The next-best thing to being a super hero

Several mornings a week I have my life judged by a panel of 5-year-olds. I actually find this to be a rewarding experience and one that most people should have. Imagine having to justify your life choices to a group of people who are working on spelling their own name.

More commonly we hear about "everything you need to know you learned in kindergarten." These lessons include holding hands across the street, sharing and deciding how much you love your parents based on what they packed you for lunch. Personally I use several skills on a daily basis that I didn't pick up in kindergarten as well, such as algebra and turning on the oven.

I work nights at the hospital, so often I drop off my son, Silas, at school in the morning with the frazzled look that goes along with coming off a 12-hour shift, six or seven cups of coffee and an incredibly attractive outfit called "scrubs." For weeks I felt awkward standing in the hallway with the other moms who seemed so much more polished than I, and had certainly showered more recently. The awkwardness and embarrassment continued until I realized how cool I am.

I had forgotten something important about my job: It's the coolest job you can have, right after super hero, in the eyes of a kindergartner. One morning, as I was trying to covertly check if I smelled bad, a little girl asked me if I was a nurse. "Yes I am," I replied, hoping she hadn't been vaccinated in the recent past and guarding my shins just in case she was still holding a grudge. "Wow"¦" she said instead, her eyes growing wide.

Instantly conversation burst out at the table about what nurses do, exactly. One knowledgeable boy noted that he knew exactly what nurses do: They take care of babies. Anther child noted that nurses are doctors. I sat at the table and explained that some nurses take care of babies, but other nurses take care of other people, as well. I explained to them that I take care of sick people or people who had surgery and that most of my patients are old enough to be grandmas and grandpas. I also explained that nurses work with doctors to help people feel better (I decided not to confuse the situation by telling them that you can, actually, have a doctorate in nursing).

It occurred to me when I left the classroom that I'm lucky to have a job that I can explain to the judgment panel of 5-year-olds. So many jobs are much more difficult to explain, like when I was little and would try to tell people that my dad was a "medical transcriptionist." Every day at work I share and hold hands, skills I definitely picked up a long time ago. Of course I wouldn't necessarily want a kindergartner starting my IV.

If you would like to practice your elementary school skills of sharing, caring, and arts and crafts, I'd like to encourage you to participate in Ashland Community Hospital's comfort shawl program. Those patients that just need a little extra comfort and love while in the hospital are provided with a free knitted comfort shawl. Personally I find knitting to be on par with magical powers, something amazing and completely out of my skills set, so all you knitters out there have my utmost respect. If you are knitter or would like to donate money or yarn toward the project, please contact me at the e-mail address below.

Sometimes we can all help brighten someone's day by little gestures, like telling them they have a cool job or warming their shoulders in a strange hospital environment.

For more information on the comfort shawls please contact Zoë Abel at She'll get back to you as soon as she's finished that seventh cup of coffee.

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