Big Step Tuesday

Tomorrow could be called Big Step Tuesday.

Hawklad hasn’t been to school since March 2020. Not been within one mile of the site. That’s a long time to be away. School at home has replaced it. But tomorrow maybe that starts to change.

We have tentatively setup a school visit. After school closes tomorrow, we will drive through the school gates and park up. Just doing that would be a huge step forward. Then just maybe Hawklad will venture into school. A school with no other pupils and have a walk round. A teacher will walk with him if it helps. Or his muppet dad can. Or he can walk around himself. Whatever he feels most comfortable with. He could stay for an hour or he could spend just a couple of minutes. It’s all about trying to rebuild bridges.

Yes it could be a big step towards a school return in September. Or it could confirmation that September is too soon. Or even it could be further evidence that full homeschooling is the way forward.

Yes Big Step Tuesday.

End of school year

We received an email from school. When the school reopens in September all COVID restrictions will go, in line with Government instructions. No masks, no support bubbles, no social distancing. Not the best time for Hawklad to potentially return. Hawklad who because of his anxieties will be looking for the reassurance of masks, space and safety measures.

How much social pressure will Hawklad be under to ditch his mask. Too much. It’s like the idea that he would put up his hand in class and ask for help with reading words. As much as he needed the help, putting that hand up in front of 30 other pupils was never an option.

It’s such an unnecessary mess.

Deadline

The one thing we have been careful about is not putting deadlines on the way forward. Somethings can’t be rushed. They have to happen in their own time frames especially as there are so many roadblocks out there. Especially when you get days where it’s one step forward and two back. That applies to my life just as much as it applies to Hawklad’s.

But it feels like a deadline is forming. The start of September. That sees the beginning of the new school year. But it’s different this year. His subject options have been picked. He is starting the final 21 month push towards his main exams. Fall behind now and it’s tough to catch up. This school year is hard enough even without anxieties and fears. Hard enough without having to worry about if it’s homeschooling or the classroom. Delaying a decision to return to the class adds so many complications. Hawklad would face the stress of returning to classes midway through the year. New classes. Different from the ones he left. Different faces. Established relationships and dynamics. That’s a real challenge for anyone but to someone with social anxieties, a nightmare.

Ideally September brings certainty. This is the start of how the learning and schooling goes until the exams. There shouldn’t be any sudden changes of approach. That’s why September feels like a deadline. A really tight deadline. Too tight. So many hurdles still to climb, so many bridges still to be rebuilt. Walking quiet country lanes although great progress is a million miles away from sitting without anxieties in overcrowded classrooms. Just under 8 weeks to do all that.

It’s also not much time to organise a full homeschooling approach leading to something meaningful for him.

Yes it feels like a deadline approaching fast.

Plan B

So our most viable plan of getting Hawklad out into the big bad world went up in smoke. And I mean up in smoke.

We are kinda back to the drawing board again. There isn’t another BK drive through in the area. Yes there are a couple of small BKs but they are a nightmare to get to, miles away and as he has never been inside them. So they aren’t really a viable option. He dislikes the other big burger restaurant chain. That’s definitely a Big Fat MacNoWay. He once went to a KFC but asked if they had anything else apart from Chicken. He likes pizza but has never found a pizza restaurant he is comfortable in. He will use the Taco Bell drive through but even before the pandemic hated the feel of the inside seating setup.

So we just don’t know what the new plan b will be. What’s that thing we can aim for. The benchmark to assess progress. We do need something, just don’t know what is now.

Didn’t see that coming

We pass that tree everyday on the mad dog walk. Actually it’s the mad dog pull. Near that tree is a gate that has a hidden wooden stake that trips me every couple of days. It’s been doing that for years…

We are slowly trying to reintroduce Hawklad back into the wider world. Trying to encourage him to build bridges in his own time. It’s not easy at the best of times but when a pandemic is still raging…….

One regular trip out has really helped. A trip to his favourite fast food restaurant. Before the pandemic it was the one place he would be comfortable eating inside with others. He is nowhere near ready to venture inside at present but he has built up the confidence for us to use the drive through. The plan was to keep coming here. Maybe more regularly during the summer holidays. It was the big hope for that first indoor adventure, a meal inside. Get to that stage and a classroom return might start to be in reach for him.

It’s that important it’s built into his health plan.

So we ventured there on Saturday afternoon. To find this.

The photo is from the local paper. The York Press.

It had burnt down on Friday. Thankfully no one was hurt but apparently it’s 60% to 80% destroyed . WE didn’t see that coming. Plan A out of the window. Plan B …… not really sure.

Dreams

Looking over the Vale of York I was pondering life. Pondering the wonderful things that I already have and what extra wonders might still come my way. I can definitely still dream big.

If you had asked me back in 2016 and 2017 I would have scoffed at the thought. Grief cruelly robbed me of many things including dreams. My dreams require a vision of future. Back then I could see no future, just a black void. I could only live through my son. It was his future and nothing else. Give him the happiest childhood possible. One day he would leave home and for me, that was it.

But with time dreams did come back and when they did it was like a dam bursting. I could hope again. I could see positive futures. Yes the old dreams are gone but new and very different dreams have replaced them.

