Category Archives: Parenting

Mara and Me – A Mother’s Story

On Halloween morning 2015, my childhood friend Melissa woke up to what would be a living nightmare.

Her daughter Mara, then 4, blonde haired and blue eyed and delicate in that most beautiful of little girl ways, had developed a huge lump on her neck, literally overnight.

“She wasn’t sick”, Melissa told me over a recent coffee (one that we held hands and mostly cried during).

“In hindsight, there were little things; night sweats, a runny nose, a cough – all the normal things that children get. Nothing that we were worried about”.

The journey from parental concern for Mara to full diagnosis of Hodgkins Lymphoma is rife with those all-too-typically-Irish-medical-system stories – under-diagnoses, misdiagnoses, it isn’t cancer, it is cancer, she won’t need chemotherapy, she will…

I personally knew very little about Hodgkins Lymphoma except that when Jacob started school in September last year, there was a little girl with a ‘Freddie’ in her arm because she was having chemotherapy.

Look how beautiful she is!

You burst into tears when you hear this, about this child who didn’t have cancer 11 months previously, your friend’s baby girl, the baby girl who is the same age as your baby boy…

Melissa tells me that it is the most treatable of the childhood cancers, the survival rate is higher than others but the chance that it might re-present within 5 years is also quite high.

Horribly, St. John’s Ward in Crumlin Children’s Hospital lost other children while Mara was a patient there, but our little hero Mara came through to the other side.

My friend burst into tears as she recalled how she and her husband Alex would have to help the medical staff hold Mara’s tiny body down to receive her chemotherapy, an image that I will never forget for her.

She tells me about Aoibheann’s Pink Tie. They were a huge support to Melissa and her family at the beginning – they gave them ‘Chemo Duck’ to help explain the process of chemotherapy to Mara (he has a Freddy too), as well as providing sound practical support when they needed it the most.

Mara and ‘Chemo Duck’!

My Jacob is a little bit in love with Mara, the now 6-year-old girl who no longer has a Freddie in her arm and who was aptly awarded Junior Infant Student of the Year at the primary school that they attend.

Yep, we all bawled then too..

In fact, all of the kids are quite in love with her. Even while she was still having treatment, she insisted on writing out and colouring individual Valentine’s Day cards for each of the kids in her class last February.

My heart.

Melissa and Alex are looking forward to a clear scan at Mara’s next appointment this month but are still processing all that they have had to deal with in the last 2 years.

Besides managing Mara’s illness and treatment, they also have two younger children to take care of. So not only were Melissa and Alec feeling miserable about Mara being unwell, they also had that all-too-familiar parent guilt that they weren’t giving the other kids enough attention.

Can you imagine?

“I’m still so angry”, my gorgeous, and very placid friend Melissa, tells me. “Why us?”

**If you are worried about any aspect of your child’s health, seek advice from your GP immediately. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, seek a second opinion. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month each year but let’s always think of, and support, those families who are struggling. Melissa tells me that the nicest things that people did were the simple ones – dropping over a dinner, cutting the grass, popping in to say hi.

Take care of each other x**

 

We’re Not Feelin Ya, Ophelia

“Well..did you survive the night?!!”

That’s all we are hearing this week in the wake of Mz Ex-Hurricane Ophelia who hit the south west coast of Ireland with the MAJOR rages on Monday morning.

Us Irish, as usual, had been fairly chillaxed about it’s arrival.

Except me. I’d been flinging garden furniture and toys into the shed since Friday afternoon (thanks to my trusted bringer-of-all-the-weather-updates – Twitter – but by Saturday night at dinner, most of my fellow diners hadn’t even heard that a hurricane was about to hit.

And I thought I was the one who generally had my head up my ass.

Am I Hurricane Prepping? What made you ask me that?! 👻

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By Sunday evening, as soon as we all knew that the kids were getting the day off school, we were taking that shit seriously.

“The WHOLE day?”, cried we. “Sher it’s not even SNOWING!!”

Kids strapped to the crafts table, X-box, games board and hunkered down in forts, we braced ourselves for the inevitable cabin fever that comes from having to entertain our kids all day when the weather isn’t playing ball.

Hurricane Prep Step #1: Build a Fort 👍🏻

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That we can deal with – but throwing our PARTNERS into the mix? Ass Monkey was off and house-bound with us for at least 7 hours.

That’s just damn torture.

(Hope you all ARE ok after Ophelia. I know that lots of people are without power around the country and homes and businesses have been damaged. Thinking of you all x)

The 12 Stages Of Going C(gl)amping With the Kids

If you think I was built to camp, you can think again.

