We had Darragh to stay for the weekend. Darragh the badger. Every boy in Junior Infants takes him for a spell and then tells the story of their adventures in his accompanying diary. And as it’s coming to the end of the school year and we are one of the last host families, I get to see all he has done so far.
We didn’t get off to a great start. Teacher pulled me aside and told me that usually the boys are dying to take Darragh home but my son took some persuading. I asked him about this and he said he wasn’t keen to do the project as he thought “we are too stupid”.
As well as writing an account of the weekend, most families paste a few photos in the diary too, so it’s a sort of Junior Infants Facebook. There is Darragh eating in a restaurant, Darragh at the St Patricks day parade, Darragh surrounded by grinning kids on a football pitch, Darragh having an amazing time! I spent about an hour looking through the diary, trying to see what the houses in the background look like; who has a massive flat screen, who has leather seats in their car, who has a big garden. The stories tell a lot too; there are the mums with OCD, “the minute we got home we gave Darragh a bubbly bath, so he is nice and clean!” the mums who are well connected; “and then Darragh met our friend Alan Shatter, Minister for Justice and Defence who was delighted to meet a badger!” and the proud mums; “Darragh was thrilled to see Martins collection of gold medals that he has won in Aikido”.
We started by letting Darragh watch a movie with us. That was easy enough. Then we took his photo on the couch, in the high chair, pulling Daddies hair, and arguing with another teddy over the remote control. Next, I had to get the pictures from my phone to the computer. During this process it did cross my mind that my son might be right, maybe I am too stupid, but it was easy enough in the end. When it was time for Darragh to go to bed there was no shortage of offers to share pillows. This is when I could see the OCD mums point and wished I had though to suggest throwing him in the washing machine and taking his photo on the clothes line. But he got tucked in and I repaired to the computer to print out the pictures and miss The Good Wife. Damn Darragh the badger.
The idea I suppose, is to give a glimpse of life in our house as we want it seen. (Or maybe it has something to do with education?) Anyway, my plan is not to mention the hours on the Xbox and the massive consumption of chocolate spread sandwiches and Sunshine Orange and to emphasise sports, musical instruments and fruit. So we show Darragh the drums and take his picture, bounce him on the trampoline and take his picture and I don’t bother picking up the apple cores lying in the background either time. We don’t mention the trip to A&E with our baby, or the crying (him), shouting and roaring(his parents) in the wake of his fall against the drum kit. We don’t mention his stitches or when they fell off the next day or the not very consoling thought that his scar will be neatly covered by a moustache.