Ollie learns a lesson from his dad and his daughter
Fatherhood suited Ollie Banks – according to his wife and his parents. Ollie himself wasn’t so sure. Oh, he was fine and relaxed with is daughter Alice, who was approaching her fifth birthday, but Jack, born only a matter of weeks before, was a different story…
The infant seemed somehow fragile and so much more vulnerable than he could imagine, and he felt a pang of jealousy as he watched his father Ron cradling the new-born in his arms.
Ollie had been left alone in charge of Jack for the first time, his wife and mother having gone out for a little retail therapy. “Lizzie needs to focus on something other than babies; it’ll be good for her,” his mum had said. “Anyway, you won’t be on your own; Dad will be here, so you should be able to cope between you. If you can’t, you’ll have to ask Alice.”
Ollie had opened his mouth to protest, but thought better of it. Once they’d gone, Ron hadn’t been slow to look at the child asleep in a Moses basket on its stand in the corner of the room, and to gently tap the stand a few times with his toe. The child stirred at the movement, and opened his eyes. “Oh, you’re awake,” Ron had said, scooping him up. “Let’s have a look at you. Alice, shall we read to Jack? Fetch one of your books.”
“Dad, you’re an incorrigible old cot-kicker. You woke him up deliberately,” said Ollie, as Alice ran to find her copy of The Gruffalo.
“Guilty as charged,” said the older man. “But there’s a lesson in this for you, son. Time’s precious. You can’t earn more of it, the best you can hope to do is make the best use of what you have. These two…” he indicated Alice and Jack. “These two will live most of their lives when I’m gone. That’s why it’s as good for them as it is for me to spend time together now, while we still have the chance.
It’s about more than money
“The same’s true about you using that Solo Expenses app for your expense management. It’s not all about you being a better expense manager, or, if it is, it shouldn’t be. Nothing wrong with that in itself, of course; good money management opens up more opportunities for you in all sorts of ways; I see that. But you need to see the bigger picture. You need to see the chances you’re being presented with to spend more time with these two. They’re more precious than gold – the children as well as the chances…”
His voice tailed into silence as Alice settled herself on the sofa with the book open on her knee and said: “C’mon, Grandad.”
His father spoke again. “You’ve told me before about Sunita, the lady from Solo Expenses. Because she’s a woman, and I bet she can see where I’m coming from. I bet she understands the importance of family and time spent together. I shouldn’t be at all surprised if it was even in her mind when she created that expense manager app. Female intuition, see?, even if they don’t tell you what’s in their mind.
“Sit down and we’ll all read this book together. Here, hold Jack. There are lots of opportunities for funny voices in The Gruffalo; we can share the reading. And when we’ve read the book, I’ll settle Jack off to sleep again while Alice reads another book to you. I’ve got the knack of getting children to sleep. I did it with you, and there’s no reason why I can’t do it with Jack too.”
They read the story together. Grandad Ron was the Gruffalo, in a growly voice, Ollie was all the other animals, in voices that suited them, and Alice read the bits in between. When they’d finished, and Alice was running off to get another book, Ollie looked at his father. “Did you think of what you said about time off the top of your head, or had you and mum cooked it up before you got here?,” he wanted to know.
Never see money management apps in the same way again
“Doesn’t matter, son. What you need to know is that it’s true, and you need to think about it every day. You have to go to work, but it’s not the be all and end all. Family’s important. Give Jack to me and watch me get him to sleep. Watch a master at work.”
By this time Alice was back, clutching another book, called simply ‘Gorilla’. Ron looked at it, and then at Ollie. “Before she went out, your mum told you that we should ask Alice if there was something we couldn’t manage. If that’s the book I think it is, about a girl called Hannah, then Alice is telling you something now. The same lesson I’ve been talking about; about the importance of family time. You’ll see it in the book. And you’ll never see Solo Expenses in the same way again…”