Ollie can’t answer the school sock question
Freshly returned from a holiday in Florida, Alice is asleep in bed whilst her parents Ollie and Lizzie are relaxing in front of the TV. Lizzie is making a list of the clothes Alice will need when she starts school in September, and asks for Ollie’s advice with a question he’s not confident about answering. Now read on…
Ollie felt trapped by Lizzie’s clothing-related question. Being a married man, he knew there was probably no right answer, but that offering no answer wasn’t an option either.
On the face of it, the query ‘how many pairs of socks do you think Alice will need when she starts school?’ had been innocent enough, but Ollie knew when he was outclassed. His wife believed no woman could have too many handbags or pairs of shoes.
Looking up from his Twitter account and turning away from the TV drama, in which the hero was working through an unlikely plot twist, he ran through some possible answers in his head: ‘One. She can only wear one at once’ He dismissed that immediately as being crass. ‘Five, one for each day of the week?’ Better. In the end he said out loud: “There will probably be three pairs in a pack; I should get three packs. They’re not going to stay clean very long.”
He was delighted by his wife’s reaction. She said: “Good idea”, and added a line to the list she was working on as they sat in front of the TV. Just back from a 10-day trip to Florida, the ever-practical Lizzie was working out what their daughter would need when she started school a few weeks hence.
Her pen paused at the end of the line. “Do you think she’ll be OK? At school, I mean. It’ll be a big change for her.”
Being pregnant had heightened her concerns for their daughter. Ollie tried to be reassuring. “There’s no doubt about it. Children are very resilient, and she’ll make some wonderful friends, you’ll see. We’ll have them all here for playing and sleepovers. She’ll love it. And anyway, schoolteachers are very good with reception classes. They’ve seen all the problems before. The ones with the problems are the mums; having to let go is hard.”
On the screen the hero had found the missing files in a litter bin. Quite how they’d got there, and why he would think to look in that particular bin, out of the thousands in the city, hadn’t been explained. Ollie said as much in a tweet before turning the TV off.
“We’ll go shopping for this stuff at the weekend. Getting it all bought will be a weight off your mind, Alice will start to think positively about school, and I get a buzz from monitoring all the spending with my Solo Expenses app, so everyone’s a winner. We’ll all have a good time. We could grab a burger for lunch. If we take Grandma and Granddad with us, they’ll pay for that,” he added.
“Oh you,” she said, playfully tapping the back of his head with her notebook. “But I like the idea of a shopping trip – and I haven’t forgotten what you were saying to Sunita; you know, the Solo Expenses lady we met in the airport on the way to Florida, about how much money we were saving every month. Perhaps I could use some of that to buy those shoes I saw before we went away, and maybe a bag to match. What do you think?”
Ollie felt trapped again. Although this was another question without a right answer they both knew that, before Monday came round, Alice would have all the things she needed for school, and another shoebox would have taken its place in Lizzie’s wardrobe. “Shall I make us some coffee?,” he asked.