Life

Leona O'Neill: Thank God the summer holidays are over

It's been a long, hard summer for parents, but ‘back to school' means it's time for teachers to once again take on childcare duties during daylight hours, writes a relieved Leona O'Neill

It’s not just kids who hate going back to school
Leona O'Neill

DEAR Teacher: It’s been a long two months since we last saw your lovely face. We didn’t think we would make it through, truth be told.

There were the horrors of boredom and trauma of complaining. The children ate all the groceries bought on Saturday by Monday night and spent all my money on computer games and tat.

And then what little money I had left had to be spent on school uniforms and shoes that they will compete with one another to wear out in mere weeks.

But we made it, here to the school gates, to you – the person whose job it is to listen to the bickering and million questions and demands for things for six whole hours a day so that we don’t have to.

High-fives to all the parents who got through the summer and big-ups to you, dear teachers, who after lounging watching Jeremy Kyle and drinking wine in your pyjamas for two months non-stop in preparation for the mammoth task ahead are now ready to take up the challenge of our kids again.

Thank God for your sacrifice. We will offer up thanks to you while drinking a hot cup of tea, sans chicken nuggets, or watching something besides Teen Titans Go! on the television.

We will offer up praise for you when as we sit in golden, beautiful, blissful silence in our homes and when sibling bickering and complaining about the rain is all but a distant, horrible memory.

We will offer a silent prayer for you when we don’t have to pay all of our wages directly into our childminder’s account or when we open our purses and there is actual money, not the ghost of pound coins handed over to pay for childrens' entertainment, McDonald's or ways to ‘pass the day’.

We all know that the transition back to school will take time. We know the mornings will be tough getting people out of bed. There will be much grumping about life 'not being fair' and dragging of feet down the stairs.

There will be refusals to get dressed, deliberately lost shoes, fake sickness and strops. But, in time, I’m sure you teachers will come around to the fact that this is your destiny.

Don’t envy us as we run from school that first morning, swinging our coats and handbags around our heads while whooping and high-fiving each other.

Whatever you witness that first week back – be that tired, tearful and burnt-out parents hugging and thanking you from the bottom of their hearts, parents in the car park singing Destiny’s Child Survivor in dramatic fashion or expressing their relief through the medium of modern dance – just let it go. Don’t judge.

Us parents have been through so much, we need to let it out. It's not healthy to keep that much trauma locked away. It's been a tough two months.

Our kids, with their big sad faces, itchy new jumpers and a million questions are your problem now. We don’t care anymore.

And, if you think the look of resignation and despair on your faces invokes some manner of sympathy, you’re barking up the wrong tree. The attraction of watching an individual other than a sponge named Bob who dresses himself in quadrangle-style pants and having a cup of tea in blissful silence erases all our human empathy.

We don't care – we are now a free people!

Count yourselves lucky that we don’t start a mass campaign to have teachers come to our houses, make dinners and iron uniforms as some manner of compensation for a summer looking after our own children.

Just think, in 10 months' time, you’ll be the ones whooping and celebrating and heading off into the sunset. I hope that thought keeps you warm through the dark days ahead.

Until next July, teachers, I leave you again with my sincere and heartfelt thanks. You are amazing – all the very best of luck with it all!

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