Janet Hears Wheezing
Janet moves through the office trying not to listen to Linda and Martha, but their loud voices make it impossible.
“I hear Violet has a deal with the principal, I mean, why else would he hire her instead of my niece?” Martha snorts and leans on the counter. “What are you looking at?”
Janet moves quickly out of the office and down the hallway. Lord, those women are mean. Why do you allow them free reign here? She shakes her head and concentrates on her tasks today. First she needs to inventory her supplies.
The cute little brunette with the pretty eyes stands outside her classroom. It’s too bad Violet is on the wrong side of Martha. She is a sweet girl. Violet bows her head and folds her hands. Janet can see her mouth moving. She’s praying! Oh. I should pray for her too. Lord, protect her and provide what she is asking.
Janet walks into her office and is met by a young boy sitting on the padded bench. He is firmly holding his inhaler in his fist. He looks at her with wide eyes. He hands her a note.
Janet takes the note and continues to her desk. It is from Violet. “Paul is wheezing too much today. Is there anything we can do?” She sets down the note and the rest of her papers. She pulls a chair up to the bench and sits down in front of Paulie.
The odor wafting from Paulie nearly knocks her over. He smells like old cat urine or something. Controlling her expression she smiles at Paulie. “Hi. Are you having trouble breathing today?”
Paulie shakes his head no. Then he raises his inhaler and takes a puff. Janet can clearly hear him wheezing. “I think you are having problems. I need to call your parents.”
Paulie shakes his head no and starts to stand. Janet places her hand on his shoulder and he jerks away. “I see. You don’t want your parents to know.” Paulie shakes his head no and sits down.”
Okay, this once, I will let you go back to your classroom. But Paulie, if it gets any worse, you need to come back and tell me.” Paulie barely nods and walks out of the office.
Janet looks down at her desk. This is bad. She looks at Violet’s note and at the paper on her desk. She picks up the paper to read it again.
“My name is Jake, I’m the social worker assigned to your school. If you have any contact with a child who appears to be abused in any way, please let me know.”
His number is at the bottom. Janet picks up her phone and dials. “This is Jake. How may I help you today?”
Janet smiles. He sounds nice. “Hi. I received your paper today with your number. A child was just visiting my office and I think he is being abused or neglected.”
There is a short silence and the sounds of papers shuffling. “Can you tell me why you think that?” Janet likes he sounds less friendly and more business-like. She needs to be taken seriously.
“He smells funny, like old cat urine. He is wheezing and using his inhaler but it isn’t helping. He didn’t want me to call his parents. He seems generally frightened when I offered to call them.” Janet sighs. Why didn’t Violet call?
“I see. Does the teacher know you are calling?” Shocked, Janet wonders if Violet will get into trouble.
“No. But she did send him to my office because of the wheezing.” She picks up a pen and then sets it down.
“Okay. Could I come visit you tomorrow for a few minutes? I just need to verify some details.” Janet glances at her schedule.
“Sure, I’m okay with any time tomorrow. You will have to…” Janet is interrupted.
“I have to check into the office first and get a tag. I understand.” More papers shuffle. “I’ll be there about 10. Is that around the recess?”
“Yes, recess is from 10:25 to 10:55.” She wonders why he asked.
“Good, we’ll have time to talk and you can point out the student to me afterward. I’ll see you then.” Janet hears a click on the phone. She sets it down. It is out of her hands now.