Tag Archives: Dads

A Potential Evil Genius

My Mother has always claimed that I can be a little bit of a cynical and sarcastic bollox. Personally I’ve never found my own company to be anything other than delightful – I don’t see her problem at all!

You can imagine her delight then, when I had to ask her advice on how to handle my own smart-assed kid. She positively reveled (and still does) in the knowledge that I was getting my karmic comeuppance!

Bryan and Josh - Total Superheroes ;o)

Bryan and Josh – Total Superheroes

There were many signs I was Father to my comedic and sarcastic nemesis, Josh. For example, the time we dressed as Batman and Robin for Halloween. I of course had to be a 6’5” sidekick Robin, to his 2’6” Batman. And as the ‘sidekick’, I was ordered about all night, because even though he was only 3 at that stage he KNEW that’s what sidekicks were supposed to do – what they’re told!!

(I must admit the trade-off for me, was the look on the faces of a group of slightly older kids who tried to take his sweets when his gigantic sidekick came around the corner!)


Then there was the moment back in May 2009 when sitting at home with Josh – 5 at the time –  and enjoying our first Saturday together in a few years after my taking redundancy from Dell. An ad for Dell came on the TV; if you can remember, it was the one with the ‘magical Willy Wonka’ type-factory?

A laptop moved along the production line while all the happy workers were singing ”Lollipop, lollipop, oh lolli lollipop”….. Until the elephant at the end of the line blew a toot and stamped the Dell logo onto the lid… D’ye remember that one?

Josh and I were watching it together and afterwards, he goes quiet for a moment before turning to me and saying:

”Dad, I know why you got fired.”

”I didn’t get fired dude, I took redundancy!”

”Yeah Ok, I know why you’re redundant then…. You can’t sing!”

Like a supremely malevolent X-Factor judge who’s just told me I’m unemployed because I’m shite and always will be, he then convulsed with laughter at his proclamation! And really, how could I argue with that impeccable application of logic! :/

Still, it could be worse, I could’ve been the guy he went for at the O2. We went to see the Batman Live show back in 2011(Josh was 7), and as we were settling into our seats a group of five 30-something year old men came in and took their seats in the row behind us. The best way to describe these guys would be “Big Bang Theory”, which I don’t say as a bad thing; Josh and I are both self-confessed geeks too.

A conversation started up between us and this group, about our favourite comic book characters and Marvel vs DC in general. One of the guys was wearing a Superman T-shirt. So, of course, Josh asks him the obvious question:

”Why did you wear a Superman T-Shirt coming to a Batman show?”

T-Shirt Dude tried to apply logic and reason, hoping to outsmart Josh with his explanation, and says;

”Well they are both strong DC characters and I like DC in general.”

Josh had a think about this but clearly didn’t accept T-Shirt Dude’s answer.

”Ok….Wonderwomans a DC character too, isn’t she?”, he asked.

T-shirt Dude said something vague about how great it is to see strong female characters in comics etc… But Josh already had him.

”So do you wear Wonderwoman underwear too?”

The poor guy was slagged relentlessly all night by his friends and a few other people who’d heard the exchange! Part of me would like to think Josh asked the question innocently, thinking maybe along the lines of his own superhero jocks. But actually I know better; he knew he had a win in his hands.

When the time comes and he is writing his comedy routine (OR his list of his enemies prior to the revolution ;o) ), I know I’ll be hoping to be in the funny column and maybe he’ll need a manager willing to work for scale!

Kids and Bereavement Part 2

From Day 1 of our journey through this, I was direct and honest with Josh about what had happened to Kate, and about what death means.

Mam got sick. The Doctors and Nurses had tried everything they could to make her well but they couldn’t make her better and her body couldn’t be fixed so she couldn’t stay alive. She died and that means she can’t be here with us anymore.

Of course I wasn’t as blunt as that, but I wanted to be sure he knew what happened without being graphic or inflicting anymore trauma on my little monkey. A big worry for me was the funeral and how that would affect Josh. A couple of weeks prior to Kate’s collapse, we had spent a lot of time learning about seeds and where food comes from – planting herbs and veg – and I didn’t want to risk Josh making the (perfectly logical to a 3 year old) jump to thinking that we were ‘planting’ his Mam and she would grow back!

I thought long and hard about what was best; he and I went alone to see Kate and say our own goodbyes prior to the removal, and I decided I’d take him to the mass, but not the burial. So after the mass, one of my sisters took Josh away for that portion of the experience.

We use Kate’s grave as a remembrance garden, because that’s not where she is, but it is a nice and colourful (thanks to my Mother In Law), bright space where we visit not just to remember Kate, but to see the tributes and bits and bobs other people leave there to remember her too. We also chose to donate Kate’s organs and that is something of a salve to know that our loss and pain postponed some other families experiencing similar to us.

Josh will tell you himself, that she lives in him and in the memories we all share of her, and as long as we remember her she will always be close to us.