Hope and dreams might be hidden but they are usually there somewhere. Maybe it just needs a bit of time and a period of pain. Maybe they need a chance meeting or a seemingly random event. But when dreams are rediscovered they might just be better than ever.

Odd choice

Thousands of years of history. A world of unique and fascinating areas for schools to study.

Hawklad’s favourite subject. He loves absorbing and living bygone places and events. Already he has an in-depth knowledge of Britain’s Kings and Queen’s dating back before 1066. He’s pretty hot on the Roman Empire. During lockdown he has developed real expertise in Hitler and German fascism. These all were developed largely without school help.

Now he us keen to expand his knowledge into ancient Egypt and the French Revolution.

It would be nice if the school system would run with this desire to learn. Sadly the UK state school system has developed a Henry Ford approach. You can have any learning as long as it’s only the one that is imposed on pupils. One learning fits all approach.

So what subjects will school history focus on for the remainder of his schools days.

Russian Tsars – ok Hawklad can live with that one

American Wild West ok

Victorian Crime and Punishment……

I’m sorry he has zero interest in that. Learning graphic details of the Ripper Crimes is not his thing. He struggles to even think about this area due to his anxieties. Effectively a third of his best subject course and exam is likely to cause him severe stress.

Of all the fantastic areas they could have picked and they went for this. When did History effectively become Criminology. So a complete school stay and no European history (apart from the two world wars), no ancient history. Here’s what really bugs me. Hawklad’s school history has failed to look at some of the great historical figures. Nero, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Martin Luther, Louis XIV, Charlemagne, Constantine the Great. Nothing. Yet Jack the Ripper gets shed loads of focus.

Some might want that, but many won’t.

Here’s a radical thought. Let the pupils have discretion to pick from a wide range of subject interests. That’s how you great a true lifelong spirit of learning.

Not sure

A return to school for Hawklad in September will have to be so carefully managed. To be fair to school they are happy to do what they can. Phased start. Days to suit Hawklad. Prepared to make adjustments where they can.

But here’s the problem.

The set teaching material.

Some topics will open old wounds, reignite anxieties. This could derail everything

Let’s take this weeks lessons.

Science exam questions on Cancer,

Science lessons on diseases,

History lesson researching the murders and causes of death of the victims of Jack the Ripper. The details are graphic,

A lesson on food poisoning,

A lesson on mental health and suicide.

That’s one week. I can manage this at home but how do you address this at school. I’m not sure at all.

Anxieties

Is traditional school based education possible for every child.

I’m thinking more and more about that.

Trying not to go over too much old ground but Hawklad has been off from school since March 2020. A combination of school lockdowns and extreme anxieties. Anxieties about health, about viruses, about people, about crowds.

He is really fortunate to have a Child Psychologist working with him. The Psychologist is clear that one of the biggest tasks Hawklad is facing is to start to unpick all these anxieties. See which ones can be addressed in the short term and those that are deeper engrained or are a part of his personality. This is a difficult at the best of times but trying to do this during a pandemic is a nightmare. And most certainly real progress on some of his health and virus anxieties will not happen while people need to wear masks, while their is still so much uncertainty and while people are catching the virus in their thousands each day. Yesterday here it was 27000 new cases and still 1800 in hospital. Sadly 22 deaths yesterday.

The Government is clear. Children have to return to the classroom immediately. Schools should not encourage homeschooling. Schools are perfectly safe. School COVID-19 cases are rising rapidly. At present there are over 400 confirmed cases in the country with somewhere between 10 and 20% experiencing serious symptoms or encountering Long COVID implications.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of schools being open with no additional safeguards one fact is clear. There are children out there who have severe anxieties or have underlying health conditions who shouldn’t be in school right now. We are fortunate in that we have a medical note that rules out a return to school at present. Many are not so fortunate.

Satisfaction guaranteed

I was sat blankly gazing at a featureless spreadsheet on my work laptop. It was all numbers, letters, formulas, data ranges and macros. A few changes here and a few changes there. It might balance soon.

Wow

I hate work.

No hang on let’s get that right. I hate this work. I hate accountancy. I hate using spreadsheets and word. I hate putting on a work face and being all professional. I hate hiding my incompetence and acting like I have the faintest idea what I’m supposed to be doing.

I work to pay the bills (well some of them 😂😂). That’s it.

It took me years to work out I was the official Mr Grumpy Work Pants. But actually the signs where always there. Wearing bright ties and waistcoats to try to be cool. Spending much of my life stressed out. Looking on enviously at other people and their jobs. Pilots, Mountain Guides, Astronomers, Health Professionals, Artists, Chefs. Reluctantly setting off for work every day. Only funding a spring in my step on a Friday afternoon as I leave work for a few days.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. We all have dreams and talents. Interests that can be made to work for you. I’ve heard parenting been described as an unpaid job. Well if it is then I love that job. Yes tiring but so rewarding.

I certainly don’t want Hawklad to get stuck in an unrewarding job. You invest too much time to waste that. I want him to live out his dreams. I don’t want him to be me. I want him to avoid the spreadsheets and get to smell the roses.