Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


Fred Quits School

This week had a first for Fred, at least something he hadn’t had in a long time. He was off school Monday with a cold. For once it was a normal, everyday infection that grounded him and something that kids get every day. Another bit of normality for our Fred. Not that he didn’t know how to milk it. The duvet was brought down from the bed and he got a whole day of watching whatever he wanted. Every now and then he’d let out a sigh or do a big sniff, just letting us know that he was suffering, that the day home was justified.

In the evening he turned his sick face to me and said:

“Dad, I can’t go to school anymore.”

“Why?” I asked, smiling at the sincerity in his eyes.

“Cos, I have a cold, that’s the why.”

So as far as Fred was concerned the cold was putting an end to his school days, he’d done that and now it was time to move on. As it happens, as the day progressed he recovered strongly, enough for him to go back on Tuesday. In essence he’d had the cold all weekend and Monday was only a day of recuperation.  Funnily enough he hasn’t had many sick days over the last few years, probably not mixing with other kids kept him away from infection. Now he’s back at school and whatever is going around Fred is bound to catch. This cold was being blamed on Jayden as Fred reckoned he’d had it first. Poor Jayden wasn’t there to defend himself.

All in all this back to school process has gone very well. Fred has adapted well and seems to have made some friends too. Jayden has been over and there have been mentions of other names as well. His reading has come on leaps and bounds. He was doing homework with Lisa during the week and read his book from cover to cover without a stumble. The writing could be better, he still tends to make the letters too big but that will resolve itself in time. Fred is good at maths, he flies through the sums Denise gives him and seems to be getting the hang of the sums quickly enough.

Each day this week I collected him from school. Out he’d come with a different sticker from Denise on his jumper. “Excellent work” or “star” would be one day and “great” or “wonderful” another day.

Into the car Fred will jump...

“I did great work today Dad, I was excellent” he’ll say, bag still on his back, the shirt more than likely hanging out but a happy little man and that’s all we can ask for.

Back home he’ll always say is that he’s not doing any homework; his job is done for the day. The class diary will say differently though and after a bit of cajoling in the afternoon he’ll usually sit down at the kitchen table to do it. It’s getting slightly easier, he won’t fight to the bitter end to avoid doing it but he certainly won’t come easily. What kid does though?

On Wednesday as he was settling into being home, I emptied the school bag. It felt heavy, heavier than usual and when I opened the middle section there was a brachiosaurus, one of the solid German made models he got a few years ago. Obviously Fred decided it needed a trip to school and had snuck it in when Mummy wasn’t watching. Whether Jayden was shown it, I don’t know but I’m sure Denise must have seen it when getting his stuff together. Sometimes I think Fred brings these toys along with the idea of showing them to his friends but in the fun of school he forgets all about them. Or maybe he wants them for the comfort factor, who knows with our Fred?

The first thing Fred does is strip off the uniform and throw it to the four corners of the front room, then he’ll ask for lunch. On Tuesday I went up to get him a change of clothes and I spotted a pair of jeans he hadn’t worn for a while. When he put them on I could see why, he’d grown a bit since and they were a size or two too small. But Fred squeezed into them, looked at his legs and suddenly started smiling. He put his hands in his pockets and said:

“Look Daddy, I’m just like you!” We have the same jeans!” he looked as proud as punch and I started laughing, I didn’t half fill mine as well as Fred did his.

He followed me around, hands in his pockets, smiling. When Lisa came in she couldn’t stop laughing at the tight fitting jeans on the man but loved how he thought he looked like Daddy.

On Friday I had to go collect our car from the garage in Limerick. Two weeks and a day from when they first received it. I was upstairs when I got the call and when I came down to set off, Fred was lying out in Lisa’s arms. He’d suddenly felt the confusion coming on and had quickly gotten into his mother’s arms to try sleep it off. For all the abuse Lisa gets from both Ruby and Freddie it’s always her they turn to when in trouble. Its testament to the mother she is and how much they actually do love her.

Lisa wouldn’t listen to my not going, she sent me on my way with the logic that, it was only the afternoon away and not to let it break up the weekend by going off on Saturday instead. So off I went. Fred was very quickly in a deep sleep, it’s amazing how an onset of confusion can do that.

Once I got to Limerick and retrieved our car I called home. Fred was awake and doing well, looking for dinner and watching a DVD. The relief to hear his voice in the background calling his Mum was massive. Back to Tralee I drove and got the biggest welcome home ever from the little man. You’d think I’d been at sea for the last year the way he ran out to meet me.

Soon though it was obvious things weren’t well. Hannah was over, which made Fred very happy, but he didn’t say a word when she came in the room. Instead he had that look of fear that comes over him sometimes, those times he knows there a seizure on its way. Into his mother’s arms again but this time Lisa took him up to bed. Being prepared is the key here. We got him to the toilet and laid out the bed, where he’d be safe.

Fred wasn’t two minutes in the bed when the seizure struck. However there was a lot of shuddering not the full blown explosion of the usual kind. His eyes had flickered a lot leading into to it and he looked as if he was fighting it. It lasted the usual ninety seconds or so and he relaxed on his mother after it was all over. When he was safe I went back down to eat my dinner and chat with the girls.

About an hour later I went up to check on them again. Fred was full of shakes; his whole body was shaking, shuddering really but not going into seizure. Remarkably he was awake, the poor little man only too aware of what was happening. I sat in beside him.

Eventually the mother of all angry seizures broke through. Like a racing car revving up for the off, it blasted through and gave Fred a fair whacking but he took it. After a couple of minutes it passed and Lisa sent me away again. She likes to take charge of these episodes and doesn’t need me fussing about. When not directly involved I tend to hover about, probably getting in the way more than anything else. I did what I was told but first made a cup of tea for Lisa.

Every now and again I’d check in on what was happening but all was fine, Fred was sleeping heavily but no more activity. At about 11pm I went up to bed but Lisa sent me off upstairs, she wasn’t for moving. All I could do was what I was told and kissed my sleeping man goodnight.

For once I must have slept well for the next thing I knew it was 7.30am. I rushed downstairs and in the bedroom the two were almost exactly as I’d left them. Fred had had a peaceful night and was sleeping it off. Lisa allowed me take over and off she went for a walk.

Normal service had been resumed.

Fred got up with me about an hour later and we made a big breakfast. Ella and Ben came for a quick visit and though Fred didn’t come in from the front room it was more out of tiredness than anything else. Even as they left he came out to say goodbye and did a few laps of the estate after they’d gone.

Sometimes he recovers so strongly and so quickly it is amazing. However he didn’t have much of an appetite and complained of a headache last night before going to bed.

Considering he’d carried on during the day as if Friday night hadn’t happened, they were only small complaints.

The little man bounces back with aplomb.




Posted by John Verling

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