Leaving Cert parents’ diary: ‘The sight of my son playing Fortnite is enough to send me into a panic’

10 tell-tale signs the State exams are looming all too soon in my house

Parents’ happiness levels are directly related to how much work their children are doing in the run-up to the State exams. Or so says one Leaving Cert parent, anyway. Photograph: iStock

It’s Leaving Cert year in our house and I know I’m in the thick of it because...

1. My happiness level is directly related to how much work my son is doing. If I peek into his room and see him studying intently I feel confident and secure. The sight of him playing Fortnite or watching Better Call Saul on Netflix engenders a real sense of fear and panic in me. How long has he been watching or playing? Is it just a break or has he been at it for hours? Please let him go back to studying so I can be happy again.

2. I'm a roller coaster of emotion ready to snap at any moment. A light-hearted comment from his older brother such as: "I didn't study that hard and I did fine," causes me to boil over with rage. I try to laugh it off and remain calm so that neither child is aware that I want to scream at his brother like a deranged harridan: "Don't you dare undermine his study plan!" Instead, I laugh hollowly and try to manipulate my younger son inappropriately by saying: "Don't mind your brother, he's jealous and doesn't want you to do well."

3. I irrationally worry about his health as if he is an Olympic athlete about to compete in the final event of the sport he has been training for since he was three. He says he feels a sniffle. "Sniffle?" I say, fearfully. "What kind of sniffle? Has it progressed to your throat? Have you a temperature?" If I could hook him up to a 24 hour health monitoring system I would.


4. During a weak moment of capitulation to growing pressure from advertisements I briefly consider doing a 'How to be the Best, Most Inspiring, Motivating, A1 Parent during the Leaving Cert Course' at one of the many grind schools. I quickly drop the idea when I realise that if I did the course I would never be able admit it and maintain any respect from my parents who would be utterly horrified if they found out.

5. The small amount of help I require from my son with housework which is generally just putting out the bins, has been suspended for the Leaving Cert year. I know these duties will never be taken up again as his older brother realised when he got to College that all he needs to say for the rest of his life to avoid housework is: "Sorry, I need to do some study," and then disappear into his room never to be seen again. Anyway, he might have got a cold taking out the bins.

6. I am destroying the environment by giving him unnecessary lifts in my car to anything, anytime, anywhere so that not a second is wasted on ridiculous things like walking or getting a bus. The sooner he gets to where he has to go and the sooner he gets home, the longer he can sit at his desk and the more relaxed I will be.

7. I experience a moment of pure joy when I come home one afternoon and see my older son helping my younger son with an Applied Maths problem. Everything I have done in my life has led up to this incredibly moving, soothing scene in my kitchen. My children aren't playing computer games, watching sports on TV or showing each other rude youtube clips on their phones. They are studying together. I have succeeded as a parent! Then I realise that this isn't normal, it never happened before and is unlikely to happen again.

8. I have Fridge Anxiety Disorder. If there isn't a constant supply of the food he likes ready to prepare instantly I feel I have failed in my basic function of being a supportive parent. It's not enough to have good food, it has to be the correct relish, ketchup brand and pasta shape. Any pang of hunger he might suffer or time spent preparing his own food could affect his studying ability.

9. I'm suffering from sleep deprivation because I'm concerned about how much sleep my son is getting. If he goes out I'll wait up for him calculating how many hours sleep he's missing how it might be detrimental to the quality of his study.

10. I realise that maybe my son and his friends who are actually sitting the Leaving Cert are more balanced and sane about it than I am. They are studying far more than I ever did, have a good social life, play sports and go to the gym. The only person in the house who is under pressure is me. Perhaps I need to lay off my son just a little bit and get a life?