Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


Nights Away and a Broken Laptop

We are a very tired household this morning.  Lisa was away in Dingle at a 50th birthday party last night, probably her first voluntary, non-family outing, away from Fred in years. Ruby and I were joking that Lisa wouldn’t or couldn’t stay the night away and would be home by 2am. She confounded us though and didn’t return until gone 8.30am this morning, a record in current times. Yesterday too I was away at a wedding, though I was home by 6.30pm, so Lisa could head to her party. So all in all we’re a very tired family, except for Fred who is up for anything, having gotten dressed earlier.

For me I stayed away on Friday night, the second time in recent weeks. I brought Fred to school Friday morning and said my goodbyes at the gate. As part of trying to keep Fred on a normal path we didn’t mention that I was going away for an overnighter. Fred tends to obsess about upcoming events, to the detriment of what is going on around him. Ms O’Connor at school had mentioned it to Lisa at a recent catch up, that once Fred knows something is on the horizon that will be all he talks about for the rest of the week. He won’t be able to concentrate on his work, just talk about going to Dublin or that Aunty Clare is coming on a visit.

It had slipped out earlier in the week and Fred asked if he could come. If I hadn’t been combining a work trip with the wedding I would have taken the man with me. The two men off on a road trip would have been great and is now feasible so maybe the next time...we’ll see.

When I explained this to Fred he seemed to understand, another positive sign. Instead of being disappointed in not going he got involved in my preparations for the wedding. My suit, which I hadn’t worn in about five years I’m happy to say no longer fits me as it is too big. I tried it on last week but instead of it being to too tight, it was hanging off me. Lisa had a few choice words about how ridiculous I looked, saying I looked like a member of a certain minority community to which Ruby and I got great fun. So after failing to sell her a power washer or a chainsaw we decided to take a visit to the suit shops around town. After looking at a few new suits we stopped in with a rental place, Fred with us as it was just after school.

Fred was delighted to be involved, saying to the man...”ah excuse me we need a new suit for my Dad.” Without much fuss one was found and booked for Thursday collection. Fred did ask for a suit for himself but didn’t go on obsessively about it which was great. He knew he wasn’t going, so helping out was his next objective.

On Thursday morning Fred reminded me that I had to collect my suit, and after Ms O’Se in the afternoon the two of us set off. It didn’t even occur to me to be fearful of anything happening, we just got in the car and went about our business. Firstly we collected the suit, Fred telling the man again why we were there. After the suit collection the two of us went to the barbers, to get my beard trimmed. The barber had a new assistant and she did the trimming while Fred chatted to the barber about the various pieces of equipment in the shop. The two had a great chat, using the different chairs and talking about scissors. Seeing Fred carrying on a conversation with another person is great; true the barber had to come around to Fred’s way of thinking but they had fun once the conversation found a common subject. As we left Fred turned and said,

“Thank you for cutting my Daddy’s beard,” which went down well.

There was still time for the library as I had to collect a book for Ruby. In the kids section Fred found a Ben10 book which he hadn’t read and we took that out as well. He’s been carrying it around with him ever since, taking it to school and to bed. The librarian recognised Freddie as she used to be on the Mobile Library which calls to his school. Just shows that once you meet our Fred you never forget him.

After the library we did some grocery shopping, Fred carrying the basket and me dropping in the messages. Again Fred did as I asked, no obsessing about having to have certain products which may have led to fights in the past. We did a big shop and Fred did get the cream crackers he loves, “the square white crackers” as he calls them, he wanted them for school lunch.

We were away for nearly two hours and the time flew by. It was lovely to be just out doing things, having fun and leading a bit of a normal life. Back home I asked Lisa why she hadn’t rung, I knew she’d be worried but she was being strong, trying to assume all was ok. It was too but it’s not easy when you are the one at home, waiting for the phone to ring as had happened so much before.

We had a peaceful evening; Ruby was away at a match followed by a fashion show and so wasn’t coming home. Unfortunately Wednesday night before hadn’t been the same. Fred, after watching a YouTube video of Godzilla battles, got up off the chair with the laptop in his hand. I told him to put it on the shelf and to get himself settled for the evening. This he did but as he walked away from the shelf I could see the cable from the charger was wrapped around his leg. Instead of untangling himself Fred pulled at the cable with his leg. In the blink of an eye the laptop flew off the shelf and with a loud smack, landed on the wooden floor. The sound was bad enough but the roar of “for fucks sake” from me was twice as bad. Fred looked at me and turned to run, the cable still wrapped around his leg. He pulled again, wrenching it from the computer with a snap...

“Where are you going?” Lisa asked.

“To the toilet,” Fred said over his shoulder.

There he stayed while I checked the laptop, which I couldn’t fix and is now in the repair shop. Eventually, when he reckoned the coast was clear, Fred emerged. In he walked, head down, not looking at me. For the rest of the evening he cuddled to his Mum, turning to me every now and again, looking at me with his big brown eyes full of sorrow...

“Sorry I broke your computer Dad,” he’s say from time to time, “it was an accident.”

“Hmm” was all he got from me, but I wasn’t mad at him for long.

How could I be?

Last night the two of us cuddled for the evening, the man had missed me while I was away, as I did him, and he wasn’t letting me out of his sight.

The computer hasn’t been mentioned. I doubt if he has forgotten but I know he’s hoping I have.

We’ll see how long it will go before one of us brings it up.


Posted by John Verling

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