Dad’s World with Jonathan deBurca Butler

A STORY appeared recently about a man who used a rather unique mode of transport to bring his son to his first day of school.

According to the report, the child, who we’re told lives in the Ukraine, came to his new alma mater in a tank, yes that’s a tank, driven by his old man.

The boy’s classmates were suitably impressed and spent the few minutes before the school bell rang climbing all over the deadly piece of armoury and getting their photos taken with their new best friend and his pops.

It was quite an entrance and one which is likely to make that child beam with pride every time he thinks of his father. I bring this up because I had my first taste of being the object of my son’s pride the other day and thankfully it didn’t involve being in the military.

Myself, Fionn (three) and Luke (one) were out on the neighbourhood green, kicking football. It was a clear, crisp afternoon with plenty of fresh air knocking about. 

We had the place to ourselves and as myself and Fionn practised, what he calls, ‘our moves’, Luke wandered around the place singing and picking things up. 

As we got into our training regime — Fionn has a very cultured left foot — we noticed another family approaching. Fionn recognised them straight away.

It was Rory, who I had heard of but never met, and his family, who I had also heard of but never actually met. 

The parents acknowledged each other, in that shy will-we-speak-to-each-other manner, but it quickly became apparent that the two boys wanted to engage in something more than just a cursory hello.

Luke quickly took a shine to Rory’s little sister and before he’d even discovered her name the two of them were off wandering around the park, singing and picking things up. 

While the adults introduced themselves, Fionn started speaking to Rory about his bike. Rory is a lovely young fella and considering that at five he is that bit older, he is very open to talking to Fionn.

“It’s really coooool, your bike Rory,” said Fionn.

“I can do a skid on it,” Said Rory. “Wanna see?” and off he went on a whole lap of the green before coming back and doing a really long skid which left Fionn lost for words.

“I have a red bike,” said Fionn referring to his tricycle, “but I don’t think I need it anymore.”

After this initial conversation, Rory spotted the ball we had been playing with. He proceeded to jump off the bike and run towards it.

“My dad can kick it really high,” Fionn said. “Here Dad show them.”

All eyes turned to me. The pressure was on. My son had put his faith in me. He was trusting me with his reputation. He wanted to show Rory that I, the king of his particular cave, was made of stern and skilful stuff.

There was a dilemma, however. There were two parents who I’d never met before who might think me a show-off if I really did show them how good I was. I had to think fast.

I picked the ball up slowly. A silence descended. I let it hang there; the tension would add to what I wanted to do next. I tossed the ball in the air, went to kick and missed it entirely. Everyone laughed. When I turned to look at Fionn, he was smiling.

“You’re silly Daddy,” he said.

My plan had worked. I had shown myself up, made an eejit of myself. At the same time I’d made Fionn and his mate laugh while I had shown the parents I’d just met that I was self-deprecating. Hey, I’m just a regular guy.

Now that that had been done, I could show off. I picked up the ball and hoofed it into the air. While we were waiting for it to come down, I looked at Fionn. He smiled and gave me a thumbs up. I gave him the thumbs up back, then holding out my arms, I caught the ball.

I may not have a tank but as long as my boy is happy with the rifle in my right foot, I’m not too worried.


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