But since the summer hols are no longer anything to do with me (thank you, parenting), I conceded to 4 nights glamping in a lodge at Hidden Valley in Wicklow.

I didn’t regret it. Well, I did. But not for the reasons I expected.

Here are my 12 Stages Of Going C(gl)amping With the Kids:

  1. Smug Parent-ness. How smug was I when I made the reservation – finally, a decent parenting move; a holiday that was really fuck-all to do with my needs and all about giving the kids something to look forward to at the end of the summer break and that would create memories to last a lifetime. Go, me.
  2. Confusion. So we’re camping but we’re not camping. What do we need? Where do we eat? Hidden Valley say they have cooking facilities so I probably don’t need to do anything. Just give Ass Monkey the info and wait for him to feed us, as usual.
  3. Packing. Packing for clamping is much nicer than packing for a flight. Warm blankets, wellies, flip flops, marshmallows, downloaded movies and, most happily, BEER. You can’t bring beers on a flight, you know.
  4. Panic. You have no sleeping bags because you’ve never been camping before, you dope. Also, Ass Monkey has been so sick for the last few days you are considering having him hospitalised.  Which is a huge convenience since you have no idea how to cook for the kids over a camp fire. Thankfully, you’re not expected to pitch a tent.
  5. Cleaning. Why is there always so much cleaning to do when you leave the house for more than a minute? Also, why is Ass Monkey always threatening to be hospitalised when there is so much cleaning to be done?
  6. Relief. You’ve picked up sleeping bags from Argos and you’re on the road, entire family intact. First thing kids want to do when they get there is ‘get into the swimming pool’. Errr…
  7. Excitement. We’ve arrived. The sun is shining, the lodge is cool, the staff are beyond nice. We check out all of the activities and the kids go bananas for the playgrounds, climbing frames and slides. They also spend a ridic amount of time throwing stones into the lazy river, delirious with happiness. It’s the little things..
  8. Shame. You realise that you’re the worst glampers ever. You don’t have any BBQ utensils, plates, knives, lighters or, most importantly, wine glasses. HOW DID YOU FORGET WINE GLASSES, YOU FOOL?! (Side Note: Ass Monkey needs a commis chef/PA)
  9. Wasps. An official stage of being outdoors. The fuckers.
  10. Rain. The rain pelted down on two nights of our stay and I was never happier for our little lodge with it’s little plug sockets so that we could watch movies on the laptop with the kids. And so that I could fill my hot water bottle. Yes, I managed to pack that but not wine glasses. Yes, I am a granny. Yes, thank you.
  11. Washing. Ourselves, the car, the blankets, the thousands of socks, the wellies – everything and everyone are filthy after 4 days and nights in the outdoors. We had epic walks in forests with rivers running through it, rammed each other gleefully on bumper boats, waded in the river in search of fish, visited baby animals at Tinahealy Farm, stayed up late toasting marshmallows and drinking hot whiskeys, bounced on bungies, ran in water balls, played crazy golf.. the dirt was actually worth it.
  12. Happiness. It was a great trip, the kids had a ball, we’re totally relaxed on the back of it. My only regret? That we didn’t go sooner.

So we’re moving to Wicklow. See yiz later 😘😜

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Ballet, Baths and Booze: Tips For Surviving The Summer Hols

I wouldn’t normally be a complainer about the kids being off for summer.

Sure, in comparison to my nephew in the UK (5 weeks off, total), the Irish school’s time off seems rather.. long drawn out.

Sure, the notion of trying to figure out how to keep their little minds engaged whilst running the hind legs off them every day can be fairly time-consuming and draining overall.

Sure, trying to fit in any grown up activities such as working for a living, in order to fund the summer camps/childminder/possible trip away/endless supply of ice cream required is a bit like pissing in the wind..

..yep, actually I’ve just reminded myself what a royal pain in the tits the whole thing is.

This summer is a little bit more of a challenge for us as a family since we’ve just opened Skinny Batch and I’m working more than I was last year so I’ve more to juggle. That’s for starters.

Then we have a small matter of Jacob’s fractured elbow to contend with (please, holy Madonna, the cast comes off in just over a week).

BUT Jacob at almost 6 and Eva at 3 are both at a really good age. They play well together, they were able to attend the same summer camp for the last two weeks, we’re not dealing with nappies or bottles any more so we can all head off together on outings without much fuss. That all certainly helps.

