2007-08-24 / On Second Thought

Thirty-something speaks

Gnats up the nose
Mike Maddock

The first day of school is always interesting at my house. My two girls are excited, and my wife and son are usually crying. It does not seem to matter which grade my kids are entering because my wife can find a good excuse to cry no matter what. After all, even if my oldest daughter is an elementary school veterand going into fourth grade, my wife says it is the first time any of our children are entering the fourth grade, so...she cries.

This year my son entered full day pre- school for the very first time without his mother. Of course, my wife was a mess, but, for a change, my son was fine. He didn't cry. In fact, he hardly said good- bye as he darted to a pile of matchbox cars with some other boys. That made my wife cry even harder, but that's not the interesting part.

I picked up my son from school and asked him how his day went. He said nothing.

I tried again, "Son, how was your day?"

Again, he said nothing.

So I moved on to his sisters who, of course, told me every intimate detail of their school day. They informed me about classroom procedure, their teachers' senses of humor, and who smelled a little funny.

Thinking my son would be inspired by such openness, I again asked him about his day. This time he spoke and said, "A gnat flew up my nose, and I had to go to the principal's office to have it removed."

Several thoughts entered my mind at this point. First, I didn't think a gnat in a nostril warranted a trip to the principal's office, and second, I really didn't think gnat removal was part of a principal's job description. So the details seemed a bit sketchy. However, my son, in his four- year- old wisdom, has been known to get objects stuck up his nose.

There was the bead incident this past summer when he came fleeing from the playroom in utter panic with a significant lump on the left side of his nose. After many tears and much confusion, my wife and I were able to get the bead out using a technique I'd witnessed on various athletic fields: close the open nostril with a finger and blow. That bead shot across our kitchen and landed in a pan of spaghetti on the stovetop. Our dinner was ruined, but my son could breath out of his left nostril once again.

Why did he shove a bead up his nose? Who knows, but his history made the gnat story a bit more believable. However, after a brief interrogation from his sisters, he confessed the gnat story was, in fact, not true. While he was laughing uncontrollably and patting himself on the back for coming up with such a humdinger, I was still wondering what the heck he did for three hours in that classroom.

Once he calmed down, I asked if he played with anyone.

Again, he said, "No."

I then asked again what he did all day.

He said, "I played with myself."

I promptly quit asking him about his day.

Return to top