A window

A brief window to step outside and breath. Otherwise it’s been horrible. Many of the places around us have closed due to bad weather. Must admit education feels that way a bit currently.

UK School doesn’t really work for those with additional educational needs. The traditional classroom setup brings much stress. School at home brings a little respite.

So that’s two weeks ticked off from the next stage of the school at home approach.

I was asked why I didn’t call it homeschooling. Basically we are still trying to follow what the school is teaching. Not setting our own learning agenda. Having to do this just in case our son decides to return to school when he is able to. So it’s not the freedom of homeschooling, it’s basically school but at home.

So in two weeks we have kind of found a way of trying to keep up with the class. Covering the same subjects. In some lessons we are getting all of the material which is being used in class. In some we are getting some of the material and we are trying to fill in the gaps as best we can. In a few subjects we are basically getting nothing so we are just winging those – maybe we are following the class, maybe we are heading in completely the wrong direction.

He is getting virtually no pastoral care from school. Absolutely zero feedback on work submitted, not sure some of the teachers are even reading it yet. A couple of the teachers do occasionally send a message asking if he is ok with the work set. That’s it really. On a Thursday all the pupils have to select an option for an additional lesson. It’s supposed to cover non curriculum activities. It’s about learning new skills and building confidence. It could be a gaming option, archeology, performing arts, sports, astronomy. He hasn’t been included in this programme – says it all really.

In my mind I have already settled on the best way forward. It’s for our son to leave school and opt for full on homeschooling. But it’s his call. It’s his future. So when the time is right then he can make a decision. But I have to say school are not bending over backwards to sell themselves.

L

Grouse

Most definitely not like this today. The strange yellow thing in the sky has most definitely gone on holiday. Hopefully not a long one.

Currently I am looking out of window into the rainy garden and thinking. I’m guessing this home at school project has many months to run. As a single parent it’s trying to get my head round the logistics of that. At present there is not much work and what work there is can be done at home. Shopping can be done through a combination of home delivery and very quick trips to the small local store. But what happens if I need to make a longer trip out. Hawklad is not comfortable at all being left alone.

The options are limited at the best of times and these are not the best of times.

Normally our options would be one of two sisters (but one-off those is 2 hours drive away, and both don’t drive) and a couple of local parents who have known Hawklad since the age of 5 (they are busy so are not often available). Unfortunately under the new Government Lockdown rules all four options are now banned. Breaking those would leave us open to heavy fines. The Government has even encouraged people to contact the police if neighbours flout the rules. The irony here is not lost, flouting rules if you are a member of the government or the dad of the PM is said to be entirely reasonable. Under the new rules our only option would be for a grandparent to stand in. Unfortunately ours have all left this world. But here’s another irony, those grandparents would fall into high risk groups. Those who should be shielding. Are grandparents seen as expendable….

The other irony is that those who would be an option before they were banned fall into much lower risk groups. They can’t babysit for us but I could go to work with them and sit alongside them in an office – that’s apparently fine. We could even put on green camouflage and go grouse hunting together without any punishment. Maybe that’s the childcare answer, we set up a grouse hunting lodge in the garden. The first ever vegetarian one….

Where did that go – The Sequel

The quickest sequel ever. Only a few hours ago I wrote about where did the summer holidays go! Where did the first 6 months of lockdown go. It’s ending for many but not for some. Not for us. That got me thinking, which is dangerous🤪🧐

What has changed for Hawklad and me over those 6 months.

So for Hawklad the following have been the big changes…

  • His fears about health and illness have gone through the roof. Just exploded. He is wracked with anxieties and the need to wash is never more than a few minutes away.
  • His social anxieties have become more prominent. He is more inward looking, and less likely to interact with others. As a result he had become more isolated.
  • He is more aware of the world.
  • He is more aware of Aspergers.
  • He is more aware of the incompatibilities between the outdated world and those who are on the spectrum.
  • His reading has really come on. In his words – ‘more of a part time dyslexic now’. The irony that happened without direct school teaching.
  • His available world has shrunk. The days of school, trips to the beach, a hill walk, an outing to a historic site, a visit to a friends house – they all seem a distant memory. Most days he can’t even get to his own front gate.
  • He has shot up. Now taller than his Dad.
  • He has become thinner. Need to watch that.
  • He became a teenager. Almost instantaneously he suddenly found movies like Dumb and Dumber, Bill and Ted and anything by Will Farrell hysterical.
  • He has a truly shocking hairstyle. Dad is great at doing them and he has so much hair to mess up.
  • He can now talk about his mum without so much sadness. Much more about being proud of her.
  • He sleeps much less now.
  • He is becoming more clingy. Needing more reassurance that I’m in the house somewhere.
  • Many of his personal traits, those that are often identified as being Aspergers, have become more pronounced. More marked.

