I’m going to be completely honest. I’m not scared of summer, I’m down to the bone terrified! I’ll have two almost teenage children, and two pre-school age children to entertain for days on end. We live rurally, so there’s very little in the way of clubs, or groups to amuse them. But before I even get to that, I have to get through the ‘End of School Gauntlet’.
End of School Gauntlet
Have you ever watched any of those fitness competition type shows? Gladiators? Beast Master? At the end of the show, there’s an incredibly difficult obstacle course that the contestants must get through. That what the months of May and June are to me. For a start, I’m tired. I’ve just had a year of getting up at 7 AM to argue with two smart mouthed pre-teens about why they can’t take their DS’s, phones, books, Pokemon cards, whatever to school, or why they actually do need to wear their uniform. I’m in no mood to navigate my way through the gauntlet, but it must be done.
How It Starts
With my kids school, I can tell when it begins. The starting bell is the weekly requests for money. From September, until around the Easter holidays, there’s the odd request for money – book bill, non-uniform day, days out – but these requests are few and far between. After Easter, the requests become more frequent, until there’s at least one a week for all of May and June. It’s at this point that they seem to realise that the books don’t quite add up, and the letters get more and more ridiculous. So, no, I won’t be sending in €5 for another non-uniform day in aid of a retired teacher who hasn’t worked in the school since 1960.
Half way through June, there’s Sports Day. They set a date for this hell in September, but Irish weather being what it is, it gets rescheduled five times before it actually happens. When it does happen, it involves groups of cackling women, the odd man looking out of place, and me trying to avoid them all. I love my kids, and I want to support them, but I’m not convinced that supporting them should mean that I’m cold, wet, hungry, and stuck on a Gaelic pitch(? field? I’m going with pitch) with groups of women that I can’t stomach being around.
I’m Not A Joiner
I’m not. I don’t run around looking for groups to join. I don’t feel the need to campaign about every issue, only the ones that I actually care about. I balance my time between my kids, my partner, my family, my friends my job, and me. If you don’t fit into one of those categories, then I’m not going to be much use to you. I’m not going to give up doing things I like to do, to go to the school and paint the kitchen, weed the garden or whatever.
Here, it’s always the same people in every group. It doesn’t really matter what the cause is, there’s a handful of people who will be in the middle of everything. These people spread themselves thin, and instead of benefiting any one group, all they achieve is failing all of them. I know that it would drive me crazy to get involved and watch other people destroy what I was trying to do.
I Just Don’t Like These People
I can’t help it. I don’t like them. I don’t like their small mindedness. I don’t like their entitled attitude. I don’t like someone trying to tell me what to do, how I should be doing it, and I really hate it when people try to talk down to me. My ‘problems’, as far as they’re concerned are:
- I had my children young
- I was a single parent
- I double-barreled my kids surname
- I rented a house
- I moved
- I got a dog
- I got another dog
- I got a cat
- I can DIY
- I can’t garden
- I can’t bake (I can, but they will never know that!)
- I haven’t found God (neither in terms of actual faith, nor as a Sunday only Christian)
- My son has ASD because:
- I was young
- I had him vaccinated
- I gave birth in a different country
- I used that country’s vaccination guidelines, and not the Irish guidelines
- I didn’t take him to church enough
- I cooked pasta, not potatoes
- I was a single parent, and he had ‘no male role models’
- I didn’t feed him a vegetarian diet
- I didn’t feed him a vegan diet
- I didn’t feed him enough meat
- I didn’t feed him enough fish
- I let him eat too many sweets
- I let him drink smoothies
- I moved
- I was too strict
- I wasn’t strict enough
I just don’t have the time, or the inclination to deal with these people.
Final Half Day
There’s much more in between sports day and the final half day of school. There’s reams of paper sent home with one of my kids, but as most of them are either about meetings, parents associations, or money, I tend to ignore most of them. I can’t ignore the final half day, no matter how hard I try. Every parent has to go and actually collect their child.
I realise that it shouldn’t sound like a foreign concept, and probably doesn’t for some of you. But we have a bus that lifts the kids in the morning, and returns them in the afternoon. It’s great because I don’t have to go anywhere near the place, except for on this day. On this day, I have to get dressed, and go to the school, stand with all those people that I don’t like, and wait for my half wild children to come running out of school as though the hounds of hell are on their heels, while every other child is doing exactly the same thing. I have to stand there watching the smallest five year old ever get pushed out of the way, hoping that it wasn’t one of mine who did the pushing.
And after I get through all that, the summer starts.