Dad's World with Jonathan deBurca Butler

I wanted them, just for 10 minutes, to be 30-year-old men with whom I could discuss all the important stuff that was going on.

AS I walked through the gate I saw them. 

Fionn was being picked up by the arms and swung ’round by the childminder. 

Luke was in his blue wellies, zooming up and down on his Paw Patrol scooter.

“Daddy, daddy,” he shouted, as he spotted me opening the rusty white gate. 

Fionn, who had now landed from his helicopter, greeted me with similar excitement.

I had just got home and having walked all the way from town with a rather large red bag on my back, I was properly knackered.

“Wanna go for a walk,” moaned Luke manoeuvring his scooter into my legs so I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere until I had agreed to do his bidding.

Fionn weighed in beside him; holding onto my leg pleadingly, urging me to “come on Dad, let’s go for a walk”.

I really didn’t want to. What I really wanted to do was go inside, sit down and discuss Brexit with them. 

I wanted them, just for 10 minutes, to be 30-year-old men with whom I could discuss all the important stuff that was going on. 

Luckily, and it doesn’t happen all the time, I copped on that that just wasn’t going to happen and after negotiating a 30-second window in which I was given permission to put my weather weary bag inside, I was out on the road of the estate with my two scooting sons.

Within a minute, Fionn had disappeared out of site; gone like a bat out of hell on his metallic foot-fuelled fire bird. 

I had taken a few steps away from Luke to try and catch sight of him when I heard a plaintive cry behind me. 

I turned to find Luke’s Paw Patrol scooter in tatters. The back wheels had come off and the poor little fella was in tears. 

Thankfully, he is such a reasonable little man that I was able to convince him to forget about his scooter for now because we had to go and see where Fionn had got to.

As I took him by the hand, I began to think all sorts of things. Fionn had disappeared. I didn’t know where he was. 

Yes, I took a decent guess, and as it turned out my guess was correct but at that very moment, I just knew that he was out there and he was out there on his own.

Years ago a cousin had told me that he thought the key thing to being a parent was trusting your children. I had to make that call now.

I had no other choice. I had to trust him. Trust him to be aware of cars backing out of driveways and trust him not to go on the road. 

I had to trust him to do all the stuff we had told him to do and not do over and over and over again in order, on a very basic level, not to get hurt.

This was a crucial moment for both of us. 

For him, because he had to enjoy this independence responsibly and for me because I had to react the right way.

Myself and Luke continued our search.

“Oh, there he is!” came Luke’s relieved little scream.

I looked to where Luke was pointing and sure enough I saw Fionn. 

He was heading in our direction, his helmet wobbling on his head like some novice sea-sick fisherman on his first intrepid voyage.

He bombed it towards us and came to the road. He looked at me and I looked at him. He smiled as if to say ‘oh you’re not cross with me’.

When we finally caught up, I sat the two of them down on a wall.

“I went all the way down there Dad,” said Fionn pointing into the distance.

This independent jaunt into the unknown had excited him and I was damned if I was going to rain on his parade.

“Did you stay on the footpath?” I asked.

“I did,” he said matter-of-factly, putting his hands on his hips to add gravitas.

“Good boy,” I said, and left it at that.


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