Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Silly Names for Invisible Griffins

As I've said before, I work as a school nurse. I’m sure you can envision the kind of silliness I see. (For instance, I had one girl come in the other day with a bug bite, clutching at it and wailing that she was dying, and someone should call poison control, or maybe her grandmother. Truthfully, I’m not sure what she expected her grandmother to do.) Ironically, the part of my job that most taxes my ability to hold in my giggles is the names I see.

You get your usual myriad of misspelled nouns and adjectives, of course – I’ve seen every misspelling in the book of Jewel, Precious, Dove, Special, and Sky – but then I get some like Devon’cling Darknyss McSmee the 11th (whose mother and father, of course, are named John and Rachel) or some such silliness, and you think I’m joking, but I’m not.

Of course, the above is not the name of one of my students, because that wouldn’t be nice, and I wouldn’t do that, Mom, but it is similar in many ways to the name of a student I sent to archiving today. That is to say, it was an ordinary name, apostrophe, verb, followed by a noun, and that was just the first name.

I’m actually a little worried, because I’m giggling a little less at stuff like this now than when I started. What if I’m becoming immune to the ridiculous? After all, familiarity breeds indifference. Isn’t that the theory behind vaccines and allergy shots and griffins?

A friend informs me that I have to explain what griffins have to do with familiarity and indifference. See, when I was a kid I was encouraged by a student in my class to introduce her to my pet griffin. Of course, I didn’t know I had a griffin at the time, and I suppose he was probably imaginary, but I did anyway, because what if he was real and I was the only one who couldn’t see him? So I named him Jaunita, speaking of silly names, and my imaginary griffin and my friend (whose name, I confess, I have forgotten) became good buddies. She spent so much time interacting with Jaunita that I convinced myself I could see him, too.

By the time I got to second grade, I realized, of course, that there wasn’t actually a pet griffin, and that was why all of the fruit I left out for him rotted and we had fruit flies. Please don’t tell my parents.  You know what, forget it, I don’t think that would actually surprise them.

I suspect, though, that Juanita was real, and familiarity just, you know, bred indifference. So eventually I became immune and stopped being able to see her. That’s why kids know that unicorns and fairies and dolphins exist, and adults insist they’re made-up. We can’t see them anymore because we were exposed so much we became indifferent. Hush. That is totally a correct way to use that word.

This is why I have to find work outside of the school system. I’m already immune to griffins. What if I stop giggling at silly names and then stop giggling at silly students and then stop being silly myself? How would I survive?

My cat would probably be happy, though.

PS: Not all of my students are silly-named alarmists. In fact, most of them either have perfectly ordinary names, or they have really epic unusual names. Yes, I do totally get to judge what’s epic and what’s just silly. This is my blog, thank you very much. As for being alarmists… Let’s just say I had a student come limping in last week with a massively swollen and bruised foot, asking for ice.

Some of my students should be more alarmable.

PPS: Don’t assume your students are fine just because they wail that they’re dying. I had a student do that once, and I made the mistake of figuring they were being melodramatic, and while I was going through my routine assessment (heart/lungs/pulse/PO2/BP) for chest pain, she started going gray, which is impressive for a particularly dark African American girl. This was right around when I noticed that her heart beat was doing some scary things, and called 911 and then the principal (which is only polite if you’re bringing an ambulance to their schools. They tend to get a little grumpy if EMTs show up and they weren’t informed) and tried to help her keep calm until they got there. I don’t know if I succeeded, or if she was just making good progress towards passing out. I’m leaning more towards passing out, personally.

PPPS: That student is fine.

PPPPS: Probably.

PPPPPS: I’ll be honest, I just wanted to see how many p’s I could get away with.

PPPPPPS: Six. The answer is six.

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