Róisín Ingle


SINCE THE GIRLS started Montessori I’m really starting to see what people mean about September being a bit like January in terms of taking stock so I’ve taken the nip in the air as a cue to reinvent myself. Again.

First I decided to be a more cautious me. He’d never say as much because he’s too kind but I know my neighbour Barry despairs of me sometimes. Over the years he’s told me about a car door left open, about windows in the house left open and at least once he’s rung to tell me I left the front door open all day. With the key still in the lock.

Also now that the girls are in Montessori school this September I’ve decided we all need to be more independent and less lazy. For them this means pouring their own milk on their cereal and fetching me breakfast in bed every other day.

For my part I’ve pledged to stop wasting my life away watching Fair City. (Unfortunately I seem unable to stop watching Fair City until a character called Crazy Lucy gets her comeuppance so RTÉ if you’re reading: You’ve dragged this ridiculous storyline out for a gazillion years, sort it out immediately, I don’t pay a licence fee to be strung along in this manner, Yours, Disgruntled of North Strand.) For their father it basically means not leaving his runners on the sideboard. You’d think this was simple. I may as well be asking him to fix the Middle East.

I’ve accepted that being a parent means repeating the same things over and over again until the words lose all their meaning but being a partner, a word which (coincidentally?) has all the same letters as parent and an extra ‘r’ for rage, also means a certain amount of repetition.

Essentially, I’ve reinvented myself as a harridan: Shoes off the sideboard! Get that potato man off the stairs! Lego lives in the box not on the bathroom floor! The shoe thing is the most annoying one though. There’s a place for shoes and that place is in the cheapo plastic black Ikea shoebox yoke I bought for exactly that purpose. It’s hardly rocket science. I might get a sign, like the one on trains except instead of ‘seats are not for feet’ it will say ‘sideboards are not for shoes’ and that should be the end of it. But it won’t be so this September I also plan to be more accepting of what I cannot change. As if.

I’ve noticed that since starting Montessori the girls are being reinvented themselves. When they beat each other up now they are much more polite. It’s all – whack! – you’re very welcome – bosh! – good day to you, madam. Thank you and – bam! – goodbye. So that’s a positive.

And I’m thinking of doing a DIY course. My over qualified handyman/civil engineer John is getting married soon and I’m worried his soon-to-be-wife is not going to take too kindly to me calling him up every time I want a picture hung. It’s time I took control. There are a few jobs that need seeing to, a hinge loose here, a door handle hanging precariously off the playroom door there. Can I fix it? Yes I can.

But not yet. I was home alone the other day, cooking the dinner. The girls wanted me to reinvent myself as the Big Bad Wolf to their Three Little Pigs with the playroom doubling as the house of straw. I stood outside the door and called “leetle pigs, leetle pigs” (my Big Bad Wolf is always French for some reason) and they responded with “Mummy, the handle has come off the door”.

I hadn’t reinvented myself as a DIYer at this point so I just shook the handle on my side of the door up and down and panicked realising it wouldn’t open and walked up and down the hall wringing a tea towel in my hands the way it says people do in books, all the while telling the children not to worry in a high pitched worried voice. If I was thinking straight I’d have called Sideboard Shoeman or Handyman John for advice.

Instead I told the girls not to panic and headed for the front door where I rang Barry who wasn’t there and kept an eye out for a burly passerby who could help me break the door down.

Almost as soon as I had the thought a burly passerby appeared. I called over to him explaining the situation. He came in and put his feet up against the door and applied pressure. I told the girls to stand back.

“Ok, Mummy” they said. As Burly Man tried to break the door down Barry appeared looking worried. He thought Burly Man was an intruder and just as I was explaining he wasn’t Burly Man, who it turned out was called Jason, managed to burst open the door.

I thanked Jason who went on his way. “Sorry I don’t have a reward,” I called after him. Well, I was addled. “Did you know him?” asked Barry. “Well, I do now, but I didn’t before if that’s what you mean. I got him in from the street,” I said.

It was only when I said it out loud and Barry looked at me as though I was Crazy Lucy and said something about being more cautious that I realised what a potential security risk this might have been. I think next time I’ll reinvent myself as someone who realises she is never, ever going to change so why flipping bother.

Probably more sensible in the long run.

In other news . . .

Médecins Sans Frontières is running a free photography exhibition by award-winning Irish film maker Michael Lavelle in the Powerscourt Centre and Fixx Coffeehouse in Dublin as part of the first ever MSF Ireland Week. Other events include the intriguing cholera tent roadshow. msf.ie

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