Letters from a Smallville school nurse

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Kent —

I hope you’re as excited by the new school year as I am.  We’re so glad to have little Clark back at Smallville Elementary!  I’m sure he’s going to love second grade.

I’m writing to ask if you could please send a copy of his vaccine record to school with him tomorrow?  (It seems we never received a copy last year either, which is an odd oversight.)  We need documentation that he’s up to date, and it seems to be missing from the other paperwork Clark brought with him today.

Which brings me to a delicate question — has Clark been having behavioral problems recently?  The only reason I bring this up is that, when I noticed his missing shot records, I asked if he could remember the last time he got a shot at Dr. Donner’s office.  He told me they’ve stopped trying, because every time they try the needles break.  While it’s certainly not unusual for small children with active imaginations to tell fanciful stories, Clark was rather more insistent that his funny story was actually true than seems appropriate for his age.

I hope you don’t mind my asking about this.  I just want to make sure we are attentive to Clark’s needs and give him all the support we can if there are special issues to consider.

Best wishes,

Margot Reeve, RN
School nurse
Smallville Elementary School

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Kent —

I’m sorry to bother you again so soon in the school year, but I’m writing to ask that you get Clark’s vision checked at your nearest convenience.

As I’m sure you remember from the letter Principal Singer sent home last week, today was health screening day at Smallville Elementary.  (Which reminds me, have you had a chance to pick up Clark’s vaccine record yet?  We don’t seem to have received it.)  Unfortunately, Clark’s screening got interrupted by a very odd incident.  I had him stand on the line and look at the eye chart as hard as he could, just like with all the other children.  After I turned to get my clipboard to record his results, I was quite startled when I looked back to see that the eye chart (and my office door) had burst into flames.  (The fire marshal remains quite perplexed.)

We’ve ordered a new eye chart, but it will take a while before a new door can be installed in my office.  Regulations being what they are, could you please confirm that Clark’s vision is normal for our files as soon as possible?

On that note, have you given more thought to Clark’s behavioral needs?  He was understandably shaken by the fire in my office, but was strangely apologetic.  I assured him repeatedly that nobody could possibly blame him, since I know he was standing all the way across the room when it happened, but he remained very tearful and kept insisting it was an accident.  I’m a little worried that this means something, and wonder if you’d like a referral to a child psychologist.

You’ll be glad to know his hearing was excellent, and there was no sign of scoliosis.

Best wishes,

Nurse Reeve

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Kent —

I’m afraid I’m writing again with questions about little Clark’s mental health needs.  (Also, we’re still waiting for those shot records.)  I hate to sound like a broken record, but my concern is growing.

Today was Focus on Fitness Day at Smallville Elementary (as I’m sure you saw on the school’s homepage).  Coach Furie has all kinds of fun games and events designed to assess each child’s level of skill and strength.  It’s all part of guiding children toward finding sports and activities that might help them adopt a lifetime of healthy physical activity.  (It’s all on the website.)

Anyhow, at the “Run, Run, RUN!” event things took an unfortunate turn.  The children were instructed to take turns running as fast as they could for a short distance on the playground and back again while Coach timed them with a stopwatch.  When it was Clark’s turn and he was told to run as fast as he could to the seesaws and back, he simply didn’t go anywhere.  He just stood still.  What was very odd is that he insisted that he had run to the seesaws and back as fast as he could, just like he was told, and got increasingly frustrated when Coach told him to stop joking around.  He finally did run as instructed, but was very sullen that it wasn’t as fast as he could run, and when he was given another chance to run as fast as he could he just stood there again.

I’m not qualified to offer a diagnosis, and have a hard time reconciling these strange outbursts with Clark’s otherwise exemplary behavior and schoolwork.  But I really must urge you to have him evaluated promptly.

Best wishes,

Nurse Reeve

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Kent —

First of all, thank you for completing the vaccine deferral form for our records.  In keeping with our policy for all parents who cite philosophical objection to vaccinating their children, I’m sent home some materials about the benefits of immunization.  I hope you’ll review them and consider at least some shots at Clark’s next visit with Dr. Donner.

However, the real reason I’m writing today is to let you know about an accident that happened during recess today.  While Clark seems just fine, we wanted to keep you informed so you can keep an eye on him.

While Clark was playing freeze tag with some of the other students, he got to running and wasn’t looking where he was going.  He was running at a steady clip and ran right into the jungle gym, where he banged his head very hard.  I am very dismayed to report that the collision caused the entire thing to collapse.  Luckily it didn’t land on little Clark, and there were no children playing on it.  (Rest assured that we have already contacted the manufacturer and contractor that installed it, and will try to determine how such an obviously unsound structure could have been on our playground in the first place.)

As I said, Clark seemed completely unharmed by the whole ordeal, without even a mark to show for it.  (He really is a sturdy little guy.)  I had him sit in my office for an hour afterward, but when he didn’t complain of headache or any other symptom I let him go back to class like he asked when his hour was up.

There is still a risk of concussion, however.  I’d hate to overlook anything, particularly given his already complicated behavioral picture.  If Clark seems in any way off at home, I’d encourage you to bring him to Dr. Donner for an appointment.

Best wishes,

Nurse Reeve

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Kent —

I’m writing to you in keeping with Smallville Elementary’s strict anti-bullying policy, which dictates that all incidents be taken seriously and discussed with parents.

