Today, in my last period class, I was conferencing quietly with a student when I saw a rash of excitement traveling around the back end of my classroom. In the center of the whole thing was a diminutive character, no bigger than the actual size of a live fairy. (Not a believer? Wait.) I walked over to her. She, of course, saw me coming and quickly slid a mysterious something over to the other, not much taller elf-like partner-in-crime next to her.
I could see right away a shiny white paste plastered all over the crook of her arm, and a devilish twinkle in her eye (nothing new with this one). And then I saw the look of guilt on the other fairy-like friend's face. It was then that an outbreak of scratching began. Right in front of my face--both of them with both hands tearing at their neck and arms and chin. What on earth, I asked.
"We're itchy," they said. At about the same time, a white tube slid out and fell on the floor in front of me.
So...while I was immersed in the business of talking reading and writing, and making great strides with a group on one side of the room, this small group of nursing wannabes were triaging each other, applying this white sticky paste. They had the itchies and scratchies...the result, no doubt of the prolonged dry heat both at school and at home.
Nurse Twinkle and her accomplice were not deterred. They were actually quite proud of what they had done. As I looked around, I could see a few others averting their eyes and yanking up all of their sleeves! In a few short moments, when my back was turned and I was engaged in the job I've been hired to do, they, my corps of nurses, were spreading good cheer--a coat of Benadryl Cream all around the room!
I called the girls to a quiet corner and had a very quiet discussion about the fact that they were actually using a medicine that might not be good for everyone. In fact, I told them, I wasn't entirely sure, but it might be possible that Benadryl Cream could actually cause harm if someone had an allergic reaction to it. "It's medicine!" I said in a stern whispered voice.
It was at this point that Nurse Twinkle turned on the waterworks. She was magnificent! I said to her, I'm not mad at you, I'm concerned about your choice.
"But, am I going to die?!" she asked. I assured her that this was probably not the case. However she could go to the nurse and check it out. That is not the route she took in the end. Instead, she marched over to the sink then and proceeded to scrub it all off. And just as I slid into a seat next to another student and began to discuss their work, I noticed a stream of others doing the same.
At the end of the period this very same diminutive person came over to me after everyone had left.
"This is a little off topic," she said, "but do you believe in the tooth fairy?"
"Absolutely," I said. (I get this question a lot in fifth grade.)
"Oh good!" she said. "Because my mother slipped the other day, and she told me it might not actually be true."
"I'm a fiction writer," I said, "I get to believe whatever I want."
"Well that's a good thing," she said. "Because after I found that out, I cried so hard, I almost couldn't make it to school." And again, the waterworks started to appear.
"You're not going to tell the nurse on me, are you?" she asked.
"I will if you ever try to do her job again!" I said.
"It's a deal!" she said. And with that, she turned and I watched her as she sailed right out of the room.
Do I believe in fairies? Well, how could I not?