So many things have changed for our son. Changes in circumstances, physical changes, changes in personality. Some of these changes could be down to the lockdown but it could also be a natural development. It’s a difficult time for him, to be a teenager. But add in Aspergers and it can be such a disorientating period. Trying to find a fit between the complex world and the need to find personal identity. Finding that sadly Aspergers is still not widely seen as being socially acceptable. What to do? Try to confirm or be himself. All this at a time when he may become more inwardly looking and less likely to talk to about his emotions. Potentially troubling times ahead. Maybe that’s the next theme for our journey. We shall see.

Soon I will try to do a similar list for me. What’s changed for this Kermit the Frog.

Not what I expected

Not what I expected. I was sure this was a yellow rose last year!

It’s definitely red.

I was reading an article about the main things that have surprised people about the Pandemic and it’s impact on lifestyles. The author went for 5 things – Boredom of not physically meeting people, missing going to Pubs, Parties and Restaurants, missing playing Golf with friends, how hard mask wearing is and how much she misses going on holiday.

Ok let’s have a stab at this. What are the five things which has surprised me about the Pandemic. What was I not expecting.

  • The impact that just not being able to buy just a few of the useful foodstuffs can have on mine and Hawklads life,
  • How quickly you can settle in to new ways,
  • How much money you save if you avoid going to shops,
  • The way days and weeks can just merge into each other if you take out things like the school run and most shopping trips,
  • Just how difficult it is sometimes balance homeschooling, with work, domestic duties and things like running.

I guess a fundamental difference between me and the author is circumstances. She and her husband both work. They have one kid of a similar age to Hawklad but that child seems to spend a lot of the time with friends and doing group activities like sport. They use babysitters to allow for frequent social activities for her and hubby. So yes the Pandemic will have a major impact on her family’s social life. I can so understand why she would list those five things.

My life is currently different. I am a single parent to a kid with Aspergers. Even before the Pandemic I was partly cut off from society. Enforced isolation due to parental requirements. Many other people are in a similar position due to a range of circumstances. So if anything the Pandemic hasn’t really changed that much in terms of social contact for me. Yes it might have tightened things up a little further. But fundamentally there has been few radical changes. If anything it feels like for a few months some other people life’s have become a little more like my normal routine. Maybe it’s provided a glimpse for some people into what daily life actual feels like for many people out their. A daily life which existed before the pandemic.

I quite like this five unexpected things idea. Might see what if throws up in terms of things like grief and Aspergers.

Red Rose

That’s me expelled from Yorkshire. A red rose……. Historically our greatest rival has been our neighbour Lancashire. We have had bloody civil wars and battled over who should have the English Throne. We are the White Rose County. Lancashire is the Red Rose County. To this day when our teams meet the matches are often called the Roses Game. Even sometimes – The War of the Roses.

I can get away with a red rose. I was born in a Yorkshire town but on the northern edge. The Yorkshire Cricket Team would play in my town once a year. A few years later and the government decided to have a local government reorganisation and suddenly we were kind of just outside my birth county. That’s my excuse anyway.

It really doesn’t matter what colour Rose you are. We are all in this mess together. Work briefly picked up. Glimmers of hope. But that didn’t last long. Most of the work programme has been cancelled again. We help to manage public events and deal with things like cycle races. Trying to stop the roads clogging up and looking after the safety of the competitors/public. Not a great line of work to be in during a pandemic. Most of the remaining events have been waiting for news on the upcoming London Marathon. If they run then we can. Well the London Marathon has now cancelled the public element of the race. It will hold a much smaller professional race with no spectators. Worse news is that next years marathon has already been pushed back months into October 2021. With all the money and resources they have available to them and they can’t run the event safely for well over a year. Crumbs…..

So our work programme is effectively wrecked until well into next year. We might get a few small events but hardly anything. Maybe a few ‘helping to manage drive in vaccination schemes’. But we can’t spend to long fretting over this. It’s really out of our hands. Not much we can do except batten down the hatches and try to weather the storm. Try to look after the pennies. It could be so much worse. So many don’t have a job. Now that is properly tough.

