Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


This Charming Man

On Thursday I set off to collect Fred around 2pm. As I got to the school Denise was standing at the side of the road, waving me down. Though not having Fred with her was unusual I wasn’t concerned. So has our lives changed that a few months back the sight of Denise on her own would have me assuming the worst, now I saw nothing unusual in it.

She came out on the road to meet me...

“All is ok,” she kept saying over and over again, reassuring me though I wasn’t yet worried, “he’s down in the park with Ms O’Connor and the other kids.”

Denise had Fred’s bag with her, she’d walked back to collect it and to find me when 2pm came. She jumped in the back and we set off to the little park by Blennerville Windmill.

“He’s had a great day,” Denise said to me in the rear view mirror, like a taxi ride. “He’s been playing football all morning and then went on the nature walk down to the park. He’s in great form all together.”

“He’s had a great week,” I answered proudly, catching Denise’s eye in the mirror, to which she nodded.

This was Activity Week at school. Every morning I’ve dropped Freddie at the Windmill car park where the whole school had gathered. From there they’d walk in convoy to school, no more than a ten minute journey but all part of getting the kids out and about. The excitement was massive each morning and once I dropped Fred with Denise I’d head off. On Tuesday I went to the bottle bank afterwards and passed the hundred or so kids walking along the footpath as I made my way home. Fred in the middle of them, holding hands with Denise, Jaden on her other side. All three full of chat and laughter, it was great to see.

Fred and Jaden are on a bit of a break. In the last couple of weeks they had a few rows at school and though still friends, they seem to be not as close as they were last month. One row seemed to be that Fred wouldn’t sit down in the classroom. Jaden told Fred to sit down as something might happen to him, Jaden having gotten the worrying bug from being around our house. Newly confident Fred wasn’t having it and brushed Jaden’s arm away when he went to pull him back into his seat. A few pushes were exchanged and the two fell out as a result. Jaden told Fred he’d have to find a new friend, poor Fred was very upset at that one.

Another row was started by Fred breaking Denise’s rubber. Jaden took exception at this and punched Fred in the arm, according to Fred who sang like a canary when asked. Some pinches were exchanged and the two went their separate ways for a while. Fred hasn’t asked to have Jaden over this weekend and apparently cold war conditions are still operating in the school yard. All part of school life and no doubt to the two will be reconciled in the coming week. If anything Jaden just wants to care for Fred but Fred isn’t having it anymore so the two will have to find a happy medium.

With all the activities this week the two haven’t spent as much time together as usual so they haven’t had the time to make up their differences. On Monday when I collected Fred it turned out he’d spent the morning orienteering at the local GAA pitch and had been on a Garda Search and Rescue mock mission. The photo of Fred sitting in the patrol car took pride of place on the school website. When Fred came home he told me about the sniffer dogs and all the running. He’d been in Olivia’s orienteering team and later she was full of how out of breath he was but still wouldn’t stop running. Fred even did a sample run up and down the front room of how out of breath he had been but also showing how much he loved it.  Luckily Lisa didn’t know he’d been doing all that activity or the Rescue team may have had to make a call to Ballyard.

Tuesday was a quiet day, just the walk to school and football in the yard. Lisa collected Fred from school but just as he came out the front door he vomited all over the entrance. Denise said afterwards that it was either in the porch or out in the yard and so she rushed him out the door. Fred came home a very sorry looking figure and we feared the worst. Though he stayed in for the afternoon the seizure activity never materialised and Fred had a big dinner...

“It was just apple puke,” Fred told me later, confirmed the next day by Denise as she told me what Fred had left on the doorstep.

The man was back at school Wednesday morning as if nothing had happened and all the school were delighted to see him at the windmill in time for the walk. A day of activities again and he was a tired boy when he came home at 2pm. No escaping Ms O’Se though and she was around for homework at three o’clock. There was time before that for Fred to get his first nettle sting of the season while playing outside. This he proudly showed to Ms O’Se, half in an attempt to get her to go easy with the homework than anything else. The two told me how they’d had been making Rice Krispie cakes at school that morning, enough for the rest of the class. Though going in Blennerville this week.

Funny how the week went. On Monday Fred was adamant that he was finished with school, vowing that he would never return. This in part was due to the fighting with Jaden and also the natural rebelling of any eleven year old. In the end though it was probably his best so far, loads of fun and giant steps in his getting back to normal.

One big, noticeable improvement has been in his walk. No more the slouching, head down, ponderous gait of the last couple of years. Now he walks with confidence, head up and proper strides, better than his elegant mother even. Denise was telling me on Thursday that Fred wouldn’t have her walk with him in the playground. He told her to go away and strode off; stopping to talk with others he met on his way. Denise of course wasn’t too far behind but Fred kept looking over his shoulder to check that she was far enough away. In typical Fred style he was too busy looking over his shoulder to mind where he was going and narrowly missed the wall a few times.

Denise was laughing at this as she sat in the back of the car on our trip to the park. When we got there Fred was in the middle of a group of friends, Jaden off with another group. As Denise got out of the car Fred walked up to her, hands behind his back. Just as he stopped in front of her he produced the bunch of daisies he’d picked while she was getting his bag...

“These are for you,” Fred said holding them up, “I picked them.”

Denise was overcome.

With that Fred got into the car with a big thank you and goodbyes all round.

What a way to end a great week.



Posted by John Verling

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