Who would have thought a year a go that a trip to the garage would so resemble a decontamination scene from the movie Outbreak. You arrive and you are greeted by someone in a full face Perspex visor and gloves. A clear bag is held out at arms length for me to drop my car keys into. They are sprayed with something before the bag is closed. I’m asked a number of health questions and told to keep my face mask on at all times. Then ushered into the building through a roped off side door. I’m then directed to a clear screen and the masked service engineer discuss my 4 wheeled bag of rust. I’m then pointed to a tray with a car key – clearly recently sprayed. After I have picked the key up another person with full head protection takes through a separate door and pointed towards the service pool car parked in a separate roped off part of the car park. I’m then given verbal instructions on how to return with the car. I have to park next to the car wash in the roped off return zone.
Kind of makes me wish I had cleaned my car now. It is a right state. Feeling guilty about that….
And if you think that’s decontamination. It’s not a patch on what I had to go through on my return to our house. Hawklad wasn’t taking any chances.
And still it shrinks. I’m going to miss it when it’s gone.
Back to school at home and back to the daily fun…. Started with the usual happy pep talk from a teacher. To paraphrase.
‘Remember I’ve set some work before the week off. It’s voluntary but I can see what people have done and how long you have spent on it. I am checking….I’m about to do your assessment….”
Then I accidentally phoned the school. Who hasn’t done the ‘put the mobile in your back trouser pocket just to see how long it takes for your bum to unlock the phone and dial a number’ trick. The mobile can’t have been in the pocket for 2 minutes before suddenly I heard a strange voice coming from my nether regions. How is it that it takes me hours to figure out how to unlock the mobile, find the phone app, then repeatedly fail to type in the number. Yet my butt can unlock the phone and successfully call someone in a fraction of that time…..
So after I had apologised to school reception it was back to the usual fight with submitting pieces of work and trying to find the class work on Teams. Fights with explanations, hidden meanings and unclear instructions.
Quickly followed by the ritual Dad humiliation.
“Dad apart from Andy Warhol what other Pop Art practitioners can you name.”
“Ok can you at least name a few famous Pop Art pieces and before you say it, NO Godzilla doesn’t count.”
Erm there was that picture with about 100 Madonna’s replicated.
“Dad. You mean Monroe and it was 50 times…”
That’s the one. Then there was the soup tin. Erm Andy Warhol was in Men in Black 3, does that count?
So basically no help…….
But maybe my backside could become Pop Art. Probably not. Not sure how big the canvas would have to be to get 50 replicas of my butt on. But if they could then I could literally be sat on an important piece of avant garde culture. Sat on a fortune.
Blink and it’s gone. Blue sky.
I remember back to my school days. Apart from living in caves and avoiding the dinosaurs, I was like most kids. Some stuff went in to my head easily, other stuff not so easily. Stuff about Physics, Mathematics and Geography went in. Subjects like History the dates would take a lot of effort to stick. Subjects like Chemistry I was ok. However French I was awful, it might as well have been a foreign language…. Biology I was not much better.
Today I was trying to help Hawklad understand Chemistry. He struggles to visualise chemical reactions. So trying to calculate reaction energy levels was a nightmare for him. Whatever we did he just couldn’t see it. That’s the thing with Hawklad, maybe that’s the thing with his Aspergers. He gets blind spots. They go beyond the dyslexia issues. With dyslexia if you read out the word then he can understand what he’s trying to learn. But these nothing seems to shed light for him. Some things he just can’t process and visualise. With a subject like French it’s a massive blind spot. History there are zero blind spots. But with other subjects he can understand most things really well but randomly encounters these blind spots.
Mathematics it’s decimals and volumes
Biology it’s cell structures and names
Design Technology it’s visualising 3D designs
Geography it’s grid references and grid lines
Physics it’s magnetism
Home Economics it’s cooking times
And Chemistry is chemical reaction equations
He can be going along swimmingly then encounter one of these areas and it completely stops him in his tracks. We kind of ignore them now. Blink and move on. Focus on all of the many areas he can make progress on. Hope that the blind spots don’t come up too many times in his main exams.
At the moment that’s our plan.
Everyday our little lake shrinks just a little bit more.
