When Julie was three, Santa brought her a rocking horse. Just around that age, each one of my boys loved it.

We built a new house when Colm was three. On the day when we were finally moving, the late Grandad Denis had his lorry parked outside the house for our precious stuff.

Colm emerged with the rocking horse in tow, a white plastic cowboy hat and his pockets full of Dinky cars. At that time in his life, those were the most important things and he wanted to load them into the lorry himself, to make sure they weren’t left behind. The rocking horse is now a bit battered (considering he’s well over 30 years old), but, nevertheless, our grandson Ricky is fond of him.

He spreads a crocheted blanket across him to save his bony bottom, as the saddle is long gone. I bought a felt bridle, saddle and stirrups online and we had great fun using the sewing machine to make things fit properly. Ricky sings his own made-up songs as he rocks along. He likes the idea that his mammy got the rocking horse when she was a kid.

He puts him in the stable in front of the fireplace at night and has all kinds of imaginative play with him. The horse was always called Neddy, but Ricky decided to rename him himself. The new name is Shadot – and Ricky’s not for changing it! He remains Shadot. Where does a three-year-old get a name like that? Ricky delights me every day with his antics. He is full of fun and questions and wants to be involved in everything (inside and outside) that is going on.

Assessment time

A few weeks back, Ricky was going to the public health nurse for his assessment. He had been assessed at about nine months, but not since due to COVID restrictions and the lack of wheelchair accessibility for Julie at the centre in Blarney.

Now, instead, Julie and Ricky had an appointment in St Mary’s Primary Care Centre in Gurranabraher, which is a modern and accessible centre. As Ricky is now three and a half, the assessment would be the four-year-old one. Like all mums, Julie wanted it to go well for Ricky. She was sent out a long questionnaire to help prepare for the assessment. As she went through it, she was checking with me.

“Mum, can Ricky cut with a scissors in one hand and hold the paper in the other?”

I thought about this for a minute and confirmed that he was well able to use secateurs in the garden. Nevertheless, we gave him a child’s scissors and some paper and he demonstrated that he could complete the task. Off they went for their adventure.

There is no doubt but the use of the vernacular is alive and well in farming circles

Fence down

On returning, Julie regaled us with the goings-on at the assessment. Ricky answered all the questions admirably – for 40 minutes! Then, the nurse asked Julie if there was a grandad and wondered if he was still living. He hadn’t been mentioned. Julie assured her that grandad was very much part of Ricky’s life, but that he preferred to be called Tim. So the nurse asked Ricky what he did with Tim.

Ricky said that he went farming with Tim, that they went on grass walks and went in the jeep to get the cows and that “the f?*#ing fence was down.”

Julie asked Ricky what he had said, and reminded him that those words were reserved for farming. The little boy retorted quickly: “But I’m talking about farming!”

By then, both the nurse and Julie were laughing. We’ve all enjoyed the story since. Ricky was slightly perplexed because that was exactly what happened and that was what Tim had said. You can imagine the scene with the fence down and the opportunistic cows gone to fresh grass.

There is no doubt but the use of the vernacular is alive and well in farming circles. Sometimes normal English just doesn’t cut it – especially when the f?*#ing fence is down and the cows are gone.

The little ones have no problem picking up these words. They are learning and listening continuously. Julie’s idea of reserving those words for the farmyard or out in the fields is clever. Ricky does not use them indoors and understands quite well that they are inappropriate. For how long that will continue, I’m not sure.

Read more

Katherine's Country: another sleepless night; another grazing rotation

Katherine's Country: I want to remember Jimmy, my friend