Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: ‘Ross, it absolutely kills me to say this, but people hate our kids’
There’s barely a day goes by when I don’t think, ‘God, what I wouldn’t do for a condom and a time machine.’ But that’s parenting
I manage to block out the judgy looks I get from the other moms and dads using the some of psychological techniques I learned during my days as a kicker. Then, Jenny Turley asks me if she can have a word...
The defeat by the All Blacks ends up hitting me hord. I’m cranky for, like, days afterwards and I’m in no mood to talk to anyone when I go to collect the boys from a birthday porty in Glenageary on, like, Wednesday afternoon?
I find Johnny in the kitchen, trying to see how much birthday cake he can stuff into his mouth, while Leo is shoving Brian’s head into the downstairs toilet and attempting to drown him using the eco-unfriendly full flush?
I dry off Brian’s hair and I tell Leo that his mother would be ashamed of him. “Six litres per flush,” I go. “The only reason I’m not going to tell her is that she’ll stort to think that she’s somehow failed as a mother.”
I reach into Johnny’s mouth and I pull out a fistful of birthday cake, which has solidified into a cricket ball and is preventing him from breathing. And then we’re good to go.
I manage to block out the judgy looks I get from the other moms and dads using some of the psychological techniques I learned during my days as a kicker. But just when we’re nearly out the door, Jenny Turley – the mother of Hugo Turley – asks me if she can have a word.
I’m there, “Yeah, no – what seems to be the problem?”
“Your children are the problem,” she goes.
All the other parents are pretending not to listen, but they’re, like, glued to the conversation.
“Hey, I’m not going to defend them,” I go. “Unfortunately, that’s just the way they’ve turned out. It’s nobody’s fault.”
She doesn’t seem to know how to respond to that? So I turn to leave. And that’s when she goes, “Brian called me Babes – he said it to me twice, as a matter of fact. And the one with the glasses wolf-whistled me when I bent down to pick up a broken glass.”
I literally can’t believe what I’m hearing. I’m there, “Excuse me?”
“I’m sorry,” she goes, “do you find this funny?”
“Yeah, no, I do as a matter of fact. Babes is a term of – I don’t know, whatever the phrase is – I want to say endearment?”
“It’s not a term of endearment. It’s a sexist term that’s used to diminish women and cast them as subservient to you.”
“He’s four years old.”
“Inappropriate behaviour is inappropriate behaviour – whatever the age.”
“Look, he probably didn’t mean it literally. It’s something he hears me say to his old dear all the time. I’m constantly like, ‘Hey, Babes, you’re looking smoking hot tonight.’ It’s called the gift of the gab.”
“Well, I don’t want him using his gift of the gab on me. And I don’t want the other one-”
“His name is Leo.”
“-I don’t want him wolf-whistling me either.”
“Okay, I’m calling bullshit on that one.”
“I beg your pordon?”
“Leo doesn’t know how to wolf-whistle. Look, I’m not saying my kids are perfect. They’re incredibly annoying – especially Brian and Leo. There’s barely a day goes by when I don’t think, ‘God, what I wouldn’t do for a condom and a time machine.’ But that’s parenting. I rest my case.”
It’s a genuine mic-drop moment and I decide that it’s the perfect line on which to make my exit. I put the boys in the back of the cor and I point the thing in the direction of home.
A few minutes later, we’re driving through Dalkey Village and – nice to be nice – I stop to let an admittedly attractive woman cross the road in front of me. She gives me a big smile as well. And that’s when I hear the most unbelievable – yeah, no – wolf-whistle come from the direction of the back seat.
Yeah, no, Brian might have called her Babes once or twice. There’s no horm in it, Sorcha
And for the rest of the journey home, I’m thinking, okay, where has he learned to do that? As in, who can I blame?
A few minutes later, we’re back in the gaff. Sorcha goes, “Hi, Ross – how did the porty go?”
And I’m like, “Yeah, no, all good. Nothing to report, thanks be to God.”
“Because Jenny Turley just rang me.”
“Jenny Turley? Which one is she again?”
“She’s the one who complained to you about the sexist behaviour of our children.”
“Yeah, no, Brian might have called her Babes once or twice. There’s no horm in it, Sorcha. I call you Babes all the time.”
“And I’m constantly asking you not to. It’s offensive.”
“Even when it’s packaged up with a compliment – looking foxy, blah, blah, blah?”
“Ross, you have to understand that children copy the behaviour of their parents. We are their strongest role models.”
“Okay, what book did you read that in?”
“It’s true. Jenny also said that Leo wolf-whistled her.”
“Er, I hope you’re not blaming me for that?”
“You wolf-whistle all the time.”
“No, I don’t.”
“What about when you’re watching Loose Women?”
“Ross, it absolutely kills me to say this, but people hate our kids.”
“They’re still very young, Sorcha. They might be nice when they’re finished.”
“What, like Honor, you mean?”
“She has her moments – in fairness to her.”
“Ross, it’s time we faced the truth. Our children haven’t turned out well. And most of that is down to you.”
“I still say it’s random how kids turn out.”
“I’m not letting you absolve yourself of blame, Ross. You set them a terrible example with your behaviour.”
I end up saying something I regret then. It’s portly down to the upset I’m still feeling about Ireland’s World Cup being over, but mostly down to being told that I’m a bad father.
But I end up going, “Leo shoved Brian’s head into the toilet – and he flushed it.”
Sorcha looks at me, her face full of concern. “Tell me it was a half flush,” she goes.
I look away and I don’t say anything.
She’s there, “You’re saying it was a full flush?”
I’m like, “I’m sorry to be the one to break the news. But he flushed it six or seven times as well.”
“Oh! My God!”
“You’re the one who’s always saying we need to teach the next generation about their responsibilities to the environment. It looks like you’re failing as a parent as well… Babes.”