Much less work has many advantages. Yes it focuses the mind on money but look on the bright side. More time to focus on Hawklad. Much reduced carbon footprint – the mad car is hardly getting used, it’s been to the petrol station once since March. And other advantages.

I was sat on the floor in the bathroom cleaning the toilet. I’ve got a rock and roll lifestyle. Listening to some fine Canadian Rock – RUSH. Thinking what a good job I was doing getting the throne glistening white again. Normally toilet cleaning duties are seen as as a real chore. Something to be squeezed in to an overly busy day. Get it done as quick as possible. But today I could take my time. Do a proper job.

Now that’s finished it’s time to fold the bathroom sheets (toilet roll) into nice shapes – just like the hotels do. Now that’s a first…….

Reality

Late last night I was watching the news channel and a government expert was being interviewed about people struggling to leave the house since lockdown was eased. We will ignore the fact that the easing has been halted and areas are starting to fall back under emergency regulations. The experts take was that it was perfectly safe for everyone to go about their normal business. People should get out, go to the park or better to a restaurant. Those struggling should be brave and get out. Those still struggling to get out should arrange to see a health professional. This Government had put in support to facilitate this.

Ok…..

We’ve been lucky. We might get to see a nurse this month but we’ve had to fight tooth and nail for that. Because of cutbacks son has not been seen by a Paediatrician in well over 2 years now… 6 of his 7 support services have been removed. But again we are lucky. Far too many don’t get any support at all.

It’s 3am and I heard our son call. He had gone to the bathroom and because he had gone barefoot he desperately needed to wash his feet. So just before the morning bird chorus started I was running the bath so he could ease his anxieties. He is currently not able to touch taps. Towels can only be used once before they are washed. His bedding has to be washed daily. He has to wash his hands every few minutes. He can’t even touch is own shoes and clothes with his hands. Tell me how he is supposed to be brave and just get outside. The government just has not got the slightest idea of the problems facing so many in our communities. The health professionals just don’t have the resources to cope. It’s taken a pandemic to expose the true folly of focusing cutbacks on mental health and support services. When will our leaders wake up to the reality of life for so many households in our countries.

Cramming

This was a year ago. It must have been taken on one of my really long running routes. As it was the last week of term, I would be trying to cram in as many long runs as possible before the 6 week school holidays started. If only I had crammed in a few super long runs before the pandemic kicked in during March this year. Actually thinking about it, I wish I had crammed in a few other things as well those long 4 months ago

  • Real ice cream
  • Slush puppies
  • Hill walking
  • Climbing
  • Trips to the beach
  • Trips to Switzerland
  • Trips to see my football team play – on seconds thoughts, who wants to see them get beat again….
  • Trips to Castles and Roman sites
  • Rock concerts
  • Visits to my sisters and brother
  • Trips to see some special friends
  • A few mountain biking sessions
  • A trip to the running shoe shop
  • A trip to a coffee and cake shop
  • A trip to the hot donut shop
  • A trip to the paper shop to stock up on paper, pens, PENCILS, paint, crayons and other school stationary cupboard requirements
  • Trip to the garage, my car has been broken since March now
  • A trip to the chip shop
  • Clothes shopping for the next year of Hawklad’s growth
  • Bathroom paper (toilet roll), face mask and soap shopping
  • A trip to the toy shop for Christmas gifts
  • Garden furniture shopping – the Yorkshire winters are not kind on outside chairs
  • Second hand book store

Thinking about books, the one place I am so glad I never crammed in was a trip to the Library. My books would now be 4 months overdue – that would be some hefty fine.

Really

There was a time when you could put some faith in the UK Government doing the right thing and providing a modicum of truth…….

So the Government are instructing parents to send their kids back to school after the summer holidays. The clear message is that it is perfectly safe. No need to worry. In fact no need for schools to observe most of the current pandemic and social distancing regulations. Those things just complicate the return process. Parents who fail to comply will be fined.

On the other hand….

A number of areas are reporting spikes in Corona Virus cases particularly amongst the younger age groups. The Director of Public Health from Liverpool issued the following warning – “this is a really dangerous moment for case numbers and we need people not to let their guard down.”

When the Prime Minister’s Chief Advisor broke lockdown rules he was defended by our so called leader. Johnson said the following “he behaved responsibly and with integrity and followed the instincts of every father.”

I will happily see you in court Boris….

Service

Maybe I can call our little part of the world a Rose Garden. Makes a change from Jungle or Weedville.

