Thursday 29 September 2016

The children edit their lives as we pack up to leave

Katy McGuinness

Published 05/06/2016 | 02:30

'He edits his clothes and belongings as he goes along, and he's not ostensibly sentimental, so there's been little in the way of accumulated souvenirs to be gone through and agonised over'
'He edits his clothes and belongings as he goes along, and he's not ostensibly sentimental, so there's been little in the way of accumulated souvenirs to be gone through and agonised over'

The packing has begun in earnest, and the first of the children, the 19-year-old, is about to head away for the summer. As I write, he is preparing to spend his last night in the only house in which he has ever lived. I'm hoping that it won't be too emotional, and that more pressing and practical worries - such as where he is going to leave his ticket for Electric Picnic, so that he'll be able to find it when he returns from Canada - will take over. (The reports of the minging state of the frat house in which he's going to be staying while he's in Vancouver are of more immediate concern than any wistfulness about leaving his childhood home.)

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He's not a hoarder, our third child, and the packing up of his room hasn't taken him too long or seemed to involve much heartache. He edits his clothes and belongings as he goes along, and he's not ostensibly sentimental, so there's been little in the way of accumulated souvenirs to be gone through and agonised over.

Next to depart is his sister, the almost 21-year-old. She's off to New York on a J1 and can't wait to get away from her parents after a long year of studying and exams. Her books and notes are all in boxes, the clothes are in bags ready to go to the Vee de Pee, and she's ready to go. She doesn't accumulate clutter either, and she's ready to move on, excited, as they all are, about moving into the city and not having to commute in and out of college on the Dart. The prospect of walking everywhere is one of the things that we are all looking forward to most.

The eldest is still in the middle of her exams, so all this is going on around her as she slogs it out for the final few weeks. Now that the long months of viewings are finished, she has moved back home from her rooms in college and her bedroom has reverted to a state that will be familiar to parents of exam candidates the length and breadth of the country. There are piles of notes all over the floor, half-finished cups of coffee on every surface and a confetti of tiny circles of paper everywhere.

Her room will have to wait until last, and it's going to be a challenge because, unlike her siblings, she is incapable of throwing anything away. They have a single memory box apiece, she has six. And counting. All that will have to be dealt with before she leaves for an elective in Chicago.

The youngest is about to start her Junior Cert, and we're all trying not to get too stressed about that. 'It's only the Junior Cert,' everyone says, and that's true. Except that it's her Junior Cert and it's a big deal to have Down Syndrome and attempt it. We'll be glad when we can stop watching Romeo and Juliet and Of Mice and Men, and move on to the laundry symbols and food groups for Home Ec, and the photos of Ban Ki-moon, Jean-Claude Juncker and President Higgins for CSPE that will signal the last paper, and the day that we leave.

Sunday Independent

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