Some of my students do not feel well today.
The school nurse tells me a stomach bug is going around. I make a mental note to swipe the desks with Clorox wipes.
One student asks if she can call home this morning. Her face is pale.
"Of course," I tell her.
"Everything," she says.
She calls home, and her grandfather promises to pick her up. I know her family. I am sure her grandma will have a soft pillow and blanket on the couch, ready for her when she gets home. Perhaps her grandma will set a folding tray next to the couch, with a glass of crushed ice and Sprite and a red and white striped straw. The TV remote control or a favorite book will be on the folding tray.
Her grandma will take her temperature even though the school nurse has already done so, reporting to the grandfather that it was 100 degrees exactly. Her grandma will take it again, just to be sure. She will give her liquid Tylenol, even though the girl is old enough to try to swallow a tablet. Why make a difficult day any harder?
Later today, if the girl feels up to it, her grandma will make her clear soup or cherry Jell-O. The house will be quiet. Her grandfather's cool hand will press against her forehead while she's sleeping, checking to see if the temperature has gone down. Her grandma will tuck the blanket around her shoulders.
After the girl calls home, the rest of us watch as she gathers her folders, her jacket, her lunchbox.
"Feel better!" I say.
We feel bad that she is sick; but some kids, I know, would trade places with her in a heartbeat. One student, across the room, looks equally pale. He lays his head on his folded arms.
He doesn't even ask to call home.