Well so far we have survived the boiler service. The chap turned up and to be fair to him, he did use a mask and gloves. He did confirm that it wasn’t me being a muppet. It had fuel. It was turned ON. He explained that it was the oldest boiler he had seen in ages. Possibly over 40 years old. It’s poor motor had finally died. Unbelievably he found a replacement motor in the van that just about fitted. So with a hefty bill winging my way he departed. Apparently after all those years it is still working at 90% efficiency. Wish I was that good at 40.

The thought of an outsider entering the house sent son into an anxiety meltdown. Unplanned visitors is not easy at the best of times for someone with Aspergers. But during a pandemic…..

To try and keep a lid on his anxiety we agreed a decontamination protocol. Thankfully this was carried out to the letter.

  • The service person wore masks and gloves,
  • He only entered the house via the back door,
  • He only ventured into one room,
  • After he finished I quickly disinfected the room and the door he used,
  • That room and that side of the house was then closed off for 3 days,
  • As was the path which the serviceman walked across,
  • I than had a shower and completely changed clothes.

It might seem OTT but to our son this was the bare minimum which was acceptable to him. His way of protecting his safe place. He will be much less stressed out when that part of the house comes out of lockdown. Later we had a chat about all things pandemic and his anxieties. Clearly we won’t be dropping our local procedures for a considerable time. Putting aside the merits of homeschooling debate, I just can’t see how he cope function in a public environment any time soon. Certainly not in a crowded school at the start of September. Thankfully the concerts we were due to see have been cancelled. (The Who, Whitesnake, Foreigner, Europe, Aerosmith, Hollywood Vampires). We are down to just two in October now. Deep Purple and Ozzy. But I just can’t see them happening as well.

So maybe we start to adopt a mindset that actually our enforced house and garden lockdown will last into 2021. Will need to think about that. What additional things do we have to put in place to ensure that we both can continue to enjoy life for all those months. Maybe that industrial sized ice cream and slush puppy machine is not such a far fetched idea……

Not had a rant for days…..

I came outside to look at the roses. And breathe..

The UK Government has a natural ability to take the breathe away. What are the words I am looking for

Self-serving

Incompetence

Charlatan

Criminally negligent

Fraud

Part timers

Out of their depth

Nest of vipers

Dangerous

Liars

Elitist

One rule for the many, doesn’t apply to them

When you think it can’t get any worse and then they take it a new level……

So on the 4th July Britain is open for business again. Something we all can sign up to if it’s done properly and safely. But this is Boris Johnson we are talking about. The laziest and most inept Prime Minister in over 150 years. So here are just a few nuggets of his so called plan

  • The governments own scientists have warned against easing restrictions too soon. If we do the safe way is to do that carefully and in small stages. The PM has said oh tish to that. British wartime spirit apparently is all we need to follow. It clearly does help a leaders senses when he has rich backers and views the world through the bottom of an empty champagne glass….
  • For months we have been told that masks are a waste of time and that we should be keeping at least 2 metres apart. Suddenly 1m is cool as long as your wear those marvellous masks (but only if you really want to).
  • Since March we have been told that the key to beating this virus is the Tracking and Tracing App. Rather than go with the Google and Apple one we decided to give a contract to friends of the Government. This world class app was promised to go live in April, then May, then June. Then suddenly it’s dropped because it didn’t work (not the Government’s fault of course, it was all down to those pesky people at Apple). Now it won’t be ready until the winter but it’s ok as it was never a priority – everyone must have repeatedly misheard the PM and the Health Secretary …..
  • This scene according to the PM is perfectly safe, carries no pandemic risk and so can happen freely (this was our nearest beach yesterday) …..
  • However this scene is not allowed, carries huge pandemic risks and deemed unsafe….
  • People are not allowed to attend live theatre due to the risks yet our PM is delighted to allow pubs to open. The PM clearly trusts Joe Bloggs and his drunken mates to act responsibly and stay 1m apart at all times (wearing a mask) after 10 pints of strong lager.

But no they haven’t finished yet. Apparently schools will reopen fully in September. The plan is to ditch all social distancing rules for children. All we need to do is to tell the kids not to sneeze on others. Squeeze them back into cramped classrooms and act as if nothing has changed. Just in case each class should try not to spend too much time with other classes. Really. It’s ok for the Government as they send their kids to private schools where class sizes are less than 15, here social distancing can still happen. But not for the state schools with class sizes of over 30. In fact the PM has dropped rules so that the class sizes can go much higher than 30. If teachers become sick then you can just have supersized classes.

Well they can just sod off. They are no Government of mine. Time to bunker down.

So back to the roses and breathe.