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Children these days? They run on just one thing ... €10 notes

When I look back on the Easter holidays, my children look like those toy cars and planes with slots in them which used to sit outside shops when I was a kid.

You climbed into the car and put the coin into the slot. The car slid forwards and backwards a couple of times and then ground to a halt, leaving you begging your Mammy for another coin.

Same as my kids. Except it's tenners. I spent the Easter holidays putting tenners in their slots which got them moving for a short time.

Then they ground to a halt and put their hands out, looking for more.

Imagine going to the movies with weather like we had? My kids did it. They didn't seem to be able to meet up with friends unless it was to go to a movie. Or buy something. Or eat something.

I'd like to invite into my home the journalist who wrote the article about hard-boiling eggs, painting them, hiding them and then eating them for lunch. He'd have egg on his face and no mistake.

And as for those cheery articles telling you to get them involved in the housework and they'll have a great time?

I tried getting one of mine to clean the van but her eyes didn't leave the TV screen. I should have jumped up and down and screamed and roared until she did it.

Instead, to my complete shame, I offered her a tenner because I was desperate to get the car cleaned and desperate to get her outside. She did a lovely job and put out her hand for the money. Then off she went with a tenner in her slot which kept her going for the guts of a day.

I'm not being fair. She practised her football and her brother made water balloons. But the basic message coming out of the holidays was that you're not living unless you're spending money.

When we were kids… Oh, please!

I know it's a cliche but like most cliches it's true. We were different in our day. We got no money and we used our imaginations to make fun.


I remember forming a team of investigators like the Famous Five and setting off over the locality to solve a mystery. By the end of the day we were absolutely convinced that the crime had happened and were on the trail of the criminal.

I remember clubs and huts and dens in garages and derelict houses and abandoned sheds…

As soon as the hormones hit we went into a field and played a game called Run, Catch, Kiss. There was nothing nicey-nicey about our childhood. It was often dangerous and often dirty.

But when we woke up in the morning the world seemed to have possibilities as endless as our imaginations. It didn't depend on Mammy saying "yes" and putting her hand in her pocket.

People go on about parents having less time for their children nowadays but research says they actually have more.

In our day, parents just didn't figure. They were shadowy presences in the house who said, "No" every now and then. Nowadays, when kids wake up on a holiday morning they ask their parents what they have planned for the day.

What, no zoo? No cinema?

Forget it, I'm not walking anywhere unless there's a large ice-cream involved. I'm not going to the supermarket unless we divert to buy the clothes I need.

That's need. Not want.

I know I have no-one to blame but myself. I could boot them outside and refuse them any cash. But it isn't as simple as that. They're part of a society and so am I. They live by its rules and so do I. I don't know what has caused this massive change between my generation and theirs.


No, it's more than that. It's the commercialisation of life to the point that kids believe it can be bought and sold.

And I'm scared to think about what that means for our future and theirs.