As a kid, growing up in d'island, not the most salubrious area in the city, my biggest fear was not the 'big boys' who hung out on every corner, it was not the gangs who would stop you and take whatever pennies you had in your pocket. It wasn't even the Christian Brothers with their leather straps and their haunty eyes. It wasn't even the fear of Father xxx in the confessional box of a Friday and telling him of the terrible sin I had been doing with myself!
No, my biggest fear was of the Ma telling the Da of my misbehaviour!
Not that the Da was goin' to punish us, for he never would.
It was just for the look of disappointment in his face.
It killed me.
I would rather he gave me a slap.
But he never did slap any of his kids.
Except for his firstborn, Helen.
And that is the one single thing he MOST regretted in his life.
He told the story many times, to all of us as we grew up, that the most guilt he had ever felt was hitting his own child in a moment of anger. It was just the one time, but he so regretted it, and he told us of the many hours he cried because of it.
My dear departed sister never remembered the incident, but Da always did.
And he never did physically punish any of us. Ever.
And that is why my biggest fear was always of my Ma telling us that she would tell Da if we had been 'bold'!
Not because we thought he would punish us physically,
But because of the look of disappointment in his face.
That hurt so much more than a slap.
And that's why we all tried so hard to never see that look.
And it worked.
Miss you Da.