Learner Dad: "I’m an Irish male born before 1990, so tears are not an option"

IT’S another week in lockdown. Don’t ask me which week it is at this stage — I wouldn’t be surprised to wake up one of these mornings and discover that it’s Christmas Day, writes Pat Fitzptarick

Learner Dad: 'I’m an Irish male born before 1990, so tears are not an option'
TWO WORDS: It was more like four because I wasn’t too bothered about measuring out the gin. Picture: iStock

Anyway, this is the week I drank gin on Tuesday and got a lot less optimistic about our summer holidays. (I think these two things might be linked.)

Gin and tonic?

Something small cracked inside me on Tuesday. We’d normally have a pot of tea and 42 bars of chocolate once the kids are safely in bed. On Tuesday I felt a bit giddy and suggested we should try a gin and tonic.

That turned into two gin and tonics, which was more like four because I wasn’t too bothered about measuring out the gin. It wasn’t worth it — the problem with drinking on a Tuesday night is Wednesday morning. I felt a bit ropey and miserable. I didn’t cheer up until I went on the Today Show and laughed it off with Maura, Dáithí and Esther McCarthy.

Homeschooling

At least the gin gave my wife a laugh. We’ve divvied up the week in our place, so I take the kids on Monday and Tuesday, my wife takes them Wednesday and Thursday and we play it by ear on Friday.

She pointed out that my Tuesday thirst might be something to do with two days looking after the kids, including home-schooling them in the morning.

This isn’t easy for me to say, but I think my wife is right The home-schooling isn’t the problem — it gives structure to the day and my Irish is improving to the point where I could read out the weather on TG4.

Homeschooling continues to prove a challenge. File picture.
Homeschooling continues to prove a challenge. File picture.

The problem is when school-work is over for the day and the kids start asking for a treat until I either explode or crack open the Maltesers. (For myself.)

Tears for real?

Explosions aside, it can be a treat to spend some time in close quarters with the kids. In particular, I get to see the way they use crying in their daily lives.

There are three types of crying fits as far as I can make out. One is the "shop-your-sibling" cry, where they blend their sobs into a scream to get their brother and sister into trouble over something. I’m wise to this one now, like a soccer referee who can spot a diver in the box.

The second cry is genuine — it’s lower and slower and very sad, usually when they hurt themselves or need a biscuit.

Children can use crying creatively especially to get what they want. File picture.
Children can use crying creatively especially to get what they want. File picture.

The third cry is the Coronavirus Cry — this is a new one, where they both burst into tears spontaneously for no reason.

It usually happens once a day, lasts a minute and then it’s gone for another 24 hours. I think it’s their way of shedding the tension that builds up because of the lockdown. I’d love to be able do it myself, but, unfortunately, I’m an Irish male born before 1990, so tears are not an option.

Park life

I took the kids to Tramore Valley Park in Cork, near our house on Tuesday. I was half expecting it to be shut, but it was open and full of little family groups spaced around the open playing-fields.

The kids ran as a wild as possible and burned off that enemy of every parent, the taspy. (How do mean you’ve never head of ‘the taspy’?)

The only problem with the park is when a runny-nosed toddler escapes undetected from their family pod and heads towards yours. Do you say ‘helloooo’ in an extra loud voice so the toddler’s parents hear you and reclaim their child; or do you scream ‘unclean, unclean’? We went for option one. His parents were apologetic.

Pessimism rating

Last week, I said I still had hopes of going to France on our holidays in late June. Just now, I read the authorities there are putting up roadblocks to stop French people going on Easter holidays.

So this week, on a scale of one to 10 my chances are down around three. So, yes, I’m feeling pessimistic. But that might just be the gin.

More on this topic

Learner Dad: 'I don’t want to diss Netflix in case they cancel my subscription and I have to parent my kids'Learner Dad: 'I don’t want to diss Netflix in case they cancel my subscription and I have to parent my kids'

Easy does it: Relaxing home rules the 'perfect tonic for kids'Easy does it: Relaxing home rules the 'perfect tonic for kids'

Mum's the Word: It's best to avoid using swear words even if it makes you feel betterMum's the Word: It's best to avoid using swear words even if it makes you feel better

Learning Points: pandemic parenting – it’s not just mum’s jobLearning Points: pandemic parenting – it’s not just mum’s job


More in this Section

Poster boys: Guide to wall art you can source from local businesses onlinePoster boys: Guide to wall art you can source from local businesses online

How to dry home-grown bloomsHow to dry home-grown blooms

This Much I Know: Dr Cara Augustenborg, environmental scientistThis Much I Know: Dr Cara Augustenborg, environmental scientist

Sex File: I don't like being spontaneousSex File: I don't like being spontaneous


Latest Showbiz

The digital festival will be hosted on YouTube.Global online film festival to bring together 21 international events

After major heart surgery last year, comedian and writer Robert Webb talks to Hannah Stephenson about looking after himself and family coming first.Robert Webb: ‘We fight like any other couple, but using stupid voices’

The Harry Potter author said she penned The Ickabog 10 years ago.JK Rowling announces new fairy tale for children will be published free online

A jury will choose 10 artists who will receive the funding.Turner Prize replaced by bursaries to help artists through Covid-19

More From The Irish Examiner