Learner Dad: We figured we’d held out on a games console long enough to be classified as Responsible Parents

This week is all about snail jails, smug cyclists and seeing too much of your kids in late June.
Learner Dad: We figured we’d held out on a games console long enough to be classified as Responsible Parents
Our columnist is back in the saddle for the first time in 30 years. Picture: iStock
Our columnist is back in the saddle for the first time in 30 years. Picture: iStock

This week is all about snail jails, smug cyclists and seeing too much of your kids in late June.

Summer nights:

Don’t talk to me about the long evenings. Yes, it’s lovely to see the kids running around the back garden in their bare feet at 9 o’clock.

But is there any chance they’d go to bed? At 9.30pm last night our two were using a bucket to build a low-security prison for two snails they caught trying to eat our cabbages. (The snails escaped in the middle of the night, I think I heard one of them laughing.)

Anyway, the problem is this late bedtime means that parents have lost that precious hour or two eating junk and pretending we have a life of our own at the end of every day.

You’d say something if the kids got up an hour later the following morning, but parenting doesn’t seem to work like that.

This morning at 7.45 was just like 7.45 every other morning when our six year old climbed into bed between us and asked who would win in a fight between a diplodocus and a pack of raptors. (The raptors, in case you get asked yourself, which you will if you have a six year old boy.)

I know how this works. The evenings will start to close in again in mid-October, the kids will be back in bed by 8pm and we’ll sit there eating fun-sized Bounty Bars and reminiscing about the glory days of high summer. But now that we’re in the middle of it, I wouldn’t mind an hour or two to myself.

The big switch:

Actually it’s a small Switch. Our Nintendo Switch finally arrived a few days ago. We figured we’d held out on a games console long enough to be classified as Responsible Parents, and ordered one as a lockdown gift for the kids.

And, let’s face it, ourselves. It’s not that I dream of playing Super Mario for five hours in a row. It’s more that we’d run out of useful threats and you’d be surprised what you can get a child to do with the words, ‘that’s it, I’m sending the Switch back to Japan'.

In fairness, they’ve been very good, not bugging us to play it all the time. I’ve also noticed that if you ignore them nagging for a go on the Switch for five minutes, they’ll eventually wander off and put a few snails in jail.

The trick is to get through the five minutes though.

Memories:

The men are the early risers in our house. Long before our daughter blinks her way to the breakfast table to tell us her latest hilarious dreams, our son gets out of our bed with me to lie on the sofa near the kitchen and watch me make the porridge.

This morning he started talking about our trip to the Natural History Museum in London 18 months ago.

At the time, he seemed a bit nonplussed by the whole thing. But now he was able to walk me through every room we visited and tell me his favourite bit - the gift shop.

He had clearly taken in all the details and enjoyed himself immensely. Sometimes your kids are just unknowable.

Cycling:

I cycled it home from the shop and was 12 years old all over again.

I’d forgotten how much I love cycling, particularly when it isn’t raining. I’d also forgotten how unfriendly Cork and other Irish cities tend to be towards cyclists, so we’re probably looking at a trip to the greenway in Dungarvan once we get a chance. (We’re not the bravest parents in the world.)

All I need now is a bike rack. And of course the smug face you see on the parents, the one that says 'I’m better than you', with your non-cycling kids. Keep an eye for that if you spot me.

And don’t be surprised if I become a bike bore here for the next couple of weeks.

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