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It's the last summer before school starts

Summer's here at last! Well, at least the sun is out for a bit, but don't get too excited about endless lazy days at the beach enjoying picnics just yet. I've been fooled before.

Yes, I have joined the hordes of optimistics rushing towards garden centres in early June to purchase hammocks and wicker sun loungers with crisp white cushions.

I have come away with cute paddling pools, swinging flower baskets and God knows what else, bracing myself for hours of sun-drenched fun, only to be severely disappointed mid-summer as I retrieve the winter woollies from the attic, light a fire and realise that the only form of life enjoying the plastic pool are creepy crawlies.

Most depressing of all, I usually have to pay for a full-size skip every September to throw all my battered garden stuff into.


You'd think I'd have learned my lesson by now. But no, just last week as soon as the sun reared its head, I jumped into the car and rushed off to a big industrial estate to buy a parasol for my garden table, a small wooden child's bench, and a couple of garden lights.

Thankfully, I resisted the gnomes and some green plastic frogs on special offer.

Then I came home all excited and, of course, it started to rain. Surprise, surprise. My son was very disappointed at being dragged back indoors once again. As was I. Now I understand when parents moan about the long Irish summers off from school. I could never really understand it before.

Surely parents should be thrilled to be able to spend quality time with their darling children during the holidays? But hey, now I get it. The summer isn't just a couple of weeks – it's three months of wondering how on earth you are going to entertain your energetic offspring without having to spend an absolute fortune!

Sadly, my son leaves play school at the end of the week. Then it's time to buy a school uniform.

I know. I'm in a sort of mild shock at the thought of it.


I mean, I still tell people I have a baby. I still wear my maternity dresses – OK, I'm joking about that part. But I really cannot believe my child is starting school at the end of August.

I feel like a real grown-up now and not just somebody who has been presented with a very cute live doll that happens to be a lot of work to look after.

But what do I do from now until then? Gary is too old to go down to sleep in the afternoons. His enthusiasm for life is relentless. He is loud and loveable but I do not have the time to race toy cars with him from noon until night.

Luckily, the people next door have a child a year older than him and they play together when it's not raining.

They recently told me they were renewing their rent for another year. I almost fell to the ground to kiss their feet in gratitude.

Having that kid next door means I don't have to spend hours on the phone organising play dates.

I think if they'd told me they were moving, I'd have offered to pay them to stay.