'There’s no denying that something incredible has happened this morning'
I’m in genuine shock, the reason being that I’ve never seen our daughter cry before
I call Honor for the fifth time and for the fifth time she totally blanks me. She’s supposed to be in school in, like, 15 minutes time, but she’s obviously acting up because Sorcha has gone away for a few days, leaving the Rossmeister in chorge. I roll my eyes and trudge up the stairs, bracing myself for the inevitable screaming match, hoping she doesn’t say anything too hurtful to me.
I throw open the door and it has to be said that I am not ready for the sight that greets me. Honor is lying face down on the bed, her head resting on her orms, sobbing – as in, like, literally sobbing? – into her pillow.
I’m in genuine shock, the reason being that I’ve never seen our daughter cry before. The only emotions I’ve ever seen from her are anger, boredom and sarcasm and I’m not sure if all of those are actual emotions. When the nurse in the maternity ward slapped her, she didn’t cry. She sighed, as if she was already fed up with the world, 10 seconds after arriving into it.
“Honor,” I go, “what’s wrong?”
I’m good at this – the whole fathering thing.
She’s like, “Go away!”
I’m there, “Honor, why are you crying?”
She roars at me this time. She goes, “Go! Away!”
I smile – knowingly , if that word exists? – and I sit down on the side of her bed. “Honor,” I go, “I wouldn’t be the father that I am if I ignored the fact that my seven-year-old daughter is crying her eyes out in her bedroom. Now come on, tell me.”
She looks up at me for the first time. She’s like, “You’ll laugh at me.”
“I won’t laugh at you. Come on, Honor, why are you upset?”
She just blurts it out. “JLS have split up!”
I do laugh, but I can’t help it. I would have been less surprised if she said she was becoming a Scientologist. I had no idea she even liked JLS. I’ve never known her to express an opinion on anything other than “Sad!” or “Lame!” or – if she doesn’t, like, totally hate something? – then, “Meh!”
I’m like, “I didn’t know you liked JLS!”
I look down and I notice a poster of the band torn to shreds on the floor.
“I did!” she goes. “I loved them and now they’ve split up!”
I hate patting myself on the back, but I am incredible in these situations. Whenever I meet someone for the first time and they go, “Oh, what do you do?” I’m never like, “Yeah, no, I’m the managing director of Ireland’s seventh-biggest document shredding company.” I actually go, “I’m a father,” because that’s the thing I genuinely feel I was placed on this earth to do.
“I’ll tell you what,” I go, “let’s go to Dundrum for the day.”
She wipes her tears away with her open palm. “We can’t,” she goes. “I’ve got school.”
I laugh. I’m like, “Fock school, Honor! It’s the first week of May! In your mind, you should already be easing your way into the summer. Come on, let’s go spend money like it’s 2004!”
An hour later, we’re in Horvey Nichs. Honor is in the fitting room, trying on a dress that costs the same as my cor insurance for the year. But still, she seems to have definitely perked up. And there’s no denying that something incredible has happened this morning. My daughter opened up to me for the first time. It’s like a bond has been formed that wasn’t there before.
“Crying is nothing to be ashamed of,” I tell her through the fitting room curtain. “Your mother cries all the time. She cried when Aung San Suu Kyi was let out. And when Jennifer Aniston’s dog died. She cries whenever she reads about the international ivory trade . . . ”
Honor’s like, “Hmmm,” obviously trying to make a decision about the dress.
I’m there, “And after the last ever episode of D awson’s Creek , she had to be nearly sedated. Don’t tell her I told you that, though.”
She goes, “Can you ask if they have this in, like, XS?”
I’m like, “Er, yeah, no, I’ll see if they have it,” and I trot back out to the shop and return, like, two minutes later with the dress in a smaller size. She tells me that I took my focking time. I ignore it. She’s obviously still upset.
“The thing is,” I go, “it’s okay to be sad. I was sad when Johnny Sexton decided to go to France. I couldn’t imagine a world without him. But now I can’t imagine a world without Ian Madigan. Do you understand what I’m saying? New stuff comes along.”
She pulls back the curtain and hands me the dress. She’s like, “I’m going to take it,” and I pay for it and put it with her Michael Kors watch and her Morc by Morc Jacobs iPad cover and her Joanne Hynes embellished collar and her Love Chloe perfume and her Miu Miu clutch bag.
Half an hour later, we’re sitting in Bucky’s, drinking hot chocolate, with me feeling like suddenly the best father in the world.
“Hey, I bought you another little present,” I go, unable to keep the smile off my face. “When we were in House of Fraser, I got on the old iPhone and booked us tickets for the JLS farewell concert!”
I watch my daughter’s mouth twist into a cruel smile. It’s like the old Honor is suddenly back. I’m just sitting there with a stupid smile on my face, like I’ve just been sold the dummy pass to end all dummy passes.
She goes, “I don’t like JLS! Oh my God, I can’t believe you fell for that! Er, they’re lame ?”