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.

Call

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…

Boring

Dragging

Tiring

Fruitless

Frustrating

Dull

Monotonous

Wearisome

Mind-numbing

Soul-destroying

Insipid

Stupefying

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….

Birds of prey

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.

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.

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…..

Worrying

It’s been a while since I ran past here. Beautiful Castle Howard. Looking back at the dates on the photos it was February 2020.

I’m the kinda person who worries. Often imagine the worst things. All that can go wrong (not often looking at all that could go right). That Marvel Dr Strange thing. Endlessly going through all the potential scenarios. Well the bad ones. But back those 14 months as hard as I tried I would not have ever envisioned the crazy and awful events which did take place. A pandemic. Lockdowns.

So what is the point of worrying about what might or might not happen down the line. It doesn’t help at all in the long run. Especially as the worrying is not an exact science.

The other thing is that worrying just about the potential bad stuff misses all the potential great stuff that could happen. Even with the pandemic. It’s been dreadful but look at all the fantastic people who have stepped up and done wonderful things. The heroes helping others. The sacrifices many have been prepared to make for the greater good.

Going forward surely if I’m going to try and think about the future I would be better off starting first with all the potential good stuff that might happen. That sounds like a plan.

Summer

Cold, cold, cold but sunny.

Can’t believe the break from school is almost over. As Hawklad isn’t ready to go back we go again on the school at home project. Wait for it. Using my fingers to count past 10 I think Monday will be the 212th home at school teaching day. Does that make me a proper teacher now…..

I must admit there feels like there is quite a lot of schooling fatigue on both the pupil and the parent now. If this was true homeschooling then now would be the time for changing things up. But it isn’t so lessons start again at 840am on Monday. The weekend will be spent trying to complete holiday homework.

It might just be about limping through until the summer break. This summer feels like it’s the crucial time. Can’t see him returning to school before then. So summer is when we either fully commit to homeschooling or we try to move closer to a return to the classroom.

The process will be tough enough….

The last thing we need is a self righteous horse whip clown determined to use children as a way to become PM. To appear the hard man. Wanting to take schools back to Victorian values. A clown who is trying to now push through changes to extend the school day, reduce school holidays, increase homework and drive through increased discipline.

If I’m honest I’m not looking forward to the next few months.

Sea

I was born by the Sea. Brought up by the sea. When I’ve been struggling in life I have often headed towards the Sea to breathe. A brilliant place to head to as a parent. Some of my best times have been by the Sea.

Even when I moved inland I would frequently find a way back for a few precious hours. Then life happened. A Pandemic changed everything. It must be over 18 months since my last trip to the Sea now. My longest time away.

So when life changes again AND IT WILL – guess where I’m heading.