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Matters of the heart

Living

The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

“Daddy, you broke my heart.”
When you hear your three-year-old daughter tell you this, you are halted in your tracks.
Frankie looked at me with what I can only say was a devastated expression.
I had just given out to her for being a little bit too aggressive when playing with her baby brother and exclaimed “Frankie don’t do that!” as I held her arm before she threw an object in Éamon’s direction.
Said object went flying in the air and Frankie looked at me and told me I had broken her heart.
How on earth, I wondered, as I tried to pick myself off the floor, could a three year old understand the meaning of a broken heart? Even if she was over-egging it considerably!
Eventually, I asked her “What do you mean?”
She pointed at the object which went flying and looked at me sadly and repeated, “Daddy, you broke my heart.”
The broken heart, it turned out, to my immense relief, was a plastic heart-shaped cake, part of a tea set Frankie got for her birthday in November.
And it wasn’t even broken, it had just been turned the wrong way around after going airborne in an effort to avoid said heart actually breaking something in poor Éamon’s face.
I turned it the right way around, Frankie smiled and continued on with her play, far from heartbroken.
Thank God for that. Hormones are only supposed to take over like that in teenagers!
It was a relief that her comprehension of language isn’t quite as advanced as I had first feared, but she is always capable of surprising you.
On a recent Sunday afternoon, I turned on the TV to check TG4 for the latest score in a club hurling game. Frankie was two rooms away but heard the commentary and instantly marched towards me. Before she could even see the television, she declared, “Daddy we are not watching football!”
It was not up for debate as far as she was concerned; she was as defiant as I’ve ever seen her.
Now, obviously she had the sport wrong, but it wasn’t bad going from just listening to Irish-language commentary.
We’re not sure where she could have picked that up from. While Aisling is not as obsessed as me with football, she has never said anything like that. Not, yet anyway!
But if Frankie is this turned off watching football aged three, I could have a long few years ahead of me in the house. I’ll need to get working on Éamon to make sure he is on my side. Already, he is showing signs, loving nothing more than kicking a football around the sitting room.
Hopefully Frankie isn’t past redemption yet either. This is a very important battle I have to wage.
Because if I’m stopped watching football at home, it’s my heart that will be broken.

In his fortnightly column, Edwin McGreal charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.