The Smelly Kid in Class

The Smelly Kid in Class


I’m not really sure where this one came from; a long-forgotten memory dredged up from….wherever. I sat down with the need to write something, not really knowing what would come. This is the result.


The Kid is in the playground and has noticed “that smell” again. For the last few days it has been a constant, especially at school. It’s a sort of old person’s home smell. He’s been in those homes a lot, Auntie Betty has lived in a few of them and he visits regularly. She always smells of Murray Mints, but the home smells like this smell he is being followed by. The Kid finds himself a quiet corner, away from the other kids, most of whom are being Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader in epic Playground battles. A thought has occurred to the Kid. He smells his armpits, breath, and wafts up his hand from his crotch….It’s him; the smell’s coming from him.


The Kid is 10 years old, and is in primary 5 at a school that’s fairly new to him. It’s the 4th primary school he’s been to and he’s perfected the Lanarkshire “New Boy” routine. Wait for someone to hit you (doesn’t take long) kick the shit out of them (hopefully), and then get a few days peace until the next one comes along. Lather, rinse, repeat until it settles down and you make some friends.

He’s made plenty of friends at this school. The Kid’s funny, clever (though he thinks he’s stupid) and making friends comes easy to him. Truth be told, he’d be happy to stay at school 24 hours a day. At least the rules are clear at school. He’s tired, as always, but he’s become used to pushing through that particular fog, he has to, he’s far too busy to be tired.

The Kid knows why he’s smelly, as soon as he realised he stank, he also knew why. The Kid shares a room with his baby sister. The baby wakes up and needs fed, changed and nursed back to sleep at least twice a night. This is The Kid’s job. Mum and Step-dad don’t like to be disturbed at night as they need their sleep, so it’s fallen to the kid. His older sister used to do it but she left and lives with his Dad now. She used to get the Kid up for school in the morning, give him clean clothes, wash and feed him, then do the same for herself. He misses her. Not for this daily stuff, but because she loves him more than anyone else does, and he doesn’t know when or if he will see her again. He doesn’t have time or quite know how to do all those things for himself; that’s why he’s dirty and smelly, but he’s learning and with today’s realisation, that’s going to change.

The Kid decides that every evening he’ll shower. He knows he will get grief for using hot water, but he’s willing to take it. He’s going to get up a bit earlier (just after the baby’s last early morning feed), get washed, dressed, make something to eat and get out to school on time. The Kid knows that his clothes are a big part of the problem and resolves to wash all his clothes in one go, secretly, on a Saturday afternoon. It’s the perfect time as he’s always home alone from mid-day until around 6pm.


Enough, he decides.


The Kid washes, he launders, he cooks, and he cleans, babysits, changes nappies, makes and administers bottles of formula, and slowly, slowly becomes an adult.


Every smelly kid has a story. Take the time to learn it.

Mark Wilson


June 1st 20114780108