Charlie’s Room: Missed Opportunity

Charlie was waiting by the door when Isaac got home. Before the door closed behind him, Charlie had already hurried forward and was waving a sheet of paper half an inch from his nose. “Dad, look at this!”

Isaac leaned back and took the paper. “Careful. I don’t want a paper cut on my nose.” He looked over the paper. “Is this the club list for next year?”

Charlie nodded. “It’s time to pick the club we want to be in after school next year, but we can only pick one.”
“Are you having a hard time choosing which one you want?”

“Yeeeeees.” Charlie sighed. “Mom says I should just pick whatever club my friends are in. But I have lots of friends, and they all want to be in different clubs.”

Isaac handed the paper back to Charlie and changed his shoes. “Are there any clubs you don’t want to join?”

“I don’t want the art club or the running club,” Charlie said, looking at the paper.

“Let’s get a pencil and lightly cross those out.” Isaac went through the living room to the alcove where his desk sat between the living room and kitchen. He took a pencil from the drawer and handed it to Charlie.

Together they traced their steps back to the living room. Isaac sat on the couch. Next to him, Charlie knelt in front of the coffee table and set his paper down. He looked through the list and crossed out the two clubs.

“What next?” Charlie asked.

“Tell me what you like about the other choices.”

Charlie held up the paper. “Hmmmm. I like the cooking club because I like to help you and Mom cook. And maybe we’ll get to eat what we make. I think the computer club plays video games sometimes. The board game club would just be fun. And the Lego club? I love Legos. And did you see that there’s a dinosaur club?”

“It sounds like there are a lot of fun choices.”

Charlie set the paper down with a sigh. “Too many. Why can’t I do more than one?”

Isaac laughed. “Sometimes life is like that. Sometimes you have to make choices when all options sound good.”

“But how do you choose?”

“That’s really up to you.” Isaac picked up the paper and looked at it. “Maybe you could pick something you don’t get to do at home. Learning something new can be fun.”

Charlie took the list back. “I guess I already belong to a dinosaur club. And my dinosaur club is the best club ever. I can ask my friends what they do in the school club, and if they have any good ideas, then I can just copy them.” Charlie crossed out the dinosaur club.

“Good plan. What else?”

“We can cook the cooking club recipes at home. And play the same games. I can play with Legos whenever I want.” Charlie began crossing more things off.

Isaac looked over his shoulder. “Well done. There aren’t many options left.”

“If I sign up for band, I’d need to get an instrument.” Charlie’s pencil hovered over band.

“We could do that,” Isaac said.

“But if I sign up for band, I can’t be in the robotics club.” Charlie frowned. “Dad, did you ever have to make a decision like this?”

Isaac thought for a moment. “Once I had a friend who lived far away on an island. He wanted me to come visit, but I knew it was kind of hard to travel there and back. I was worried about getting home if I went, so I never visited.”

“Never?” Charlie looked surprised. “But how was that choosing between two good things?”

“I stayed home, and I was safe,” Isaac said.

Charlie raised an eyebrow. “That’s not the same thing at all. He looked back at his paper. If I choose band, could I play the clarinet?”

“Of course you can,” Isaac said. “I think that’s a great choice. Why don’t you go let your mom know, and I’ll start checking the ads for used clarinets.”

Charlie grinned and ran out of the room. His shadow broke into two figures as he left the room, and one figure stayed behind. It put its hands on its hips.

“Hi, Peter,” Isaac said.

“I heard you telling a story about me,” Peter said. “But you made it so boring. You’ve gotten so old, Isaac.”

Isaac grinned. “And you’re so little now. Remember when I was shorter than you?”

Peter laughed. “You were tiny. Now you’d fit in with the pirates. Do you want me to see if they have an opening?”

“No, thank you.”

“You’re missing out. We have a lot of fun.”

Isaac looked around the living room. “We have a lot of fun here too. I think I’ll choose to stay here again.”

The shadow shrugged its shoulders. “If that’s what you want.” The shadow slowly disappeared. Isaac took out his phone and started to search for a used clarinet.