Seated at the breakfast table, eight-years-old Betty Fosgrove was not a happy bunny. “But, Daddy, it’s International Day. I can’t go to school in my usual clothes, I have to wear something that looks like a flag of somewhere. Everybody else will be, and they’ll al pick on me if I’m in normal uniform!”
“Let’s see what we have.” replied her father, John. “Why didn’t you tell me before that today was a special day?”
“I did, Daddy. I told you yesterday, and the day before. You never listen to me.”
“That’s enough of that, young lady. You can wear a white t-shirt, and I’ll draw a big red dot on it. That’ll make it look like the flag of Japan.”
“But we did that last year, Dad.”
“Okay, what if you wear blue jeans, white t-shirt and a red baseball cap? That way you can be Holland or Luxembourg. If you lie down, you could be France.”
“Okay. Thanks, Daddy.”
So dressed, John drove his little girl to school and dropped her off, before going on to his office. The traffic was fairly heavy, and he turned up at his desk almost twenty minutes late. His boss was not happy.
“That’s the third time you’ve been late this month, Fosgrove, and it’s only the fifteenth!”
“I’m sorry, Sir. I had to do a last-minute clothing change on my little girl – apparently it’s International Day and her school…”
“I don’t give a damn if it’s world bloody lost bloody sock day, Fosgrove. I’m getting fed-up with your excuses. I understand that you are trying to bring up your child alone, since your wife dumped you for some loser, and I try to make allowances for that. At the end of the day, though, I need you here, on time, every day!”
The day didn’t improve. John can’t work overtime, because the childcare he has for his daughter is only until 6pm, which is pretty much the earliest he can get home from work. His lunchtime is taken up with shopping, or carrying out the myriad other jobs he used to leave Helen to do, as she was at home all day.
This lunchtime, he had an appointment with his bank manager, to discuss extending his overdraft so he and his daughter could have a holiday this year – nothing extravagant, just a week in a caravan in Cornwall, but it had to be high season, to fit in with school holidays.
At least the day ended well. He collected Betty from the child-minder, and took her home. Whilst she did her homework, John prepared dinner and put a load in the washing machine. Whilst dinner was cooking, John made a start on the ironing.
Later that evening, as he was tucking Betty into bed, she said, “I love you, Daddy. We don’t need Mummy here to be happy, do we – we have each other, and that’s enough.”
Somehow, that made it all worth while.