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.
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…
It’s nearly 1pm. I need to pinch myself. Is it really a school day. School at home day. So far absolutely nothing from school this week. No lesson material, no assigned work, no idea what the class is doing. Nothing. That’s three blank lessons so far.
It’s been that quiet we even checked to make sure we hadn’t got the dates wrong and school is on holiday. But no, it’s a full school day.
“What shall I do Dad then….”
Well as we have no idea what his class was doing. No idea even what subjects the class was looking at. It’s a blank sheet of paper. A good chance for Hawklad to set the agenda. Take control of what he learns. So I said what any self respecting Dad would say.
Well Son you can go and wash my car……
“No Dad. What school work shall I do.”
What one subject do you most want to learn about.
“History, definitely history. Second World War.”
Ok spend the morning indulging yourself in the that. And when you finish. You can get off your backside, go outside and clean my car 😂😂😂
And that’s what he did. He studied the Nuremberg War Trials. He so far hasn’t got round to cleaning my car. But here’s the problem. He’s taller than me so I can’t really put my foot down anymore. I might just have to do that job myself.
It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly virtual trip to glorious Switzerland. A country which means the world to our little family. My partners family have had strong connections with the country since before the Second World War. It started with a young chap being sent to The Alps to recover from a serious chest illness. It continued with members of the Quaker family working with injured serviceman charities . Then my partners mum and dad holidaying here every year while staying with close friends. Then my partner would go there on family holidays. I was then introduced to the wonders of Switzerland and finally Hawklad was.
Life moves on. That connection with Switzerland now rests just with me and Hawklad. A connection that we both are keen to treasure and keep going.
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.
A quick look at this mornings weather forecast sent me scurrying outside to cut the grass. Thankfully not cutting the farmers fields. I will leave that up to the cows.
I’ve heard of sleep walking but never heard of sleep mowing…. But it felt like I was doing that this morning. Today has been hard work. The body and mind have started to grind to a halt on the back of not enough sleep. Last night it was one our kip. Similar to the night before. And the one before that……
I won’t show you my attempt at nice straight lawn stripes. Think more Salvador Dali and his Persistence of Memory painting.
Add to sleep mowing, today I added sleep working, sleep parenting and sleep housework.
I have been barely functioning today. Not ideal when your trying to explain Double Replacement Chemical reactions. So add either sleep teaching or sleep chemistry. It’s odd what ever I did today resembled a Salvador Dali creation.
Maybe I’ve sussed out the secret of Salvador success. Maybe he wasn’t an artistic pioneer. Maybe he couldn’t sleep, he did sleep painting.
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.
A beautiful little leaning tree we pass on the dog walk… A favourite watering hole of a mad four legged one. No wonder it leans. It leans but it still has a purpose.
I was looking at an email sent from school setting out the upcoming year end exams. Day after day of exams. Often two a day. But what is the purpose. Whose purpose do they represent. Are they really Hawklad’s purpose. Apart from History, Geography, English and Maths, would he freely choose the other subjects. Would he put himself through these exams. Even with his favourite subjects, would he not focus on other areas rather than the predetermined ones set for him by the Government.
A Government Minister was waffling on about how our children should be focusing on this subject and that subject. They were doing too much of this and not enough of that…. Has he bothered to ask what the children want. He’s thinking about the purpose specified by the economy, not the purpose which necessarily the children would pick for themselves.
Ok I get the point of learning the basics but why should some out of touch numpty in London determine which subjects my child is taught. Determine which areas are looked at. Which textbooks are read. Set the teaching method. Determines how much religious education is taught. What art is studied. Basically setting everything…..
Surely he can’t be still going on about work emails……yep those work emails often more about social nights out…..
Trips to pubs, meals out at restaurants. Even growing excitement for some to returning to nightclubs.
Each to their own…..
Since life changed for me these things seem like alien concepts to me. It’s been years since I’ve been to a pub, to sit down at a restaurant. Actually I don’t think that I’ve been a to nightclub this century… it’s that long that when I last went they were still called DISCOS…. My only social outings now are the occasional football match or rock concert.
Parenting, Aspergers Parenting, Bereavement, Single Parenting, Reduced size of the close family support network. These all contribute to a different social life. A struggle at first but not anymore. I’m relaxed about my changed social life.
So if you offered me a free pass out today. Definitely no pub. Definitely no nightclub. Probably no sit down at a restaurant. Actually probably no football now. Yes a concert would be fun. But this afternoon I would definitely take one option. Sat on a seafront, maybe sat on a beach. Tucking into a takeaway. Enjoying salty fish and chips. Thinking just how lucky I really am.