The election canvassers are out and they do not care if you spent an hour putting your baby to bed, they will ring your doorbell, so be prepared for strangers at the door!
Explaining elections to a five-year-old is no mean task. But I think the hard work was worth the effort and I have designated her as the point of contact for all canvassers to our home.
Like most family houses on a school night, when the front door bell rings past 7pm, you know it isn’t good news. Family and friends know to use the back door, to push through past the dog and all the rubbish and appear unannounced in the kitchen.
The unusual noise of the door bell ignites excitement with children and dread with parents. It beckons us to answer the door to the unknown - but one thing we are certain is the person on the other side is looking for something.
The kids race to the front door to see what break from routine the caller will bring, but adults are usually not as enthusiastic.
For the past few weeks the people on the other side of the door were looking for cash - ticket sellers. The dark nights no longer bring concoctions of boogie men outside our door, the dread is ticket sellers. They may talk sweet but they only want one thing - money. The issue is in this new cashless society, having a €5, €10 or €20 note is not always easy. Only a few weeks ago I sent away two lovely Ballinaglera club members with a bag full of €2 coins!
With the general election looming on February 8, the strangers on the other side of your door are also looking for your cash, but you don’t need to upend the couch for loose change, you just need to promise them your vote. Your vote could pay their wages.
Yes the canvassers are out, here to ruin your dinner, interrupt your TV programme and worst of all wake your children.
The excitement of the door bell does not lose it’s appeal after children are snuggled in their beds - oh no, it ignites their interest all the more. A door bell past bedtime brings the worst kind of nightmare, half clothed children emerge at the top of the stairs, the cold gust from the open front door can wipe away all elements of tiredness and leave you with children who are either upset that visitors have left without even bringing a sweet (imagine the rudeness) or full of questions that must be answered immediately.
And so I had to sit down with my cranky five-year-old to explain why there was a stranger at the door who gave me their picture and asked for my number-one without giving me anything in return.
As an experienced reporter in covering elections you would think this would come easy but it didn’t. “S/he wants to get enough votes so they can get elected and … work … in Dáil Eireann to govern the country … as in make the country better. They want to help us, help sort out any issues we have.”
I’m not sure if she could see I was struggling or confused by own answer, so she helpfully asked would I be voting for the stranger that brought no treats. I took a minute to think about that and realised we were losing precious sleeping time: “No I don’t think so, but I haven’t decided yet. The important thing is that we all vote.”
I cajoled her back to bed, but the next morning there were even more questions. She felt a little sad that elections are a popularity contest and suggested a “buddy bench” for those who don’t get enough votes - I think she now understands the Seanad!
Anyway she has a list of issues she wants to put to the candidates such as later school opening times (she id not a morning fan), more weekday treats (lower taxes) and better broadband (for movies and games).
So good luck to whoever comes next, but please don't wake the toddler, his demands are fierce and need immediate action - he will not be placated by washy promises!