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Kerry McClean: What would anyone make of my family if they were to spend time filming a fly on the wall documentary of our home between the hours of 7-8am, Monday to Friday?

Kerry and husband Ralph with their kids Daniel, Tara and baby Eve outside school
Kerry and husband Ralph with their kids Daniel, Tara and baby Eve outside school

By Kerry McLean

I love mornings during the summer holidays. An extra hour in bed and a temporary escape from fighting the school run traffic have made the last eight weeks a joy. But, sadly, all good things must come to an end and our previously peaceful, easy introduction to another day came to a juddering halt with the return to school this week.

Every year, during the summer holidays, I promise myself that I and the kids will be more organised for their return to classes. But try as I might, something always catches me unawares and I spend the mornings in a panicked state, hoking out money, books, musical instruments or whatever other random objects I've just discovered are needed for the day.

I always wonder what anyone would make of my family if they were to spend some time filming a fly-on-the-wall documentary of our home between the hours of 7 and 8am, Monday to Friday.

What misconceptions would they be left with and just how shell-shocked would they be, recovering in the sudden silence of our house after we finally pile out of the door, a tornado of school bags, folders, lunch boxes and coats.

I'm honestly not someone who's naturally given to shouting but they'd be unlikely to believe that, given my break of day behaviour.

Ever since my offspring started at our local primary, I have found myself possessed, at first light, by the spirit of a particularly loud sergeant major.

From the moment the shrill alarm on my bedside clock fills the air, my equally shrill voice joins it, shouting at people to get up, get washed and get dressed.

I bark orders at them, corralling them from one room of the house to another, washing, eating and dressing as they go.

It's not something I enjoy but I've long since discovered that if I'm not there, a bellowing reminder of what they should be doing and when, their speed will be somewhere between slow motion and full stop.

Never was my belief so well proven as when I lost my voice for an entire week a few years ago.

Without my helpful hollering, at least one of the kids fell back asleep each day, making us horrendously late, not helped by the daily stand-off, when I croaked out the question, 'Have you brushed your teeth?', only to be met with a shifty look and, eventually, a non-committal, 'Mmm-hmmm'. With little vocal ability to spare, I took to holding up my phone in their face with the message 'Go back and brush them. Do it properly this time. I'll be checking!' typed out on a handy, reusable draft email.

The wonders of modern technology, helping with age old parenting problems.

But while the mornings may be stressful, once we're in the car, harmony is restored.

I'm very lucky that school has been a positive experience for my eldest two and, while they'd rather be in bed or running wild, the prospect of a new school year beginning hasn't been something they were dreading.

After eight weeks away, the little learning batteries in their brains have been fully recharged and ready to be stuffed with new information.

The only moment of melancholy belonged to my husband and I as my son began his first day as a P7 boy and the start of his final year at a brilliant primary school.

It seems like only a matter of moments since we walked him into his P1 classroom, his eyes wide as saucers and his little hand clasped desperately onto mine.

We were both afraid to let go.

What a change seven years makes and this time round, I was instructed to kiss him before we left the house to avoid the embarrassment of his mummy getting all emotional.

When we got to the school he jumped out of the car, swept his fringe to the side with a studied casualness and said, 'See you later, mum.'

I couldn't help but get a little weepy, proud of the young man he's become, fearful of what the future holds and thankful he didn't spot me in tears or I'd have been in bother.

Belfast Telegraph


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