Dad’s world with Jonathan deBurca Butler

THE path of true parenting rarely runs smooth. So when last week myself and Ciara had a rare moment of pater et mater harmonium we were a little tickled.

Dad’s world with Jonathan deBurca Butler

For once the incident in question centred on Luke. It was early evening, around 5.45 or so, and as Mary Wilson was about to sign off for the night, we handed the boys their dinner.

More often than not, dinner involves some form of pasta but tonight we wanted to skip it and have something different. Meatballs were on the menu.

They had been a resounding success before so we didn’t expect any problems. Indeed we got none from Fionn who almost demolished them straight away but number two was different.

As we approached his high chair Luke said “nooooooo” in his own inimitable and very cute manner, but we persisted and put his little orange bowl in front of him.

Suddenly, and most unexpectedly, he lashed out, grabbing the bowl and flinging it full force across the room.

There was a split second silence as myself and Ciara looked at each other, looked at Luke, looked back at each other, this time trying not to laugh, and then, finally, without saying anything to each other, looked back at Luke and in unison uttered the word “bed!”

Now let me just fill you in here. Luke is just over one-year-old so we don’t fully expect the idea of “bed!” to register with him.

But there is an issue of being seen to act fairly in front of our eldest, Fionn, who is three and who has a keen sense of justice.

I took Luke out of his chair and brought him upstairs.

“I’ll warm up an Ella’s Kitchen, will I?” Ciara asked. “We have to give him something when he comes back down.”

I agreed with her but had something else in mind. Luke went upstairs and, in typical fashion, wasn’t really bothered about being put in his comfy little prison where teddy and all his other mates were hanging out anyway.

I went downstairs where Fionn inquired as to his little brother’s whereabouts. “Did you put him straight to bed, Daddy?”

“I did.”

Fionn seemed satisfied with that and got on with his dinner.

About three minutes later I went back upstairs. There hadn’t been a word out of Luke since bowlgate but he knew he had been bold.

I put him back in his chair but instead of giving him the Ella’s that was warming in a flowery mug by the kettle, I tried the meatballs again.

An air of suspense hung over the room. For a moment, it was like a scene from a Sergio Leone spaghetti western as myself and Ciara stood back from his high chair and waited to see what he’d do with the spoon he had drawn and was now holding in his hand.

He looked at his mummy and as he turned to look at me, a little smile rippled across his face.

I’m not sure but a little bead of sweat might have raced down my forehead.

After all, the stakes were high. If he ate the meatballs we had had a parenting success and he had got the message without too much fuss. If he didn’t, myself and Ciara were facing a lifetime of rebellion, piercings, and bad school reports.

It seemed like an eternity but the little mite took his spoon and scooped up a great big dollop of the food, shovelling it into his mouth with a great big gobby “ohm”.

Myself and Ciara looked at each other. You could see we both wanted to burst into song but we managed to hold ourselves back. For once we had done something right, persisted, and seen the fruits (or meatballs, in this case) of our labours. The washing-up was just a little easier that night.

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