Smaller

Dad what do you think about this question. It’s RE and I have to draw a family tree. Show the current connections. Then describe the family relationships. Then talk about what the various religions might say about our family.”

####So we cracked on for 10 minutes. One current family tree was down on paper.####

“Dad it’s a bit thin. Look at the example one and then look at mine.

The example one is all about quantity ours is about quality.

Dad should I add in those family members not here anymore. That would fill the tree out.”

You can do anything you want. Why not just use our much reduced tree. It is how it is. Your just answering the question. Putting my old ‘at school’ head on, it might mean less to write about.

“I could include the pets….”

Why are you chuckling.

I could then write about our extended family. If we didn’t explain that some of the names are pets then I could really make our family sound weird.”

Yes I dread to think of some of the things you could write about. The stories you could tell about the cat and dog…

*************************

But here’s the thing. Isn’t it about time that schools updated some of their teaching materials. Many children will not come from the classic family structures listed in the textbooks. How hard is it for a child to look at the set images when they may come from a broken home, or has a single parent, or has lost a parent(s) or has no brothers or sisters, or has a family set up which is different to the traditional view or has no family. Surely we can come about with learning materials that are a lot more sensitive to the needs of ALL children.

Singing

A lovely day to spend time in our garden. If you take the time there is always things to see. Always things to fill the heart. All things to be thankful for. A time to think and smile. Time to hum and sing a little. Sing a bit of KISS.

Rock and Roll All Nite……

“Dad please stop….”

Don’t you like my singing

Is that what it is”

My voice is a thing of beauty

No it’s not Dad. It’s like 2 nuclear bombs going off in my eat drums at the same time.”

Distinctive then

More like painful”

My voice has been passed down the generations. Millions of years of evolution has honed it to what it is now.

A weapon Dad. That’s what it is. So yes millions of years of evolution. Survival of the fittest. That type of weapon is going to guarantee survival.”

Play

Another gloriously chilly day here. The perfect weather to play.

It’s official, school play time is getting shorter. A deliberate government policy. A recent report from the UCL Institute of Education confirmed that is the case in the UK. They found weekly break times had reduced since 1995 by 45 minutes for the younger children and by 65 minutes for secondary pupils. It also found a growing percentage of schools offered lunch breaks of less than 35 minutes.

Since that report was published the situation has got markedly worse.

I unfortunately listened to one of the government numpties in charge of our schools. He talked about the need to improvise discipline. Talked about children suffering during the pandemic as their grades might go down. It was apparently time to increase the school day, cut holidays. Allow the pupils to catch up with government targets.

Not once did I hear the numpty say the words health, wellbeing and happiness.

That’s no surprise. Schools are now strictly controlled. Teaching programmes, timetables, how pupils learn are set by the government. It’s all about grades. Grades in subjects that the government thinks appropriate. We here constant talk of a return to good old Victorian Values. But it goes further. As the end of school bell rings children are increasingly channeled into structured out of hours school clubs. Forced into completing hour after hour of set homework.

This eats into that precious free time. Time to socialise, to play, to free think, to dream. Time which is the child’s. Maybe that’s why child mental health issues and depression are becoming an epidemic. An epidemic without a vaccine.

Before the COVID pandemic kicked in I remember one particular school year. Hawklad has two really good friends in classes next to his. When I was at school I would get plenty of time to play each day with my friends, friends in different classes. Well that’s all change now. In that entire school year Hawklad never once spent time with his friends in school. Even at weekends organised school sport events made meet-ups problematic. The only time he met up with them was during the holidays. That’s a minimum gap of 7 weeks. 7 week blocks without seeing friends.

Remember the phrase. ‘Childhood should be your happiest time’. Is that still the case? Sadly not for too many.

Sun setting

Last of the sun. The sun setting. Setting on a dangerously messed up country.

Thought for the day.

A member of the UK Government resigned yesterday over broken promises. His description of the Government is enlightening bearing in mind that these things are usually framed in very polite and respectful language. Respectfully he described Boris Johnson’s Government as a “Cesspit” and “the most distrustful and awful environment” he had ever worked in.

My mind goes back to the brilliant tweet one brave official released from the official UK Government Civil Service account.

“Arrogant and offensive. Can you imagine having to work for these truth twisters…..

Remember back when BBC News was a respected, independent agency. A highly respected BBC journalist (Eddie Mair) interviewed Johnson before he became our leader. An interview that the BBC has buried. It ended with the respected journalist concluding

Making up quotes., lying to your party leader, wanting to be part of someone being physically assualted – you’re a nasty piece of work, aren’t you

And people still will vote for them….

Staggering and frightening.

Blinded by the light

Blinded by the light.

Ok which version is better Bruce Springsteen or Manfred Mann…..

The home at school project is rapidly feeling like it’s blinded by something. More lessons with no support or materials provided. More time spent trying to find any educational resources hidden on the confusing school system. Far fewer teachers making contact and trying to explain work requirements. When class materials are sent they are often only arriving at the end of lessons or hours late. Hardly any work feedback being sent back. Very few teachers checking in on Hawklad to see if it’s going ok.

Contacting school occasionally improves things for a lesson or two then things fall back again.

With national lockdowns, local school closures and family lockdowns its been over a year since Hawklads last in school classroom day. Maybe school have decided enough is enough. Falling in line with Government thinking. So with an imminent school return looking most unlikely, the educational future is so unclear. Blinded by something……

Hyper

The scene from last nights late Hawklad walk. A scene of apparent calm. It doesn’t paint the mayhem which accompanies taking Captain Chaos for a walk. Someone gets hyper on his walk. As he is the most hyper dog in Yorkshire at the best of times, that’s a shed load of hyper….

But it’s not just walks. Most things can send him hyper.

