Normal People


The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

I think it is fair to say no September has been as welcome to parents as this one.
You might meet plenty of parents the length and breadth of the country who are absolutely delighted their kids are back to school.
Don’t mistake it for a lack of affection for their kids. But the last five months have been a real test for everyone, children and adults alike.
The lack of social interaction with their own peers has been extremely hard for kids. Not alone was school closed to them but so were so many other avenues restricted. Visits were curtailed, so was travel and older kids missed out on any amount of sporting and cultural activities.
We’ve always considered ourselves lucky during lockdown. Frankie is four in November and Éamon turned two last Thursday. They are not as immersed in their community as national or secondary school kids are. They were too young to fully realise what they were missing out on.
But, in the last month or so, we noticed it was having an impact on Frankie. Not having naíonra to go to meant she was not getting to socialise with her own peer group. It meant she was the boss in a house where the only other child is half her age. Éamon is learning how to stand up to his big sister but it will be a while before he is her match. So starting her second year at naíonra on Monday last week was something she was very excited about and we were relieved about.
She got to play with her old friends again and meet some new friends while Éamon returned to our childminder. Despite a few tears in the mornings, he is settling in very well too.
There’s no doubt that being at home for five plus months every day is not ideal for kids, despite our best efforts. Add working from home on top of that and it was certainly a hectic experience!
All has changed since Frankie was last in naíonra. Public health guidelines are being followed and so drop offs are very different but the kids themselves are able to act as normal as possible and come home every day telling great stories about all the fun they had.
We are able to get Frankie to eat a very full breakfast of porridge every morning by simply saying ‘you cannot go to naíonra until you eat all of that’. The bowl was polished every morning so far. We will see how long that bargaining tool lasts but every morning when we are on the road and the naíonra first comes into view, she lets out an excited yelp. It’s great to see.
Poor Éamon is wondering when he can join in the fun there. Another year.
We can only hope that Covid-19 numbers stay low because there’s no doubt having schools for all ages back open is great for the kids … and the parents too.

In his fortnightly column, Edwin McGreal charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.