Dad’s World with Jonathan deBurca Butler

Ciara said: “He’ up,” as she lay beside me, listening to Fionn trotting along the corridor.

Fionn was excited; you could hear it in the stop-start motion of his footsteps. 

It was his birthday and he didn’t know whether he was coming or going. 

For a minute or two, neither did his parents.

“Has he gone into Luke’s room?” asked Ciara, when the pitter-patter petered out for 30 seconds.

That 30-second disappearance was symbolic of how things have changed in the four years since his arrival on the planet. 

Soon, that 30 seconds will go to a minute and that minute will become five. 

Next thing you know, he will be spending the night in his girlfriend’s house, without telling us. Time flies.

It was mildly relieving, therefore, to hear him making his approach to our door; he isn’t quite finished with us, just yet. 

His pace had slowed somewhat and we heard him pause, before he pushed the door open tentatively. 

In poked this tousled blonde head, wearing a big smile.

Four years ago, he had come through the door of life screaming, and, for the first few months of his existence, he rarely stopped. 

He has made phenomenal progress and yet he remains one of the most enigmatic people I have ever met; as well as one of the kindest, fearless, and most inclusive.

This morning, he was just my four-year-old son and, seeing us awake, he ran towards the bed and bounded on to it. 

“Mum, Dad,” he said in his deep, vowley accent, “it’s my birthday. C’mon, get up.”

“Happy birthday,” said Ciara.

I was still coming to terms with the morning and the waking-up thing. The night before, after a day of battling hay-fever, I had sat on the bed to read a biography of Franklin D Roosevelt and had fallen asleep at about nine. 

Ten hours later, and here was my own ‘new deal’, shaking me and asking me to come downstairs to open his presents.

Fionn ripped into them and, it has to be said, there’s nothing better than seeing the excitement on a child’s face as they tear the wrapping paper off a new gift (though Luke’s excitement over the wrapping paper itself, which was full of “cars!” and “trucks!” and, as he calls them, “mokobikes!”, did come pretty close).

Buzz Lightyear was a big hit...for about 20 minutes.

Fionn knew the biggy was on its way after breakfast. 

Sure enough, when the bright-red padded suit, fly-eyed mask, and rather risque red gloves were produced, the would-be Spiderman almost passed out.

He had to be put into his costume straight away, but, as he stepped into his gift, he noticed there was a problem.

His little brother was looking on, and, though he seemed happy for Fionn, his body language, and, in particular, the way he was pawing the ground with his right foot, suggested that he felt a little left out.

Fionn saw it, registered it, and acted on it immediately.

“Mum,” he said, as she did up the arms of his new outfit. 

“Can Luke have my Batman suit now, because I have this one?”

“That’s a great idea,” said Ciara.

Luke roared with delight, as a giddy smile raced across his beaming blue eyes.

“C’mon, Luke,” said Fionn. “I’ll help you find it,” and off they went together to look for Batman’s suit. 

Soon, they were gallivanting around the house, chasing bad guys. 

It all got a bit much for Batman, when he ran into a door and bumped his head, but, after a kiss and a cuddle, the Dark Knight was at it again with his intrepid superhero pal.

As they ran around, I was reminded of Del Boy and Rodney from Only Fools and Horses.

If they end up as close, they’ll be doing well.

They’re doing quite well already.


Lifestyle

March is the perfect time to take action when it comes to your lawn, writes Peter DowdallGrassroots campaign: Take action in your lawn

Robin Maharaj, director at Kilkenny Architectural Salvage and AntiquesRobin Maharaj: ‘If you take a longterm view you won’t go wrong’

Fond recollections of a legend, an industry titan comes to Cork, Grimes' new album impresses critics, and Cork French Film Festival announces its lineup, writes Des O'DriscollScene and Heard: ‘Fail we may, sail we must’

Irish Examiner arts editor Des O'Driscoll picks his top gigs from the weekend's event, at venues around Cork City.Right Here, Right Now: this weekend's highlights

More From The Irish Examiner