Dad’s World with Jonathan deBurca Butler

I had two sips and two mouthfuls of coffee and nobody had come near me. Nobody had wanted anything for... oh... maybe... six minutes.

THE silence had crept up on me. It was only now, standing at the kettle about to make a coffee that I noticed it.

Everyone was in their own world. 

Fionn was inside, engrossed in some television programme about insects. Luke was outside, sitting on a chair drinking water and casually kicking a tuft of grass with his little foot. 

As I poured the water in on top of the fluffy mound of fresh coffee, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye — a newspaper.

A little voice inside my head began to speak to me: “Go ahead, pick it up. Read that Brexit feature. Do it. Doooooo it!”

“I can’t,” I said pleading with my other I, “the kids will need something. They won’t let me settle. It’s 2,000 words long. I don’t stand a chance.”

“Try it,” said the voice. “They might surprise you.”

I plunged my coffee pot and a moment or two later poured myself a cup. 

Grabbing the paper, I walked into the back garden and sat down at the table.

I plonked my cup down and folded out the paper. I began to read.

Two paragraphs in, I heard Luke’s pootling end. 

I’d been spotted. I could feel it.

Poking my eye up over the top of the feature, I saw my little boy standing there looking at me. 

I was waiting for it, the interruption, waiting for him to ask me to come and do something with him or go somewhere with him or give him something to eat.

“What reading Daddy?” he said, pointing at the newspaper.

“Oh, it’s just a thing on Brexit that may or may not have a profound effect on your life,” I said, having a little joke to myself.

“OK,” said Luke, and much to my surprise he went back to his walker and continued pushing it down the side passage.

“See?” said the voice inside my head. “Read on! Read on!”

Soon I was going great guns; nodding my head, raising my brow, tutting here and fuffing there. I was engrossed. 

I had had two sips and two mouthfuls of coffee and nobody had come near me. Nobody had wanted anything for... oh... maybe... six minutes.

Then I heard Luke heading towards me. I tightened my grip on the paper as his nasally breathing drew closer. 

I felt him walk around me, reach up to the table and put his cup of water beside my coffee.

“That OK Daddy?” he said.

I looked around. His face was beautiful; etched with empathy and understanding. 

“No problem,” I said.

Almost as soon as he had put it down, he picked it up again.

“Cheers Dad,” he said giving me a big suggestive smile and raising his cup towards mine.

I responded in the only way I could and gave his cup a little dink.

“Cheers little man,” I said.

Again he placed his cup on the table, only this time he walked away.

“Seven!” shouted Fionn from inside. He was talking to the tele now. I left him to it.

I kept reading; agreeing or disagreeing with the points being put forward. I was three paragraphs from the end.

“Daddy…...” said Luke.

“Just one second Luke. Only two paragraphs to go”

“....is dinner ready yet?”

It had come. The demand which, to be fair to him, he was perfectly entitled to ask for. 

He and his brother had given me 10 precious minutes in their company but more or less on my own. It was healthy and it was nice.

I got to the end of the article, folded the paper and picked up Luke.

“It is,” I said, giving him a great big kiss on the cheek.

I walked into the kitchen and popped him on the floor. He raced inside to his brother.

“Fuuuuunnn,” he shouted, “Come on. Dinner.”


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