They do need to be entertained though – and while July was jam-packed with family events and summer camps, I’ve left August free ahead of us to just hang out and have some adventures.

I’m also going to take the opportunity to just be at home more and straighten out the 74,000 things that are still ongoing from the house extension LAST YEAR (FML).

The thing is, life is stressful whether the kids are in school or not and I firmly believe that on the days I am overwhelmed, over-worked and over-tired are the days that my family get the worst of me (the version that looks a bit like Twink in THAT puppy-pilfering video – i.e. not great)

So I’ve given myself a few stress management pointers to hit every week in order to manage this summer’s chaos – every Wednesday, I now go to a Barre Class at The Pilates Loft in Rush. It’s a ballet exercise class and I LOVE MYSELF when I’m pointing my toes like a ballerina, ‘k?

When I get home Ass Monkey normally heads off to the gym so I take that golden opportunity to drink a humongous glass of red wine in the bath.

It might not be the healthiest move after my exercise class, but it is the HAPPIEST move.

It’s called balance, people ;o)

 

 

Entertaining 5-Year-Olds With Broken Arms On Summer Hols

Don’t be disappointed but this isn’t actually a helpful, informative piece about what you should do if your 5-year-old should fracture his elbow on summer hols.

No. This is an appeal for HELP.

There are 5-ish weeks left to go before school decides to get over their (very tanned by now) selves and start back to educating our kids so WTF am I to do with the one-arm bandit until then?

@skinnybatchdeli pancakes being put to good use 😃

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He had a fall at my brother’s wedding (lovely day, jesus they really got the weather and all the gorgeous pics and we drank all the gorgeous prosecco too) – and Ass Monkey and I had to transport him to Temple Street at 11pm via taxi..

..because we were fairly shit-faced by then.

I managed to change into a t-shirt and jeans but still had a full face of makeup and false eyelashes on so I looked FABULOUS as I burst through the doors in dramatic fashion, insisting on carrying my son wrapped in a blanket who DID NOT have a broken ankle and was well able to walk himself in, truth be told.

(Although it was very late and cold and he was in a little bit of shock so I’ll forgive myself that one)

Anyway, featured elbow, they said. 6 weeks in a cast, they said.

FUCK MY LIFE.

I said.

He’s adjusted quite well, to be fair, and is rocking the sympathy vote with the ladies and anyone else who enquires as to the presence of the cast.

‘My uncle dropped me’, is the story he insists on telling everyone, which isn’t true but I’m enjoying the reactions so I’m saying nothing.

Me? I’m not adjusting so great. There is now only room for me, him and the bright blue cast in our bed at night.

Ass Monkey has been relegated to Jacobs bedroom – it is honestly the most use it’s gotten since we’ve moved into the house 3 years ago to be honest.

Kiddie camps have been a welcome relief until now, those 3 precious hours to yourself in the morning can never be underestimated.. but they finish this Friday.

Then what, people? Entertain the one-arm sympathy junkie by myself?!

HELLLLPPPP!!!!

Easter Holidays: The Good And The Sugar-Fuelled Rages

We’re on the last Friday of the (WHY SO LONG?) Easter Holidays and I must admit – I’ve finally gotten used to that holiday feeling.

Jacob and I woke this morning (Eva is still up having her beauty sleep at 8.30am), came down stairs and cleaned away the pizza box from our second-takeaway-in-a-row party last night and settled down together on the couch for Cheerios and Cartoons.

We’re both so relaxed, there’s no arguing about uniforms or school or the stress of getting out the door on time and I just thought to myself, “There’s a lot to be said for this”.

But that wasn’t how I felt at the start of the break. WAAAAAY back then (jesus, two weeks ago seems like forever doesn’t it?!), I was VERY nervous about how we were going to fill our days, when I was going to be able to get any work done and if we’d all get along ok.

I decided to go easy on myself with the activity planning and thought that if we had one day out and about, we should have the next day in to potter around the house and just go local for walks and runarounds.

So that first weekend, we headed to the Easter Train at Rathwood. They invited us down via the blog and with the promise of a meet-and-greet with the Easter bunny as well as complimentary choice eggs, who was I to turn that down?

It was a beautiful sunny day and the kids truly had a blast. Ass Monkey and I were beside ourselves at the cheap flowers and plants in the garden centre (PEAK oul wan status) and brought lots of nice stuff home for our garden.

After that, we kind of had NO plan for the next two weeks. I started kicking myself that I didn’t have a holiday home somewhere that I could relocate to with the kids on these kind of breaks and so started the process of looking into one (maybe next year).

