My local supermarket isn't very big, but it already has half an aisle dedicated to school stationery. I stumbled into it the other evening and for a moment I wondered why it was there. It was the Pritt Stick that prompted the penny to drop.
Oh yeah, back to school. The supplies. It's that time of year. Or is it?
I stood and surveyed the selection. Transparent plastic folders, pens, pencils, the metal box of geometry tools that hasn't changed since I was a kid. All so familiar and all so strange.
I didn't buy anything. Perhaps I should have. If schools are going back at the end of August, that's a mere six weeks away. If that's the plan, we'd all better start getting our heads around it.
Given we've just put down four months of no school without really feeling the time slip away from us, six weeks will pass swiftly. This is real, people, we need to be prepared.
Then again, does any of it feel real?
Much as we long for the kids to get back their lives and for working from home to become something done with undivided attention, until someone gives us even the bones of a plan, it's not going to feel real.
I'm not buying any stationery until someone gives me a date, not even if that means I miss the special offers.
Last Thursday, addressing the Dail on revised department estimates, Education Minister Norma Foley said that there was "an absolutely clear agenda to reopen schools" at the end of August or early September. She emphasised there is no confusion or uncertainty about this. It's happening.
This resolute reassurance should have come as music to parents' ears, but we have a weary wariness - born of months being joined at the hip to our children - that won't allow hopes to rise for fear of them being dashed.
Also, Foley's reassurance came on the same day that it was announced the Leaving Cert results won't come in August as usual, as planned, but instead on September 7, potentially too late for first year students to start university at the same time as other students.
As one disappointed Leaving Cert student pointed out on last Friday's lunchtime show on Newstalk, the exams were cancelled on May 7 and the results now won't arrive until a full four months later. What could be taking so long?
Of course, even with the best will in the world to expedite things, we are in uncharted territory here with cancelled exams and calculated grades. Things take longer in such situations and, no doubt, everyone is doing their best.
The Leaving Cert delay, however, is only part of the recent, poor track record in delivering on time - and keeping everyone informed of - the plan.
The Summer Provision programme for children with special needs is a case in point.
As far back as May 3, on The Late Late Show, then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said supports for children and families with special needs would be in train within weeks.
As it unfolded, the summer provision plan - a welcome, expanded version of the annual July provision - was characterised by confusion over whether it would be school- or home-based and who did or didn't qualify.
We were offered reassurance repeatedly, much in the manner of Norma Foley's reassurance last week, that everything was in train and going to be fine - but it dragged on and on, with parental faith disappearing in the process.
In the end, summer provision was not ironed out until schools, teachers and SNAs were finishing up for the year, resulting in huge difficulty for people in securing anyone to work with their children.
And there is, of course, an anxiety around the fact that all the officials are saying calm down, it'll be grand, while offering no real evidence.
Last Thursday, as Norma Foley was emphasising the "clear agenda", Opposition TDs were questioning why, when there's a roadmap for opening pubs, gyms and restaurants, there's none for education.
We all understand, at this point, that criteria and calculations can change - just look at the pubs - but we'd just like an idea of what's going on.
How can we, as parents, be expected to plan and purchase and prepare our children psychologically for going back to school when really we don't have a clue about how it's going to happen?
Add to this the call to abandon school uniforms for the coming term and you have only more confusion.
Last week, Alan Mongey, president of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, suggested that the difficulty and expense of washing uniforms daily to keep them Covid-free would be stressful and untenable, and so they should be temporarily abandoned.
So, what's a parent to do with the child who is starting a new school or who has shot up since March? Buy and be prepared for something that we're promised will happen but have no clue how or when, or wait, in what is now an all-too-familiar holding pattern? Neither feels quite right.
No one is asking for certainty. We get that these are the most uncertain of times and the return of schools depends on more than just our desire for something, anything, to get back to a semblance of normal. If it is not safe for the children to go back, from a Covid point of view, we get that it can't happen.
There is, however, at this point, a mental-health toll in simply not having a clue what's going on. There is a real sense of bubbling-under panic among parents as to whether schools will open fully, or open partially, or open at all.
They doubt their ability to mobilise once more for the distance learning; they can't be sure how long they can manage the strain of working and managing kids from home; they would like to have some idea if and when school will happen.
Then, and only then, will the rush for Pritt Stick begin.
The Department of Health used to be the place to dump a minister. It was once described as 'Angola' - a place where only problems emerged and never solutions. Now that title seems to have been transferred to education, and last week we had another example of how not to do things.