How Is This Not The Same Thing?


“You’re fired,” Tracey told me today.

I didn’t understand. Did I just get kicked off The Apprentice?

“Look at her shirt!” she said, pointing at Miss4. “Why did you pick that one?”

Minutes earlier I’d been charged with the very important task of removing a perfectly good tee from Miss4’s torso and replacing it with a different one. Which one? There was no brief: no instructions beyond change her shirt.

So with the difficult task of choosing a shirt for my youngest child, I naturally gave it considerable thought: I reached into her cupboard without looking and pulled out whatever my hand touched for her to wear.

And apparently somehow, despite all that effort, I’d stuffed it up.

“What’s wrong with it?” I wanted to know.

“There’s paint on it,” said Tracey.

“But it’s clean paint. It’s been washed.”

“But it looks dirty.”

“Yeah, but she’s going to the park so she’s gonna get proper dirty in no time.”

This was the shirt I chose. Perfect park attire.

“She has to start out clean,” Tracey explained, emphasising each syllable. Then she quickly continued to avoid us doing a loop, “Looking clean.”

I waited but she didn’t go on.


“Because that’s the way things work,” she said.

“That’s just stupid.” I smiled at Miss4. “You look great sweetheart.”

I don’t know how Tracey navigated her way through the house with only the whites of her eyes showing because her eyeballs were rolled so determinedly back in her head but she managed it.

Thirty seconds later she emerged and tossed a shirt to me.

At me.

I mean, I held out my hands but somehow it slammed straight into my open face.

“You did that on purpose,” I accused her with mock shock.

“Prove it,” she said.

I caught Miss4 and wrestled her out of a shirt she was now in love with and into the one her mother had chosen for her. In writing that sentence I’m suddenly concerned I’m having some sort of premonition of times to come when Miss4 starts bringing home boyfriends.

Finally, the right arms and heads were in the right holes and I got to see the shirt my wife had chosen.

“Tell me again,” I called out to Tracey, “why you didn’t like the shirt I picked out?”

“Trust me, it’s different,” she called back.

I beg to differ – in what world does this not count as a shirt with paint on it?

This was the shirt Tracey chose. The defence rests.

Raising a family on little more than laughs


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