Then I started cleaning – the shed got it in the neck, the laundry was attacked with full force, every cupboard in the kitchen has been pulled apart. Honestly, I’m even contemplating entering the playroom today – and seriously, you can’t even get through the door right now.

I kind of felt like it was a good opportunity to get a bit organised before going back to work next week when everything gets all bonkers again so I rather enjoyed all of that.

For Easter weekend, we took a trip to ‘Grandad’s Farm’ – a sort of traditional annual event now to Tulsk in Co. Roscommon where my dad has an old farmhouse that he likes to retreat to on weekends during the year.

The kids just love it because there are donkeys in the nearby field that they find when they arrive so that they can feed them the carrots and apples they bring with them. There is so much space for them to play in, a trampoline in the garden, an Easter egg hunt and of course, unlimited attention and affection from Granny and Grandad Hayden.

Jacob genuinely bawls crying when it’s time to go home. Every year. That is what’s known as SUCCESS, people.

We’ve had a few visitors over the two weeks but not too many so they’ve all been enjoyable and not too overwhelming.

We’ve read tonnes of story books and the drawing/painting levels are off the charts. There is also a LOT of paint on my kitchen chairs that I am currently ignoring.

There have been epic chocolate-induced meltdowns and more than a thousand sibling scraps. I have seen 2-year-old Eva defend herself with a move that any Wrestle Mania pro would be proud of so I no longer feel like I need to get involved. Score.

There have been major baking sessions involving the melting down of all rogue post-Easter chocolate. They’ll never know.

There have been big long sleeps after long days spent together. In our bed, obvs.

I’ve spent so much time one on one with the kids that I really do feel closer to them now.

Isn’t that a strange thing to say?

Perhaps when we’re so busy with work and schedules and phone calls and running around, we don’t get to spend REAL time together.

But this time together has been real. And I am getting a LOT of hugs and kisses and “I love you so much, Mammy” declarations to prove it.

Swoon x

 

6 BIG Reasons To Love My Mum This Mother’s Day

I like being fairly selfish on Mother’s Day. I put my requests (*coughs* DEMANDS) in at home at the beginning of the week;

“I’ll be needing some flowers, thank you very much, not the Tesco kind, the ‘went-to-an-actual-florist-and-got-the-nice-lady-to-wrap-them-in-some-pretty-paper kind.

Some handmade items from the kids will be essential also – perhaps a hand or foot print, a poem about how they feel about me (not necessarily versus YOU, but that would be ok too) and if you all wanted to take the time to bake a cake together in my honour, I’d be most pleased.

Oh and also.. I won’t be lifting a f*cking finger all weekend so figure out how to wash the uniforms”.

You think I’m joking but I write this from my bed at 11.30am on a Sunday morning which is UNHEARD OF.

Moral of the story is.. demands work, ladies. Just deliver them with a sweet, sweet smile and a promise to return to your normal, efficient, doing-everything-for-everyone self in the morning.

The ONLY person I will do anything for on this day is my own mother. During my wedding speech I mentioned how Liz (or “Lady Liz”, to give her her full title) is genuinely my best pal in the world and I meant it. Had I gone on to talk about how great she is, we’d all still be in Ballymagarvey Village right now and I would owe them a LOT of moolah.

So I thought I’d take a moment to honour her here before I take her to lunch and kiss the face off her for the rest of the day.

1. She’s my travel companion

New York, Rome, Venice, Marbella, Tenerife, any spa hotel in Ireland who will take us – she and I love to get away together and just see the sights and hang out. There was a time when I would joke that if it weren’t for her that I literally wouldn’t have left the country but it’s true. Our passports have had a good few days out and we’re only just getting started.

Would you be able for us?!

2.  She’s my confidante

I can literally tell the woman everything and she’d be very hard to shock. Added to that she’s a super listener and not very judgemental so you can just get shit off your chest without her trying to ‘fix’ anything, which we all just need sometimes.

3.  She’s a survivor

My mum is the only person in my life who I have ever witnessed going through cancer treatment so I have nothing to compare her to but as far as I’m concerned, she beat that breast cancer LIKE A BOSS. She never complained – NEVER – and refused to give into fear. If I only had an ounce of her strength…

I lean on that shoulder HARD

4.  She’s a feminist

My mum worked full-time after she had me and then the eldest of my three brothers. She took a pause from that to have two more kids but stayed working in a way that meant she would have her own money no matter what. She minded other kids, took part-time work here and there and ultimately re-trained before heading back to the workplace when my youngest brother was 12. She gets up at 6.10am every morning to go to work and even though she has reached retirement age this year has no intention of stopping work. She tells me she does it for the headspace, to have her own money and independence. And she’s right.

