First Day of School

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Malcolm Stories

Malcolm was accepted at one of the international schools that dot the Parisian landscape here. (You can tell if the school is an international school by the kids out front. If they are smoking, it’s a local school.) We were excited when the school admitted Malcolm, mostly because thoughts of me homeschooling him makes my skin break out in pustules. I like Malcolm, but, considering my lack of subject matter knowledge, I find the idea of teaching him vocabulary and grammar to be literally terrified. I will stick to developing good sportspersonship, working on hygiene and maybe some cooking.

Malcolm was very excited to start at the new school, as well. I have to say that I was impressed with the way he washed his hair while getting ready to go. He is trying to grow his hair long and when you combine that with his typical inability to properly work up a lather, most of the time his hair looks like a blonde brillo pad coated with margarine. On Monday, however, he proudly called me into the bathroom to show me, “How frothy his hair looked.” He actually worked up some suds! After, he had me smell his head to prove just how thorough of a job he had done. He clearly wanted to make a good impression. While his scalp smelled like isopropyl palmitate, it looked like napa cabbage covered with olive oil. Success!

Quit trying to hug me and wipe your baguette on my head! I don't like it.

Quit trying to hug me and wipe your baguette on my head! I don’t like it.

When we arrived at school, he was welcomed by a small group of kids in the yard who knew that Malcolm was going to be a new student in their class. At first, Malcolm wilted under the pressure. Unwilling to engage with them, he clung to my leg like the other kids were covered in, well, margarine. Malcolm is rather independent. He responds to Amy’s requests for physical displays of affection with the warmth of a British aristocrat during a particularly uneventful cricket match. He answers my queries about his day with one word answers. He is just not that into us, so I found his clingy-ness on his first day of school somewhat intriguing. Slowly, he let go of the mother ship to inspect his classmates in closer detail, and, by the time the teacher came down to collect the kids for class, he ran away without saying goodbye. (Just like his first day of preschool, his first day of kindergarten, and his first day of elementary school. Like I said, he is a passionless robot independent.)

I don’t know what my worst fear for his first day of school was, as I try not to dwell on the negatives in life. Whatever my doomsday scenario was, it was easily surpassed when I got an email immediately on Monday morning that Malcolm’s classroom had been exposed to lice. I figured that the timing of the email meant that the school nurse had given him a quick how-do-you-do and found that he brought a scourge into an otherwise sterile environment. This caused a great deal of anxiety. Horrified that we would be known as the family whose chief contribution to the class was an outbreak of contagious, shrimp-like creatures that dwell near your brain, I started looking up homeschooling resources and scratching my newly formed pustules. Even worse, I looked up the word, “Lice” in French and it translates as “Poux.” Fucking American Poux Heads. Could it get any worse? No, it can’t can’t get any fucking worse. Argh.

I arrived to pick him up at the school at the end of the day, and, instead of being the supportive parent who responded to his needs, I whisked him around the corner for an invasive scalp inspection. He squirmed at all the human contact, but I was delighted to find that, in addition to smelling like formaldehyde and looking like a non-dairy slaw, Malcolm’s head was poux-free! I wanted to shout it from the building tops, I was so excited. I have never been so proud of my little guy, even when he was able to recite more wide receivers on the Atlanta Falcons than one of the guys in my fantasy football league. Seriously! I almost skipped home, stopping only briefly at a patisserie for some well earned macarons. (The raspberry and pistachio were too sweet and the flavor not intense enough, but the coffee was quite delicious.) It’s not every day you avoid an international incident on your first day of school. And those pustules? Gone. Not a bad first day.

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4 responses to “First Day of School”

  1. Regina says:

    Hey ‘Merica, don’t confuse your macarons!

  2. Just found your blog through a suggestion from a friend. Have read a couple of posts and am super excited to dig deeper. As an American former SAHM in the Netherlands, now working mom in the UK, I can totally identify with your reasons for starting a blog. And the lice. Jesus, those fuckers have more passport stamps than I do. Anywho, super excited to have found you and congrats on your poux-free kid.

    • Thanks for the kind words. For some reason I didn’t think there would be lice here. Maybe something about currency being different. If lice can’t get Euros, how could they possible live here!

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