Autumn

Damp, dark, chilly and windy. Definitely Autumn in Yorkshire. it also means places like The Yorkshire Arboretum will be unusually quiet. That’s the perfect time for Hawklad to have a relaxing visit. It’s good when he feels like he just about has a place to himself. That makes such a difference to him.

And it did.

And it made all the difference to his old Dad as well.

Can’t beat the quiet, can’t beat nature, can’t beat the autumnal colours.

7 days

Sun setting on another day. Looking at the forecast I think the sun is going on holiday for a few days and that holiday won’t be taken in Yorkshire.

It’s now a week off from school and the school at home project. Much needed. The last 7 weeks have been a grind. Lots of hard work and pushing, feeling like it’s lots of effort just to stand still. This week off needs to be about recharging the batteries. Letting Hawklad be himself, try to make it as fun as possible for him. Maybe even catch up with a little bit of Dad sleep. That alarm clock is definitely being switched off for a few days.

So I looked out across the hillside and across the Vale. Looking West towards the setting Sun which was briefly illuminating a strong, resilient tree. We can do this. So many wonderful moments can still be played out. Dreams are out there. Dreams can happen. It can be a wonderful life. It really can be.

Waterproofing and holidays

That’s a proper Yorkshire view. A midday view… It’s going to be a right test of your wind and waterproofing.

Much shaking of the heads this morning. A teacher sent a brief revision guide ahead of an exam straight after the half term. Notes on the areas covered so far. Worryingly 3/4s of those areas are new to Hawklad. Just how much of class learning hasn’t been shared with him. Just how far behind is he falling. AND school don’t know as they are clearly not tracking his progress. Not one teacher has asked. How much of his submitted work is being marked. Often the only marking is where the answers are provided and Hawklad has to mark his own work.

Much shaking of the head….

So Hawklad has a much needed week off in a few days. Much needed for pupils, teachers and parents. These are tough times to be at school. So much stress, anxiety and pressure. That week off is needed.

Over that week Hawklad has to revise for 5 core subject tests that happen within the first 2 days of his return. That’s a shed load of revision over the holiday.

What is the issue with letting our children have true time off to actually enjoy themselves. Oh I forgot, Victorian Hard Work Ethics are good for society. Well I’m sorry if our Prime Minister can have a week off in a luxury holiday destination, painting his watercolours, unavailable for work, WELL surely our children can as well.

River

The rivers are starting to fill up again. Much more rain and it will flood. Autumn is definitely here

How cool must it be to have boat at the end of your garden. Cool I guess until the boat starts floating in the house.

But it is a beautiful river.

We took a trip out to a local historic site. The weather wasn’t great so we hoped that it would be quiet. When we arrived there were just too many cars for Hawklad’s liking. A walk round the ruins was out of the question.

But on the other side of the river was a quiet but very muddy footpath. That was definitely quiet enough for Hawklad to give it a go.

And it was so worth it…

Yes is important that Hawklad continues on his road to managing his anxieties but it’s much more important that he enjoys himself. Sometimes the quiet, secluded path is best for that.

And you just never know what you might find.

Painful

Beautiful walk but why did I do it in shorts. Those thistles are painful on the shins.

I’m trying to work out what’s more painful

The Dentist…

OR

School…

Unusually this time it’s not physical pain with the Dentist. Just pain on the wallet. How much for no work. Here is another thing. When the Hygienist is talking like at a million miles an hour about life, the universe, homeschooling. How did she remember that I’m a single dad with Hawklad at home. When she is firing questions at me about how I’m doing…what’s school doing….. will he go back….have you seen the Bond movie….

What is the protocol for responding. Do I just nod. Do I do someform of eyelash/eyebrow morse code. Do I try to talk as she is prodding around my teeth. Do I wait and save the answers up until she has finished.

It’s all beyond me.

The pain of school……

Hawklad asked a teacher a civil question about some lesson work. The teacher’s response was much less civil. Actually very sarcastic. Basically saying ‘what’s the point answering that if you can’t be bothered to send in any homework’. Hawklad stood his ground and said that he had submitted all the work to date. Teacher came back with ‘wrong, I’ve not seen anything from you all year’. Angry Dad got involved providing screen copies of all the work submitted, in the right location. Sarcastic Dad sensing blood added a screen copy of one piece of homework which showed clearly that the very same teacher had actually marked that piece of work. The words ‘Full Marks’ with the teachers signature next to it. Eventually a sheepish teacher replied ‘I might have been a little quick with those email’s’. Righteous Dad pointed out that the teacher hadn’t bothered to mark any of the other work Hawklad had submitted……

If only it was just one subject and just one teacher that I have had a run in with this week…. Much groaning which actually was probably the sound I made trying to respond to the hygienist while she was scraping around my teeth

Yes definitely today – The pain of school is far worse…….

Frustration

This week has been frustrating. So frustrating.

It’s been as tough a week that I can remember on this school at home project. Links with a number of teachers have become very strained. I bet the teachers are as desperate for the upcoming week break as we are.

Work has been a struggle. What can you do when so many are off with Covid. Not enough people still standing to cover the jobs. As much as I move the pieces around I’m always going to be short. Oh yes, sorry, apparently the pandemic is over….

My diet is a struggle. It’s a gluten and dairy free life for me at present. Yet those items are strangely unavailable at our local stores. Clearly the gluten free wagons are stuck somewhere trying to get into this brexit wonderland. I guess it’s a week of mostly jacket potatoes. I know what Matt Damon feels like in The Martian now….

Wow I need a break. But that break seems further away than ever. If only I could be Boris Johnson. Tell everyone we are in this together, take £20 a week off the poorest in our country then jump on a jet for a weeks painting and drinking at a Billionaires pad in the sun.

