It's 8.30am on Saturday and Rod is up and ready to hit the barbers. He takes the two youngest with him because they insist on going. This insistence being born from the fact that they just love searching down the sides of the leather couch for €1 & €2 coins lost by previous customers more than they like watching their father getting a short back and sides.
When he returns 15 minutes later because the barber has something better to do on a Saturday morning than open his shop and cut hair we pack the car and head off to our place by the sea where we walk on the beach, start up the BBQ, open the wine and watch X-Factor while snuggled up in duvets because the gas fire is kaput.
I see that Lara is a little quiet and I quiz her in a jovial manner.
"What's the matter with my little moonoons" I say and she nods her head.
"Oh is my little moonoons sad?" I ask and see little tears welling up in her eyes.
"No, there's nothing wrong" she laughs shaking her head
But I see her eyes fill up with tears and soon one drops on her little thirteen year old cheek and rolls down her face.
"Are you SURE?" I enquire
"You're making me cry" she insists still laughing but I see another tear drop from the other eye.
So I give her a cuddle and she goes back into her room for a while and when she comes out she sits on the couch and looks over at me.
"There's this weird rumour going around school about me" she says
"What is it?" I ask
"Well, everyone thinks I have my own personal social worker because Dad is hitting me and so I've spent the last week in care" she says wide eyed with a half smile on her face.
"Really?" I say.
"And do you have any idea who started that rumour" I ask.
"Yeah, probably ******" she says mentioning a girl in her class who herself doesn't have the happiest of childhoods if you know what I mean.
"Did you hear that Rod?" I say to Rod as he's passing us by to go outside.
I relate to him what she told me
"Nice rumour" he says blase-like and continues out the door only to return a short while later.
"And do you know who started this rumour?" he asks
She repeats what she told me earlier and that the girl who informed her about this rumour promised she wouldn't say who told her.
"Do you want me to go in to the school and speak to your Year Head?" I ask
"NO WAY" she cries and happy that she's shared her problem she sits back with a deep sigh, her black eyeliner smudged down her pale small face.
Her dad throws a packet of crisps into her lap.
"Eat those up or I'll give you a right box"
And then she smiled