It’s Sunday. The last day of the Half Term break. Tomorrow the next leg of the school at home project commences again. Does it sound bad that I’m not looking forward to it.🤓🤬😱🤯
The delights of Zoom meetings and lessons. The word Zoom has replaced Cauliflower has the one that makes my stomach churn the most. The mandate to use Microsoft Teams then trying to work out which teachers are not using it this week. The soul shattering tiredness which ensues from the daily 630am alarm call. Trying to get my head round chemical reactions, tectonic plate theory and trigonometry. Trying to help with French while being unable to stop helping in German. Trying to explain coding to so dine with dyslexia when I don’t see the point. Not being able to find the right coloured pens and stationery. Failing to get Hawklads homework to submit by the deadlines. Emailing teachers to remind them that Hawklad is still here and still a member of the class. At home but not having the time for housework. Constantly fighting the urge to drown in a swimming pool of extra strength coffee and gorge on every cookie within a 10 mile radius.
Yep not looking forward to that starting again.
But it will be done, I just might go a bit grouchy….
The snow has gone. The temporary lake is starting to shrink. Signs that Spring is on its way.
Another work call confirming that the work plans involving me are as empty as the tyres on my bike which hasn’t been used since 2019. Thats completely airless. Not going to loose any sleep over that. No point. Maybe next year. A quick scan of the new job situation indicates a job market that is as fiat as my last loaf of bread which actually reduced in size when it should have risen. It really is just a case of battening down the hatches until things pick up again.
In our case that is not a band thing.
Hawklads fears are still there. If anything a bit worse. Absolutely zero chance of him being able to cope in the outside world any time soon. Getting through the front door is too much at present for him. Even me venturing out into the front garden really spooked him. So that’s stopped. The Front Door has not been unlocked in days. Once a day I sneak out the back gate and feed the birds, check on the rust bucket car, put the rubbish into the bin and pick up any deliveries that are sat on the front step.
Our world has shrunk further. The house and the back garden now is all that’s left. So no work allows me the time to focus on Hawklad. Try to give him the support he needs. Try to give him a reasonable quality of life and as much fun as can be found.
Hopefully Spring will arrive and the garden will become more enticing. It will be nice to sit outside with a coffee without 25 layers on. But I will miss our lake…. miss the world.
Apparently there is a world out there somewhere.
The snow is now a distant memory. The last bit to cling on was this random block of ice. The last part of the snowman. Snowman to Snow Bunny.
It’s been one of those weeks so far. A week off from school. In other years a week of trips to the Zoo and the Seaside. Maybe a wander in the Hills or Moors. Not this year. Not last year.
A week at home….
Which kinda makes it like every other week. Ok no school at home but it feels the same. Get up early and do my exercise. Make breakfast for Hawklad. Do housework. Do the wash. Change the bedding. Make food. Go out in the garden a few times. Fighting with the cable signal. Watch Disney Plus. Feel bad about not reading so squeeze in a chapter. Go to bed. Seemingly not doing much yet wondering where the days have gone.
Thankfully connecting with friends. Friends are able to break the Groundhog Hog sensation for a while. That is so important these strange days.
I know it’s all gone but the field looks better for it….So let’s go back to just before the thaw.
I was sat in my car. It hadn’t moved in weeks so I thought I had better run the engine for a bit. Reverse it a few times up and down the our little drive. Make sure the brakes haven’t seized up. If I was sat for weeks my knees would definitely have stopped working. I was looking at the three peddles and scratching my head. I had forgotten which one was the clutch. After a few test presses I sussed them out again. Clearly driving doesn’t come naturally to me.
That’s probably very like parenting with me as well. I’m probably better at being the kid than the one apparently in charge.
Then a worrying thought. What if I’m getting this parenting lark completely wrong. What if I’m making things worse for a Hawklad. Who knows. I’ve never been assessed. It was easy when there was two parents. Someone would tell me if I was wrong. A quietly whispered ‘tell you what why don’t you go and cut the grass and I will do that’. But then that abruptly stopped in 2016. This summer it will be 5 years of me parenting solo. No checks. No assistance. No manual. Doing this all by myself. Over those years there were many times I would have definitely told myself to go outside and cut the grass.
What if I’ve got this wrong….
Would my partner have done it differently. Probably. We often politely disagreed. Even down to how to change a nappy. She wanted him to go to a different school. Was she right? She had a different view on the approach that should be taken with his Aspergers and Dyslexia. Have I been too laid back on the implementation of his Education and Health Care Plan. Have I done all I could for him. Have I missed something which would help him with his fears and phobias.
I guess the answer is that I will never know. All I can do is my best. Hope I get most things kinda right. Hope I don’t drop too many balls along the way. Maybe even find the time to cut the grass.
