Graduation day

Nurturing

The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

And just like that Frankie is ready to start national school.
Her two years at naíonra in Bunacurry in Achill have finished and she is off to national school in nearby Sáile.
It’s the end of her first beginning. Bigger days lay ahead in terms of finishing national school and secondary school, but she’s definitely not a baby anymore. She is now ready for ‘big school’, as she likes to call it.
Covid-19 meant she did not have the full two years in naíonra, but my God did she enjoy every minute she was there. Our fears of her being unwilling to go in on her first day proved completely unfounded. She was only two but went bounding into the classroom without so much as a backwards glance.
Not once since has she been anything but excited going in the door every day. She loved telling us stories about her days there and the wonderful teachers and friends. No secret was safe – and Lord knows what stories she brought from home into the naíonra too!
It was great for her socialisation to meet and play with kids her own age. Indeed, during the first lockdown last year you could see how she was missing out on those relationships.
Her Irish flourished there, and she’s all set for the Gaeilge in Sáile now too.  
You know Frankie loves something if you can use it as a bargaining tool – ‘If you don’t eat all your breakfast, you can’t go to naíonra today’. Countless stalled breakfasts have been finished using that particular trade off.
Finishing up, there was a lovely graduation the week before last. Because of Covid, it was outdoors. All the kids were called up individually to receive their cert and portfolio of work. If you saw the size of it, you’d think they were there for four years!
They all got lovely photos taken with little graduation gowns and hats. Cuteness overload. Thanks to Kelly, Gráinne, Hannah and Joanne for making her time there so memorable.
Last Wednesday saw Frankie and many of her naíonra classmates go to Sáile for an introductory day before their first day at school after the summer holidays. Again, not a backwards glance as she went in and started asking all the older kids ‘What’s your name?’.
She will mix with everyone and likes to take charge when she’s let too. We asked once if she bossy at naíonra before being told ‘We call that leadership skills!’. She has plenty of those skills alright!
A ‘mother hen’ was another memorable description. She’s that at home too, trying to boss her little brother Éamon around – he is not always happy to go along with that, mind – and trying to mother baby Séimí, who has no choice in the matter yet.
Éamon starts his naíonra journey in September, while Frankie starts an even bigger adventure in Sáile. The time does not be long going by.

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