(Another piece inspired by the frustrations of dealing with a young teenage daughter)
“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.
My latest Daddy Homily gets shorter than short shrift
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 is beautiful.
I’m looking at my gorgeous daughter so tall and blossoming, in her navy Superdry hoodie and skinny jeans, her tawny hair up in a ponytail to stop her fiddling with it in school. And driving her teacher nuts. Coming to the end of primary school and thoughts turning with trepidation and excitement to secondary and the changes ahead.
(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.
Your 13-year-old daughter slinking off to lock braces with that hair-gelled budding Lothario in the woods? Juliette and her Romeo will be parted before they’ve even met. Young love hurts, but not as much as low-voltage electricity.
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 asI pass the basket and I just hear those little thumps.Kills me every time.
(Short story broadcast on Tramore Community Radio, July 2016)
I was only eight years old and deep in the fretless days of an untroubled boyhood – but copped on enough not to be completely taken in when old Pop Linnane asked if I wanted to keep his dog Spot.
Granted this little wiry white-haired terrier mix with the black patch over his right eye had been practically living at our place, but I knew Pop’s generosity had more to do with the fact that Spot had a penchant for going at adults, especially ones dressed in black.
And our town was full of nuns, priests and Christian Brothers.
Pop – Mr Linnane to his face – was probably in his late Seventies then, but to me he was just vaguely ancient. Like Methuselah without the long beard. He always wore a grey gentleman’s hat, and was only bald every Sunday during 9.30 Mass.
My elderly dad stays in my flat. A far cry from tense city trips as a kid
My father was asleep in his cot at the foot of my bed. Actually, Dad was in the little camping bed I had borrowed when he told me he was coming to Dublin and asked to stay at my Rathmines flat overnight.
He had been invited to the Garda Club on Harcourt Streetfor the 25th anniversary reunion of a class he had instructed at the Garda Training Centre in Templemore.
It was early morning and in the gathering light filtering through the curtains I could just discern the tousled track of white hair running around nature’s tonsure and the red tip of one ear above the swathe of blankets.
Muffled by the covers, his snores had moved down a few decibels and I found myself smiling.