Some diary entries … December 1995 to February 1996

1/12/95 – I read the paper and watched the coverage of Clinton arriving in Dublin. Changed days from the demonstrations against Reagan … Sean went to Olivia’s birthday party in the afternoon, and Pauline and Susanna went swimming.

3/12/95 – Pauline took Sean and Susanna to the park to feed the ducks … Later, Pauline went to the Nutgrove, and came back with some little books for Susanna and ‘magic’ colour-changing markers for Sean. The latter were a huge hit.

5/12/95 – We went out to Sean’s Christmas concert at his school. He was wearing a gold waistcoat and so on. His class’s contribution consisted of a ‘world tour’ with various songs. Sean’s role was to introduce the final item by saying ‘Our journey’s nearly over, but at this time of year; there’s one more step that we must take, with Santa and his reindeer’ (or ‘reindeers’, as he insisted on saying), but the teacher forgot all about this bit so he didn’t do it – Pauline and I were disappointed but Sean didn’t care particularly.

8/12/95 – Sean didn’t have to go to school because of the holy day. Pauline took Sean and Susanna to see Santa Claus in the Dundrum crèche – a very inferior Santa, as it turned out.

16/12/95 – My back was bad from mucking around with Sean earlier, and it got worse … Maire was telling Pauline the other day that when she was on lunch duty, Sean and a girl called Sarah from A.J.’s class spent the entire lunchbreak walking around hand in hand, deep in conversation. He had mentioned her to us.

20/12/95 – Susanna had been quite feverish, and during the night she woke up screaming hysterically about spiders, having had a nightmare or hallucination. It took Pauline a long time to calm her down.

22/12/95 – At 11 Pauline went to hear Sean and his classmates singing carols, leaving Susanna, who still has a cold, with me.

24/12/95 – Sean is excited about Santa Claus, who has passed our house ringing a bell (Residents’ Association).

25/12/95 – Sean woke at 7.05, and he, Pauline and I went downstairs for him to open his presents. He got meccano from Santa, and a book, a doll and a globe from me and Pauline. Susanna got a buggy from Santa and a book, a doll and a torch from Pauline and me. They got an easel from Peter and Nuala, and paints and chalk from my dad … [Later] Susanna made a big impression on Karen and Aileen [from next door] by being ultra-cute and sweet.

26/12/95 – Around 12.30 Sean walked into the bedroom and weed on the clock radio.

2/1/96 – Pauline, Sean and Susanna were in the playground in the park and had a great time – the weather is now mild.

6/1/96 – Sean went next door for lunch and to play with Olivia.

7/1/96 – We took Sean to Billy’s birthday party at Wally Wabbit’s.

8/1/96 – Another horribly wet and windy morning. Sean went back to school. He’s been looking forward to going back. Pauline credits his liking for school to his teacher, Ms Kingston … [later] Sean had his dinner in Olivia’s and was in bed quite early; Susanna was up late although she hadn’t had a nap.

9/1/96 – Marnia called and asked if Sean would play with Brian earlier, so he spent most of the afternoon in their house, then Brian and Brad were here for a while.

11/1/96 – It was a horribly wet and windy morning – Pauline left Sean to school; now she and Susanna have gone to the playgroup at Wesley … [later] She took Sean to see the Aladdin pantomime at Amharclann Naithi; Susanna and I stayed at home. The panto was very good – Sean had a great time.

14/1/96 – Sean/Susanna played with Olivia for much of the day.

17/1/96 – Sean was playing with Louise, and was difficult and tearful on being brought in … Sean’s teacher says he’s getting on particularly well since Christmas.

18/1/96 – June, Billy and Michael were here for much of the afternoon, and Sean and Susanna had a good time playing with Billy and Michael respectively.

25/1/96 – Olivia, Sean and Susanna were playing here noisily later – Olivia and Sean seem to have forgotten how to play quietly together.

26/1/96 – Pauline took Olivia, Sean and Susanna swimming and then to McDonald’s.

