,” Landon said sadly.  “My mouth hurts.”

            “Braces?” I asked.

            “Uh huh,” Landon moaned.  “They’re tight.”

            “Yeah,” I nodded sympathetically.  “That stinks.  See you.”

            I watched Landon go out and turned back to see the nurse standing in her door.  Her arms were folded and she was smiling.

            “Really?” I said.  “Loosen the braces?”

            Her shoulders were shaking now.  “I have to get my laughs where I can.”

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