So what would my advice be for anyone else unfortunate to find themselves in a similar situation? It sounds like a glib cliché, but its one I find to be very true – kids are resilient! They cope a lot better than us adults at times and more often than not when they do get most upset, it is when we are at our own lowest ebb. They are all too often little emotional mirrors and sometimes when we are at our lowest it is our feelings that they shine back at us.

But the key to ensuring they cope is openness, honesty and consistency. Be as open and honest as possible with your kids when discussing their loss, explain it as best you can and in terms they will understand.

Be there for your child when they want to talk, and encourage them to talk about it without forcing it.

Help them understand the pain comes from missing someone you love, someone you shared love, life and memories with!

Be sure to share those happy, weird stories. If something jogs a memory for either of ye, share it! Focus on and share those happy memories at the times the grief strikes hard, remember the person you lost and not the pain their loss caused.

Be mindful of the fact that, while you have so many happy stories to share, that in grief your past can look a lot brighter than your future. That it is the past! You can’t live there no matter how golden the memory, painful as it is for you and for your children, life does go on.

Don’t allow their grief to become an excuse for bad behaviour or to be a get out of jail free card for your child! Yes they will act out, support them in this but use it to teach your kid a healthy coping strategy, something other than lashing out and being angry at the world, yes it hurts and it’s horrible, but being horrible to the world won’t make it any better.

Always try and be consistent in how you react. You are going to be a ball of unpredictable emotions too, but if you can give your child a sense of consistency, it will go a long way towards helping them cope with the upheaval that both of you will experience.

That said, every situation and every child is different. There is no right or wrong in how you cope with a situation as long as you remember to be open, honest and supportive of your child’s grief.

Hopefully this vein of advice will never be needed by anyone who reads this piece, but if it ever is.
I hope it helps! Remember its advice, not a rulebook. Don’t be afraid to hold your hands up and say I’m stuck or seek help!

**Bryan recommends the following resources if you or your family have been affected by bereavement:

Rainbows Ireland Website

Barnardos Ireland Website

[Read Part 1 of Bryan’s story HERE]


Laughing At The Wrong Time…

I’m one of those people that can see humour in the most unfortunate of circumstances. It may be a coping mechanism, or it may be just plain auld bad taste on my part but that’s me. As the song goes: ‘I’m the kind of guy that laughs at a funeral!’
The most vivid example of this behaviour was back in 2007 at my partner’s funeral mass. My son Josh was 3 at the time and in my arms, and was fascinated by the pageantry of “the mass”. He was asking questions to beat the band, and I’m a firm believer in being as honest and open as I can be with him (always age appropriately, of course!)-  so I was doing my best to answer him. I explained the priest and mass to Josh, along the lines of; ‘Well some people feel like they need to gather together to celebrate what they believe and to give thanks to their God, and often the priest leads them in prayer’.
‘Which I think is a bit silly, really’, I told him, ‘Because if God is everywhere surely you can talk to him wherever ya like’.
Next up came Communion. How do you explain transubstantiation and all the associated mumbo jumbo to a child?! Well I gave it a stab! I told Josh that the priest, and Catholics in general, believe that during the Eucharist the bread and wine are miraculously transformed into the actual real body and blood of a bloke called Jesus……
Josh looks at me while trying to make sense of this new information, and asks the incisive question.
‘Like a magic trick, Dad?’
Smiling to myself at his common sense view of the ritual,I answered, ‘Yes, monkey! Just like a magic trick’.
Later, as the mass ended and the priest was returning his paraphernalia to the sacristy, Josh turned to me and said ‘Dad, I don’t want to come here anymore!’
Knowing that I never wanted to see the inside of that church again; knowing that it was another step towards burying his Mam and saying goodbye to what was our little family’s planned future, I wasn’t surprised by Josh’s firm statement.  But also, knowing that he was as confused and scared as I was, and that he clearly needed answers and surety that was my job to provide to him… I asked, ‘Why?’
He looked up at me with an unexpected bright smile and said ‘Because that’s the stupidest magic show I have ever seen!!’
I won’t lie, it was the most inopportune moment I’ve ever chosen to laugh in my entire life but I did. And in that laugh, I was joined by my family and friends who’d heard the little exchange. I don’t regret it at all, in fact I’m glad it happened and I’m even happier that those who heard it, shared it!
It showed me that even on our darkest days, at our lowest moments there is always a glint. A glimmer of light to brighten the gloom and show us it can get better. It was also the day I realized I’d be on my own parenting a smart ass of epic proportions (Josh has gone on to reinforce that belief many times over!)
My own mother reckons my son is the perfect Karma for the sarcastic bollox I was as a child. However, I still deny all knowledge of being anything other than a perfect model son!
Bryan and Josh - Total Superheroes ;o)

Bryan and Josh – Total Superheroes ;o)