It was just like the beginning of an episode of the Twilight Zone. A phone call. From myself.
At least I was there to pick up.
But there it was, the phone ringing in my pocket, I take it out, and the phone ID reads “Me”.
Of course I answered Me.
But then what was I expecting …
“Hello, Enda, this is your future, more intelligent, less stressed self, are you free for a mind exchange … you know, that elevated communication thing you were talking about last week … ?”
You see, I have a phone messages setting “Me” which I use when a thought or phrase pops into my head and I immediately note and store.
And send it on to myself.
Works for me!
The odd post has even started from one of these Messages From The Great Inside.
Now, I have no idea how half the things on my phone work, and I certainly have no idea how I managed to ring myself.
But it got me thinking: was I trying to tell Me something really important, just nothing was coming through?
Or maybe I just haven’t figured out the frequency thingie and I was actually sending out an amazing telepathic message to myself, and it was only a matter of adjustment.
Maybe I could Google it …
In fairness, I and Me have been working through a lot of things recently, trying to get ourselves into some kind of cosmic balance.
I have written recently about some of the things going on for us: Me as recovering shouter, and our O being bullied in school.
I haven’t shouted at the kids since, even though the impulse to do so has been activated more than once. I have contained it and walked away when I was not capable of reframing or turning the situation into a positive.
That’s the deal with kids; we, the adults, sometimes have to be able to take the bullshit being thrown at us and put it in the bin for them. Not fling it right back at them.
And maybe one day they will learn to use the bin themselves. When they find it.
You know the way teenagers can never find anything to do with school or clean socks?
As for O, I have been both amazed at his resilience and fortitude in dealing with all that has been going on for him, and heart-scalded that a 13-year-old lad has had to do so.
It’s all come together in a perfect storm of bad luck and circumstances for him.
The bullying thing and the epic flipping episode that preceded its revelation were enmeshed with what has been going on for him with his football.
I talked before how he had moved leagues and clubs and how initially it went well.
His new club had a couple of decent early results, and he earned a place on his Premier League’s representative team
A really big deal for him: playing on the representative team of the biggest and best league in Irish schoolboys football, the Dublin and District Schoolboys League (DDSL).
A great achievement.
Then he was called in for regular training with the Ireland National Academy squad for his age-group, Under-13.
Ultimately this squad will become the Ireland Under-15 squad.
But all this has gone awry for him.
His club team has been doing disastrously, getting thumped week in, week out, and this has been really bad for O’s football.
No kid likes getting hockeyed every week and going into their next games expecting more of the same.
Heads are down and they are on their way to relegation from the Premier League.
He has been immense in terms of keeping on keeping on, not getting ratty with team-mates or management.
But that extra spark that gave him his edge has just not been there.
How could it be?
We can talk about how it should be just about the playing at this age, but that’s not how it is at the higher level.
It’s a kind of deal you make with the devil: to get better, or to achieve your potential, you need to be competing, playing with the best against the best.
O’s team have been playing the best, but unfortunately, they aren’t the best themselves. Far from it
And because they are doing so badly, nobody good wants to join, to help them get better, so they are bunched, basically.
And O’s football has suffered.
He has not been called up recently by either his representative team or the National Academy.
It’s the way it is, no allowances for being a kid, no phone calls telling you you’re dropped, or advice on what you can work on to get back in.
Or finding out through Snapchat friends that the DDSL squad and the National Academy are training and playing, and you are not invited.
That’s a lot for a young boy to take.
And then, of course, after a rocky start his old team have gone shooting up their league and things are flying for them.
They are playing at a lower level, but still.
O is in school with some of his old team-mates and, kids being kids, he will have heard all about their fortunes. And his new team’s awful results will be commented on.
In that gentle way that boys do.
Not that O would be any different if the football boot was on the other foot.
He is an internaliser, and all this had been churning away inside, and then he had that bully boy to deal with.
Talk about being hit when you are down.
He has been really low and we have been working hard to build him back up.
But there have been some unexpected positive developments too.
His big sister, who has largely existed independently of O, and the two of them usually at loggerheads when they do speak, well, she has been lovely with him.
They sat down side by side on the couch the other evening and she was saying the nicest things to him, and he wasn’t losing his cool and telling her to piss off. She was just saying lovely, encouraging things, and he was listening.
Then, that night, she slipped a note under the door, which I found when I went to check on him.
The note was full of practical advice and encouragement, beautifully expressed, and telling him at the end how much she loved him.
My wife and read the note in the bathroom, while they were sleeping.
We said nothing, just let the tears flow and off we went to bed.
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