TRIC KEARNEY: It's my life - Surviving the condition known as 'mid-term'

LAST week, I was struck down by a dreadful affliction which affects large numbers of the population but most are unaware of its existence, says Tric Kearney

The condition I refer to is called ‘mid-term’. Mostly affecting the parents of school-going children, it flares up approximately every six weeks or so throughout the school year, typically striking a few days after parents have congratulated themselves on having their lives in order. Symptoms are particularly severe during the winter months, when the days are cold and wet and children like to play indoors.

Mid-term affects both parents, but symptoms can differ greatly. It is believed those with young children or multiple children experience the worst effects. Parents of older children are not immune, but their symptoms are generally less severe. Since discovering I have this condition, I’ve spent hours on Google trying to understand it, but it would appear to be a hidden affliction of which I alone am the leading expert worldwide.

How do you know if you are suffering from mid-term?

Have you ever been asked “what’s wrong?” and you’ve answered, “mid-term”? If so, you can be sure you are a sufferer.

What are the signs and symptoms?

These vary from person to person and no two cases of mid-term are the same. Symptoms usually begin at least one week before the main event and are often brought on by the appearance of a note in a child’s homework journal or a throwaway remark from another parent about the children having no school the following week. Initial signs include a sudden high-pitched shriek often followed by a run to the calendar. In some cases, it may lead to a semi- collapse, possibly accompanied by moaning and the holding of head in hands. In extreme cases, the sensation of a heart stopping has been reported.

Over a period of days, symptoms tend to progress, sometimes at an alarming rate. Sufferers experience feelings of annoyance and dread, which may escalate to a feeling of impending doom, most commonly brought on by hearing the weather forecast for the week ahead is for rain.

As the body does its best to cope, there may be brief moments of joy when the prospect of no school lunches, drop-offs or collections are remembered. It is not uncommon for this joy to turn to full-blown mania at the idea of no homework for a week.

However, as the days pass and injuries are suffered from stepping on discarded Lego or toys scattered about the floor in every room, this mania lessens and, in some cases, has been known to swing to thoughts of violence towards teachers who have holidays. It is important not to panic at such thoughts, as, to date, there is no known case of anyone suffering from mid-term causing actual bodily harm to a teacher.

How to manage mid-term?

Knowing you suffer from mid-term is the first step to learning to cope with it. Plans can be put in place to manage the worst of the symptoms by predicting when an attack is likely to occur.

One of the best ways to do this is by use of the ‘calendar method’, whereby you can predict mid-term’s arrival based on the assumption that schools never open for longer than six weeks at a time and usually close either side of a bank holiday. Clever use of this method can ensure you have grandparents, relations or unsuspecting friends at the ready for mental health days. The effects of mid-term last about 10 days, peaking mid-way. There is no known cure, but many suggest taking medication by day and alcohol by night can help sufferers to cope.

It is rarely fatal.


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