Dinner plate

That’s some dinner plate. Newly planted vegetable seeds. What to start with…..

It’s been one of those school at home days. Only one communication from a teacher about lessons today. That was ‘just revise’ for a test which is coming up. The other lessons it was just about trying to see what bits we could find on the online system and then trying to fill in the blanks. Which is quite apt as alongside the homeschooling I was also trying to get work done for the company that bizarrely likes to employ me. Apparently I’m a ‘valuable asset’. I’m sure that has been autocorrected at some stage from the original description.

Voluminous Ass….

Apt because today I was scratching my head at WORK and blankly trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing. Yes definitely filling in the blanks. I can’t have been doing very well at either tasks as I ended up watching our garden pigeon and his dinner plate.

At least somebody knows what they are doing today….

Early

On our trip out the other day it was interesting to see the change in the pace of life. Suddenly shop car parks are full again. All the outside tables are taken at pubs and cafes. The public buses are busy again. People are gathering in groups again. Masks being worn outside are much more of a rarity. Social distancing…. what social distancing.

Don’t get me wrong I’m as eager as anyone to see things open up again. I won’t say return to normal as that thought annoys me – was the old normal that good and why didn’t we seize the opportunity to build a better normal. Yes our vaccination programme being delivered by the brilliant NHS is going really well. But I’m anxious. Hearing the Government announce that the battle is almost won, just beggars belief. It’s not won until all countries get on top of this dreadful virus. It’s not won when we are still getting deaths each day. Still at 2000 new cases a day. In younger age groups the infections rates are rising. Even after a period of lockdown rates are still stubbornly high. Outbreaks of mutations including the really worrying Indian variant are rising. The vaccines are not 100 effective, we are not sure just how long they will stay effective across the population and the younger groups have not been vaccinated at all. The Young can get severe CovidI was reading that as many as 12% of children catching the virus are needing to be hospitalised or are suffering from Long Covid. That doesn’t sound like a war won.

But we start the process of relaxing the rules. Foreign holidays allowed soon. Large Crowds returning to sporting and cultural events without social distancing. The requirement to wear masks in schools in communal areas such as corridors is to be removed. Rules surrounding isolation after contact with a positive case to be dropped in favour of fairly regular resting. The message is clear from the top hence I’m not surprised that the majority of people are ditching the masks.

Yes I’m anxious. At the very least masks and social distancing should stay while the reopening goes ahead, until mutations and case numbers fall to really low levels. Until vaccination is a world wide reality. This all feels like a bit of a punt to me. I just hope luck is with us this time.

Going round the bend

As part of the long process of helping Hawklad building bridges back to the wider world, we ventured out in the car. Further this time. In to the city. To get a take out burger.

All went well until we hit the city. More car, more people. Even though he was in the safety of the car he was on edge but willing to push on.

Finally we arrived at the burger place. You will know the one. It’s got some whopper burgers. The plan was Hawklad to stay in the car while I ventured out to get the takeout. As soon as I left the car Hawklad panicked. So plan B. The drive through. I’ve never tried one of those but they seem super cool in the movies.

We joined the queue of cars and and snaked our way towards the intercom. With excitement we finally made it to the marked intercom bay.

I started to patiently wait for the helpful voice.

Dad what are you waiting for.”

I’m waiting for the person to speak to me,

Dad you don’t wait you just say the order out. Come on Dad the cars behind will start to get annoyed”

####Pants so I blurted out the order. NOTHING. Is that it. Do I drive off now####

Dad they didn’t hear you, shout the order louder”

#### So I did, really loud this time. This time Hawklad got the giggles####

Dad you are a muppet”

####And suddenly the intercom whirled into life – ‘afternoon can I take your order’.####

I’m definitely going round the bend.

Setting

The sun setting on another day.

Today has felt like one of those days that you need to keep pushing. Don’t push and you grind to a halt. Nothing comes easy. Always seems like it’s pushing up a hill. Nothing comes for free. No easy downhill sections.

So feeling a little worn out.

So on today’s late walk with Hawklad and the mad one, I tried to stand still for a second or two and watch the sun set. Look West. Then it’s time to keep walking. Well actually it was time to get pulled in a different direction by the hyper dog. That’s what you clearly get when there’s an accidental romantic encounter in a park between a small fluffy German Spitz girl dog and a slightly mad Cocker Spaniel boy. You get this….

So I was pulled along in a direction. Didn’t seem like I was completely in control of the direction. Just going with the flow. Life feels like that often. Not really in control. Being pulled. My preferred direction is always against the flow. That’s why life seems so hard most days. Constantly walking through treacle. So do I fight it or just go with it.

Today it feels like the answer is go with it.

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.

Rickety

There’s always been a tree house we occasionally pass around here. Never seen anyone ever up there. Probably a good thing looking at how rickety it’s looking these days. But if there is ever a great flood I might just give it a go.

Currently getting through the day on zero sleep. Even watching Avatar didn’t work last night. After an hour no sleep was coming and I was bored out of my mind. So it was time to give up. At least I’ve maintained my record of never being able to sit through one complete viewing of that movie. Sorry I just don’t get it at all…..

Homeschooling is feeling very rickety this morning.

No information or class material for maths. So we guessed the subject. I tried to teach probability. That’s TRY. Remember no sleep…..

Then for French we did get a pack to work through the only problem was that it seemed like it was in a foreign language…….

Then Science. Absolutely nothing. Going to sound old here. But in my day they split science up into separate Chemistry, Physics and Biology. They never met….. At least you knew what subject the teacher was wittering on about. Now it’s Science. So when you get no support you end up even having to guess which branch of science to look at. In the end we plumped for Physics. Just because it’s my better subject. I them mumbled my way through trying to teach wave theory.

Is it bad to say I’m ready for bed already and it’s only lunch time.

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……

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…..

Blue sky or not blue sky

Sunshine, blue sky, dark cloud, storm clouds, dry, rain, snow, bright, dark.

That Yorkshire sky really sums up perfectly my mood levels since lockdown started. It’s a bit of everything really. Swinging from smiles to tear. Feeling full of the joys of spring to darkest winter coldness. Optimistic then pessimistic. Feeling contented then feeling boxed in. Calm then anxious. At ease with the world then frustrated.

Emotional never ending tides.

Yesterday I was fighting the tears. Life seemed bleak and so restrictive. Definitely feeling cut adrift, isolated and alone.

Yet today I can’t stop smiling. Ok life feels constrained but it also feels good. Filled with HOPE and WONDERFUL thoughts. Most definitely not feeling alone rather feeling part of a BEAUTIFUL world.

Ask me yesterday and I would say what am I doing. Today it’s WE can do this.

I’m the same person, I’ve not moved, I’ve not won the money lottery. No person or no asset has entered my world. So why the swing in mood. Could it be that we are permanently riding those emotional waves. Swings in outlook are to be expected. Good moments, bad moments. Maybe the secret is to look at each day. What are the things that weigh me down and try to do something about those. Then most importantly work out what are the things that lift me up so much. If you can identify those things (maybe it’s just one important thing) then keep trying to move towards those wonderful things in life.

Yes WE can do this.

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…..