Changing times

Change is the only constant.

I can see that now as I have more years behind me than in front of me.

It was probably difficult to emotionally conceptualise that truism when I was 18.

Today I transported the baby of the brood from the fine educational establishment that has nurtured her for the last six years.

Tonight there was a celebratory mass there which her atheist father happily attended.

The sagart has a career in stand-up comedy if he ever fancies a career move.

My little one sang at the Mass and yes she has the voice of an angel.

After the religiosity was out of the way she and her angelic choristers lost the school garb and the last, I saw them they were in the uniform of she-devils.

It’s party time tonight for them, and that’s probably a good idea because of what she is about to endure.

In a couple of weeks, she will be subjected to the cruel and unusable punishment in Ireland we call ‘The Leaving’.

Her aim is medicine in Galway or science at Trinity.

The latter being the degree that her brother has just completed.

A native of Donegal and a fluent Irish speaker she constantly chides her father for his idiosyncratic mishmash of Connaught Gaeilge and Jailtacht Irish.

I’m forever being reminded that the phrases that I form in my head, although grammatically correct, are rarely found in An Caighdeán.

I explain to her that when I was around her age I started hanging about with a really good crowd.

She also has a barbed comment or two about the fine Green and Red garment hanging in my wardrobe.

It is then that I remind my little bragging Donegalie that her grandfather hailed from Contae Mhaigh Eo!

In the end, it’s all the craic, but soon there will be another empty seomra here.

This past school year she has had the dad taxi to herself as Number One Daughter thrives in First Year in Dublin.

Transcripts of those conversations would attest that she is a teenage polymath.

Tomorrow she is a citizen of this republic with an equal voice to the rest of us when I’ll drive her to the polling station.

I cannot envisage any route to emancipation and equality that does not involve education.

That is true for the working class, for women, indeed for any disadvantaged group.

My three Millennials are digital natives, and they have a grasp on the issues facing this planet that I did not have before I was forty.

They attended a stunningly good Irish medium school, with wonderfully committed teachers.

However, they’re also self-taught with the oul fella sometimes acting as a facilitator.

Ideas would be thrown across the dinner table from the anecdote hard drive in the corner they call ‘dad’.

They would often then come back with what they had found out for themselves.

The Big Trinity Fella has finished with his alma mater on College Green and now he is awaiting his results before he steps off into the world.

I suppose he is now Ex-Big Trinity Fella, but I’m not sure about having ‘EBT’ in a loving acronym for my son.

It takes a village to raise a child, and he, in particular, was nurtured by his dad’s created environment.

We had the craic from European nights at Celtic Park to Republican commemorations to mountain rescue operations.

Sitting on my lap in a one-ton land rover was big magic for his eight-year-old imagination.

The girls passed on the offer to participate in that stuff as they preferred indoor play in those years.

However, since BTF has been out there at ‘Trinners’ my two girls have quietly reminded me what amazing daughters I have.

When Number One Daughter was about nine or ten she went through a bolshie phase that had its own marketing slogan:

“I’m a mature person, I have an opinion!”

It was, of course, an unanswerable retort from a belligerent in a Gaelscoil pinafore dress and that memory still makes me smile.

I think women have a better handle on how children change and evolve because they nurture another life inside them for nine months.

Daddy is merely an implicated bystander in the process.

The walls of this study are adorned with pictures of three wee people who are now assured young adults, and that now seems significant.

The Bean a tí and myself still have a demanding toddler in Madam Rusty, and it is truly all about her.

However, there will be no school run tomorrow and I’m not sure how I feel about that.

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