Dreams of a much better life are there. Stronger than ever. Just not this week. Not any time soon. Need to be patient.

Sleep. I find it’s a commodity vastly overrated but actually much needed….

And yet…..

If I just look up it’s amazing what I can find even on a 1 minute walk to the postbox.

There is always something to hold on to. There is always hope. When I focus on what really matters to me. The amazing in my life. I realise actually it’s still a wonderful life. Yes I’m ready to go again…..

Purple

Still some flower action here in October.

I remember sitting in small meeting room as a Doctor and a Psychologist talked through Aspergers. How would it effect the future and parenting. A word that kept being mentioned was COMORBIDITY. Aspergers frequently co-exists with other additional conditions. It all depends on the individual. Sometimes you can work on one piece of the jigsaw, other times you have to look at the bigger picture.

Dyslexia, ADHD, Dyspraxia, OCD.

But the single most life affecting word

ANXIETY.

Social anxieties, health anxieties, anxieties.

It’s a constant struggle for Hawklad. The struggle is much harder during a pandemic. More anxieties all around him. But it’s not just about focusing on covid fears. As he briefly gets on top of one anxiety, another one takes over. Last night he struggled with

– infection fears,

– wider health fears,

– fears about touching surfaces and objects,

– return to school anxieties,

– anxieties about random lights in the sky,

– unexplained noises,

– eating anxieties,

– pet anxieties,

– school work,

– meeting strangers,

– life in general.

It’s a constant struggle. Reassuring, trying to manage the environment, talking. Some things the parent can help with but it’s Hawklad’s battle. Somethings need input from experts like Psychologist. Somethings just need a bit of help from life. Some fears may come and go, some fears may be overcome, some fears may become stronger, new fears may appear. It could be a life long battle for him. Over time let’s hope he can develop a range of techniques and strategies to help him manage his own anxieties. The parent is getting older. Soon what support he does get will vanish from the experts. In the UK adults are expected to ‘just get on with it’. That’s Britain for you.

Questions

Amazingly we got a marked test paper back from school. That’s a first this year.

The score was down on his usual grades for the subject but…..

its a really good score considering that some of the marking seemed extremely picky and harsh. But I guess that’s what happens after you mark so many papers at home, at night. Police Corruption is wrong, Police Detective Corruption gets full marks.

it’s a really good score given it’s a subject where the content has been anxiety inducing madness this term.

it’s a really good score given…..

Exam questions are often vaguely worded but the marking schemes are often precisely prescribed. Misinterpret the question wording and it could be zero marks. Here’s the thing, Hawklad will read a question and see the problem from his point of view. Not wrong at all, just a different interpretation. His take on the world. Teachers have often used the phrase to Hawklad ‘you read that question WRONG’. Which is odd in that I often agree with Hawklad’s take on a question. Happened in this exam, TWICE. Two questions, two zero marks. Hawklad’s answers don’t tick any of the prescribed answers or words. Yet I think Hawklad’s interpretation is completely valid. His answers were really good but dismissed as invalid.

I sometimes think in this country, children are taught how to think, not encouraged TO THINK.

Morning

A brief bit of blue between the rain.

A time to pause.

This is version 2 of this post. The first was I guess similar in tone to many of my recents posts. I can summarise it in one line

Well if you don’t look at his submitted work then what is the point…..

But maybe I’m missing something. What happens if I look at the issue from a different angle.

Years ago I worked with a guy who was a right pain in the backside. He avoided work, blocked initiatives, sucked the life out of the organisation. But I got to know him. He wasn’t always like that. He was once keen, dedicated, wanted to make a difference. But years of rejection, failures, dead ends and broken promises took their toll. Eventually it changed him, drained him.

I have been hard on some of the teachers at school, as I am frustrated that Hawklad isn’t getting the support that he needs. But here’s the thing. In my country Teachers are undervalued and underpaid. They have become the whipping boys for the Government and the Media. Teachers are not allowed the freedom to teach. They are told by the Government what to teach, how to teach it and what learning sources to use. The syllabus is rammed full. They have to teach often in out dated classrooms with insufficient resources and support. Class sizes are too large often with teachers trying to teach something like 30 pupils. Teacher performance is measured purely on narrow measures set by the Government. With all this, is it any surprise that Hawklad isn’t getting the support I think he needs. Teachers are like pupils, just cogs in the system that is about the needs of the economy. It’s not about the needs and dreams of individual pupils.

No wonder that those kids who need support, don’t get it. That’s modern education in Britain.

Jam

Traffic meltdown in Yorkshire the other day. Hawklad, Captain Chaos and Muppet Dad had to walk past a toad on the road. Proper Traffic Jam during the morning rush hour. It’s a tough modern life here……

Do you think I miss city life…..

Would I miss school at home parenting…….

Another mad day…….

An email from school informing parents that they will need to fork out for a new school iPad which will be used during teaching. Three years ago we forked out for the last one.

More school emails about highly recommended study materials which can be (they probably should say, need to be) purchased. It’s not cheap this parenting lark.

An email from a teacher. The teacher asked Hawklad to stay in touch. That’s interesting as that very teacher hasn’t yet provided any teaching resources to Hawklad at any time this term……

4 remote lessons today. One completely missing. One mostly missing, maybe 5 minutes work provided. One sent a few questions, Hawklad completed them in 30 minutes (teacher sends questions but never marks any work Hawklad submits). One sent a few documents. One very detailed learning materials sent and followed up.

Would I miss homeschooling….. Yes I would

Would I miss school running homeschooling……. Most certainly NOT.