Are you suffering from ‘End Of School Year Burn-Out’? Fear not. There might be two weeks to go til the end of term – but Lindsay Woods has the ultimate survival guide.
School’s out… Well, almost. And the fear has set in. This is a relatively new sensation to me, generally reserved for the ‘Back to School’ frenzy.
Yet here I am, a mere two weeks away from the inevitable and I can feel the panic clawing at my throat in an acidic onslaught that would normally only have occurred after a three-day bender, fuelled during the college years by whatever booze was on offer and sustained by coleslaw and chips.
I am unprepared. Ill-equipped. And my children not only sense it. They know it. There is an unusual static in the air of our home. My husband has increased the frequency of his side-eye to one every 10 minutes.
He speaks with considered trepidation to which, in return, he receives mono-syllabic replies. I feel he only exhales when he closes the front door behind him on the way to work each morning.
Everything is slipping and I care not to claw it back. The first thing to feel my wrath?...
At the beginning of the year, I pack the lunches with all the fervour of a Pinterest addicted wannabe Desperate Housewife. There is a jazzy little translucent container with snip-snappy sides for everything.
Far be it for the darlings to struggle in disrobing a mango. Let me segment it into slippery batons of pulpy flesh with an accompanying tapas fork so that they do not have to resort to, ‘gasp’, using their fingers!!
Cut to present day and I’m wedging an entire pineapple into the bags with the attitude of, ‘They can just bite the sharp bits off with their teeth. It will build character’.
Wholemeal anything?! They’re lucky if I manage to locate two slices of generic white bread. Which, will invariably have several holes in them from where I’ve dragged the butter and torn the malleable surface of said bread.
It will return home untouched by the eldest, in the snip-snappy container which is now a fetching shade of faded orange due to getting stuck in the same cycle of the dishwasher as the dish containing the remnants of the lasagne.
And why has he not even deigned to touch such a delicacy? Because that child is the one who doesn’t eat butter. This fact is as much a disappointment to me as the current state of the…
One is in the shape of the head of a smug looking Unicorn. The other is a non-descript black affair, purchased purely for its size.
In truth, it would have been easier to just give my son a trough such is his ability to consume seemingly insurmountable quantities of food. Both the Unicorn and miniature trough have lost their sheen.
The mythical creature has an unidentifiable stain splattered across her face which no amount of scrubbing has removed. The placement of which makes her eyes appear drowsy and her mouth somewhat lopsided; compounding the notion that she might well have been on a three-day bender fuelled by cheap booze and chips.
The nondescript affair is just that: until you edge back the zipper and you are presented with an eye-watering stench which no amount of anti-bac spray has rectified.
It is as if the very smell of decay has embedded itself into the very fibres of the ‘cool technology’ lining. The horned horse has a similar aroma. You are counting down the days until you can just toss a match at them, along with an overstuffed cupboard of snip-snappy containers and walk away in a blaze of glory like an utter boss.
Or you could just chuck them in a bin liner for collection by your local refuse service. Same same.
There is much to be said for the obligatory, ‘Budge up there next to your sister and don’t mess up your hair’ first day photo.
The reason I insist on same is to look back fondly upon that time where for a split second, my children didn’t look like they had cobbled together their school wear with the aid of a Prit-stick and hope.
Currently, my eldest child has managed to fashion what appears to be a rapidly growing sinkhole at the front of his shoe. Despite my best efforts to halt its growth by layering daily applications of shoe polish on its person, it continues to greet me each day, taunting me, grinning at me as my son sprints out of the school entrance.
Throw into the mix a jumper which looks like a flutter of moths had an all-night rave before exiting stage left (a casualty of many an overzealous game of ‘Tip Chase’), trousers which have an in-built air conditioning system due to their flapping two inches above his ankle and a tie bearing more sellotape than a two-year-old let loose on wrapping a birthday gift and you get the idea as to why that photo is so very important.
By the last day of school, they should be in their underwear due to their uniforms spontaneously combusting.
At this point, you’re becoming downright reckless. The YouTube lady, whose tutorials you watched at the beginning of the year explaining the need to have an ‘organisation station’ where all party invites, school newsletters etc. should be housed, now gives you anxiety.
When you close your eyes at night you see her face with its perma-fixed smile floating in front of you, taunting you with her list of 10-minute projects which involve only some scrap material and a glue gun. A MacGyver of the crafting world if you will.
The party invites are coming in thick and fast for all the summer babies. And whereas at the beginning of the year, as advised by the YouTube lady, I diligently wrote the party details on to a calendar before disposing of the invite to ‘avoid unnecessary clutter’, I now resort to screaming at everyone within earshot as to where said party invite is.
Most likely, lurking under one of the mounds of supermarket ‘specials’ leaflets, raffle ticket notices and general crud which multiply daily upon the kitchen table. You are now in hot pursuit of a card.
The box which you are to keep ‘packed full to cover all occasions’ (YouTube lady had better hope I never make it to Australia) now houses your dignity. You had wondered for some time where that had scuttled off to.
You find a ‘Happy Easter’ card and you don’t even flinch while ramming cold hard cash into same. You arrive at the party venue, with your cynical five-year-old in tow, to be told, ‘No, there’s no party for a child with that name here’.
Which results in a phone call to the parent of the birthday child. You are at the wrong venue. When you eventually arrive at the correct venue it is with a red-eyed child who has been wailing in the car at your ineptitude which she only interrupts at intervals to scribble furiously in her ‘Secret Diary’.
After depositing your offspring, you head straight to the nearest supermarket to purchase that Pinot Grigio that you saw listed on the ‘Specials’ leaflet.
Once you’ve torched the lunch bags and the cupboard of snip-snappy containers, well it’s pretty much a slippery slope from thereon in. The end is nigh.
And in your ‘three glasses of wine’ induced haze you pretty much convince yourself that you may as well throw caution to the wind. You forget what days they are supposed to wear uniform as opposed to school tracksuit.
You send them in with the hurley on the days they are supposed to bring the violin. You start getting loose with time keeping for ballet, rugby etc.
You can’t understand why you didn’t take this approach all year: laid back and at peace with your lax decision making and loose morals. The kids will be fine. Even if they have to peel an entire pineapple with their teeth.
And then, ‘That Parent’, drops two words, in that smug tone, which change everything: ‘Summer Camps’.
Your ears are pricked and you can feel that acidic panic clawing at your throat. What is this seasonal mythical holding area they speak of? Of course, That Parent’s kids have been enrolled since Christmas.
So naturally, and in case the five-year-old old clocks this up as ‘something else I can hold against my mum’, you enrol them for weeks of running around in a plastic ball which looks like it should have a hamster in it.
And as the wine kicks in, you visualise how many kids have disposed of bodily fluids in said ball and realise that along with paying an extortionate amount for said camps, it will now cost you the same in GP fees from the gangrene and other such nonsense your child will pick up from heated plastic-coated enclosures.
And finally, the day arrives. Freedom. As your children run joyously up the school drive, their uniforms splitting at the seams, flinging bags every which way, you make up your mind to think, ‘I am going to make this the BEST summer ever!’.
But the acid slowly starts to rise in your throat once more when you remember one simple fact: that holiday you booked buoyed on by the ‘Specials’ wine from the supermarket….
Lindsay overshares her life on Instagram @manolomummy
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