The summer before my senior year of college, I lived in DC, doing two internships with literary agents. I also held two nannying jobs and a temp job with a nonprofit. So yes, I had five jobs that summer. It was a lot. There was a lot of driving. But it was also pretty awesome.
One of the nannying jobs was for two older kids--I believe they were 15 and 12 at the time. I wasn't really a nanny--more of a summer assistant/chauffeur/mentor/supervisor. I drove the 15-year-old (a girl) to art camp, drove them both to and from friends' houses, ran errands, took the kids on outings, and generally entertained them and prevented them from just hanging around the house all day watching TV.
In short, it was awesome. The kids were awesome and so was their mom, and that made all the difference. I totally bonded with both of them and we had such a good time together. They were hilarious and smart and fun and I actually really miss them.
Anyway, one of the episodes from that job that stands out most in my mind was on, I believe, my second day. The boy, Brad, had a doctor's appointment to get his camp medical forms completed, and his mom asked me to bring him. It was kind of a last-minute appointment as he was scheduled to head to camp the next week.
It seemed like it would not be a problem. Everything checked out fine at the doctor's office... until they got to his ears. One of them had a blockage. Flushing it out didn't fix it. Neither did flushing it again. Or flushing it a time after that.
Finally the doctor gave up and said he'd need to go to an Ear Nose and Throat doctor (ENT). Of course since he had to leave for camp the very next week this had to happen right away. The doctor made some calls and finally got us in with an ENT well out of the city in the suburbs. We got an appointment for that afternoon and headed up the highway.
There was hardly any waiting time with the ENT. In no time Brad was on the table having his ear thoroughly examined. The doctor wasn't exactly the best as far as bedside manner was concerned. Lots of throat-clearing and hemming and hawing, and grave looks. It didn't take him long to say that yes, there definitely was a blockage, it was fairly severe, and you know what? All that flushing out at the regular doctor's office probably made it worse. Tsk.
THEN, and this was the best part, the doctor turns to me and says, right in front of poor, quaking, 12-year-old Brad, "I think we're going to need to put him to sleep."
At first I thought he was kidding, you know? Like the way dogs are put to sleep? Like a misguided attempt at a joke, oh ha ha let's relax the kid by kidding about how the situation is so bad that the only way to fix it is to euthanize him? But no, he actually meant that he felt that we would need to put the kid under general anesthesia in order to remove the blockage from his ear.
My response was along the lines of: Excuse me? Why in the hell would you need general anesthesia to get something out of a kid's ear? You're not cutting anything open, you're not causing any pain... the ear canal is OPEN. That's how whatever this is got IN THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE.
The doctor was all dithering, like, oh, well, with younger kids they tend to move, and then I could stab them in the inner ear, and he's just at that borderline age...
After some back and forth I convinced him to at least TRY to get the thing out of Brad's ear. He could at least go in there and see if it came out easily. If he couldn't get it, and Brad seemed, I don't know, dangerously squirmy, I would call his mother and discuss the anesthesia.
(Even though, really? 12 years old and the doctor doesn't trust him to hold still for five seconds? And also, I've since undergone general anesthesia twice, and can I just say? Absolutely not an experience I would subject my child or a child in my care to for something as simple as an ear blockage.)
So, the doctor pulled out a pair of very alarming looking pincers, dourly warned Brad to hold still, lowered the pincers into his ear... and came out with the blockage, on the very first try.
And what was the blockage? Part of a pencil. A PENCIL. Covered with disgusting green goo. Luckily, Brad was allowed to take it home (wrapped in a napkin) to show his mom. Because what could be cooler than a slimy green pencil that has been residing in your ear for weeks on end, right?
During the car ride home, Brad was marveling about how well he could hear now that the PENCIL HAD BEEN REMOVED FROM HIS EAR. (Shocking, right?) I don't think his sister has ever felt so vindicated as when he announced, "You were totally right! I WAS shouting all the time when I thought I was just talking!"
Really, he was an awesome little brother. And she was a pretty great big sister.
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