Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


You’re Truly Scrumptious

Fred is downstairs making chocolate biscuit cake with his mother. We’re going to the school end of year barbecue this afternoon and everyone is bringing something. Last night Lisa made about a thousand mini meringues which they are going to dribble with chocolate before dropping them to the party. With the cake and meringues the kids are going to crawl home from the barbecue, if the parents don’t eat them all first. Hopefully they’ll remember the Verlings for more than just Fred’s epilepsy when we eventually leave Blennerville, raised cholesterol being one alternative.

The man is on probation though. This week he reverted to the silly phase of not doing what he’s asked. Part of this is his strong-minded attitude, which we wouldn’t change for the world. Ruby was the same at his age and still is now, except now she disdains of her parents and she’s the one telling us to behave. With Fred though he just walks away, won’t talk and pretends to be unable to hear.  It’s very frustrating when all you want him to do is come in for dinner and he ignores you. Doubly so for his mother who isn’t used to being ignored, though I can still hear her saying “That child!” when infuriated by Ruby doing the ignoring a few years back.  Unfortunately with Freddie we have to be able to trust him, to get him to do as asked because running away or not responding can be dangerous. How many times in the past have we had to pick him off the ground when he’s gone off in a strop? The image of him dropping ten feet off a ditch into a deep stream a few years ago will haunt me forever. That too was when he was refusing to get in the car and ran off instead.

So it with this fear in our heads and annoyance at his childish behaviour that we’ve been coming down hard on Fred this week. A few times he’s been sent to bed early and the threat of ‘never being allowed out again’ has been issued too. Even this morning breakfast was going to Muttley until he agreed to put King Kong away. It must be very difficult for Fred, he wants his independence but we can’t give it to him until we can trust in him fully. Having said that, last night Fred went for a walk but came home as he’d gotten ‘a fright’ when the confusion descended on him. That’s responsibility, he knew that all wasn’t ok and he came home. A few swipes of the magnet and he was as right as rain...

“Where did you get the confusion?” asked Lisa.

“Over by the trees.”

“Which trees?”

“The tall ones.”

“What tall ones?”

“You know, the old ones.”

Not ‘the trees behind Billy’s house,' no, that would be too simple and not half descriptive enough for Fred. May that never change...

Again this week Fred hasn’t been sleeping or at least not going to sleep on time. On Tuesday we had another lights on, door slamming and Fred appearing at the end of the stairs. Wednesday night though he slipped back into a pattern and has been drifting off by ten o’clock, with no fighting. Just as well as the World Cup began on Thursday night and there is a lot of football to watched, hopefully in peace.

On Tuesday Fred went playing hurling with his class. Denise told me on Monday that she’d be with him and would keep a close eye. When I went to collect Fred after school she was full of how good Fred had been and how he looked the part with his helmet, flipping the ball off the ground like Christy Ring in his prime.  Christy Ring was my reference, Denise being young enough to be the maestro’s granddaughter. Now that we are getting some control over Fred’s epilepsy and he’s becoming more aware of the confusion, days of playing Hurling or other sports may come back.

Not that Fred is without his interests. On Monday he wanted to take his shark book to school for ‘show and tell.’ Not that Ms O’Connor was doing this; it was something Fred picked up from an American TV show. In went the book and when Fred got to school he dropped his bag quickly on the table and went looking for it.

“I brought something,” I heard him say as I left.

Afterwards Ms O’Connor said he was brilliant. Fred gave an impromptu, uninterrupted talk to the class on sharks and all the different species. I don’t know if he went into a scene by scene breakdown of Jaws but they’d probably still be there if he had...

School is really working out for him. On Thursday Ruby and I were driving past at lunchtime when we slowed to have a look. There was Fred in full conversation with two girls, walking around the side of the building, Denise a few paces behind. It was lovely to see. Ms O’Connor told us that now they are wearing polo shirts due to the hot weather, Fred is pulling down his open top and showing the girls his surgery scar. That will do it every time.

On Friday the class went on their annual walk, along the mountain and down onto Derrymore beach, a good three hours of trekking. Unfortunately it was too far off the road for Fred to go but we met them all on the beach at lunchtime. The welcome Fred got was lovely. As I walked down the path I could hear the word go around “here’s Freddie,” and they all dropped what they were doing to talk with the man. Fred was straight into the stream and a lovely girl called Molly came over to give him her bucket and spade. Lisa was the big hit though; she had made cream buns and chocolate chip cookies which she was doling out like Truly Scrumptious from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  The kids swarmed around her and the buns were gone in double quick time. A few boys were boasting that they’d gotten two, their faces covered in cream and chocolate. Fred went home on the bus with the rest of the kids, Denise taking the magnet just in case.

If only all school days could be like Friday, I’d go back myself.

Now it’s time to go to the barbecue. Last year it didn’t occur to us to go; now we’re looking forward to the afternoon.

No doubt Truly Scrumptious will be a big hit.

Not just with the kids either.


Posted by John Verling

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