'Are you still bothering with the home-schooling?" That's one way the question is delivered, though how it is phrased depends on who's asking. If it's someone who is, themselves, still bothering with the distance learning, they'll make it sound less like you're making an ass of yourself and wasting your time.
The thing is that I am still bothering with the home-schooling. I'm bothering out of fear that if I let my elder daughter off the hook on what's being sent home by the school, she will start secondary woefully ill-prepared.
I'm bothering because I'm scared that if I don't keep the younger daughter, who has Down syndrome, at the desk every day, reading, writing, doing her maths, she might never manage mainstream school again. I'm bothering so that Covid won't finish off her so far successful experience of mainstream education. I'm bothering because it feels like it is only me, her father and her handful of teachers all pushing to keep this kid on course, keeping her capable of reintegrating into the world.
And we are not the only ones.
Leo Varadkar says he has read letters from parents of children with special needs, pleading for the supports, the special schools, the respite they rely on just to cope to be reinstated. Leo seems sincerely to care and yet, nothing.
On May 2, he said on the Late Late that they were aware of struggling families with children with special needs. He said it again on Newstalk with Pat Kenny last Thursday, and that support measures were to be discussed last Friday. We all hoped he knew it was a matter of urgency, because, to date, it feels like no one in charge is that bothered.
And then, last Friday, nothing.
At last Friday's briefing, Dr Tony Holohan said that measures were discussed with Nphet to ease the pressure on children and their families - which could mean anything - but that it wouldn't be ''helpful'' to reveal specifics.
Do you know what? It would be helpful, indeed, to get some indication that something real is going to be done. Not just talk, not just sympathy, not just wringing of hands. If Leo really understands the work and effort that these families put into keeping their kids on track, he'd do more than tell them he sympathises.
Ten weeks of silence since schools closed and families feeling increasingly invisible, scared their kids won't be able to go back to the structures that made life work, scared the structures won't even exist.
In this past week alone, I have heard of parents whose children attend special school, who are finding behavioural issues so difficult and supports so scant that they are considering seeking a residential-care situation. They are at the truly heartbreaking end of things, but even for kids attending mainstream school, the supports are arbitrary and random, according to the goodwill of the establishment.
Last week in the Dail, some TDs raised the issue of July provision and whether it would occur. July provision annually offers extra teaching hours to some children with special needs - but, inexplicably, not those with Down syndrome - in the month after school finishes, providing continuity and support over the long summer months.
Last week, as it remained unclear if July provision would go ahead at all, it was suggested that children with special needs have been ignored. Education Minister Joe McHugh insisted they had not, and that he was open to the idea of expanding July provision, but that was it. No further information, just reassurance with nothing behind it.
It's like a pat on the head and being told to be on your way.
But never mind, sure we're used to being fobbed off. That's why we have to bother so much to keep things going ourselves.
There seems to be no guidelines on how to help our children through this time, and despite promises, no sign of them. It will be hard enough to return our typically developing children to school in September, but how on earth will we get our kids with special needs back there, with no rhyme or reason to their support during this time at home?
I have heard, in recent weeks, about kids with special needs being sent the exact same work as their typically developing peers and no more. I have heard of resource teachers sending a single social story that explains Covid, or a mindfulness exercise to occupy a child for a full week.
I have heard of schools that send nothing. And, on the flip side, I have heard of schools sending everything they can think of to support a child with special needs in a way that will allow them to slot back in come September.
Across the country, experiences have been good, experiences have been bad, and very little of it speaks of a supportive framework from the highest level. It speaks instead of random acts of kindness and compassion, which, unfortunately, as parents of children with special needs, we're accustomed to.
Lockdown has only heightened a sense of being adrift and the mercy of individuals' goodwill, however. Plenty of parents with children with special needs report that through lockdown, their child has loved the insulating orderliness of staying at home with their nearest and dearest, removed from the cacophony of the world. My own child has, in some areas, blossomed in this time.
There is the worry, however, that the more she becomes accustomed to this bubble, the more difficult she will find it to re-adapt to socialising with her peers, settling in a room full of people, sitting at a desk, concentrating for prolonged periods.
Now she's existing as my little shadow, sitting beside me while I work, reliant on me for schoolwork and exercise, will it be a struggle for her to detach? Will she listen to a teacher? Will she follow the rules?
Fourth class, which she is expected to join in September, is often a turning point for children with Down syndrome, particularly socially, as their peers suddenly mature at a greater speed. There's no amount of effort I can put in at home that can help to make that easier for her, but outside the family, who else really cares?
Leo has talked a good game about how much he cares and understands about the difficulties suffered by children with special needs and their families. He has seemed committed and sounded like he's doing something soon, at the start of this month and, again, last week, but, unfortunately, we're used to people saying they're bothered about us and then doing nothing. It happens all the time, not just in lockdown.
Last week, I saw a letter received by SNAs, informing them that they would be given training and support to provide personal, educational and therapeutic resources to children with special needs. It read like the dream remoulding of the SNA model, well-rounded, compassionate and comprehensive.
This letter was sent out to SNAs in April, almost a month ago now, and no sign of it happening.
This is what we're used to. This is what's just not good enough right now. It's why we keep bothering, because we want our kids with special needs to go back to school some time, because we want the world to work for them again, because we don't have any choice.
Because there are few enough others who are really, truly bothered.