1/2/96 – Sean had been a bit reluctant to go to school for the past couple of mornings, unusually. Pauline had noticed on her lunch duty that all the small kids seemed to be frightened of a teacher called Mr Neary, who shouts at them. So she had a word with Sean’s teacher about this, and later quizzed Sean, who claimed that he loves going to school. ‘Do you like Ms Kingston?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Do you like Mrs Foley?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Do you like Mr Neary?’ ‘Yes! I love him the best because he’s the crossest!’ So much for that idea.

3/2/96 – Took the kids out to the newsagent – Sean was fascinated by a dead cat on the way and asked numerous questions.

4/2/96 – We went out to the shop again – I avoided the dead cat … [later] Pauline got home around 7.30, having been held up in Dundalk because traffic lights were out. She had goggles for Susanna and ‘glitter glue’ for Sean, which Sean loved.

7/2/96 – In the late morning Pauline drove me and Susanna to Dundrum and we went to the library. I walked home and Susanna had volunteered to come with me, so I pushed her in the buggy. Unfortunately she soon decided she wanted to go with Pauline after all, and cried nearly the whole way home … Olivia was playing here with Sean and Susanna and they had a good laugh – Olivia has come out of herself since she stopped going to her old Friday minder. She had her dinner here … Later, when he was supposed to be in bed, Sean inexplicably took a scissors and cut up a shoe (old) and his pyjama bottoms, as well as cutting a jumper of Susanna’s, a towel and Pauline’s ‘Tree of Life’ wall hanging. He was asleep when we discovered this.

8/2/96 – Sean was duly quizzed and castigated. In fairness, the vandalism had been out of character … [later] Pauline had taken Sean, Olivia and Susanna to the playground in the park, where they met June, Maire and their four kids. And had a great time. Afterwards Aileen said to Olivia ‘Do you love me?’, and Olivia replied ‘Yes, but I love Pauline more. I wish she was my mummy.’

9/2/96 – Pauline left a paper and some groceries outside, thinking I’d know to bring them in, and did a Good Samaritan deed for a student who’d fallen. The paper blew everywhere, and some sheets were never recovered, to the amusement of Sean and Aileen next door … [later] Pauline took Sean, Olivia and Susanna swimming.

10/2/96 – Bought a Barney book for Susanna and a Thomas the Tank Engine colouring book for Sean.

16/2/96 – Sean, Susanna and I wrapped Pauline’s presents for tomorrow and wrote her cards.

17/2/96 – Pauline took Sean and Susanna to see Rosie the Clown with Aileen, Vivienne and their kids.

20/2/96 – For the second morning running I told Sean the same story, about a good dragon and a bad dragon … [later] Pauline was on lunch duty at the school. She took Sean, Susanna and Olivia to Dundrum after lunch, and Sean and Susanna had haircuts. Sean’s hair still hasn’t grown enough where he cut it himself, on top of his head. It was Susanna’s first visit to the hairdresser, who did a good job.

21/2/96 – Sean came in at 7 and asked me to tell him a story about a lion and a tiger, which I did … [later] Pauline, Sean and Susanna spent a couple of hours in the home of Sean’s classmate Matthew.

22/2/96 – Maria, Matthew’s mum, called at 8.30 to take Sean to school and leave Daniel and Michael here while she had her meeting with the teacher … [later] We had been to see Sean’s teacher, Ms Kingston, at lunchtime – Maria had minded Sean and Susanna. She said that he was very satisfactory in most respects – he plays well with the other children and has improved a lot at his soundbox; his work is good. She said his balance, ball-catching skills, etc. aren’t too good. After dinner, the four of us did a lot of jumping (!) – Sean can jump quite a long way.

24/2/96 – We went to Bull Island and had a walk there – Susanna fell into some water so we went around looking for a Dunnes Stores to buy her a new pair of trousers. Eventually bought them in Donaghmede, but by then it was too late to go anywhere else (we had intended to go to Howth), so we just went home.

25/2/96 – Pauline got up with the kids, and made them a sit-in rocket out of cardboard boxes and suchlike (from a plan in a library book) …. [later] In the afternoon we drove into town and went on the peace march and rally, which were attended by about 25,000 people … Sean was a bit bold at the rally in inciting Susanna to be noisy, and Pauline got cross with him.

26/2/96 – We saw Maeve on TV: she was involved in a quiz on Echo Island. Mary had rung last night; Maeve wanted Sean to see her. Sean rang her after dinner.

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