The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENTS -

fair, I could be speak­ing Can­tonese and he would still bark ap­proval).

Any­way, The Boy is to sit an oral Ir­ish exam which will ac­count for 40% of his Ju­nior Cert marks. At the meet­ing in the school, the Ir­ish teach­ers ex­plain, with ad­mirable en­thu­si­asm, that this could mean that the stu­dents will al­ready have 40% in the bag even be­fore June beck­ons. In the case of The Boy, it is more likely to mean that come June, he will some­how have to make up 140% on the writ­ten exam. In the mean­time, he has a prac­tice oral

Even­tu­ally we come to a sort of by Jove, I think he’s got it mo­ment,

and the first melt­down re­solves

it­self into a dew

Ir­ish exam to­mor­row, which is the more im­me­di­ate cause of the cur­rent break­down. Hav­ing com­plained bit­terly all week­end about the amount he has to learn, he has, some­what pre­dictably, left most of it un­til Sun­day night. Cue wail­ing, gnash­ing, shout­ing, ar­gu­ing – and, even­tu­ally, an in­ten­sive tu­to­rial in spo­ken Ir­ish, dur­ing which I briefly morph into that other mother on YouTube, the one who goes mad at her son, Robert, as Gaeilge, over his oral Ir­ish. Even­tu­ally, though, we come to a sort of by Jove, I think he’s got it mo­ment, and the first melt­down re­solves it­self into a dew.

The sec­ond one is trick­ier. I re­alised a long time ago that there is no point in pass­ing cre­ative genes onto small peo­ple and then ex­pect­ing them to be­come big ac­coun­tants. Apart from the cu­ri­ous case of John Ma­jor, life doesn’t work that way. The Teenager isn’t just a mu­si­cian in wait­ing, she is al­ready a fully fir­ing, gig­ging mu­si­cian who strug­gles to see why she needs to un­der­stand al­ge­bra and ir­reg­u­lar French verbs in or­der to share her songs with the world. Look­ing ahead, she is also un­con­vinced about the point of spend­ing the next four years in col­lege ei­ther study­ing some­thing she doesn’t care about or – if she pur­sues mu­sic as a course – be­ing taught how to do stuff she’s been do­ing for years. This is a reg­u­lar con­ver­sa­tion in our house th­ese days, and one, in fair­ness, in which she has a de­gree of our sym­pa­thy. Still, even if the sys­tem sucks, it’s still the sys­tem, we tell her, as she waves the steam­ing iron about wildly. There will be no so­lu­tion to this one tonight.

I used to love Sun­day nights. I liked putting the kids to bed at a sen­si­ble hour, then curl­ing up in front of some un­wieldy TV drama with a glass of wine in my hand. There was a cer­tain still­ness to the last night of the week­end, a full stop that made sense. Now, it is a night of home­work and melt­down. And in the midst of it all – as my two older chil­dren face into the most chal­leng­ing year of their young lives – all I can think is that I’ll have to give up drink­ing wine on Sun­day nights. There’ll be tears be­fore bed­time, mark my words.

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