Port Hawkesbury was on the phone. She was speaking to the Enrolment Officer at Pictou Elementary School, answering some important questions.

“What’s your name?” the Officer asked Port Hawkesbury. “Port Hawkesbury Birchwood,” she replied. “Okay. And what’s your child’s name?” “Pictou Denoon,” Port Hawkesbury answered. “And he’s a boy.”

Just then, Pictou stepped into the room, as if surprised at the mention of his name. His apparent astonishment made him wet himself, releasing the ammonia stench into the air to be caught by Port Hawkesbury. “Can you come in tomorrow?” asked the Officer. “Yes.” “Thanks,” the Officer replied, and Port Hawkesbury hung up. She turned to Pictou, who was staring at her blankly, the ammonia odour worsening. Port Hawkesbury picked him up and entered the bathroom, locking the door. Laying him down on the changing table, Port Hawkesbury pulled Pictou’s pants down. “You’re starting school soon, Pictou,” she told him, removing his wet diaper. “Ah,” said Pictou softly.

Port Hawkesbury cleaned Pictou’s backside, disposing of both the wipe and his wet diaper. She slipped him into a fresh, clean replacement and pulled his pants back up. Port Hawkesbury picked Pictou up, unlocked the door and descended the stairs to the living room, with Pictou in her arms.

Pictou felt slight nervousness tickling inside him as he and the Denoons strolled down the corridor of the school he would soon be a proud pupil of. Along the way, they passed by the mopping janitor, whom they all shared a quick hello with.

Eventually, the Denoons reached the Principal’s office. Pictou pressed the buzzer and waited for a reply. A few moments later, the Principal’s voice came over on the intercom. “Who is it?” “Pictou Denoon, Sir,” Pictou replied politely. “Come in.” The door opened, and the Denoons entered the office, each taking a seat.

“Hello,” the Principal greeted the Denoons. “I’m Port Hawkesbury,” she introduced herself. “I’m Stellarton,” he introduced himself. “And this is my son, Pictou,” Port Hawkesbury presented Pictou to the Principal. “Hello, Pictou,” he greeted him. “So, is he coming to this school, then?” “Yes,” Port Hawkesbury replied. “And is he poorly-behaved?” “No. Pictou’s good,” Port Hawkesbury smiled in response. “I imagine Pictou being a top student,” the Principal remarked. “That’s great,” Port Hawkesbury replied in approval. “Exactly what I want my little one to be.” Stellarton jotted down some notes on the Principal’s talk in his notebook.

“He’s curious, isn’t he, Pictou?” asked the Principal. “Yes, most definitely!” exclaimed Port Hawkesbury in reply. “I love learning new things,” Pictou added. “I know you do, Picky-tou,” Stellarton commented. Pictou nodded. “Mmm-hmm.” “Pictou is quite a character,” the Principal remarked. “Yes,” agreed Port Hawkesbury.

“You speak a foreign language?” “Yes, we speak Canadian French, and Acadian French,” Port Hawkesbury replied. The Principal then realized the Denoons were Acadian Canadian… “That’s very interesting. Our school is committed to a policy of equality and diversity,” he explained. “That’s good,” Stellarton replied, jotting down more notes in his notebook. “Je m’appelle Pictou,” Pictou introduced himself in French. “That’s brilliant!” the Principal praised him. “Merci,” Pictou thanked him in French, and Port Hawkesbury and Stellarton smiled proudly.

On the way back home from school, the Denoons came across a young merchant selling apples at his stall. “You would like an apple?” Port Hawkesbury asked Pictou in French, indicating the merchant. “Oui, s’il vous plaît,” Pictou replied politely in French. Approaching the merchant, Port Hawkesbury asked him for a green apple. “Ten cents, please,” he requested. Port Hawkesbury handed ten pennies over, taking a green apple in exchange. “Thanks.” Port Hawkesbury handed Pictou his apple. “Merci,” he thanked her in French, and he began to munch on the juicy apple, relishing its mouthwatering, refreshing taste all the way home.

Pictou’s first day at school had finally arrived. A small, light grass-green rucksack hugged his back, his school gear safely stored inside. Nervousness made his innards tingle, just like before, as he waited patiently outside Mrs. Frinn’s classroom. Behind him, some other new students stood chattering in line.

The door opened. “Come inside, everybody,” Mrs. Frinn ordered. Pictou slid his rucksack off his back, unzipping it to fetch his school gear. He hung his bag up on a hook on the wall and took a seat at an empty desk. “Hello, class,” Mrs. Frinn greeted her pupils, writing her name and today’s date on the blackboard and underlining them. “Morning, Mrs. Frinn,” her pupils greeted her back, stood up, then they sat back down. “I’ll be your teacher for this year,” added Mrs. Frinn. “Today’s lesson will be something special. You’ll all introduce yourselves.” Pictou gasped in shock, and all the other pupils laughed out loud. “Be quiet!” she commanded them sternly, and they all shut up. “Thank you. First one up, please.” The first pupil arose and introduced himself, then returned to his desk. Mrs. Frinn called up the second pupil, who did the same. And so on.

