When Daniel Sutton noticed his daughter Faith was coming home late every night, he decided to do something special. But when he went to pick her up after school, he discovered that she worked in the school kitchen, and he raged at the headmaster until they told him the surprising truth.
“Honey, this is delicious. But you don’t have to cook for us every night, especially if you come home late,” Daniel told his 15-year-old daughter as they ate the spaghetti and meatballs she made for dinner.
His wife, Anna, died when Faith was ten, and since then her nights have consisted of too many take-out meals because Daniel could barely microwave a frozen dinner. But that has recently changed.
Daniel was happy when his daughter started cooking but also felt terrible. She took on a role she wasn’t supposed to. He was supposed to be the parent and obviously schoolwork was getting harder for her as she stayed up late at school and cooked dinner when she got home.
“No, that’s not what I meant. Why does my daughter work in the kitchen? Is she paid for it?” he asked. He placed his hands on his waist as his temper rose.
“Oh nothing. I’m just studying with my friends in the library. It’s better than being bored and alone here,” Faith replied, twirling her fork on her plate. Daniel nodded and immediately believed his daughter as she had never given him any reason not to trust her.
He was also engrossed in the delicious food she was preparing. The smell of tomatoes and oregano seduced his senses and it seemed like a simple dish, but his daughter had inherited her mother’s talent for cooking. “Well, just don’t push yourself. And darling, this dinner is delicious. You might even be a good cook when you’re older,” Daniel commented.
“I don’t know,” Faith replied as they finished their meal, drank their iced tea, and began to do the dishes. Daniel wanted to investigate further, but it seemed like his daughter didn’t want to talk anymore. She had something on her mind, but he had no idea what.
“I’ll do the dishes, honey. Go relax,” Daniel insisted and his daughter nodded. He still felt horrible to burden her with his lack of cooking skills, but he was so proud of Faith for her maturity and her desire to help around the house.
His daughter nodded softly at his words and returned to her room, making him frown slightly. He wondered what she was thinking and worried again about being a bad father. But what could he do about it?
An idea struck him. He decided to surprise her the next day with a trip to the Six Flags Fiesta Texas, which was near her hometown of San Antonio. She wouldn’t even have to miss school. He would pick her up after class and they could have a great day together. She deserved it and hopefully she would tell him what she would like to do in the future.
Daniel was in his car in front of Faith’s school and tried to reach her on her cell phone but she wouldn’t answer. He had no idea why. Maybe the library didn’t allow them to use cell phones, which made sense. So he decided to park and look for her.
As he walked the hallways of the school, he was reminded of his own youth and how much he would have loved a day at Six Flags, which made him even more excited to take his daughter with him. He walked faster and saw Faith’s homeroom teacher, Mrs. Grimes.
“Ms. Grimes, do you know the way to the library? I’m looking for Faith. I have a surprise for her,” Daniel explained, unable to hide his smile.
“The library? Well, you have to keep going straight, exit the building through the back door and pass the courtyard and you will see it. But Faith won’t be in the library,” Mrs. Grimes replied, frowning.
“What do you mean?” he asked, his excitement dying at her words.
“Faith is in the school kitchen. She works there every day after school,” she casually revealed.
“What?” he asked, his head cocked in confusion.
“Yes. Faith works in the kitchen. You just have to exit the building as I explained earlier and the cafeteria building is next to the library,” Ms. Grimes explained, not understanding why Daniel was confused.
“No, that’s not what I meant. Why is my daughter working in the kitchen? Is she getting paid?” he asked. He placed his hands at his waist as his temper rose.
“As far as I know, no, it’s not paid. I thought you knew about it,” the teacher shrugged. “You can ask her yourself.”
Mrs Grimes walked away and Daniel stood in complete shock for a few seconds. Did the school take advantage of his daughter? With free labor? “Oh, damn no,” he murmured under his breath, walking toward the cafeteria building that housed the school kitchen.
