‘Don’t underestimate me when it comes to the whole parenting thing . . . ’
TINA RINGS ME at, like, nine o’clock or some other ridiculous hour of the morning, roaring down the phone at me, in that Dublin accent of hers that’d nearly wash the colour from your clothes. I sit up in the bed, my brain struggling to adjust to the hour.
“Tina,” I go, “I’m not getting a lot of this. Could you even put a one- or two-second gap between, like, each word?” See, I can’t even watch Fair City without the subtitles.
“You know veddy well whorr Ine sayin,” she goes. “Ronan’s arthur tellin me he’s not goin back to skewilt.” I’m like, “Back to?” She’s there, “Skewilt.” I’m like, “School? Is that what you’re trying to say?” It’s like talkng to focking Skippy.
“You can wontherstand me peerfectly well,” she tries to go. “He toalt me tus morden he’s leavin skewilt to woork wit you. And he said he had yewer permishidden.” I’m thinking, uh-oh. What with, like, being out of the country for two weeks, I totally forgot about Ro being hellbent on not going back to Castlerock? “I’ll, er, have a word with him,” I go. “Do the whole father-son chat thing – blah, blah, blah.”
“You’d fooken bethor. No offence, Ross, but I don’t want him toordenin out like you.” “Okay, I don’t see how I couldn’t take offence at that?”
“He’s got brains to burden.” “I know.” “Well, I don’t want him spendin the rest of he’s dayiz woorking for a bleaten shredden compiddy.” I’m tempted to remind her that Shred Focking Everything is one of the few businesses in this town making actual money at the moment. But then, as I’ve always said, arguing with a woman is like wrestling with a hog. No one learns anything and all you get is dirty. “I’ll pick him up for work in an hour,” I go. “Then I’ll talk to him during the day. Don’t underestimate me when it comes to the whole parenting thing and blah, blah, blah,” except by the time I’ve finished my sentence she’s already hung up.
So I pick Ro up as agreed and, as we’re driving back across the city, I’m doing what used to come so naturally to me on the rugby field – trying to decide the best angle of attack.
We’re actually driving along Nassau Street when Ro turns around to me and goes, “Is there something on your moyund, Rosser?” I’m like, “What?” “I get the impression you’re trying to pluck up the coudage to say something to me.” He’s a smart kid – like his mother said.
“Okay,” I go, “since you’ve put it out there, yeah, there is something on my mind. This whole thing about you leaving school.”
“Ine not leaving school, Rosser.” “What?” “I’ve left school. Ine not going back.” “Well, that’s what’s on my mind. I don’t want to see you make that mistake. Okay, I hate to use me as an example, but you possibly don’t want to end up like your old man.” “You’ve done alreet for yourself.” I smile – can’t help it. “Thanks, Ro. That’s an amazing thing for me to hear. But yeah, no, the point I’m trying to make is that you’ve got actual brains. I mean, God knows how that even happened. I wonder sometimes was there, like, a switch at the maternity hospital. I mean, you have literally no idea how thick I was at school.”