Ross O’Carroll-Kelly

‘You can’t unspoil children, just like you can’t unspoil milk. It’s too late if it’s already bad’

Sat, Mar 8, 2014, 01:00

Sorcha summons me and Honor to the kitchen, telling us that she has something to, like, show us. When we get there, she’s standing in front of a collapsible white board, with a black Shorpie in her hand and a look of resolve on her face that tells me this has something to do with her ongoing efforts to – I’m not shitting you here – unspoil our daughter?

It’s that book she read.

“Now, you can both stop rolling your eyes,” she goes, “and shaking your heads from side to side. This is what’s known as, well, appropriately enough, an Honour Board. We’re going to use it to keep a record of your good behaviour, Honor, and also those times when your behaviour has fallen below the standard that your father and I would consider acceptable.”

Honor turns to me and goes, “I think your wife is menopausal.”

I don’t get a chance to even comment on that – Sorcha just continues banging on in her teachery voice. “We’re going to reward incidences of good behaviour with two points,” she goes. “But each episode of – again – unacceptable behaviour will result in the deduction of two points. At the end of each week, we’ll calculate the points on the board and that will determine the level of pocket money you get.”

Honor’s like, “Okay, this is like being in focking prison.” I know it’s possibly wrong for an eight-year-old girl to speak to her mother like that, but I’m kind of on her side. You can’t unspoil children, just like you can’t unspoil milk. It’s too late if it’s already bad. Honor’s been a wrong ’un since before they cut the cord and I’m saying that in her defence. We just have to accept that there’s nothing we can do, except pray that she emigrates to Australia one day and pick up the bill for any damage she does in the meantime.

“So, to begin on a positive note,” Sorcha goes, scribbling on the board, “you put your breakfast dishes into the dishwasher three mornings this week . . . ”

She didn’t, by the way. I did it for her.

“So that’s six points. But against that, I’m sorry to say, I had a phone call from the school to say that you ripped little Speranza Kennedy’s One Direction folder to pieces.”

“She’s a sap,” Honor goes.

“And you also accused Miss Crowley, your music teacher, of having a moustache.”

“Well, she does. She looks like Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club .”

I burst out laughing. She reminds me so much of myself sometimes – that’s the miracle of kids, of course. Sorcha shoots me a look that, roughly translated, means, er, yeah, no, you’re not exactly helping here, Ross?

I put my serious face back on.

“So you’re left with two points,” Sorcha goes. “You folded and put away your school uniform on Tuesday . . . ” Again, that was me. “So that’s another two points, which means you have four. But then you told me this morning that I had an arse like David Blaine trying to get out of a sack . . . ”

“I just can’t believe you thought those yoga pants fitted you,” Honor goes.

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