Dad's World - Irish Examiner


Jonathan deBurca Butler

Up until a few months ago it was a bit of a struggle to get my two year old boy, Fionn, up the stairs and into the tub for a well needed scrub. Our differing views on dirty hands and grubby, blueberry-covered faces would often result in a showdown involving a comic call and response opera called ‘no’ ‘come on’ ‘no’ come on’.

One evening as I rolled up my sleeves for another battle of the bath I saw him playing gently with some miniature animals – a pink pig called Piggy, a brown horse called…Horsey and a fluffy sheep called Ba – since named Demba after the Chelsea footballer. No, I’m not a fan by the way. Anyway, it dawned on me that perhaps by leading a horsey to water, the toddler might drink. Or in this case get in the bath. The drinking bath water thing is probably another column.

“Will we give Horsey a bath?” I ventured.

“Yep,” came Fionn’s response. It was uttered with such conviction that it caught me completely off guard but I quickly dropped everything and weighed in encouragingly behind him as he made his way up the stairs with a clippity-clop and an entourage of plastic farmyard friends.

I’m no child psychologist (though I think some honorary degree should be bestowed upon parents) but later, and I’m emphasise with hindsight, I figured that maybe the little man hed felt isolated. Perhaps he felt he was the only person in the world who had to go through the rigours of taking off his clothes, getting wet, getting out, getting cold, getting dried and getting changed. Were he to share in that monotonous task with playmates that he could…let’s says… kind of control or boss around a little then it might make the whole experience just a little more tolerable. Heck, given time he might even enjoy the whole thing.

It worked a treat and bath times have been a joy in recent weeks. If only we could do something similar to get him to clean his teeth I wondered. But there I left it for a while. More aminals (please Mr. Subeditor it’s not animals, it’s aminals) were added to the aquarium-zoo-bath-puddle and among them is a shark called Fergal – named after the Undertones lead singer of a similar name. As befits a shark, Fergal has a great big set of teeth. As the rubbery sea mammal was splashed about with his new friends Celia the seal and Charlie the dolphin, Fionn informed him of a deficiency in his personal hygiene.

“You’re teeth are dirty,” Fionn told Fergal.

I may not have been in the bath but my tiny little daddy brain cried Eureka!.

“Will we brush Fergal’s teeth?” I suggested.

“Yep,” came the response and the rest as they say is history.


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