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.
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.
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.
The mobile phone is leading a charmed life. Yesterday it found its way into the garden refuse bin. Today as I weeded suddenly the little bucket next to me I was filling with weeds started playing music. Never been so thankful for one of those nuisance marketing call.
With the mobile safely back in my pocket. I got back on with the job of weeding.
Then another call. A work call. 60 minutes worth of …… what’s the word I’m looking for. I can think of a few, some I can even safely write down…
After 60 minutes I was so tempted to switch the mobile off and voluntarily drop it back in the garden waste bin. I’m old enough to remember a time before mobile technology AND today I vote for going back to then….
It’s been too long. Far too long since Hawklad got to do his favourite ever activity. Handling birds of prey.
He’s done this a few times. Sadly not enough. Hawklad is someone who struggles with social encounters. He finds it difficult to build up trust in others. It takes time and patience. But he can and does. He forms really close bonds with those he develops trust with. Real lasting friendships.
It’s so different with Birds of Prey. Instantly establishing a bond. Complete confidence and trust. Even getting to stroke the chest of one raptor who the falconer said that it had taken him months of effort to build up the same level of trust.
That’s why in an ideal world Hawklad will get to fulfil his dream of having his own falconry and rescue centre. And we all know dreams can come true. There is always hope.
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…
Below average attainment
Some discipline issues
Can’t sit still
Behind national targets
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
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.
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.