5.  She’s the best granny

All of her grandchildren just adore her because she’s so warm, welcoming and loving. She never forgets any of them or leaves anyone out – they all just gravitate towards her for those epic hugs and kisses.

Check out the JOY on her face!

6.  She’s the best MUM

My brothers and I are lucky to have this absolute gem for a mum. She is HILARIOUS (especially when she doesn’t mean to me), supportive, kind, wise, hard-working, strong, up for a laugh and most importantly.. always has a tissue up her sleeve.

Love you, mum xxx

The 10 Kinds Of Parents You Meet At The School Gates

When I look back over some of the articles I wrote for HerFamily, I realise how much actual craic I was having while I worked there. I mean, where else would I get away with this kind of boldness?!

Wishing editor Sive O’Brien the very best of luck in her next adventure as she moves on from Maximum Media. I feel like I had an intense digital media training under her mentorship for the year that I worked there which was all kinds of priceless (and crazy fun too!)

See you under The Spire for a Johnny Blue some day, Sive (right before we do our Luas passengers makeover!!) x

Every parent is different and everyone has their own way of doing things, we hear that all the time and it is true.

Those unique styles are always really evident, I think, when a range of different types of parents are bunged together by the choice of school, or even pre-school, that they make.

You are all forced into the one carpark, the one line outside while you wait for the doors to open, and the one corridor when picking the kids up again – and you get to meet lots of parent types on the way.

Here are the 10 Types Of Parents You Always Meet At The School Gate:

1. Hot Dad

Let’s just get this one out of the way, shall we? Amidst a sea of mammies doing the school run, are one or two gorgeous dads, who make the wait for the doors to open that little bit more enjoyable. There, I said it.

2. Chatty Cathy

Even if you’ve stated 17 times that really, you must go or else you’ll be late for work/the childminder/your own funeral, Chatty Cathy will keep ‘er lit until you literally lock yourself into your car and drive off while she’s mid-sentence.

3. Aero-dynamic Mum

You can’t miss her in neon pink or green sweats, as she zooms pass, clenching her buttocks as she goes, en route to a half-marathon before elevenses. Guaranteed to make you feel exhausted just by looking at her.

4. The Recruiter

Whether she works for Herbal Life, Aloe Whatsit, a Jewellery company in China or hosts Tubberware parties – there is a woman at the school gates who wants you on her ‘team’. Don’t worry, she’ll tell you, it won’t take up too much of your time – you just need to have a launch, attend weekly motivational group meetings and hand over your bank details. Er, no thanks.

5. Mz Perfectly Turned Out

“I don’t come down the stairs without my make up on!” she’ll trill at the rest of us, as we mentally scold ourselves for wearing the hubby’s football jersey again, and wonder when was the last time that you chucked on a slick of mascara.

6. The Expert

‘The Expert’ will have been a physiotherapist, nurse or doula in a past life, and wants you to know that she has the answer to all your problems, even if you haven’t particularly asked any questions. Casually chatting about approaching 40 and thinking about having another baby? The Expert will put paid to that, based on her past professional experience, leaving everyone sort of..well, depressed.

7. The Over-Sharer

You won’t know this woman very well, apart from politely smiling the odd time as you rush off about your business. But one day you will find yourselves alone together, and she will tell you details about her life that you don’t even know about your closest friend. Her husband’s erectile dysfunction? Check. Their plans for divorce? Check. Her burst cysts and subsequent laparoscopy? Check and double check.

8. Earth Mother

She who cannot for the life of her understand why you are mainlining coffee by 8.55am without acute knowledge of the coffee bean’s origin. I mean, how can anybody’s brain be operating at such a wholesome level at this hour? Oh yes, constant juicing and bursts of yoga throughout the night, while breastfeeding the twins simultaneously. I forgot, my bad.

9. Nosy Nelly

If you feel like you’re being interrogated by someone, then you probably are. If, like me, you live in a small town, then lots of people tend to know your business by osmosis.

“I see you’re thinking about going on holiday to Tenerife”, they’ll nod sagely as they greet you in the car park.

“But..my husband and I..just talked about it for the first time last night!” you’ll stutter.

