Dad’s World with Jonathan deBurca Butler

LUKE had been persistent. He had been hassling myself and Fionn about a large Peppa Pig jigsaw that he wanted to play with but couldn’t quite open.

It was the type of thing that comes in a suitcase and takes up a whole floor and the zip on it is, as Luke was explaining, “was sticky”.

Now to be fair to Luke, his default setting is to keep at things before asking for help. 

He is not one of those children who looks at something and automatically screams: “it won’t open”, “help me-he-he-he” or “the planet is about to eh-eh-end because the television won’t turn on”. 

OK so the last one is a bit far-fetched but if you’re a parent I will wager you’re nodding right now.

This particular piece of child-friendly merchandise was proving rather pig-headed and he needed help. 

The problem was, his two would-be helpers were busy. 

I was washing up, Fionn was invading France with the help of Iron Man. Initially, neither of us budged. 

We could feel each other waiting for the other to make the first move. 

One thing about being 36 years older than your nearly four-year-old son is experience. 

Fionn blinked first (or maybe he’s just kinder) and went to help Luke open the jigsaw bag.

“Tanks Fun,” said Luke as he proceeded to tip the bag over, empty its contents onto the floor and ... eh ... walk off.

Fionn gave him a look; the only way I could describe it is that it was a bit like a driver who takes the high moral ground when you break a light — an exaggerated shake of the head and a long Victor Meldrew like stare.

I left it for a minute to see what would happen and, sure enough, Luke just moved on and started playing with something else. 

The jigsaw was simply confetti to him now. He had forgotten about it but I hadn’t.

“Want Play-Doh Daddy, want Play-Doh,” said Luke looking up at me over the counter with an inquisitive brow.

I walked over to where they were playing in my best fatherly way.

“What about the jigsaw Luke?”

He looked at it, clasped his little hands together (kills me) and threw those doleful eyes up at my towering frame.

He said nothing, just stared. My nice side wanted to pick him up and hug him for the rest of my life but my fatherly side is a follower of Magnus Magnusson. I had started so I’ll finish.

I wasn’t angry or anything but I wasn’t going to let him just get things and throw them away instantly. “I’m not getting your Play-Doh until you tidy up the jigsaw,” I said.

“OK,” he said a little sadly, crushing me in the process.

As I walked away, he started to pick them up and it was in the next few moments that I saw Fionn, my eldest, turn into a great man.

“You have to tidy them alllll up,” he said to his little brother.

“And I’m not helping you.”

He turned back around to continue his invasion of France but almost instantly something deep inside him made him turn back again to look at his brother. 

He had seen that his little brother was struggling to pick up the jigsaw pieces and keep the bag open at the same time.

Fionn knew instinctively, with no intervention from me or anyone else, that he had to come to his brother’s aid and, only a second after saying he wouldn’t help him, he got down on his knees, took the bag from Luke and said kindly but firmly: “Look, I’ll hold it open for you and you put them in.”

“OK Fun,” said Luke.

I left them to it and beamed with pride.

My four-year-old boy had become my hero.


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