Dad's World with Jonathan deBurca Butler

My time with you has come to an end but I enjoyed sharing every chaotic minute of it with you and hope that someone, somewhere got something from it.

“JOHNNY can you come here a second?”

It was day three of my new life as a stay-at-home-dad. As was the new normal, I was chained to the sink in the kitchen doing washing up while Ciara got herself ready to go out to her real job in a real office in the real world.

This morning before heading off, she decided she would change Luke.

I turned off the tap and left the suds-covered cups and plates to steep in the sink. I knew from her voice that she was concerned.

“What’s up?” I asked, as I walked into the sitting room.

“Look at these,” said Ciara, lifting up Luke.

I peered at him and found that two tiny little boils had erupted on his chest.

“Ah,” I said, dismissing them. “It’s probably just heat rash.”

Twenty minutes later our eldest arose from his slumbers. He had the same.

As the day went on, more little blisters erupted. The doctor was on a half day and couldn’t take us. Luke’s lovely carer said it was unlikely they’d get the virus together and nobody had had it in her place. Fionn’s school said the same. 

Maybe it was something different. Or maybe...

I phoned our former nanny.

“Hi Denise,” I said. “I don’t suppose your grandson had the chickenpox.”

“Ehhhh,” she said a little sheepishly, “He did actually.”

“When?” I asked.

“Emmm, last week.”

At the end of that particular conversation, I drove straight to the pharmacy and after a quick inspection, the pharmacist told me what lay ahead.

“Bathe them in oats, keep them out of school and put this on them,” he said handing me a tube of Virasoothe.

As it turned out we were quite lucky. Luke (2) was covered from head to toe but pretty much smiled through the whole thing. By all accounts the younger they get it, the less they suffer.

In contrast, poor Fionn (4) had a tough time. As the pox got itchier, my initial spiel about them being fairy kisses that were given to only very special boys began to wear thin with him.

The poor child was driven mad with them and, to be fair, had my Netherlands been afflicted in the way his were, I would probably have gone crazy too.

His chickenpops, as he called them, peaked on day three— a Saturday afternoon of screaming and scratching, where even applying the aforementioned cream to his skin was met with his very own version of the Haka.

When they were at their worst, he would twist and turn in agony screaming: “I don’t like these chickenpops!” or “get them off me now!” but there was very little we could do bar hold him, tell him they’d go soon and give him lots of water.

The weekend was hell but a tolerable one. And by Monday they were feeling infinitely better. They were still infectious though and therefore out of school.

We took full advantage, going to forests in Wicklow to see would the fairies take their kisses back or scooting along the seafront in Dun Laoghaire. 

I had never spent so much time with them on my own and in a way, although it was a baptism of fire (and I got very little work done), I got to know them a little better and they me.

This new arrangement promises to be an interesting journey with them. Alas, it is not one that I will be taking with you Dear Readers.

My time with you has come to an end but I enjoyed sharing every chaotic minute of it with you and hope that someone, somewhere got something from it. 

I’d like to thank my parents and brehon-law-mother-in-law, my two boys, the stars of the column, but most of all my lovely Ciara without whom none of this would be possible.

And keep an eye for the book. Coming soon.


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