Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


And Keith Was There Too

It’s a bank holiday Monday and we’re having a lazy weekend. So much so that when I went to lock up last night all doors were already locked, not one of us had stepped outside all day. A lost day but not like some of the lost days we’ve had in the last few years, all was ok, it just worked out that way. Fred has been good for the last week, fitting with the two-week cycle he’s slipped into over the last few months. Now it is May, nearly five months since we came under the wonderful team in Temple Street and our quality of life has improved immensely. Today we’re going on a drive, at Fred’s request, he loves the trips out and I think this is the first such drive in a couple of years. He was so unstable that a drive could set him off and in line with that, a fear built up in us. So it’s a family day out, ice creams and a trip to Fenit. Mind you it will only be a proper Verling family drive if we manage a row or two…


This week Freddie wanted me to take him to school. On Tuesday the two of us set off. Lisa took Ruby to school, leaving the house at 8am, the two men under strict instruction on how to behave. Following our instructions to the letter, the two of us were ready and out of the house by 8.35. Fred was full of excitement; he had the whole thing prepared…


“Now we’ll going in and I’ll say to my teacher ‘I have a surprise’, then you’ll come in…’surprise!’ was Fred’s plan.


I was so nervous about getting everything right that we left far too early. Fred gave me instructions as we drove…


“We go up the up road…” drive up the hill.

“Round and round to the straight road” take the bendy road till it straightens out.


The two of us were about ten minutes early, standing in Fred’s classroom waiting for the kids to come in. The kids were outside running around, it was great to hear them and I can’t wait for the day that Fred will be able to join them. Memories of my own school time came back to me too, thankfully for the kids of today the fear seems to be gone. When they all came in laughing and chatting, happy to be at school I could see Freddie is in the right place. Some of the kids said hello to him, a couple of earnest ones went straight to their desks and took out their books, other were busy chatting.


Fred introduced me to his SNA Denise and I think he has her wrapped already, afterwards she told me how they’d watched Godzilla on YouTube…


I slipped out and sat in the car. Now I know what Lisa goes through every day. Each time the door opened my heart jumped, any movement in the schoolyard and I was checking it out, my phone was checked every two seconds to make sure it was on. When Lisa came back from Dingle, she stopped for a chat. She was laughing at me being up to the high doh with worry, happy that she isn’t the only nut in the relationship.


When it came time to go in and collect him, why does time go so slowly in these cases, I had a look in the window first. Fred was busy doing drawing so I left them alone for a few minutes, eventually one of the other kids noticed me at the window and I was brought in to take the man home. Such a relief to be able to do these normal everyday activities, go to school, go to the beach, just ordinary things we would have seen as daily chores not long ago.


During the week, I went out to Dingle to do a few jobs and catch up with some OLD friends over fromEnglandfor the week. It was lovely to be someway relaxed, to be able to report good times with Freddie for a change. Of course we’re never fully relaxed but I think we’re learning to live with a certain amount of fear and its great for Fred. Over lunch with Trevor and friends, we went back over old times and told some good funny stories, most of them unrepeatable in print due to libel laws.


When I got home with Ruby all was ok, Fred was watching TV eating his dinner, just as things should be, just how we want them.


On Friday, I did the same trip again, except this time Tara and Hannah came home with us. Fred was over the moon having the girls over and soon had them on the couch, cuddled up between them, just how he likes it. The girls are very fond of him too and they love his little ways, he always gets a laugh with the two. They went home on Saturday but Fred’s disappointment was offset by the visit of Trev, Glenn and Gaye, who called in on their way home. Not long ago we would have been full of fear of someone calling over in case the excitement set Fred off. This year though Fred met the visitors at the door, shook their hands and was the perfect host. Even when they left he walked them to the door, waving them off before carrying on with his day.


What a difference a bit of confidence makes.


Just now Fred came in from the garden with his fingers covered in nettle stings. He didn’t know what had happened him, he asked Lisa to take the stings out. I went and got some doc leaves, the usual cure for nettle stings. Now he’s sitting on the couch looking sad and his fingers wrapped in giant doc leaves.


Getting stung by nettles, fingers wrapped in doc leaves, all part of a boy’s growing up and a welcome part of Fred’s normalization process.


Fred mightn’t appreciate the nettle stings but I’m delighted he’s getting these experiences in eventually.


Far better than a lot of the little man’s experiences so far in his life.








Posted by John Verling

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