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Catching a couch surfer

Living

The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

Éamon is at the climbing stage, which means we are climbing the walls.
With his big sister Frankie, we thought it was hard work but it turns out her ‘exploring stage’ was a doddle compared to her brother.
Frankie was cautious and only took on a climb or an expedition if she was confident she could succeed. You could count her falls on one hand, and they were never too close together.
But whereas Frankie was the safe, astute child who played the percentages, Éamon is the reckless, wild child who does not care for consequences until they, quite literally, hit him.
He will start to climb, fall, land (usually on his head), cry hysterically, be settled by one of us before (usually within less than five minutes) trying it again and usually falling on exactly the same part of his head. And repeat.
We have low window sills. He has climbing them mastered, though he has yet to perfect getting down from them safely. Hence the unusual sight of quilts underneath the windows.
Now he has taken to making it up onto the couch. Frankie only did this when she was well able to do it unassisted. Éamon pays no heed to waiting until he is big enough: he will grab whatever prop he can find, carry it to the couch, get on top of it and step onto the couch from there.
Falling off the couch is a much greater risk, so you are on high alert beside him. He will go nuts if taken down and will only try it again immediately anyway, so if you have to stop him, you need to take him out of the sitting room altogether and close the door after you.
When we think back to Frankie at this stage, the difference is like night and day.
To use a football comparison, minding Frankie was like a corner back marking a third midfielder – you could let her off up the field and stay back and mind the house, only going on red alert if she decided to go close to goal again, by which stage you’ve had a breather and are ready for the duel.
However, minding Éamon is like trying to mark Kerry’s David Clifford. He’s always a threat and you need to be touch tight, because danger is ever present.
Persistent fouling, in the form of jersey pulling, is inevitable, and Éamon won’t be long crying foul if he’s not happy with your brand of defending.
Of course, you could always be looser – give him a bit more space and hope for the best. But that’s when someone like Clifford would pilfer a goal and someone like Éamon would take a big tumble and have a fine, big bruise on him for the rest of the week.
Who’d be a defender?

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