One woman tried everything to encourage her son to study - to no avail


"BLESSED Edmund Ignatius Rice," I have started to in tone. "Please get my son through the Leaving Cert and I will have it documented as a miracle towards your sainthood."

It's going to be a long, hard year. It's well into the academic year and Darragh doesn't seem to have got started.

He got an appalling report. Remarks such as "Darragh has no conception of why he is in school at all", "Darragh needs to start working immediately if he hopes to get even the basic Leaving Cert", really upset me. A criticism of him is a criticism of my bad parenting.

"Don't be ridiculous," my pal says. "He's a man now. You can't keep treating him as if he was in a creche."

I know she is right, but when I see any chance he might have of success evaporate as he counts stars on the wallpaper instead of reading Wuthering Heights, I revert to bossing about homework. One minute he is a sophisticated man and the next he is a dependent child.

This summer, for example, he went about shattering all my illusions. He drank Guinness at a family funeral, he smoked and he donned aftershave to such an extent it left me in no doubt he had a girlfriend.

I felt a degree of maturity had been arrived at, which must mean he would settle down for his final year at school and study. In fact, he assured me of this. "I want to do physiotherapy, or maybe medicine," he announced grandly.

I cut out the article in E&L: "Top Ten Tips for a Hit Year" and pasted it up on the fridge. I can now recite it, but I am doubtful if he has read it once!

The school is also doing its best. Alan, recipient of seven. As with a total of 630 points in last year's Leaving Cert and a keen sportsman, addressed the class. He looks good too. Shaved head, blade 3, wearing mocassins (at least £60), caterpillar shirt (£40), 501s (£50), diesel jacket (£250) and earring. Well that was what I was told when I asked what he said. "I am not interested in what he was wearing, what did he say?" I nagged. "He said it was important not to burn out. It's very important to keep socialising and to play sport." It seems you hear what you want to hear.

Getting involved in his work was my next ploy. He had a past Leaving Cert paper to work on over the weekend. "That Monday Morning Feeling" was the title of a composition.

"Whenever I see my mother I get that Monday morning feeling, it began. "In fact I have that Monday morning feeling permanently because I see her all the time - in my thoughts, my nightmares..."

I am thinking about bribery, but that's difficult as during the summer he had more money than either me or his father. "If you go a month without a letter of reprimand from the school, I'll get you a pair of runners." There was no response. "Okay, what would you like?"

"Insurance on the car, so that I could get into school earlier and get home quicker," he said earnestly.

It's going to be a long, hard year.