Dad’s World with Jonathan deBurca Butler

“IT should be banned,” said Ciara as we drove along the M50.

We were on our way to a friend’s in Skerries and finally, after a few days of shock and not speaking about it, we got a chance.

To make a long story short, the Friday evening previously we had been told that a vendor for a nice three-bedroom house in Walkinstown had accepted our offer. 

We were delighted, told the folks, told a close friend or two, texted the solicitor, and emailed the mortgage broker. The deposit was on its way. 

And then there was a call.

The other bidder had come in with another offer and the vendor was going to ‘entertain it’. 

They did more than that. They wined and dined it all the way to the bank and that, as they say, was that. 

It took us a while to get over the humiliation of it all but by the time we were talking it through on the M50 we were being positive. 

Unfortunately, our optimism blinded us to our immediate goal — getting to Skerries. 

We missed the turn-off.

On top of that, my co-pilot’s phone was on the blink so when we eventually turned off we didn’t know whether to turn left, right, round or where. 

The boys in the back were beginning to get cranky. The adults weren’t doing that much better. A row ensued in the front between two tired pilots. 

It didn’t last long. 

It was a frank exchange but it was maybe a touch too shouty. 

The boys were not impressed.

We drove on for a few kilometres before finally stopping to ask two cyclists just where in God’s name we were. 

I couldn’t hear their words but I saw their arm pointing back the way we had come. Skerries was another 15km away and we were already really late. 

The rest of the trip was quiet.

When we got there we had a lovely time. 

We kept it simple, a walk on the beach and, in between telling the kids to “mind themselves”, “get off” each other and “come down from the flag pole”, we did manage to actually catch up with our friends. 

Our plans for tea and cake had to be put on hold due to our tardiness and the fact that little people were beginning to get tired.

On the way back, we took another wrong turn but there was an unspoken agreement now that we weren’t going to argue. We didn’t even seeth. 

In fact, we just made a joke of the argument on the way out.

That’s how we tend to deal with that stuff. 

Twenty years on, we’re still together — it seems to work. 

While the pilots laughed at their own stupidity, the boys read — Fionn the London A-Z and Luke the Audi A4 car manual. They were quiet and everyone seemed quite contented.

“The sea air is great, isn’t it,” said Ciara.

“It’s nice to get out alright,” I replied.

We came off the motorway and headed for home. As we came closer to the infamous Walkinstown roundabout, Luke began to get moany. 

I thought he was just tired but Ciara was looking in the rear-view mirror. She had an inkling there was more to it.

She was right.

“Mum, Dad,” said Fionn. “Luke’s getting sick.”

Ciara hit the curb coming off the roundabout but somehow managed to find a parking space almost immediately. 

Because of the way his car seat was positioned, Luke’s head was tipped back, meaning he couldn’t get sick. 

Ciara jumped out of the car, got around to him and managed to pull him out of the seat so he could finish in comfort.

It was all over in three minutes. 

Luke was upset but by the time we got him cleaned up and back into the car, he had recovered sufficiently to be able to give us a rendition of the nursery rhyme Daddy Finger.

We drove on and, as Sod’s law would have it, past the house that, one week earlier, we had thought was ours. 

Not getting it had made us sick but here we were, the four of us in the car. 

Helping each other recover, in our own strange and very different ways.


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