Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Family - TRIC KEAR­NEY

SUM­MER has ar­rived which means for a short time at least, the num­bers in our house swell with the re­turn of col­lege chil­dren, and their be­long­ings.

Over the years I’ve dis­cov­ered a gen­der gap in this re­gard. Last week as I re­turned for a sec­ond trip to my daugh­ter’s rented house, I was con­cerned. I’d thought we’d taken most of her be­long­ings home in the pre­vi­ous week’s haul, but she was filling the car at an alarm­ing rate.

“We need to leave room for your brother’s gear,” I re­minded her, as she added an­other large bag to the boot.

“His will prob­a­bly fit there,” she said, push­ing a bag to one side to re­veal a small gap. I don’t think she was jok­ing.

As it turned out, she wasn’t too far wrong. I be­lieve the fi­nal tally was, daugh­ter — too many bags to count; son — three.

Hav­ing a full house once more is noisy and in many ways, a de­light but not without its dif­fi­cul­ties.

Take, for in­stance, the sim­ple plea­sure of sit­ting down of an even­ing to en­joy watch­ing tele­vi­sion. For months, I’d a lovely rou­tine. Pour my­self a cup of tea, wan­der into the sit­ting room, sit down, and turn on the tele­vi­sion. Now I walk in, only to dis­cover a band of sis­ters in situ, glued to Net­flix and their brother in

“If one of the girls ap­peared I’d feign tremen­dous in­ter­est in the tele­vi­sion, for fear they’d sug­gest evic­tion

res­i­dence in the other room watch­ing TV.

Af­ter a few days of this, I be­came a lit­tle un­hinged. At least one hour ahead of time I could be found sit­ting in my pre­ferred seat. If one of the girls ap­peared I’d feign tremen­dous in­ter­est in the tele­vi­sion, for fear they’d sug­gest evic­tion.

When it came to watch­ing some­thing we’d all en­joy, the mad­ness went up a notch as we raced to bag a seat. Fail­ure to ar­rive early meant you were al­lo­cated the ‘dud’ seats. In our house, this is the two-seater couch, which looks lovely but doesn’t even face the tele­vi­sion.

I’m not sure if it’s true world­wide, but a study con­ducted by my­self over many years would in­di­cate that the male mem­bers of the fam­ily rarely make it on time to sit in the prime seats. I’m un­sure if this is be­cause: they don’t care; they are un­aware there’s a com­pe­ti­tion tak­ing place; or be­cause they’re not the for­ward thinkers the girls are.

While I note these dif­fi­cul­ties within the TV room, yer man’s mind is else­where, namely the bath­room as the hum of the shower goes on for the best part of an hour daily, as they file in one af­ter an­other.

“What are they even do­ing in there?” he mut­ters.

Oc­ca­sion­ally there’s a roar as some­one skips in ahead of their agreed turn, act­ing like they are be­hind sound­proof walls as the one who was wronged bangs and kicks at the locked door.

It’s at mo­ments such as that I am re­minded of my own child­hood, with one bath­room, four girls and two boys. Although my hy­giene rou­tine as a child is worlds away from that of my chil­dren.

I re­mem­ber when I lived in Aus­tralia telling my friends that grow­ing up we bathed once a week.

“But we did wash our hands and faces reg­u­larly,” I quickly as­sured them as I saw the look of hor­ror on their faces. “And we were al­ways re­minded to clean be­hind our ears,” I added, although the puz­zled look on their faces made me won­der was that just an Ir­ish thing.

As the days pass, I’ve lit­tle doubt we will ad­just to our new nor­mal, pos­si­bly mere days be­fore they’re all gone once more.

Although to­day as I looked at the clothes spilling out of the laun­dry bas­kets, I know there are some things I will not miss.

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