In the latest chapter of the new dinosaur book, Charlie’s favorite character, the dinosaur detective, discovered that his conclusions were wrong. Isaac put the bookmark in the book as Charlie thumped his pillow angrily. “That’s not fair. He wouldn’t make a mistake like that. It’s written wrong,” Charlie complained.
Isaac placed the book on the shelf. “Maybe he’ll find new evidence in the next chapter and find out he was right after all.”
“Maybe.” Charlie flopped back onto his pillow. “Today just went all wrong. Did you ever have a bad day?’
“Lots of times,” Isaac said. “What happened?”
“I think my lucky socks don’t work anymore. What will I do when I need sun for game days? Or when I have a history test?” Isaac rolled over on his side to look at Isaac through the safety bars on his loft bed. “What am I going to do, Dad?”
Isaac leaned back to look up at Charlie. “It may not be as bad as you think. Tell me what went wrong today.”
“My favorite shoes don’t fit anymore. The red ones. They’re too small now and pinch my toes. I knew right then that it was going to be a bad day, so I put on my lucky socks.”
Isaac nodded. “That makes sense. What happened next?”
“I tried my red shoes on again, but they still didn’t fit. So I put on the blue ones. The laces are too long so I had to knot them over and over, but they still kept going untied. The day was obviously doomed at that point.” Charlie rolled over onto his back and stared up at the ceiling.
“And then Mom and I went out to the garden and something had eaten all the strawberries. Even the little green ones that won’t be ripe for weeks. Who does that?” Charlie sounded confused.
Isaac shrugged. “Something really hungry. It’s still early spring, so not a lot of things are ripe, but there’s still a lot of hungry animals out there that weren’t there in the winter.”
“Oh.” Charlie was quiet for a moment. “So maybe it was starving baby squirrels? I guess if they were really hungry, it wouldn’t be so bad.”
“Did anything else happen?”
“I got a paper cut from my origami paper. It was under my thumbnail, right here.” Charlie held up his left hand so Isaac could see. “It really, really hurt. It started bleeding, a lot. But it all stayed under my fingernail, so I didn’t even get a bandaid.”
“I could go get you a bandaid,” Isaac offered.
“Daaaaad.” Charlie dropped his hand. “I’m not a baby. It was just annoying, that’s all. And there were brussel sprouts at dinner. You know I hate brussel sprouts. And we were all out of grape popsicles. And the chapter in the new dinosaur book was awful. It was just a terrible day.”
“Can you think of anything good that happened today?” Isaac asked.
“No.” Charlie rolled over to face Isaac again. “It was all bad.”
“You can’t think of anything at all?”
“No.” Charlie rolled to face the other way. “Nothing at all.”
“You have a nice family. And a garden. And…” Isaac began.
Charlie huffed and interrupted. “I don’t want to count my blessings. It was a bad day. That’s all.”
“Maybe without the lucky socks, it would have been worse.”
“Maybe.” Charlie laughed a little and turned back to face Isaac. “Maybe the house would have burned down.”
“Then I’m glad you were wearing your lucky socks,” Isaac said. “I like our house.”
Charlie sighed. “I do too. Dad, why did I have a bad day? Was it because I didn’t go to bed on time yesterday?”
Isaac shook his head no. “Sometimes people have bad days. Everybody does. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been trying your hardest to be good, you’ll still sometimes have bad days.”
Charlie sat up, frowning. “But why? That’s not fair. Why would good guys have bad days?”
“If you only had good days, I think you might forget how good they are. They’d just seem like normal days, right?”
Charlie shrugged a shoulder. “I guess.”
“When you have a bad day, and the next day is normal, it seems like a good day because it’s not a bad day. I think bad days help us remember the things we have to be grateful for. And they teach us important things like patience, and empathy, and choosing to be happy.”
Charlie flopped back down on his pillow. “I guess so.”
“And now maybe some baby squirrels are going to bed with full tummies,” Isaac pointed out. “That’s good.”
“I guess so.” Charlie shrugged, and his shoulders made a whispery sound against his bed sheets. “Maybe my socks were lucky for the squirrels today, not me.”
“Or maybe they were just busy keeping our house from burning down,” Isaac said.
Charlie laughed. “Yeah, that too.”
Isaac waited a moment, and stood up when Charlie didn’t say anything else. He crossed the room and turned the light out. “Good night, Charlie. I love you.”
“I love you too,” Charlie said. “I am glad you’re my dad, you know. Even on bad days.”
“And I’m glad you’re my Charlie,” Isaac said.
“Good night, Dad.”