“I had a bad day today,” Charlie said at bedtime.
Isaac closed the dinosaur book and put it in his lap. “Really? What happened?”
“Well, my lucky socks were in the wash…” Charlie sighed.
“That does explain the surprise thunderstorms.”
“Right? And that meant that we couldn’t go swimming. And my shoelace broke when I was tying my shoes, so we didn’t go to the bug museum because I don’t fit into my boots anymore. Mom said I couldn’t wear my slippers or my nice shoes either.”
Isaac nodded. “That does sound disappointing.”
“It was. And the only cereal left at breakfast was that one that tastes like cardboard.”
“The healthy one?” Isaac leaned forward. “Don’t tell your mom, but I don’t like that one either.”
Charlie huffed. “It’s gross. I don’t like it at all.”
“What else happened?”
“At lunch I dropped my macaroni and cheese in my lap. After I cleaned up, I had to have a peanut butter sandwich instead. And I tripped when I was putting my plate in the sink and my fork scratched me. And you came home late. It was just a bad day.”
“Did anything good happen today?” Isaac asked.
Isaac waited for a moment.
Charlie sighed. “Well, I drew a dinosaur picture, and Mom said we could send it to Great-Aunt Bethyl.”
“I’d like to see it. What did you draw?”
Charlie sat up. “It was a tyrannosaurus rex. He was holding balloons. Do you think a dinosaur could fly if they were holding lots and lots and lots of balloons?”
Isaac smiled. “I think it’s possible. What did you have for dinner?”
“Pasta twice in a day?” Isaac raised an eyebrow.
“Mom let me pick because of the macaroni spilling on me.”
“You love spaghetti.”
Charlie grinned. “It’s my favorite.”
“Well, that’s good,” Isaac said.
Charlie’s grin immediately fell. “But you were still late coming home, Dad.”
Isaac tapped his fingers on the book in his lap once, then twice. “Yes I was. Sometimes that happens.”
“But I was having a bad day, and I wanted you to be home.” Charlie was scowling now.
Isaac sighed. “I would much rather be at home with you always, but part of growing up is learning to think long term.”
“What do you mean?”
Isaac thought for a moment. “Well, what would happen if you and mom never pulled weeds in the garden?”
Charlie looked at the window. The summer sunlight was painting everything golden as the sun began to set. “The weeds would get bigger and bigger. There wouldn’t be enough water and sunlight for the good plants.”
“Do you like weeding?” Isaac asked.
“Not really. But it doesn’t take too long if we do it everyday,” Charlie said. “And it’s nice to know I’m taking care of the plants.”
Isaac nodded. “Lots of things are like that. You brush your teeth so that you don’t get cavities. You wash your hands before you eat so you don’t get sick. When you’re a grown up, you can think about the possible outcomes for lots of different things, so you can make better decisions, even when that’s hard.”
“What would happen if you came home on time?”
Isaac smiled. “I wouldn’t have everything ready for tomorrow, and maybe I could lose my job.”
Charlie frowned. “Then you could work at home like Mom does.”
“That would be nice, but I don’t have a job like that right now,” Isaac said. “Maybe someday.”
Charlie sighed. “I don’t like it when you get home late.”
“I’ll try to be on time as much as I can. I don’t like getting home late either.”
“Do you know what?” Isaac asked.
“I think it’s a good thing you don’t wash your lucky socks often. We don’t need the bad luck.”
Charlie laughed. “Or the thunderstorms.” He settled back down on the bed. “Okay. I’m ready now. Let’s read the next chapter.”
“Great idea.” Isaac opened the book and started to read.