Just like Ms. Grimes said, Faith was working. She wore a uniform and all. Daniel couldn’t believe his eyes and the anger rising from his chest. His only daughter not only cooked at home because she had a mediocre father, but the school took advantage of her.
His face turned red, but he didn’t want to yell at his daughter or any of the workers there. He had to see a supervisor, so he turned and walked quickly to the principal’s office. He had to ask a few lingering students for directions, but he got there quickly.
“WHAT’S THIS MR. COLLINS?” he yelled as he burst through the office door, bypassing the secretary who jumped off her desk. But she couldn’t stop Daniel. He was determined to get to the bottom of it.
“Excuse me, but who are you?” the Headmaster asked, getting up from his desk and taking off his reading glasses.
“I’m Daniel Sutton. My daughter is Faith Sutton, who works in your kitchen for free! You want me to call some people?” Daniel yelled, pointing his finger at the principal in anger.
Director Collins raised his hands defensively and slowly shook his head. A soft chuckle escaped his lips and Daniel thought his head was going to explode. But before he could yell any more, the Headmaster began to speak.
“Mr. Sutton, your daughter requested this,” the man revealed, and Daniel’s frown deepened.
“I don’t understand,” he said irritably.
“Faith asked to work in the kitchen after school because she wanted to learn to cook and be able to cook at home. But I think that’s something you need to talk to her about. We’re not asking anything of your daughter, I think she’s one of the best students in her year,” the principal explained, walking to a closet and pulling out a folder with Faith’s name on it. “Yes, she has top grades, but she doesn’t seem to like any extracurricular activities that we offer. She asked to work in the kitchen and we agreed. Honestly, it will be a great asset for her if she applies to a university.”
Daniel’s anger completely dissipated at the director’s words and he felt like an idiot. He immediately and profusely apologized. Principal Collins encouraged him to talk to his daughter, so he rushed to the cafeteria.
Faith was surprised to see him there and he asked her to sit down at one of the cafeteria tables to explain everything. She started over and revealed something even more surprising.
“Ms. Austin, the new cook? She made a cherry pie the other day that tasted like the one Mama used to make. I wanted to learn, so I stayed one day and she taught me. She taught me how to make the cake, and I haven’t perfected it yet, but I’m getting close. Ms Grimes said I could probably put that on my application in a few years, so I thought I should go ahead with that,” his explained daughter and Daniel’s head fell on his shoulders.
“Are you sure that’s what you want? Honestly? You’re not doing this because you feel bad at home or because your horrible father can’t cook?” he finally asked, tears in his eyes. He wanted his daughter to speak from the heart.
“No, dad. Please!” Faith scoffed and laughed at her father. “I never would. You’re an adult. I don’t cook for you at all. I cook for me. My strongest memories of Mom are of her cooking. I remember it so well, I even sometimes smell things at home like it’s she’s still alive. And the more I learned about cooking, the more I wanted to know. I may not become a cook, but I will be able to make all the dishes that Mom used to love to make.”
Daniel’s eyes filled with tears and he couldn’t believe how grown up his daughter seemed to be. He held her hands tight and told her how proud he was of her. He also revealed his plans for a Six Flags outing, and Faith was excited too, but suggested putting them off until the next day. The proud father agreed. He had accumulated enough days off to be able to do that for her.
Faith went back into the kitchen and Daniel went home. That evening she made them another delicious dish she had learned and the next day they went to the amusement park and enjoyed their time like never before.
What can we learn from this story?
It’s best not to jump to conclusions before you know the whole story. Daniel rushed and yelled at the principal when he discovered his daughter was working in the school kitchen, but he had to apologize after finding out the truth.
Everyone should talk to their children more often about their life, feelings, hobbies, etc. Little did Daniel know that his daughter was so interested in cooking that she started studying and working at school. He was surprised by the truth, but everything turned out fine in the end.
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