It’s that time of year when the exams are suddenly here and the stress levels are on the rise
Every June my subconscious does this fabulous fun thing – the annual Leaving Cert dream. If I’m really lucky it’ll be really specific – like Irish paper 1 – or an accountancy paper full of Question 1s – either way it morphs pretty smartly into a nightmare.
Every year there’s a new trend in school. Teens assert their social positions and maybe elbow a few peers off their pedestals on the way. It’s nothing new of course – a rite of passage, a task of adolescence. We all know what that looked and felt like when we were in school. The cool ones, the nerds, the swats, the dossers…
It’s tough going – remember? (Do try – because remembering will help you navigate your teen’s development. I know it was literally the last century but take a breath – see what comes up as you read this…)
It can be crazy fun, but also deeply, deeply painful – no matter where on the social ladder you are. Each rung brings its own victories pressures and miseries.
It was a Friday, and I was sitting on a desk in a school classroom, all excited. Friday had become my favourite day of the week, not because weekend, but because that was the day to deliver my personal development and sex education class to a bunch of sparkly bright teenagers. Fun guaranteed!
I usually avoid writing when I’m on leave but y’know sometimes you see something and you get the rages, and as a colleague said to me yesterday as we raged to each other – sometimes right is just right. And so you respond.
My mother used to love brushing my hair. I remember my first hairbrush too – it was white, shell shaped and had gentle ridges in it. The bristles were soft and white. I can still remember the feel of it in my little hand as I sat in my pram in the garden, going back and forth over the bristles, watching the steps up to the house. Watching for her probably.
Sometimes a parent mails me with a query about their anxious child.
Last week I received such a query. Her particular issue is such a common one at the moment (ungrateful nod to COVID!) that I asked permission to publish both her question and my response. There can be so much isolation, pressure and even shame around parenting that it can come as an enormous relief to find that another parent shares your experiences!
And of course these difficult feelings are exacerbated hugely in lockdown.