Another early start. This time a seriously early one. A perfect insomniac storm. 3am. Hawklad has woken and can’t sleep. I have not been to bed yet and sleep feels a million miles away.
Hawklad wonders if we can see the dawn brake. On the coast.
So a few moments later and after I had sampled the meanest of espressos, we are driving. Driving past badgers, foxes and owls. Before 4am we arrive at RSPB Bempton Cliffs. It’s still pitch black and we have the site to ourselves. It’s such an eerie feeling walking in the complete absence of light and sound. Even to early for the thousands of seabirds perched precariously on the cliffs. No wind and even the sea was strangely becalmed.
In perfect time to watch dawn brake. No thoughts of an Albatross who was apparently out at sea. Who needs one bird when you get to watch all this unfold.
The dark was a challenge to my iPhone camera but it gave it a go.
By 7am a few people had started to arrive, mainly here to take up prime spots and wait. Hoping on catching sight of one particular bird. They had no idea what they had just missed. The deafening sound of seabirds hides the peace that existed just 2 hours ago.
We were back in the car and driving a few minutes later. The site had lost its appeal to Hawklad. Even a handful of strangers proving too much for him. But he had got to see a spectacular show first hand. Just the two of us so without his anxieties. He slept during the ride home.
Yes it was a ridiculously early start. Yes I went more than 24 hours without sleep. But it was worth it for those couple of hours when Hawklad felt that he had the world to himself. I suspect it won’t be the last time we do this. Yes there will be time for trips out to build those social bridges but those come with anxieties. We all need these times and places of sanctuary. Hawklad does. Yes even a worn down parent needs them.
Somedays you end up looking back more than you look forward….
That brief rain shower had passed through a earlier. A heavy squall but soon no evidence on the ground that it happened. Just a receding cloud on the horizon.
Yes it’s been one of those days.
Reflecting on life rather than looking forward. I know it’s not good for me. Can so easily descend into a world of full on melancholy Pink Floyd and Leonard Cohen lyrics.
I did try to refocus. Do stuff but so much is really working today. I even got a pencil and blank piece of paper out to write out some short term goals. An hour later no writing just a brown circle matching perfectly the base of the coffee cup which had found its way onto the paper.
Signs of a half empty coffee cup on a so called sheet of Hope…….
Pants…. gone all Leonard Cohen and Roger Waters on you already.
Yep somedays are like that….
But then I remember what is important. Truly important to me. I smile. Even on days like, the sun can shine.
In years gone by if I needed to think. Be with my thoughts. I would go for a run. Maybe go climbing. Those things worked best for me. But then parenting and then single parenting curtailed the climbing option. It was then running. Fell running to collect and process my thoughts. Often I would start a run then become lost in my thoughts. Only the alarm on my watch would bring me back to reality. I would be miles into the hills and it would be a mad sprint to get back home for the return of the school bus.
Then the pandemic happened. We went into our family lockdown. So far 16 months of a lockdown. I lost running. But I didn’t lose my need to think. So I discovered the joys of leaning against our back garden fence. Thinking while looking over the fields and scanning the distant horizon from a little hill top home.
So this morning I was leaning on the fence. Thinking. Looking at a distant beautiful tree. Dreaming.
But then I was joined. Someone decided to invade my space and block my view.
I’m can’t really see the tree now. I’m having to stroke and feed this one. I’m telling this cow my dreams. She seems udderly fascinated. Or maybe she’s herd then all before. Definitely deja moo…
Yes it’s another one of those massive, multi lane Yorkshire motorways.
We are a couple of weeks into the start of trying to help Hawklad build bridges back towards the wider world again. It started with us taking the mad dog for a walk at night. Nighttime as it would be quiet with no other people out and about. Small steps in breaking out of walls that surround our little house and garden. The isolation which started 15 months ago.
We quickly realised that actually it’s always pretty quiet here, not just at night. So we started going for the walk a little earlier. Now nearer 7pm. Guess what. We still hardly see another soul. Currently that’s perfect for Hawklad. Very rarely we see a farmer or another dog walker. When that happens Hawklad immediately turns on his heels and heads quickly home in the opposite direction.
The other thing is that Hawklad doesn’t like to walk on the path. Just doesn’t feel comfortable doing that. So we walk on the road. Our massive and very busy road….
Well you can see just how big our road is. Just how busy it really is can be gauged on one fact. We have been walking every night straight down the middle of the road. Not once have we encountered a vehicle. The road is ours….
That’s such a cool feel. Such a cool feel for both of us. I can concentrate fully on talking and in the quiet bits, on dreaming.
Bereavement and loss changes everything. My previous life foundations came crashing down. As I sat battered and dazed amongst the wreckage it was just impossible to see clearly. All I could think about was what was lost and how on earth was I going to be able to function as a single parent. My autocorrecttried to change that to single patient – that works as well.
I’ve talked about the impact on DREAMS many times. In the rubble of my former life , dreams and hopes were extinguished. All I could see was nothingness. My dreams had been stolen from me.
It’s now nearly 5 years on. I’m still clearing away the rubble but a new life has started to be built. Here’s what is sometimes forgotten. My old life was far from perfect. It had many issues, many downsides. I couldn’t rebuild the old life if I wanted to. Yes for too many months I did try to do that. Finally I realised the reality. Maybe just maybe I could learn from the past and not make the same mistakes again. Maybe this time I could build a new and improved life. Dreams and hopes play a huge part in that process.
