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DIARY OF A DEMENTED HOME WORKER: Back to school and back to normal?

September 5th, 2021 6:25 PM

By Emma Connolly

I felt a bit deflated taking our tent down for another year as it signals the end of summer, but we’ll find our stride in a week or two.

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DIARY OF A DEMENTED HOME WORKER: It’s week 78 and with Nphet supposedly disbanding and the pandemic no longer considered an emergency, we might be in for a smooth September

• WE had a big day in our house this week when the five-year-old started ‘Big School’ – two words surely destined to strike the fear of God in any small person. Of course it was all very different to our day (back in the dark ages) when we were booted out the door as soon as possible even though it was probably the first time we’d ever been away from our mothers in our short little lives. Pity the poor teachers. I’ve a March baby which was entirely irrelevant for her first three years on this planet but which became the single most important thing ever when we had to decide when to send her to school. Unlike in the UK when by law you have to  start the September after your fourth birthday, here you can enrol between the ages of four and six which means there can be big enough age differences in a single class. Advice ranged from ‘send her, she’s fine,’ to ‘don’t dare, you’ll destroy her life.’ Then just when I thought the whole thing would push me over the age, the pandemic hit and overnight it fell off the list of priorities. And while I think either decision would have been grand, she was ready to head off on Wednesday, and so was I, even if I was glad of my mask for the inevitable, last minute lip wobble.

• We headed to Dublin for a few days last week for a final hurrah. Initially we decided we’d go all out, treat ourselves and stay some place really nice. Sure you can’t leave it after you and all the rest, we said! But after a quick Google search we decided we’d still need to eat while we were away, so we settled on a family friendly hotel, in a handy location. Right, so you know when people say you get what you pay for? I’d go along with that on this occasion. Let’s just say it wasn’t the sort of place you’d happily plod about wearing your bath robe all day. In fact there weren’t any bath robes. The five-year-old was in her element though as the TV in the room was enormous (bigger than the room) and for the ultimate thrill, we got to sleep upstairs (we live in a one storey). The place did have a pool, but when the discarded bandage I saw on our first trip there was still lying on the tiles on our second visit I felt a little uneasy (bordering on queasy). I mean I’m pretty sure I didn’t catch Covid there, but I’d say there’s a good chance one of us got a verruca. The first thing we did when we got home was hop straight into the sea. That last blast of sunshine was a gift.

• It was actually my first time in a hotel since Covid hit and oh my goodness, the breakfast buffet has turned into a most grim and miserable affair hasn’t it? Everything is all wrapped up and cling filmed to within an inch of its life. I know it’s a necessity but with most hotels charging extra for what’s going to deliver little joy, I imagine lots of guests are opting out, myself included. Anyway despite the digs being a big dodgy, we had a fab time at the zoo (my first time since primary school),  and had a lovely trot around the city centre. Being tucked away in tranquil West Cork it’s perhaps easy to forget that life is speeding up again, and it was nice to be around a bit of a buzz for a while. I even spotted one of our Covid celebrities Dr Colm Henry, chief clinical officer with the HSE. I was pretty excited, but less so than I would have been if it was Dr Tony. Actually when I heard that Nphet was due to be disbanded soon, for a split second I felt a little sad. It’s clearly a good thing and I reckon they can trust us not to muck up their hard work (so let’s not muck up their hard work).

• Back home, the tent has come down which means the party’s officially over for summer ‘21. The grass looks worse for wear (and so are our backs), but we had lots of fun. Lots of people see September as a chance to get a head start on January and refocus for the last lap of the year. There’s definitely something in the air alright, although that could be copious amounts of anti-nit spray and vitamin D we’re all dousing the kids in.

• Rules around treats got a bit relaxed over the summer so that’s what I’ll be focussing on for the next while, along with my lunchbox game. I’m not going to pretend to have an offspring who’ll tuck into sushi in their bento box at break time. I’ve one who physically recoils at the sight of a tomato or cucumber and would lose her actual mind if she saw as much as a speck of hummus, so I’ll be keeping them very straight forward. We got the lunch box from the local co-op shop and it will be vegetarian ham sandwiches all the way. She’s got all the feels for creatures but luckily enough all the meat in our house is always vegetarian. Wink wink, nod nod. I reckon my days of getting away with that are numbered but I still have lots of chickpeas left over from the early pandemic panic buying so all is good. Here’s wishing all students, of all ages, their parents, guardians and of course their teachers a smooth September.

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