'Look at us – being trolled by our daughter across the floor of the BT cafe'
I notice that, like, 10 seconds ago, Honor tweeted, “My mother is a sad and hopeless sap”
If they ever make Giving People Filthy Looks an Olympic event, my daughter will bring glory to this country. She’ll be Newtownpork Avenue’s answer to Katie Taylor. She already has me beaten. Honest to God, I’m pretending to read the label on a bottle of San Pellegrino just to avoid having to make eye contact with her.
I’m going, “ Acqua Litinica Alcalina ,” just babbling to myself, terrified of a seven-year-old girl. “It’s mad, when you think about it, all the different foreign words there are.”
Her old dear, though, is made of sterner stuff. “Honor,” she goes, “you can stare at us that way all day and all night for all I care. I am not buying you those shoes.”
Honor’s like, “Why not?”
“Well,” Sorcha goes, “firstly because they cost €600 and there’s, like, a recession on? And secondly because you haven’t done anything to deserve them.”
“Oh my God, you are such a sad cow,” Honor goes, under her breath, but loud enough for us to both hear?
She knows that Sorcha’s not going to make a scene – not in the Brown Thomas cafe, where she’s a regular. Instead, she goes, “Honor, you used to be such a lovely little girl,” trying to work a bit of reverse psychology on her. “I wonder will you ever become that lovely little girl again.”
Honor – without even batting an eyelid – goes, “Oh, yeah, saying that is going to make me want to be good! Do you know how lame you are?”
I decide to step in then. Sometimes kids need to hear a firm voice. “Honor,” I go, “eat your duck terrine.”
She’s like, “No. I don’t even want to sit with you!”
She says it at, like, the top of her voice. She’s drawing a lot of attention in our general postcode. Sorcha’s there, “Then go and sit at another table, Honor. We’re just about tired of your unpleasantness anyway.” And she ends up just doing it as well. She leaves her lunch where it is, but picks up her phone and her glass of orange and mango juice and moves to an empty table on the other side of the cafe.
“Don’t even look at her,” Sorcha goes. “It’s just another of her little attention grabs. Let’s just carry on with our conversation. What are we doing this weekend?”
I’m there, “Well, I’m planning to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ by staying in bed and eating Conor Murray’s weight in chocolate. I’m a sucker for the old traditions.”
As I’m talking, roysh, I’ve got my iPhone in my hand and I’m scrolling down through my Twitter feed. I notice that, like, 10 seconds ago, Honor tweeted, “My mother is a sad and hopeless sap.”
I decide not to tell Sorcha about it, except my wife can read me like a very, very short book. “Has she said something about me on Twitter?” she goes.
I’m there, “I’m happy to say no.”
But she picks up her own iPhone and checks anyway. She reads the tweet and becomes suddenly sad. We’re always being told about the ways in which the whole – I don’t know – technological revolution is changing the world. They say there’s, like, countries where Twitter has been used to overthrow actual regimes ? And look at us – being trolled by our own daughter across the floor of the BT cafe.
“Cheer up, Sorcha,” I go. “A lot of girls become complete wagons in their teens. Maybe our daughter is just getting it out of her system early. The important thing is that we did nothing wrong in terms of how we raised her.”
Sorcha smiles, except sadly ? It’s like she’s not even sure of that any more. “Hey,” I go, “I stand by that statement, Babes, that we’ve been pretty much model parents.”
She’s there, “Have we, though?”
“I’m saying yes.”
“Ross, for most of Honor’s life, we’ve been, like, separated ?”
“Lots of parents split up, Sorcha. At least we got back together again. We should be patting ourselves on the back. And each other.”
“But I’m wondering did we possibly spoil her – be it consciously or unconsciously – to, like, compensate in some way?”
“You know my view, Sorcha. It’s impossible to spoil kids. I’m on the record as saying that.”
“And, well, look, I don’t want to sound like I’m getting at you, Ross, but the way you speak to your own mum and dad . . .”
“What about it?”
“Well, it’s the same way that Honor speaks to us.”
“Now you’re just letting your imagination run riot, Sorcha. Look, some kids – no matter what you do for them – just turn out to be bad eggs. Honor looks like she’s going to be very much one of those. We just have to accept it.”
Sorcha checks her phone again and refreshes her feed. “Oh my God,” she goes, “she’s written something about you now?”
I’m like, “What, specifically?”
“‘My dad is 33 and he still thinks he’s going to play rugby for Ireland one day.’ Then it’s hashtag pathetic and hashtag brain-dead loser.”
I can’t tell you how much that actually hurts. All I said to her was that, with all the injuries Ireland had, I wouldn’t be surprised if Declan Kidney came to me on his hands and knees. That was all.
“She’s just so . . . world-weary,” Sorcha goes. “At, like, just turned seven. She finds everything either boring or pathetic. Ross, what are we going to do?”
Honor catches my eye and she gives me the finger. We’re the talk of the cafe. I’m there, “Will we just get her the shoes?”
And Sorcha sighs, like she’s suddenly resigned to it.
She goes, “Let’s get her the shoes.”