10 things to drive you daft during back to school madness

The holiday season has been far too short. But, it’s been far too long. Either way, it’s over


It’s that time of year when the sprogs have to be delivered back into the enfolding arms of the State - and this point of the calendar is marked with a number of family rituals.

1: Back-to-school shopping is in full swing and mounds of jumpers in various hideous shades of grey and mauve are being rifled as parents seek an item of clothing with that elusive combination of “room to grow into” and a Kevlar-like resistance to the unmentionable abuses it will face while being worn by a child.

2: Parents are spending hours with their head stuck under the stairs and in the garage searching for essential school gear such as school bags and sports stuff, all of which was put away “carefully” in June. Two days before school many parents realise the stuff must have been left in the holiday home and opt to the replace item. Four days later said missing item will reveal itself. And so the clutter cycle continues.

3: Awful adverts appear targeting parents. Heard the one about it being the time for mothers to take a holiday? (A notion met with the bafflement and fury of many mammies). Ah yes, because, over the summer, dad has been lolling around on the couch or golf course, ignoring the kids.

4: After the appropriate school geansaí empties your purse or wallet, you’ve got to pay for after-school activities, “voluntary” school contributions and other outlays you had been warned about months ago but dismissed from your mind immediately. Therefore you have not budgeted for them and the family faces tuna and pasta dinners for the next month. Many parents mutter darkly about “planning better next year”.

5: There’s crankiness galore as everybody in the house all of a sudden has to get up many (in some cases many, many) hours earlier and still there’s no time to dress or even eat in the rush to get into the car. Rows over the shower resume. Wait until the water charges kick in.

6: Meanwhile, children normally delighted to get out of the house will suddenly be anxious to do anything else whatsoever as the reality of the classroom looms. Requests for new items, clothing, phones, shoes etc are delivered in higher-than normal octave.

7: As schools return the traffic slows along routes that were uncluttered over the summer. You allow extra time for your journey, misjudge it and spend much of the first week arriving late to work. You resume the habit of having your “breakfast”, a banana and Luke-warm coffee, in the car. If you carpool, other families’ kids will be late/unwell/bawling or will need to demonstrate to you the new karate chops they learned during the summer.

8: You will meet up with classmates’ families who’ve all been on far, far nicer holidays than you. They have better tans and better holiday snaps. They have funny anecdotes. Their children learned a language and lacrosse. None involved an unfortunate incident involving parked cars on a narrow lane and your car. In fact, that incident was pretty much marked the end of your holiday. That is why there are no pics of a smiling family and why your wife refers to you as “that &*%#ing man” Grrrrrr.

9: There is also the pleasure of organising play-dates with kids who’s folks haven’t had your youngsters around to theirs for, like, at least 18 months.

They have forgotten about the extent of your ‘little darling’s’ wanton appetite for destruction. They do not realise said child has regressed under the careful tutelage of their parents during the summer. And better still, to avoid being seen to be rude, they will have to invite the little one back again at least once. Result.

10: You get that familiar feeling of the holidays being far too short. Now you will encounter plenty of worthy folk complaining about the ghastly amount of free time ne’er-do-well teenagers (and teachers) have for doing precisely zilch the whole summer long. Then you see said teenagers subjecting the neighbour’s dog to the ice bucket challenge . . . in the bath. You reappraise views on the lenght of the holidays. Well it’s all over now, baby!, as Michael Noonan might say.