I can't wait for the school break - petrol prices have me crucified
I can't wait for the schools to get out for the summer holidays.
It's not that I'm lonely. I'm not looking for someone to play poker with at 10 in the morning. I can do without the endless chit-chat about Miley Cyrus's latest best friend.
Nope, I'm welcoming summer for one urgent reason: I need to save cash.
The price of petrol has me crucified. Almost within reach, I see the mirage of life without school runs. It's a vision that has me quivering.
Would you believe I howled myself hoarse at the petrol pumps this morning? Well, no, actually I didn't, but I felt like it. I handed over a €50 note for the second time this week, and I didn't even get a full tank in return.
Now, I did my mother's weekly shop recently and it cost less than €50.
That's right, keeping an old lady in food and all her other essentials for a week costs less than keeping my car on the road for a few days.
Most of my massive fuel bill is down to school runs. I drive to and from three separate schools twice a day. Once the schools close, I'll be driving at least 130 miles less per week.
Simply by leaving the car parked for most of the summer, I'll save a bundle. Gosh, maybe I'll be able to afford to go to the dentist for that check-up I've been putting off.
The eco-snobs who form part of our Government will be sniffing by now.
Should be using more sustainable forms of transport, they'll sneer.
Oh, yes, hadn't thought of that. Well, I'll just stick the kids by the garden gate to wait for the local bus, shall I? Oh dear, almost forgot, there isn't a local bus.
Right so, time for the oldest to drag out his bike. Sure it's only six miles to his secondary school, a little bit of hail won't hurt him-- what's that over there?
Oh. The neighbour's dog, dead on the 80kph road. Squashed by one of those lorries trying to avoid the toll on the motorway, looks like.
Never mind, at least the middle child's school is within walking distance. I think it's eight years now since the school started campaigning for a footpath. Or is it 10? Doesn't matter, either way we're still waiting.
In the ramshackle part of rural Ireland where I live, far from buses or trains or the Luas or the DART, the only safe way of getting my children to school is by car. The cost of it is making me scream. I know I'm not alone. The AA says the cost of running a family car has gone up by 25pc in just a year. This in a year when families have endured the most savage attack on their earning power in a generation.
With exquisitely sadistic timing, our Government recently put up fuel taxes, including excise increases of 12 cent and a carbon tax of four cent.
Thanks for that, lads. I'll remember you next time out.
The frustrating thing is that I can find no way around this. Mums exchange tips on the cheapest place to fill up, but there's always a catch.
Tesco caused a stir when it started selling cheap petrol in a nearby town. One of my neighbours was lured by the chance of a bargain. Alas, so was half the county.
My neighbour spent so long idling in a traffic jam, waiting for her turn at the pump, that she reckoned she burned up more in fuel than she saved.
If we're spending 25pc more getting our children to school, that extra money is coming from somewhere else in our family budget. It means we're spending less on our kids' shoes or cutting back on their treats.
So roll on summer, with its lower fuel bills -- and lower stress.
Provided, that is, I can stop fretting about how I'll pay for the school runs once summer turns to autumn.