What a strange morning this has been: never quite emerging from the fug of a sleep ravaged and arrested; half-awake when I was sleeping and half-asleep when awake.
Sleep did I say? More like a night-long stretch in the cosy horizontal dark, my mind spinning furiously, matters practical tossed in with a kaleidoscopic carousel of images and encounters that can only have come from my deeper self.
There I was, turning, gurning and adjusting, the retreating darkness my body clock, checking the real time on my phone; one minute it’s 3.30, the next I am around 12 years of age, judging by the familiar long-forgotten lino in the kitchen of my Tipperary childhood.
Reminding myself — again — to call my daughter early as she has a maths test in school, then I am talking in the parallel kitchen with my mother‚ dead for many years, who has just walked in, only she has had a sex change. Which I can’t mention.
All these years living in this head and it can still surprise me with stuff like this.
I was to call my daughter before seven to study. I had been up at six-thirty to put on the immersion and back in bed, I had this image of her already sitting up in bed and working away. I obviously drifted back to sleep, as the alarm cut into my reverie, and I rose — again. Darkness in my daughter’s room … that was her up early yesterday! Continue reading
Okay, maybe it’s time to come clean: this parenting lark can be such a downer. Brings out the best in me, occasionally, but brings out the worst in me way too often. I struggle to get it right, thinking I am doing it for the best, but sometimes I have to ask myself am I just trying to come out on top in a battle of wills? One ego versus another? And me supposedly the responsible adult. The bigger ego. Bruised and brittle.
My dear, departed dad was a really good man, which I always suspected but luckily came to know as I got to share an adult relationship with him. My mum died when I was 14 and my complicated feelings towards her, I can only, retrospectively, frame in the context of them being the feelings of a 14-year-old boy, kind of frozen over.
But I remember as a kid hearing my dad saying certain things, in that horribly cross daddy way, and thinking I won’t ever be like that, or say anything so stupid or so obviously out of touch. Guess what, I’ve heard myself saying things, and I have reacted to my kids in ways, that have had left me red hot with shame and embarrassment right down into the pit of my belly.
“Okay, darling, just letting you know it’s half-seven. You don’t have to get up now or anything like that but it is a school morning ….
“And don’t bother gathering up your pencil-case and all that stuff you left all over your brother’s desk when you did your homework there last night. I know I asked you six times last night to do it, but like you said, why should you?”
The expression on my 13-year-old daughter’s face as her tousled head pushes against the pillow towards me and her eyes blink open is one of complete bafflement. I leave her to it.
Good morning, it’s Sarcastic Dad!
Maybe I was being a bit Daddy Cool. That might be it?
There I was, walking my 12-year old daughter and my 11-year-old son down to the bus stop to meet the school bus. We were in good time, the sun was shining bright on one of those pet winter days, and I just felt good. With my kids, a bounding Bella pulling on her lead all set for a good walk on the North Beach afterwards.
Life was beautiful. Continue reading
(Inspired by my experiences as father of a teenage girl)
It was the ticket and information caravan parked on the plaza for our town’s recent festival that gave me the idea: a one-stop shop for the frazzled parents of unmanageable young teenagers.
Welcome to our rather more discretely located Wild Angels Response (WAR) unit.
Maybe son number two is magnetically drawn to the naughty goings-on in the town’s shadier parts? No worries: we know where they — and he — are and we will have him home in no time. He will soon get over the shock. Call it tough love. He’ll understand. Sometime. Continue reading
My terrier gets the turd degree over suspicious object
Oh, oh, another senior moment — and poor little Bella cops it.
When she was smaller, she did the odd pee on the blue carpet in Oran’s bedroom — and there are the lighter blue stains hidden by the Ikea mat to prove it.
Old associations linger — maybe old aromas also — and she has dropped the odd turd there too since — never anywhere else. Okay, there is the odd one under the kitchen table, but that’s usually when she hasn’t been let out last thing.
The light socket is gone in Oran’s room and only the partial raising of the blind when I call him for school lets in some light. That and the reading light over his top bunk pew when he actually gets up. We keep meaning to fix the main light but it’s never quite urgent enough.
A few little thumps from a tired tail and I melt — again
Do I love our little wiry terrier mix Bella? Let me count the ways. My favourite thing she does? A bit of context first. She has the run of the house and can be found on any bed, or in any number of cosy spots, or hot spots on a sunny day, but she always returns for a spell in her basket, which is on a low orange corduroy armchair in the dining room end of the long kitchen. It’s also where she sleeps at night.
Every morning after we’ve come back from our morning beach walk, her and I, and the food and water have been taken care of, she takes to the basket. Flaked out she is, her snout pointed in my direction as I make my breakfast. Only her eyes move, following my path around the kitchen area. Then, the clincher: every time I look in her direction, still totally still, she wags her tail at me. Just a couple of minimum effort thumps off the end of the basket.
Sometimes I am not looking at her and my mind is elsewhere as I pass the basket and I just hear those little thumps. Kills me every time.
— Enda Sheppard