Today during lunch Clark got into a very heated disagreement with another child.  While much of it was not witnessed by any members of our staff, the children who did see it reported that Clark was not the instigator, but was egged on rather mercilessly by the other boy.  Sadly, this boy and Clark have had a hard time getting along since the year began.  Since we understand the other boy has been the aggressor when problems arise, we will be setting up a meeting with his family to discuss ways of helping him share school space with Clark without getting into fights with him.  However, if you happen to know the Luthors socially you might consider sitting down with them yourselves and sorting things out family to family.

I want you to know that today’s altercation has made me rethink some of my previous concerns.  While I still find some of his behaviors earlier this year somewhat baffling, perhaps he just had some trouble adjusting to the new grade.  However, by all accounts Clark did a really great job of handling himself today.  Despite a lot of very pointed teasing, he refused to start any kind of physical altercation with the other boy and said over and over that he didn’t want to hurt anybody, even if they were mean.  This demonstrated a lot of maturity and restraint, and you should be very proud of him.

He really is a good kid, and we’re lucky to have him at Smallville Elementary.

Best wishes, as always,

Nurse Reeve

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. I imagine young Clark will react poorly to the space rock display when the astronauts come to give a guest speech at the auditorium.

      • Heh… you of all people. :-p

        I only point it out because it is something I’ve tried to be more thoughtful about as an educator.

        Otherwise, I think you’ve really captured the tone and language used in such letters, which I can’t imagine you actually write in a professional sense. Well done… I might farm out some report writing to you.

          • Writing or receiving them? We should exchange notes. I consider writing for parents to be a strong suit of mine but… I’ve never read my report as a parent so who knows.

          • Wow… hmmm… I can say for certain that I’ve *NEVER* written a note to a doctor. Maybe the nurse has… and I’ve certainly recommended that a parent take their child to a pediatrician if I suspect a development abnormality or the like… but I’ve never written one.

            Maybe I’ll just start mailing you letters like this anyway.

    • Small town nurse.

      I’d leave it to Mrs. Kent because some town nurses may, in character, be gender biased.

      Side note:

      When I was writing Bastion, my Marine fact checker had this conversation with me:

      Her: Is the entire officer crew men?
      Me: I was planning for that. Is that unusual? I thought female pilots were rather rare still in the Corps.
      Her: No, no… it is accurate; there aren’t a lot of women. And that pisses me off.
      Me: So I’m accurate and my accuracy pisses you off?
      Her: Yes.
      Me. …

      In the end I did amend it so that Lt. Sobal was a woman giving us two senior pilots as men and the junior as a woman which while not as accurate pleased my fact checker.

      • I’d have added a woman because it adds depth.

        I knew a guy who wouldn’t write women, once upon a time. (in all fairness, he was 14 at the time…) He got better.

        • Well the chapter POV is from the point of view of a woman Gunnery Sargeant and Crew Chief so out of the crew of 6 there was one woman which is pretty close to what happens.

          And so far I’m running, if you look at the 4 main plot threads, two are from male points of view, two from female, though one of those is shifting since it’s time to start killing characters.

  2. I was going to write a letter (from a few years later, of course) from the point of view of a general contractor who expressed concern that if someone had broken into Clark’s bedroom and fired a shotgun at his bed’s headboard that maybe the police should be notified *BEFORE* the drywall and outer wall get fixed and not after.

    Then I realized that Pa Kent probably knows a thing or two about drywall and siding.

  3. This is delightful. Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex was only half the story. I’m sure that elementary school was full of little incidents that Reasonable, Rational adults would have been able to Reasonably and Rationally explain away. “The Friday Afternoon Hallway Tornado” and the like.

  4. I understand that needles won’t work, but aren’t there some oral vaccines? I think one type of polio vaccine was once administered orally. Is this no longer the case?

    • The oral polio vaccine is no longer used in the United States, though I believe it is still used for international vaccination drives.

      There is an oral vaccine against rotavirus, so Clark is all set with that. But he’s otherwise out of compliance with the recommended vaccine schedule.

  5. I’m just waiting for the letter home about young Clark’s comment on the color of someone’s unmentionables. I see a sex-offender registry in his future.

      • Back in the day, when we could go see a new British band called The Police at The Rat in Kenmore Square to try and push their first album, my sweetie, his bass player, and I wrote a little punk-inspired ditty we called “X-ray specs.”

        Strap ’em on and your skin is gone. I had approx. 30 years to ferment that idea, which ages like a fine wine on the edge of aceto; and provided me another opportunity to express my concern over the unconstitutionality of sex-offender registries.

  6. Principal White,

    I think we’re going to have to put Clark and Lex in different classes and make sure they take their recesses at different times. Yesterday, an interaction between them left Clark so upset that he nearly fainted and had to lie down for almost an hour before he was himself again. The odd thing is that it started out quite nicely, with Lex trying to make peace by showing Clark his rock collection.


  7. Awesome, Russell. This line, (He really is a sturdy little guy.) had me snorting coffee on the screen. No sh**, Sherlock!

  8. These are indeed “space awesome”. I think the phrase was invented just for this post.

  9. Dear Mr. and Mrs. Kent,

    My brother is getting married this weekend, after 25.5 years with his soon-to-be husband. You and your son would be welcome at the celebration. In fact, it would be just super. I hear he can fly newly married couples to the moon.


  10. When the Kents write to the nurse to tell her that little Clark is deathly allergic to kryptonite, she will have to write yet another letter asking what in the world kryptonite is. Actually, kryptonite technically is NOT in the world, which makes me wonder how Superman’s enemies procured it on planet earth.

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