The thaw has set in. No more snowy sun roses this week, maybe not until next winter.
I wrote a few hours ago about how I was missing the snow when it’s gone. You only really miss those things that are special to you.
There’s a difference between missing something and worrying about something. The disappearing snow is also worrying me a little. During the national lockdown the snow helped create an impression of a really small available world. What we can see and touch is all that is available. We are not missing out on much.
But is the thawing snow a symbol of change?
Some Governments are keen to reopen and relax restrictions. Is that way too soon. Who knows. But the message that it will be soon open for everyone misses the point. It’s not going to be open for everyone. Anxieties and Fears don’t get fixed overnight. The vaccinations won’t have reached many people including the kids. Many will only have had one shot. We have rapidly changing mutations. Some will continue to wear masks others will ditch them.
The works will open for some.
For us the lockdown will continue. In a few months I will have had one of the two vaccine shots. So I will be partly covered but that’s not the point. Hawklad’s fears are actually rising. He knows that I and other vaccinated people can still pass the virus onto him. He knows that he won’t be getting and vaccine protection. He can see that children can get covid and the more severe long covid. He is fully aware of the associated serious disease that is affecting some children. He can knows that some people will drop their guard. Basically his fears are not going away. So our lockdown will continue.
So the disappearing snow kind of symbolises something else. A world is out there. It is opening again but not for us. It’s not a small available world anymore. It’s a big world again but one that we are locked out of. Beyond our reach. That worries me and makes me sad.
Sad to see the snow go.
But then another thought. A better thought. Other people, other families can hopefully start to enjoy these places again. To have adventures. Other young ones can have holidays again. Have more fun. Can be safe doing that. Memories can be born.
Maybe the snow going is a good thing.
Another day and another pompous government minister telling the kids what best for them. Not listening. Not accepting differences. Not accepting that some will be ready to jump back into life, others will not. Not accepting that his form of education is really about serving his needs and the economy. Not prepared to listen and work with what individual children and families need. Wanting schools to go backwards towards Victorian values. Totally against the notion of moving schools forward and turning them into wonderful places of learning and personal growth. To make them enjoyable and yes FUN. But what do we know, he clearly knows best. Just do what we are told.
So this middle aged pompous bloke will shut up and tell you exactly how Hawklad sees where he is. This is what he told me last night when I LISTENED to him.
- I love to go back to school. But not because of the teaching. To meet up with my friends again.
- Most of the teaching is so not me. Doesn’t suit me.
- I hate being told what to learn and how to learn it. Getting no choice. Being told what to think and how to remember it
- Hate always worrying about breaking the rules. Worrying about getting negatives.
- Hate having to put my hand up in a lesson and ask for help. It’s so hard in front of all the other classmates admitting I can’t read something.
- Being told it’s perfectly safe to go to school when I know I can catch covid. Being crammed in a class with someone who might have it and not know it. Having to share equipment without them being cleaned. Then being told that I won’t get the vaccine as I’m low risk. Reading about mutations that no one seems to understand. To me school is not safe at all. Just can’t go back for a long time. Until it’s really under control. Until I’ve been vaccinated with something that really works. Until I get some space in school.
That says it all to this middle aged pompous chap. Tells me where he is. That’s who I will listen to. Not some pompous government minister living his closeted life who doesn’t care and doesn’t listen.
Tracks. Can you guess the little visitor?
“Dad I’m not happy…”
“School. Apparently they think that origami is a fun activity”
Well many would agree.
“Not here they won’t. So when a teacher says ‘I have a fun activity for you‘ I personally would not be then referring to origami. I am tempted to contact my lawyer on this.”
You might enjoy it.
“Not happening. Two videos each 10 minutes long to follow. Making a bird and a dragon. I’d rather eat broccoli.”
Wow must be bad if broccoli is a better option. Why don’t you have a go and see what happens.
“Well only if you do it as well. Parents should be made to share the torture.”
##### 30 minutes later#####
“Well Dad did you enjoy that….”
No I didn’t Son. Broccoli is a better option.
“Any idea what those two creations are supposed to be. Certainly not a bird or dragon. And we followed the instructions….”
No idea what they are. We might as well have spent 30 minutes randomly scrunching up some paper.
So the visitor….. it’s this one.
Comes and stands tight next to the front door and waits patiently for me to get my backside in gear. It’s a clever strategy. Always gets some food first. What a clever bird.