Me trying to tidy up the garden is up there on the hyper league table. Maybe it’s the novelty factor, the garden doesn’t get the attention it deserves….

So today as I tried to weed it was the usual pet mayhem. Helpful frantic digging. Burying anything he can find. Rolling in anything resembling dirt. Crazed running around in circles. That kind of thing.

Then a break. A dog walker walking across the distant fields. A distraction. Much barking. So I had better make the most of this. So I did 5 minutes of rapid weeding, manic digging and rushed raking.

Job done.

One slight problem. Don’t let your mobile fall out of your pocket when your doing speed gardening. Finally only located when I phoned it. Couldn’t hear it ringing inside. But the second phoning attempt, and an usual ringtone coming from the garden rubbish bin.

That could have been a disaster as the bin collection day is tomorrow. Just goes to show the risks inherent in gardening. Might give it a miss for a while now.

Mad

Blueberries just starting to develop.

It’s a mad world. A mad Britain.

So there are growing concerns over the use of the lateral flow rapid Covid tests. The Government has been pushing them in schools, forcing children to take them several times a week. The results available within minutes deemed perfectly robust as a basis of reopening schools. They worked so well that they were made available for free to everyone. I was sent 7 tests this week.

Then we here the the Governments own experts are questioning the accuracy of these quick results. They are potentially too unreliable to use on there own. Should be only used as a guide, a gateway to the more robust tests.

Then on Friday the Government talked about the frustration with testing. It’s keeping too many children and more importantly workers at home. To many false positives. Far too unreliable.

And today the Government announced that it will sanction a large scale indoor test event. A music concert with no social distancing and no masks. That’s 5000 people being used as guinea pigs. Anyone going would have to have a rapid Covid test the same day as the concert. Then the will have to be tested a few days afterwards…..

Can we make our mind up…..

Are we really happy to allow 5000 people to crowd together indoors as a number of troubling mutations are starting to take hold….

Are we happy that the only check is the unreliable test….

Are we happy that potentially clinically vulnerable and unvaccinated people and children are being used as test subjects…..

I remember the Government saying opening up for Christmas was perfectly safe. Just go and look at the death spike that caused. Do we remember just days before the first lockdown and the Government saying that it was safe to hold the countries largest horse racing festival. Studies have shown the large number of unnecessary deaths that lead to…..

Cracks

How easy is it to slip through the cracks.

It took too many years to get any support and help for Hawklad. A lot of important time during his key development years were missed. He was labelled with the following tags and descriptions…

A loner

Below average attainment

Having issues

Poor concentration

Under performer

Some discipline issues

Can’t sit still

Clumsy

Accident prone

Messy eater

Untidy

Behind national targets

Easily distracted

Needs to work on the basics

Does he need better discipline at home

Then it all changed when a group of Doctors and education experts finally issued a medical letter confirming

Aspergers

ADHD

Dyslexia

Dyspraxia

To get there was a nightmare. Yes it felt like a never ending slog. An ordeal. Constantly fighting the system. You end up doubting yourself. Are we just being pushy parents. Should we just fall back into line.

In the end our son was one of the lucky ones. Too many great kids don’t get the chance to shine. Wrote off. Misunderstood. They never get the support they need because they fell through the cracks in the system. A system which still has such poor levels of awareness, too many stereotypes, too few resources in specialised services.

It shouldn’t be like this.

Chef…..

Somebody is happy..l

Once a muppet always a muppet.

Thursday night is chip night here. When we moved into this little house on the hill two decades ago we quickly found out the real pace of village life. The ultimate highlight of the week here was the Thursday night visit from the mobile chip van. It parked in the road 50 yards from our house. Rapidly the tradition of Thursday Chip night was set. Eventually we even discovered that the new mad dog was also a chip monster. His favourite food.

A pandemic then happened.

Suddenly Hawklad was not comfortable with getting chips from the van. So we stopped being part of the chip social. But the tradition lived on. Now replaced with oven chips. A vegetarian pie for me and skinless sausages for Hawklad. And yes a small plate of chips for the mad one.

So last night was THURSDAY. Time to dine like royalty. Well that was the plan. If you look back a few months you will see a certain muppet falling fowl of the crime of not labelling freezer items. Guess what happened last night. No pies were available from the store so it was time to root around in the deepest recesses of the chest freezer. Success a fine looking pie. Maybe a mushroom one. Maybe a Quorn one.

Chips and a pie smothered in Tomato Ketchup, salt and vinegar. Result…..

The reality sweet cherry pie is and interesting taste sensation when combined with vinegar and ketchup. Heston Blumenthal eat your heart out….

Luckily the second pie found was a better fit…….

Walk

So each night Hawklad tries to walk a few more yards. To extend is external walk. To slowly start to build bridges again. Last night he bailed out early as he saw people in the distance. But it is progress. It’s a start. At some stage he will be ready to even face people again. But in his own time. Whether that happens before he leaves school, who knows.

I do worry that too many countries are just thinking vaccines. No other permanent changes required. The vaccine will beat the pandemic and return us to that wonderful former world….

But surely with a mutating virus which is still spreading and still so endemic, all a vaccine does is buy us time. It gives us a chance to make changes. To find ways to live safely. To get support out to the people who need it. To increasingly try to make it harder for the virus to spread and thus mutate.

But here’s the thing. The vaccine doesn’t really help with the growing tide of mental health issues facing our society. Speaking with the team trying to support Hawklad. They are being swamped by rising child mental health problems (and the identified problems are just scratching the surface of the real volume of problems out there). Plus was the old world that perfect. Even before a pandemic there was a mental health crisis.

Society and Governments need to quickly wake up to this. There are somethings a vaccine can’t fix for them…..