“And you?” Mrs. Frinn called. Pictou looked up from his desk. He arose from his seat and walked up to the board, turning to face the class. “Hello. I’m Pictou Denoon,” Pictou greeted his fellow pupils. “I’m Acadian. I speak English, Canadian French, and Acadian French.” One of the other pupils put his hand up. “Yes?” said Pictou. “Does that mean you eat croissants for breakfast?” He giggled, and so did the rest of the class. Pictou folded his arms crossly. “Not necessarily!” he snapped, and all the other pupils burst out laughing. “BE QUIET! ALL OF YOU!” Mrs. Frinn yelled again, and the pupils fell silent.

Suddenly, the bell rang. “Recess, everybody,” Mrs. Frinn announced, and all of her class, except Pictou, cheered excitedly and stampeded out of the classroom towards the playground. Pictou, on a quieter note, left the room calmly.

Pictou was strolling around the playground by himself, when he spotted three Canadian Boys, all older than him, chatting to each other. Their names were Gabarus, Morganville, and Culloden. Curious, Pictou approached them, and they turned to see him. “Hello. I’m Pictou.” “I’m Culloden,” Culloden introduced himself. “And these are Gabarus and Morganville.” “Hello,” Gabarus and Morganville greeted Pictou.

“How old are you, then?” Culloden asked Pictou. “I’m five.” “Ah-ha,” Culloden nodded. “I’m ten. Five years older than you.” “Ooh. How old are you, Gabarus and Morganville?” “I’m nine,” replied Gabarus. “I’m eight,” added Morganville. Pictou nodded. “I guess that makes me the little one here.” “Ah-ha,” Gabarus, Morganville and Culloden replied in unison.

“And what do you like doing?” Culloden asked Pictou, and he fell silent, staring at Culloden, Morganville and Gabarus blankly…

Pictou’s nervousness tickled his bladder, causing it to spill its liquid contents out onto his pants, wetting them in front of Culloden, Morganville and Gabarus. He uttered another gasp of shock as the ammonia stench wafted into the air, letting Culloden and his buddies catch it, staring through him. Then they gasped in shock, too… “So, THAT’S what you like doing…?” Culloden asked mockingly. And with that, Pictou let out a cry of fear, dashing back inside the school. “AFTER HIM!” Culloden bellowed, pointing in Pictou’s direction, and he, Morganville and Gabarus all rushed off after Pictou, roaring with laughter.

A little searching around eventually brought Culloden and his buddies to the men’s room, where they found Pictou hiding in anxiety. “Stinko,” Culloden called Pictou, making him cower into the corner, but Culloden and his buddies came closer. “Someone change me,” Pictou called out, but Culloden and his buddies only came even closer and roughly grabbed him. Culloden added another word to his insult. “Acadian stinko!” he taunted Pictou. “Oh, no!” cried Pictou, and Culloden and his buddies shook Pictou all about, laughing meanly. Pictou moaned. Would this ever cease?

It did, eventually, when a young man entered the room, catching sight of the scene. “What’s going on?” On hearing his concerned voice, Culloden and his buddies immediately stopped tormenting Pictou, releasing him and stepping out of the way. “I need changing,” Pictou admitted, feeling rather ashamed. The young man came closer, feeling sympathy for him. “Here. I’ll change you.” Culloden and his buddies only gave Pictou unapologetic smirks as they left the men’s room. “Stinko,” Culloden called Pictou again as the door swung closed.

Pictou and the young man gazed after them for a moment, then the man turned back to Pictou, beginning to change his soaked diaper. Pictou brewed with worry, embarrassment and anger as the man gave him some much-needed reassurance – and a fresh, dry diaper.

Washing themselves in a hot bath, Port Hawkesbury saturated Pictou with a pouring of tepid water. “So, little Pictou. How was your first day at school?” Port Hawkesbury asked. “Oh, it was alright. Although I’ve been bullied today,” Pictou replied, looking serious. Port Hawkesbury gasped, shocked. “Oh, no.” She gave both herself and Pictou a good scrub. Pictou reciting Gabarus, Morganville and Culloden’s names only peaked Port Hawkesbury’s disapproval further. She softened both Pictou and her scrubbed body with another pouring of fresh, hot water.

Suddenly, Pictou’s bladder squirted its liquid contents out into the hot bathwater, turning it yellow, then dirty light grey. Port Hawkesbury vented her disapproval again, this time at Pictou. “Pictou,” she said seriously, splashing a bowlful of lukewarm water onto her chest and Pictou’s. “Excuse me,” Pictou apologized in French, which Port Hawkesbury accepted. She gave both herself and Pictou a good downstairs clean, helping Pictou with his and her hands. “So, you looking forward to tomorrow, little Pictou?” “Well, yes and no,” Pictou replied. “Aw,” cooed Port Hawkesbury. “At least you’re being honest.” She kindly caressed his hair.

Finishing off with a final splash of hot water, Port Hawkesbury unplugged the bath. She picked Pictou up, stepped out onto the floor and went off to Pictou’s bedroom to get dry and dressed.