YES they are back. Back stronger than ever. Ok they might seem like pipe dreams. They might seem really unlikely to ever happen. But that doesn’t make them any less important to me. They are a key part of my rebuilding process. Let’s see where those wonderful dreams and hopes take me.
Do you remember when school holidays meant time off for our kids….
Hawklad and I received emails from school this morning. The emails set out the times of the upcoming year exams. Straight after the half term week holiday. The emails listed all the areas which each pupil are expected to cover in revision. The revision also includes mandatory online tasks that won’t be marked but will be monitored by teachers. All tasks are expected to be completed. The email stressed that they are expecting pupils to undertake significant work levels over the week off…..
To be fair to school they are only following Government guidelines and instructions. The Government has repeatedly spoken of its desire to increase the length of the school day and reduce the number of school holidays. It believes children have too much time off. They have it too easy…..
Parents will have differing views on this. I think you might be able to guess my take on this. I think it’s all BS…… Making pupils work harder and longer is just a smokescreen for covering up the failings of our current school system. Too many trumped up experts getting jobs as politicians, thinking they know best. It shouldn’t be about the quantity of teaching, it should be about the QUALITY of the education.
Ban politicians from education. Let teachers teach… Let Headmaster run the school. Involve the pupils and parents fully. Reverse the trend to test at every level just to populate government performance league tables. We are even testing 5 year olds for pity sake. If the politicians want to do something useful then they should concentrate on finding the resources to help specialists deal with the growing mental health crisis amongst our children.
And above all. Let children enjoy their childhood.
How I start the day makes such a massive difference to me. My day seems to go better if I exercise early in the morning rather than after lunch. Get my breakfast right and my dieting becomes easier. Avoid caffeine first thing and I feel less on edge for the rest of the day.
But there is one morning thing above anything else that has the biggest impact on my day.
How I wake up.
Do I wake up under my own steam or am I suddenly woken by some external factor. The pesky alarm…..
If I wake up naturally, even if that’s after a night of little sleep then I’m usually good to go. The day seems in synch. Even nights without any sleep at all, I find work ok for me. I can do this single parenting gig.
But if the alarm brings me abruptly to life and it’s all so very much different. Today was like that. Not much sleep until after 5am and then I crash out. All too soon the noisy alarm ends the dreams. But it has not brought the real me to life, it’s the zombie version of me. I can barely function, certainly can’t think straight, parenting is seemingly beyond me. That feeling of being completely out of synch stays with me all day. These are the days I really struggle to overcome depression.
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’.####
Time does slip by. Sometimes as fast as those clouds wizzing across the Yorkshire sky.
As a kid one of the things I wanted to be was an Astronomer. I remember the look on the career advisors face when I would mention that. It was definitely a ‘that ain’t happening so stop being silly’ kinda look. Actually the career advisor only ever had a few options to suggest. Work in the local steel works, work in the local chemical plant, work in a factory, work in a shop, join the army or the truly gifted might even pushed towards a job in the local bank branch.
Ok no Astronomy job did turn up. But I did eventually buy myself a small telescope. But the Yorkshire clouds, sleep and then parenting restricted the times it was used.
The telescope is still with me. Battered and a bit out of focus. Now is that describing the scope or its user….. If I’m not using the scope much so there is no point buying a better one. But I did set myself a goal of using it a bit more over the winter months. When the skies get darker for longer. The best time to gaze up.
Time slips by….
That telescope has not been out all winter. I thought about it a few times but there was always an excuse. There was always a tomorrow. Now winter has gone.
I was reading a news article about home schooling during the lockdown. A government politician was quoted as saying basically that all children needed to be in the classroom. No exceptions. Pupils discipline and grades had deteriorated during lockdown. Homeschooling could never work properly.
Ok so the last year must have a write off for Hawklad
Well let’s think about that…… Over the last year his grades have gone UP. So well that he was moved up sets. Look at his best subject. A year ago he could talk for days about British medieval history. He could name and describe every English monarch. He could talk well about Roman history. A year later he can still do that but now listen to him confidently talk American, European and Chinese history. Listen to him talk about recent world history, Classical Greek times…. you get the picture.
He’s expanded his knowledge on the animal kingdom.
He’s getting great marks now in English Literature. Macbeth, Animal Farm are well within his grasp.
A year ago we were fighting to get him support for his dyslexia. He needed assistance to read even the simplest text. A year at home and he hardly ever needs to ask for help with reading. He can do it himself. Yes he has to skip some words but now he can read articles on line. He can read books now. Slowly yes, but read definitely. 7 years of classroom teaching and he’s made the leap forward at HOME.
I’m no superman. No Yoda. No expert in teaching. Watch me look blankly in most subjects. I’m a bang average parent. Homeschooling has just suited Hawklad. He’s more relaxed. Can pace around. Can jump around subjects. Take breaks. Look at things he wants to. No pressure asking questions, no anxiety putting his have up in front of an overcrowded classroom. It just works for him.
Here’s the thing, the traditional classroom will suit some children. But not everyone. So why do THEY force all kids through the same hoops. Through the same moulds. Through the same exam routes. If the last 12 months has taught us anything it’s that we need to cater for all children. One path just isn’t enough.