Once there was a young wombat called Benson, who lived in a tidy wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.
Benson didn’t like wearing shoes. He liked having his feet bare so he could dig with his strong claws and feel the earth underneath his feet.
One afternoon his mother said, “Benson, we’re going to visit your grandmother. You’ll need to put your shoes and socks on.”
Then it started.
“Why do I have to wear my shoes? Nanna never wears shoes. She hates shoes.”
His mother said, “It’s Nanna’s birthday party and everyone is dressing up. You have to wear your shoes.”
Benson said, “No-one will notice if I don’t wear shoes. Nanna won’t mind.”
Benson’s mother said, “I will notice and I will mind. Put your shoes on, please.”
Benson said, “I can’t find them, and I think they’re too small anyway.”
His mother said, “They’re in your room, in the bottom of the cupboard. Two minutes, Benson, then we’re leaving.”
Benson knew from his mother’s voice that there was no more arguing. He went into his room, grumbling. “They always hurt my feet and they make me walk slower. I hate shoes.”
His mother called out, “One minute, Benson.”
Benson grabbed his shoes out of the cupboard and crammed them on. Then he noticed something.
“One of my shoelaces is missing,” he called out.
“Ten seconds, Benson, and then Aunt Lillibet and Aunt Moss and I are leaving. If you’re not ready, we will go without you.”
Benson imagine his grandmother’s face if his mother went to the party and said that Benson had stayed at home. His grandmother would be so disappointed. He wouldn’t be able to wish her happy birthday or help her blow out the hundreds of candles on her cake.
“Wait, wait!” he yelled. He had to do something, quick.
He looked around for a piece of string or some cord or anything he could use for a shoelace. The only thing he could find was a piece of ribbon that Aunt Moss had wrapped around his birthday present last year. It was red and it had pictures of tiny balloons on it.
It was way too long but he quickly threaded it through the shoelace holes and tied it up. He ran out. “I’m ready,” he panted.
His mother looked down at his shoes. One lace was black. One was red with balloons. She smiled.
“I think it might be better if we do this,”she said. She pulled the black shoelace out of the other shoe, then she cut off the bit of ribbon that was too long and threaded it through the holes. “There,” she said, “perfect.”
When they got to Nanna’s house, she opened the door and ran to hug Benson. “I’m so glad you came,” Nanna said. “You wore party shoelaces, just for me? I love them! I wish I had some!”
“I’ll make you some, if you like,” Benson said. And they all went inside and had cake.