Ross O’Car­roll- Kelly ‘ She’s been a port of our lives for 12 ½ years now and it still hasn’t dawned on Sor­cha that Honor is the wrong crowd’’

‘ She’s been a port of our lives for 12 ½ years now and it still hasn’t dawned on Sor­cha that Honor is the wrong crowd’

The Irish Times Magazine - - INSIDE -

It’s a big day. Sor­cha has said it about 20 times since she shook me awake at, like, half- six this morn­ing. It’s Honor’s first day in se­condary school – or, as Sor­cha calls it, “ac­tual Mount Anville?” Sor­cha’s driv­ing, Honor’s in the front pas­sen­ger seat and I’m stretched out on the back seat with my leg in a full plas­ter cast. I’m think­ing, ‘ Wait till some of the moth­ers get a load of me – they’ll think the Ross­meis­ter is back play­ing rugby again!’ Sor­cha’s there, “I can’t be­lieve you’re stort­ing big school, Honor. It seems like only yes­ter­day-.” “Don’t you dare stort cry­ing,” Honor goes. “I don’t want ev­ery­one know­ing that my mother is a com­plete sap.” Sor­cha’s like, “I’m not go­ing to cry, Honor.” “Oh my God, you cry for ev­ery­thing! You cried when I lost my first tooth. You cried when I had my first play date. You even kept the hair from my first hair­cut.” She did. It’s a bit creepy. Sor­cha goes, “These are, like, mo­ments, Honor. It’s okay for me to be emo­tional about my daugh­ter get­ting an­other year older.”

I think to my­self, ‘ And one year closer to us mar­ry­ing her off and pass­ing the prob­lem on to some other sucker.’

Ex­cept I don’t think it? The words ac­tu­ally come out, which some­times hap­pens to me. Honor re­leases the catch and pushes her seat back­wards, crush­ing my leg in the foot well. The pain in my hip is sav­age. I’m like, “Aaar­rrggghhh!!!”

Sor­cha goes, “Ross, stop scream­ing. I packed you a lunch, Honor. It’s just a sim­ple quinoa, fig and kale salad-.” Honor’s like, “Puke.” “- and I put some iced fen­nel tea in your Bob­ble Bot­tle.” “Still puke.” “And don’t for­get to sign up for lots of af­ter- school ac­tiv­i­ties. The piano – ob­vi­ously. But you should also think about an­tiquing, Chi­nese de­bat­ing and def­i­nitely some­thing char­i­ta­ble even if it’s ran­dom.”

Honor’s like, “Yeah, what­ever,” and she goes back to her phone.

I’m look­ing out the win­dow, think­ing, yeah, no, the more time she spends at school, the less time we have to put up with her – al­though I make sure to put my hand over my mouth when I think it this time.

Sor­cha goes, “And I’ve asked Mil­li­cent Tier­ney’s daugh­ter to chap­er­one you for the first few days.”

Oh, that gets Honor’s at­ten­tion. She looks up and she’s like, “Ex­cuse me?”

“You re­mem­ber Hai­ley, don’t you? She’s in Sixth Year. I just thought it’d be lovely for you to have an older friend to help you set­tle in.” “But she’s a knob.” I ac­tu­ally laugh. She is a knob. And so was her old dear. Mil­li­cent was in Sixth Year when Sor­cha storted in Mount Anville. I think their old dears both played ten­nis in Monkstown and they de­cided that their kids should buddy up. It was Mil­li­cent who got Sor­cha in­volved in the Try­panoso­mi­a­sis Aware­ness Group.

“Hai­ley is hordly a knob,” Sor­cha tries to go. “She got, like, max­i­mum morks in her Ju­nior Cert last year!”

I say noth­ing. It would serve no pur­pose.

She goes, “She’s a lovely girl with an amaz­ing, amaz­ing sense of civic re­spon­si­bil­ity – like mother, like daugh­ter, I could say? – and I think you would re­ally ben­e­fit from be­ing friends with her. I don’t want you fall­ing in with the wrong crowd.”

It’s amaz­ing. She’s been a port of our lives for, like, 12- and- a- half years now and it still hasn’t dawned on Sor­cha that Honor is the wrong crowd.

Sor­cha goes, “Ac­tual Mount Anville can be a re­ally in­tim­i­dat­ing place, Honor, es­pe­cially when you think of all the amaz­ing, amaz­ing women who’ve passed through its cor­ri­dors. I’m think­ing in terms of Mary Robin­son, Sa­man­tha Power… There’s, like, def­i­nitely more. But don’t for­get to ac­tu­ally en­joy these first few weeks?”

“Er, how am I go­ing to en­joy them?” Honor sud­denly goes. “Ev­ery­one’s go­ing to hate me.”

Sor­cha looks over her shoul­der at me – one HD brow cocked. She goes, “Why would any­one hate you, Honor?”

And Honor goes, “Be­cause I’m hor­ri­ble. And be­cause I’m a bully.”

“Well,” Sor­cha goes, not both­er­ing to con­tra­dict her, “this is a chance for you to stort anew. A fresh page. Think of the next six years as be­ing like those copy­books in your school bag. An op­por­tu­nity to write your own fu­ture.” I’m half ex­pect­ing Sor­cha to burst into song then – ex­cept she doesn’t. In fact, we all fall silent as we take the turn onto Mount Anville Road and I stort re­mem­ber­ing an in­ci­dent two years ago when Honor smashed her vi­o­lin into, like, two hun­dred pieces. Sor­cha said to me, “Oh my God, do you know how many vi­o­lins Nic­colo Pa­ganini broke as a child? I think she might be a prodigy, Ross!” Sor­cha is a typ­i­cal South Dublin mother – sees ge­nius in ev­ery­thing her chil­dren do. I tipped up­stairs to Honor’s room. There were bits of vi­o­lin ev­ery­where. I was like, “Why did you do that, Honor? I thought you loved that vi­o­lin?” And she went, “I did love it. But I don’t want to be­come too at­tached to any­thing. It’s a sign of weak­ness that my en­e­mies might ex­ploit.” Ten years old. God, I re­mem­ber be­ing so proud of her. What an at­ti­tude. I re­mem­ber think­ing, they should put her in chorge of Ir­ish Wa­ter. We pull into the school. I’m sud­denly re­al­is­ing that Honor doesn’t need a chap­er­one. Honor doesn’t need any­one or any­thing. We’ve ac­ci­den­tally brought our daugh­ter up to be able to look af­ter her­self. And God help the rest of the world. Sor­cha pulls into the cor pork. She takes one look at the school build­ing and bursts into tears. She goes, “Oh my God, now I’m re­mem­ber­ing my first day here?” Honor looks over her shoul­der at me and goes, “I think your wife is go­ing through the change. She needs to be on some­thing.” Then I spot – hi­lar­i­ously – Hai­ley stand­ing a few away. Hu­mungous glasses. Badge say­ing “Pre­fect”. Teeth that could chew through a wheel clamp. She smiles. She ob­vi­ously has no idea what she’s in for. I’m there, “You know what? I’m al­ready feel­ing sorry for this poor girl.” And Honor pushes her seat back one more time and I scream in agony. Then she gets out of the cor and goes off to face a brave new world.


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