I was at work last week when I got that dreaded phone call from the school nurse.

As I answered, I didn’t know what to expect, but I assumed the worst. Perhaps my 8-year-old daughter had the flu or strep throat. Perhaps she fell on something and was bleeding — gracefulness is not something in my gene pool. Just last month, the school nurse called me because my daughter had tripped on her way into school and cut her chin open on a tin full of Christmas cookies.

As a parent, there are certain milestones you expect your child to reach over their young life: The first word, the first step, the first day of kindergarten, first Little League game, the first loose tooth. As they grow older the milestones become their first date, learning to drive and graduating from high school.

Unfortunately, there are also milestones that you don’t expect as well — the first broken bone or first stitches ... the first broken heart.

Looking back on my childhood, I think my parents had it fairly easy. I was an inherent people-pleaser and rule-follower who was too quiet to get into much trouble. I was rarely sick, never broke an arm, was never hospitalized. I got two stitches once — and that was after I split my lip while playing on our church playground.

Was my childhood an anomaly? With young children who attend three different schools, our home is basically a petri dish for every virus circulating within a 60-mile radius.

And so, I was a little shocked when I answered the call from the school nurse last week.

“Yes, Mrs. Avant, Kennedy is in my office because she has a bead in her ear.”

“A what?” I asked, wondering if I had heard her wrong.

“A BEAD,” the nurse replied.

Partly in shock, partly in dismay, I called our ear, nose and throat doctor to make an emergency appointment. The bead was apparently so far in the ear, the school nurse couldn’t get it out.

As I called the doctor, the receptionist answered and I tried to explain the situation.

“Your daughter has what in her ear?” the nurse asked.

“A bead,” I replied.

“A BEAD?” she asked, sounding puzzled.

My reaction exactly, I thought to myself.

Because I was at work, our babysitter took my daughter to the doctor and I left the office as quickly as I could to meet them.

As I walked in the examining room, I found the doctor hunched over my 8-year-old, who was on her side with a bright light shining like a spotlight on her right ear. Her face was red as tears streamed down her face. The doctor pointed to the tiny, black, rounded object that had nestled itself inside my daughter’s ear canal.

“How did that get in your ear?” I asked her.

“I don’t know, I was in art class,” my third-grader replied, in between sobs.

The doctor took some specialized metal picks as I held my daughter’s head still. She started screaming, as he gently coaxed the object farther out of her ear. She screamed more, and then finally, with more finagling, the black, rounded object came out. The screaming stopped. In the bright beam of the examining light, the doctor held in his tweezers a tiny black bean.

“What is that?” I asked the doctor.

“A BEAN,” he replied.

“How did I you get a BEAN in your ear?” I asked my oldest child.

With her face still flushed, holding my hand in hers as she sat up from the examining table, my oldest child shrugged.

“I don’t know ... it was on the floor of art class, and then it was in my ear,” said.

There are some milestones you expect as a parent, others that you don’t. But the fact that we’ve made it eight years before any of our three kids got an object “stuck,” I guess we should count ourselves lucky.

And for that bean — it’s going in the baby book.