I could never handle merry-go-rounds as a child. I was violently ill after a ride on the chairoplanes in Tramore many moons ago.

Yet, I can’t stop thinking about that image of the planes going round and round, the heave of my stomach when the planes dropped and to my horror rose again.

This morning, I went into school, arriving before 7am to collect my phone that I’d run out without yesterday evening.

I gave Denis, the caretaker, a start. He was busy fogging the classrooms in readiness for the day ahead.

Sometimes, the isolation room has to be employed if a pupil has symptoms

Pupils are having their temperatures monitored continuously. Anyone slightly up puts staff on alert and our stomachs tighten as we wonder how close the virus is. Sometimes, the isolation room has to be employed if a pupil has symptoms. The parents have to be called and the pupil has to go home. The testing begins. The merry-go-round continues.

A negative PCR test for Ricky

I’m on the merry-go-round and I feel I can’t get off. It goes up and down and round and round. We are addled from juggling work, getting together or not with friends, going to meetings or not, attending functions or not.

Everything we do has to be considered carefully as we grapple with this fourth wave of COVID-19 infections. It’s been 20 months now and we’re all a bit tired of doing the right thing.

This is a situation where we have collective responsibility for the wellbeing of our fellow citizens. So, I will continue on my personal merry-go-round as will my family. We must to keep our vulnerable people safe.

Luckily, Ricky’s PCR test was negative

Last week, my stomach tightened and lurched often at the thought that my grandson Ricky might have COVID-19. If he had, then my son Diarmuid might have contracted it. His vulnerability was once again to the forefront of our minds.

Luckily, Ricky’s PCR test was negative. There was a collective sigh of relief. His babysitter Mary was not so lucky. We are happy that she is coping well and not too sick. So, the Ricky team of his parents Julie and David, my husband Tim, Diarmuid and I all have had to do more to mind Ricky and overlap each other so that we can all continue to work.

These are the things that have to be done to keep the show on the road

It’s a small problem but one that adds pressure and I’m sure one that is mirrored in households across the country.

Julie has always been wise about Ricky’s childcare and has a second babysitter that she can call on. These are the things that have to be done to keep the show on the road.

The student experience

Last Thursday, the University College Cork students had their Christmas pub day. The new restrictions were already in place. In interviews, they spoke of having to start pre-drinking at 5pm instead of 7pm!

One lad said he’d have to start at 3pm because of the 12-bells closing time. He’d have to miss college as a result! As we sat, two metres apart, around the staff room table in school; we checked our phones as one does at break time.

Their young lives have practically come to a halt

The videos were flowing in of the massive queues of students waiting to enter the pubs. There wasn’t a mask in sight and social distancing was non-existent. There will be fall out from this.

Yet, I don’t blame them. Their young lives have practically come to a halt. Their social experience in college has been diminished. The opportunities to meet a partner as many of us did during those years, has been delayed. Their ambitions and experiences have been curtailed and yet their actions now will power this unrelenting and changing virus on.

We’ve done 20 months we can do more

It is indeed a merry-go-round. Both my sons, Philip and Colm were out at the weekend. They are once again talking to us through the window because they did not feel they were in a safe environment. We must bring to the forefront of our minds that we are saving lives.

We’ve done 20 months we can do more. Diarmuid has decided himself that he must again stay home from his beloved CADA and drama activities. Tim and I had the conversation but hadn’t quite made the decision. People with intellectual disabilities and their carers are suffering enormously. The mental anguish that they cannot articulate is colossal. I know I’m on the merry-go-round and I will at some point get off. Others don’t. Let’s do what we can to get our communities through this.