Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


The Best of Friends

On Monday Fred went back to school, between seizures and sickness he had been off for a full week. That’s a long time for a little man who needs all the education and interaction he can get. So on Sunday when his appetite returned it was all systems go for Monday morning. Not that he was happy about it but the news that he had only three days until the mid-term break softened the blow. On the other side Ruby was off for the full week, which only added to Fred’s sense of being the victim. The week that he’d just put down really was a lost week; constantly tired, sleeping, and feeling dopey, it  was like going back to the bad days for us. When he woke up Sunday hungry and then during the day looking to do things other than sitting on the couch, we were very relieved. If asked, Fred would probably agree, under pressure, that going back to school was for the better.

Usually now I drop him at the gate but as he’d been off, the two of us went into the school together. Everyone was happy to see the man and the welcome reminded me of how great Blennerville is for Fred. As usual Fred pretended to be shy and held back by the front door, just next to the coat hooks. Denise came out with a big hello as did Muinteoir Rose, and Fred smiled his best ‘please don’t be too hard on me’ smile which, along with his worried face gets them every time. Behind Fred though was Jaden, a big smile on his face too and when Fred turned to see him he looked like the happiest boy in Ireland. The two walked into the classroom together, Fred not even saying goodbye, which delighted me, he needs that independence another friend gives him.

At lunchtime Rose suggested to Lisa that Fred could do with more social activity. They both agreed he’d stay until 1.30pm, a time when the class tends to be more social and it would also make Fred feel part of the whole set-up. The sooner he’s looked upon as part of the class from start to finish the better, not some figure that comes and goes like an outsider. It’s only an extra half hour and the idea is to push it up to 2pm from next week. Fred will become a fulltime student once again. Also we’re going to get him to school early so as he’ll be part of the hustle and bustle of the morning activities. As it is we’ve being getting him in just as class begins and then he heads off for an hour with his resource teacher Olivia. From now on he’ll get to settle with friends before heading off and that can only benefit him. Fred also will take Jaden and another friend with him to resource teaching, to play board games once or twice a week. This will help him make new friends and increase his social activities. It’s all go for the man.

On Tuesday Fred was up and at ‘em early. He hardly had a chance to sit still after breakfast before we had him on the road. The extra few minutes will be great for him. When he came home about 1.40pm I asked Lisa how he had been with the jump. Fred didn’t even notice and of course he loved the extra time spent with friends. We know that he can only benefit from all this and when he goes to 2pm next week, the first part of his reintegration will be complete. Such a difference from last year when the thought of school terrified us.

When he came in the door I asked Fred how he got on...

“Oh fine,” he answered, “but there’s good news.”


“Yes, tomorrow we’re playing snakes and ladders!”

Snakes and Ladders at school, whatever next.

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday Fred had Ms O’Se around for his hour of teaching in the afternoon. Much to his annoyance but it really does benefit him. Ms O’Se doesn’t take any nonsense from Fred and he knows, eventually, that there is now no getting out of it. This doesn’t stop Fred giving out or pretending to have confusion or fight with his mother over Ms O’Se coming. The fighting with the mother is usually when I have to step in, as Fred blames Lisa for most bad happenings. He gets so cross and at times violent so it’s best I deal with it before he gets out of hand. The best I can do is threatening no more Jaden or Godzilla or in the extreme, banish Fred to his bedroom. When sent to the bedroom he calms down eventually but his strong will sometimes takes time to see reason and he has been known to spend a couple of hours in the cooler. Like Steve McQueen in The Great Escape the time in the cooler doesn’t seem to bother him but unlike in the movie Fred usually ends his time with a cuddle.

On Thursday though Fred was free of it all. No early rises for school, no Denise and no Ms O’Se in the afternoon. Ruby had already had three days of it and now Fred was going to enjoy his midterm.  About 9.30am I decided to get him up for breakfast. Routine is still important for Fred and messing around with sleep patterns can be a trigger. As I tried to get him out of bed all I got was...

“I’m tired Dad,” as he rolled over for more sleeping, back in under the warm duvet.

Again I tried to drag him out of the bed...

“But Dad, I’m not finished dreaming yet.”

What a great line. This time though he got up and came down for breakfast. Over breakfast he asked about Jaden coming over. It had been a couple of weeks and Fred loves having J over as does Jaden love coming to Fred’s house. Lisa sent Jaden’s Mum a text and went off for her run.

A bit later I got a text. Jaden was ready to be collected. Fred and I set off to get the man...

“Take the short cut Dad,” I was instructed and Fred showed me another way to get to Jaden’s house.

“Now when we get there, you wait in the car and I’ll go in and get Jaden. Ok my Dad?”

“Ok, my Fred.”

At the house Fred ran in and a few minutes later the two came out, laden down with sweets. Jaden was full of fun, obviously delighted to see Freddie too. As Fred got in I noticed he had a Nintendo DS in his hand, he’s taken it off the shelf in Jaden’s front room.

Unfortunately though he loves it, the DS jumbles Fred’s brain. After time playing it his speech is really bad and he can be very dopey or forgetful. Somehow Jaden knew this, maybe Lisa had mentioned it before.

“You can’t play with that Freddie, it’s bad for you,” he said and quite sternly too.

“But I just want to look at it,” Fred countered.

“It’s broken and it will hurt your eyes.”

Ok,” a disconsolate Fred said, putting it down, but keeping it near.

For rest of the day the two played and had great fun. At one stage, not long after they arrived Fred came in looking for a bowl. When I went in later to check on them they had the laptop on the ground, a big blanket wrapped around them and a bowl of skittles wedged between them. A nearly empty bowl. The two had been guzzling to their hearts content. Luckily they hadn’t opened the second party bag and I confiscated it along with the bowl, what was left of it. For the rest of the day Jaden was as high as a kite, full of giggles and fun. Thankfully Fred’s medicines kept him someway sober, one good side effect in the circumstances.

At dinner time the two had a treat of burger and chips. Jaden wolfed his down and asked what I was having for mine...

“Oh you wouldn’t like that hot chilli,” Lisa said, “it’ll burn your mouth.”

It was a hot one too; much hotter than I meant to make it but I’d assumed the green chillies weren’t as hot as they were. In fact I was taking my time eating it.

“I love hot chilli,” Jaden said, “my Dad makes hot chilli all the time.”

Fred looked worried.

He looked even more worried when Jaden polished off the plate, in seconds flat and asked for more.

“But Jaden you can’t eat more, you’ll burst.”

“I love it,” Jaden said, tucking into a second plate.

“But Jaden,” Fred was really worried, “you’ll get bigger and bigger and you’ll burst.”

There was real concern in Fred’s voice. Jaden is a slight figure and he was woofing away the chilli, licking the plate when finishing the second helping. Lisa reckoned Fred was worried that something might happen to Jaden and then Fred wouldn’t have his friend anymore. Fred was genuinely worried.

Later Lisa and Jaden were having a chat when taking him home...

“Fred is getting better all the time. I notice it each time I come over,” Jaden said.

Lisa was in tears telling me later.

Between Jaden bursting and Fred getting the better, the two really look out for each other.

What more could you want from a friend?


Posted by John Verling

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