IT’S MY LIFE

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Parenting - TRIC KEAR­NEY

LAST week, I was struck down by a dread­ful af­flic­tion which af­fects large num­bers of the pop­u­la­tion but most are un­aware of its ex­is­tence. The con­di­tion I re­fer to is called ‘mid-term’. Mostly af­fect­ing the par­ents of school-go­ing chil­dren, it flares up ap­prox­i­mately ev­ery six weeks or so through­out the school year, typ­i­cally strik­ing a few days af­ter par­ents have con­grat­u­lated them­selves on hav­ing their lives in or­der. Symp­toms are par­tic­u­larly se­vere dur­ing the win­ter months, when the days are cold and wet and chil­dren like to play in­doors.

Mid-term af­fects both par­ents, but symp­toms can dif­fer greatly. It is be­lieved those with young chil­dren or mul­ti­ple chil­dren ex­pe­ri­ence the worst ef­fects. Par­ents of older chil­dren are not im­mune, but their symp­toms are gen­er­ally less se­vere. Since dis­cov­er­ing I have this con­di­tion, I’ve spent hours on Google try­ing to un­der­stand it, but it would ap­pear to be a hid­den af­flic­tion of which I alone am the lead­ing ex­pert world­wide.

How do you know if you are suf­fer­ing from mid-term?

Have you ever been asked “what’s wrong?” and you’ve an­swered, “midterm”? If so, you can be sure you are a suf­ferer.

To date, there is no known case of any­one suf­fer­ing from mid-term caus­ing ac­tual bod­ily harm to a teacher

What are the signs and symp­toms? These vary from per­son to per­son and no two cases of mid-term are the same. Symp­toms usu­ally be­gin at least one week be­fore the main event and are of­ten brought on by the ap­pear­ance of a note in a child’s home­work jour­nal or a throw­away re­mark from an­other par­ent about the chil­dren hav­ing no school the fol­low­ing week. Ini­tial signs in­clude a sud­den high-pitched shriek of­ten fol­lowed by a run to the cal­en­dar. In some cases, it may lead to a semi­col­lapse, pos­si­bly ac­com­pa­nied by moan­ing and the hold­ing of head in hands. In ex­treme cases, the sen­sa­tion of a heart stop­ping has been re­ported.

Over a pe­riod of days, symp­toms tend to progress, some­times at an alarm­ing rate. Suf­fer­ers ex­pe­ri­ence feel­ings of an­noy­ance and dread, which may es­ca­late to a feel­ing of im­pend­ing doom, most com­monly brought on by hear­ing the weather fore­cast for the week ahead is for rain.

As the body does its best to cope, there may be brief mo­ments of joy when the prospect of no school lunches, drop-offs or col­lec­tions are re­mem­bered. It is not un­com­mon for this joy to turn to full-blown ma­nia at the idea of no home­work for a week.

How­ever, as the days pass and in­juries are suf­fered from step­ping on dis­carded Lego or toys scat­tered about the floor in ev­ery room, this ma­nia lessens and, in some cases, has been known to swing to thoughts of vi­o­lence to­wards teach­ers who have hol­i­days. It is im­por­tant not to panic at such thoughts, as, to date, there is no known case of any­one suf­fer­ing from mid-term caus­ing ac­tual bod­ily harm to a teacher.

How to man­age mid-term? Know­ing you suf­fer from mid-term is the first step to learn­ing to cope with it. Plans can be put in place to man­age the worst of the symp­toms by pre­dict­ing when an at­tack is likely to oc­cur.

One of the best ways to do this is by use of the ‘cal­en­dar method’, whereby you can pre­dict mid-term’s ar­rival based on the as­sump­tion that schools never open for longer than six weeks at a time and usu­ally close ei­ther side of a bank hol­i­day. Clever use of this method can en­sure you have grand­par­ents, re­la­tions or un­sus­pect­ing friends at the ready for men­tal health days. The ef­fects of mid-term last about 10 days, peak­ing mid-way. There is no known cure, but many sug­gest tak­ing med­i­ca­tion by day and al­co­hol by night can help suf­fer­ers to cope.

It is rarely fa­tal.

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