“Cop yeerselves on — I told ye weren’t getting one,” shouted the woman in front of me at her two small kids earlier, on Parliament Bridge in Cork.
I know her pain.
We’re at the tail end of a summer that didn’t even bother to show up. Met Éireann is doing its best, promising 21 degrees and sun in three days’ time, in the hope we won’t remember when we get there and it’s 14 degrees with a wind that actually blew my beard to the side just now.
I reckon the kids should be back in school, what with it feeling like late November, but as I write, they still have a couple of days left of their holidays. We’re a bit sick of each other at this stage — we’ve all heard each other’s jokes. So you think I’d be dying to push them back out the door to school. The truth is I’m dreading it.
Last year was fine when they were six and four. It must be an age thing, they’d wake up wired at 7am every morning and bounce on our heads until we got up with them. That made for long days, all summer long.
It was like fiesta time when we handed them back to the school last August, making sure not to make wisecracks to the teachers about their generous holidays in case they got the hump and went on strike, landing us with our frisky kids for another month.
This year is different. Our youngest is five now, he half wakes at half seven, climbs into the bed with us, gives me a lovely quick back scratch before falling back asleep. Our seven year old is basically a morning sloth. It’s like she’s enrolled in an early access programme for teenagedom, the way she sleeps in until 10am, dreaming about her sad, lame parents. (She’s started saying lame.)
Thanks to our lazy kids and flexible working hours, we now get to sleep in until 9am most mornings, unless my wife has to get up and be at her desk. (I had to say that in case her boss is reading this.) Anyway, the extra sleep transformed our summer. Late August tetchiness aside, we’ve been like one of those smiley-happy American families you see in sitcoms that make you think parenting will be easy.
And now all of that is coming to an end. Winter is coming.
We’ll be getting up at 7:15am, soon to be in the dark, and heading into the weekday drill: put on the porridge, have a shower, empty the dishwasher, forget to stir the porridge so it burns a bit, tell the kids to get out of bed, go back to stirring the porridge, make the lunches while shouting at the kids to get out of bed, put the porridge in bowls, finally wake up ourselves, wonder what that smell is, oh yeah I burnt the porridge, roar at the kids that we might bring them to Fota over the weekend just so I can threaten not to bring them in five minutes’ time because they still haven’t got up, open the fridge to take out something, forget what I wanted to take out of the fridge because I haven’t really woken up, feel like I’ve been doing this for 15 days in a row but it’s still only Tuesday.
This is all before the kids get up, get dressed and endure 15 minutes of ‘eat your porridge’. (“But there’s a taste of burn off it, Dad!”) Is it really too early to have a drink?
You can expect a lot of cursing around our house in the coming weeks, most of it from the kids.
Let’s get them up 90 minutes earlier than usual and harass them out the door, sure what could possibly go wrong?
Everything. They’re going to be like briars all day until early October. There’s only one thing to say about all of this — I’m glad I’m not their teacher.