A busy dad grew suspicious after his daughter didn't come home from school on time. He discovered she had been spending time inside the school janitor's closet for a reason that changed his perspective on parenting for good.
Clive was a single father to his 8-year-old daughter Stacey. His beloved wife Stella died from a terminal illness, and the loss devastated Clive and Stacey.
After Stella's death, Clive buried himself at work. He believed he needed to work extra hard to pay the bills and provide Stacey with a good future.
Clive busied himself with work and often had no time for his daughter Stacey. | Source: Pexels
Likewise, Stacey also took her mom's death hard. She suddenly became silent and would barely talk whenever she was home. She would often retreat to her room and draw fish.
One day, Clive saw her drawing an aquarium. "Are you fascinated by fish?" he asked his daughter. Thinking her dad was interested in them as well, she smiled and nodded her head.
"I am, dad. Do you think we could get an aquarium? I would love to have some pet fish," she asked.
Clive smiled and shook his head. "An aquarium? I don't think you're going to take care of the fish anyway. You're too young," he said, shrugging off Stacey's request.
Stacey spent her time drawing fish, hoping to get a real aquarium from her dad. | Source: Pexels
The truth was, Clive didn't want any additional expenses around the house. He was already having a hard time paying the bills, and he still had to pay for Stacey's babysitter, whom he relied on heavily.
"Fine," Stacey sighed. "Would you like to draw some fish with me instead, dad?"
Clive shook his head once more. "Sorry, sweetie. Dad's a bit tired from work. I'm going to rest," he replied before leaving her room.
Clive chose to rest than to spend time with Stacey. | Source: Pexels
The following day, Stacey didn't come home from school on time. She would usually be home by 4 o'clock, but she was nowhere to be found that day. Her babysitter, Linda, grew worried.
Linda decided to walk around the neighborhood to see whether or not Stacey was around. When she got back home almost an hour later, it was only then that Stacey followed suit. "Where have you been?" she asked the young girl. "I was so worried about you."
"Sorry, Linda. I had so much fun playing in school that I overlooked the time. Please don't tell dad that I was late. It's no big deal," Stacey pleaded.
Stacey arrived home late, causing her babysitter to worry. | Source: Pexels
Linda agreed not to tell Clive for as long as Stacey didn't do it again. "I'm responsible for you, sweetie. I don't want anything bad to happen to you, so please, don't do that again," she warned.
Unfortunately, the following day, the same thing happened again. This time, Linda decided to tell Clive about it. "Sir, Stacey isn't home yet, and it's already 5 p.m. Do you want me to go check the school grounds?"
Clive told Linda to stay home in case Stacey came, but he left his office and went to the school himself. There, he caught Mrs. James, Stacey's homeroom teacher.
Clive met Stacey's homeroom teacher, Mrs. James. | Source: Pexels
"Hi, ma'am. I'm sorry to interrupt your afternoon; I just wanted to ask if Stacey has been staying in school longer these past few days? Is anything wrong?"
Mrs. James asked Clive to sit down so they could quickly chat. She revealed Stacey had been voluntarily staying behind after class.
"Stacey's not in any trouble. She isn't part of detention," she assured Clive. "However, she stays behind to spend time with our school janitor, Mr. Peters. He is a middle-aged man, and the two seem to get along well."
Clive was taken aback by Mrs. James' calmness. "You mean to say you allow my daughter to be alone with a middle-aged man?" he asked.
Mrs. James revealed that Stacey would spend time with their school janitor. | Source: Pexels
Mrs. James assured Clive that Mr. Peters was a good man who always spent time with the kids. "He loves children and would often play with them after school. Besides, there are surveillance cameras around the school to ensure that all our pupils are always safe," she explained.
After their quick chat, Clive was not convinced. The next day, he ambushed his daughter in school, barging inside the janitor's room.
"Stacey!" he said loudly. The young girl and Mr. Peters jumped at the sudden sound. But before Clive could say anything more, he realized he had misjudged the situation significantly.
Clive found Stacey inside the closet, observing an aquarium. | Source: Pexels
What he saw inside the janitor's closet brought tears to his eyes. Stacey was sitting quietly, observing the fish inside a beautifully-designed aquarium. Next to her, Mr. Peters was reading her a book about fish.
"Dad," Stacey said in surprise. "I'm sorry. I've been spending time with Mr. Peters because he's teaching me about fish. Watching his aquarium makes me feel calm and less alone," she admitted.
Clive realized that he had been neglecting his daughter for far too long. It was his responsibility to care for her and not Mr. Peters'. He quickly apologized to the janitor for barging in on them and not being aware of Stacey's needs.
Then he turned to Stacey and embraced her. "I'm sorry, sweetheart. I know it's been difficult for you ever since mom passed away. I haven't been a present dad, and for that, you've been feeling lonely. I promise I will do better," he told her.
Clive realized that Stacey found comfort in watching aquariums because it would ease her loneliness. | Source: Pexels
Before going home that day, Clive and Stacey passed by a pet store. They bought a beautiful aquarium, and Clive asked Stacey to pick out the fish she wanted as her pets. The young girl was delighted and couldn't help but keep hugging her dad to thank him.
"Thank you, dad! This is the best day ever!" she squealed.
Every day, when Stacey would come from school and Clive from work, they would spend time together, watching the fish and reading books about them. Clive stopped alienating his daughter and spent all his free time with her.
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