Nosy Nelly doesn’t apologise for their actions. They merely pat you reassuringly on the shoulder and add, cryptically:

“I know”

10. She Who Is Wrecked.com

Even if you or someone you know falls into any of the categories above, the chances are that you will join the rest of us in looking, feeling and acting wrecked at some point. Teething babies, nightmares and terrors or sick kids can all rob us of those precious Zzzz’s that we so long for at the end of the day. Wrecked Mammy gets a free pass from all of us at the school gates, agreed?

I love HerFamily, I hope you’ve checked it out! 

Business and Pensions: A Snapshot of our Grown-up Lives

So we bought a business premises.

Ass Monkey and I became directors of Dynamic Cater Care when I was just a few weeks’ pregnant with Jacob.

We always knew we wanted to work for ourselves and seized the opportunity in 2011 while we had a few quid in the bank and enough contacts in Dublin bars and restaurants to get us going.

So Alan borrowed my dad’s van for his first few jobs and off he went while I kept my then part-time job going (just in case!) and simultaneously sent out invoices on my days off, crossing my fingers that they’d be paid.

Six years later we have a fleet of vans, a great team of engineers, admin and accounts legends and have built a solid reputation as the go-to company for new restaurant fit-outs and emergency service calls when kitchen equipment is going down around the city.

Our next step was to buy our own premises and after much ado with being out-bid, waiting for liquidation solicitors and wondering if we’d get the keys right on our wedding day (we didn’t in the end, but it would have been hilarious; “sorry, can’t make it up the aisle, have to to sign some legal papers” lol) – we finally got our hands on an old FAS training centre in Ballymun.

We’ve spent the last three months tearing apart the building and getting it ready for our purposes. What used to be various training rooms are now our offices and engineers’ workshop and we’ve knocked every wall down to give us the big warehouse space that we need.

We still have a lot of work to do on the building to get it REALLY nice but our operations are all officially moved across since Monday and everyone is getting settled in.

When you are self-employed you often get so busy just running the business and keeping afloat that you forget to take care of your personal stuff.

Like pensions. Yes, I said ‘pensions’. Somebody get me my shawl.

We see this new building now as our pension and security – it’s another little safeguard for our family and our financial future and so aside from it just being SO FRICKIN COOL that we have our own place, it also serves that very grown-up purpose.

ALTHOUGH – it is nestled right between Musgraves and IKEA so my debit card is clearly going to have to be confiscated from Monday to Friday – eek!

 

Ain’t Nuthin’ Going On But The Lent

My poor little confused non-Catholic child.

He has no idea that he’s a non-Catholic who is receiving a Catholic education in primary school.

And why would he? At 5 years old, he is just following the pack and doing what he’s told (despite behaving completely to the contrary at home, of course!)

When we started the school year and he first came home blessing himself and talking about ‘Holy God’ we did have a chat with him about how Mammy and Daddy didn’t believe in god and that he didn’t have to do the morning prayer if he didn’t want to.

Ass Monkey and I also spoke with the principal and vice principal who were very reassuring in the sense that they kept religious education to a small part of the educational curriculum and mostly, they were of the impression that the end to the Catholic Church being the primary religious hold over schools was in sight.

Maybe in 20 years, they said. I hope I live to see the day, I said.

As Ash Wednesday approached this week, the talk of Lent and ‘Holy God in Heaven’ was firmly on the lips of our little school goer so I thought maybe it was time to have another chat about our non-religious viewpoint as a family.

So while he was in the bath on Tuesday – CALM, I thought – I told him again that the morning prayers in school are his choice to do or not (he has been choosing to do them) and that he didn’t have to receive ash on Ash Wednesday if he didn’t want to.

“Why mammy?” he enquired, attempting yet again to shove his toothbrush down the jet holes of our bath.

“Because your school and some of the people in it believe in the god that you are saying your prayers to every morning, but mammy and daddy don’t believe in that god. Actually, mammy and daddy don’t believe in god at all”

His reaction was spectacular.

“WELL I BELIEVE IN GOD! I BELIEVE IN HIM BECAUSE HE IS IN HOLY HEAVEN!!!”

And he pouted for about half an hour, truly upset.

I felt like I’d told him that The Man In The Big Red Suit Who Lives In A Toy Workshop With Elves At The Furthest Northern Point Of The Planet Whose Sole Purpose Is To Reward Good Children With Gifts And Bad Children With Sacks Of Coal At Xmas Time wasn’t real.

Kinda the same thing though, innit?

Anyway, he got the ashes. And if he wasn’t sure before, at least now he knows that jesus loves him.

FML.