Homework causes havoc in Julie Coffin’s hopeful complete story.
A family story by Julie Coffin
IDON’T want to go to school, Daddy. I haven’t got a present to take.” It was Monday morning and Jenny stood barefoot on the front-door mat, her eyes looking up at me like dew-drenched cornflowers. I broke off searching for her socks and shoes and stroked her soft hair.
“What sort of present, sweetheart? Who is it for? One of the other children? Is it someone’s birthday?”
Jenny shook her head vigorously, sending her hair spiralling.
“Did Miss Elvin ask you to? What did she say?” Jenny gave me a despairing look. “To bring a present.” “Then we’ll ask her about it when we get there.”
My eyes cast around again for the missing socks and I resolved yet again to prepare better on a Sunday evening.
One little foot stamped down on to the mat.
“No, Daddy! It’s for today. Miss Elf in said so.”
Everything has changed so much since I went to primary school. No sitting at my desk, half-terrif ied, under the steely gaze of a middle-aged battle-axe!
Last time I’d seen her Miss Elvin, Jenny’s teacher, had looked about twelve years old in her T-shirt and jeans, with her dark curls swinging in a ponytail.
“Where are your socks and shoes, Jenny?” I asked, hoping to distract my daughter.
Jenny usually loved going to school and I wasn’t quite sure how to deal with this mini-rebellion.
A tear brimmed, then meandered down her plump little cheek. It hesitated in a dimple, then dripped from her chin.
Another tear followed, tracing the same path. “Please, Jenny,” I begged. I had f inally spotted one screwed-up, grey-white sock under the radiator, the other in her black patent shoe. “We’re going to be late.” I sat her on the bottom stair and began to tug the socks over reluctant feet. Her toes bunched. The silent tears continued to drip.
“I want to stay here with you today, Daddy.”
Her arms clung round my neck, wet face pressed into my cheek as I hugged her.
Poor little scrap. There had been so much upheaval in her life already. So much for her to try to understand. It was almost three years since Anna died. How do you explain that to a child?
The memory filled my mind. Jenny was eighteen months old so she had stayed home with me that Saturday afternoon, while Anna did some last-minute Christmas shopping.
Rain was pelting down. Darkness had come early. People were in a hurry to get home.
The car driver insisted he didn’t see Anna step off the kerb at the pedestrian crossing; that the traff ic lights had only just turned to red.
That the road was too wet to put his brakes on quickly . . .
Whatever his excuse, the result was the same.
I lost my wife and Jenny her mother.
My employers were very understanding and agreed I could work from home. Computers and e-mails make life so much easier. I was there for Jenny whenever she needed me.
Everything seemed to be settling down – until she started school. On the first day parents were allowed to stay for a
My little daughter liked school, and seemed to love her teacher, too. So why was she refusing to go today?