Go again.

Schooling often feels like a river. Sometimes it’s beautiful, sometimes frustrating and if you follow it then it takes you were the river wants to take you, not where you might want to get to.

I was talking to Hawklad yesterday about school and homeschooling. It’s his call what happens going forward. He will be doing school at home until Christmas. Then it’s time to make another call. Currently he just can’t see himself returning to the classroom in January but he’s not yet ready to call time on school. So it looks like we will start 2021 still in home at school mode.

If that’s the case then it’s time to start making some adjustments to the teaching delivery. Starting with French. The time the school allocates to learning things like perfect and imperfect tenses is just currently a waste of effort for Hawklad. So that time will be spent on using an online language learning app. Probably Rosetta Stone. I’d rather him pick up a few words that he might be able to use in the future than to parrot learn stuff just for one exam in two years time.

Time

I could wax lyrically about that wonderful Pink Floyd song, Time. All about how TIME can fritter away from people without them realising until it is too late.

I could talk about Dr Who. Mentioning that the first ever female Dr is also the first Yorkshire Time Lord.

But not today. We are talking about telling the time.

Hawklad has always struggled to read a clock or watch. It’s not for the want of trying. Different types of watches and clocks. Different styles. Nothing seemed to work. Analog time has just proved impossible to him. It’s taken years but he can very slowly read a digital 12 hour display. Not very accurately. He has to look at the display for many seconds before it seems to register. Even then it may need some further explanation.

It’s not just telling the time, it’s the concept of passing time. He struggles to get his head round what 20 minutes, or an hour or 3 hours actually means in practice. He was doing an assessment paper at home. I noticed that he had been on the first question for 30 minutes. When I told him that there was another 14 questions to do in the remaining time he couldn’t believe that he had spent that long on one question. To him it was just a couple of minutes. This kind of thing happens so very often.

Whether this is to do with Aspergers, or number dyslexia or just one of those things – we will never probably establish that. Just got to work round it. Find ways for Hawklad to cope with time.

Because he struggles to tell the time and then can’t comprehend how much time has passed, this stresses him out. Give him a time to work to and he starts to panic. As a result we often use something like a movie as our measure of time.

It’s bedtime at the end of this movie.

We need to get ready when this show finishes.

It will be 45 minutes when the game ends.

That’s why the TV is often on in the background. Not for entertainment, but as a timer. Where this leaves him with his pending exams and his adult life, who knows. But here’s the thing, he’s great at sticking to plans and following a series of steps in his head. If he could just get his head round time then he would be brilliant at project management.

It’s 40 minutes until he needs to start looking at his homework. Today that’s the end of Jumanji. Jumanji the Clock.

Decimal places

A lovely start to the day. Looks are deceiving. Over my shoulder was a mass of grey YUK rapidly heading towards us. And now…

Wet, cold, grey and just grisly.

Another thing which is grisly here is DECIMAL POINTS.

Hawklad is dyslexic. That’s both letters and NUMBERS. 4,6,7 and 9’s can be difficult for him. Somedays they are fine others not so good. This is so frustrating as he is really good at Maths.

Something which is never fine are those pesky DECIMAL POINTS. He just can’t process them. He can do really complex calculations yet struggles to do the simplest additions if you introduce DECIMALS. When it comes to schooling it’s just keeping those fingers crossed that DECIMALS just don’t appear. They can mess up Maths, Science, Geography and Computing lessons.

His Maths Assessment Scores fluctuate according to those pesky dots. His last score was 60% as there was a large section on rounding up decimals and standard notation. He did another paper yesterday. This time only one decimal appeared. From what I can see he got that question wrong but was perfect on the other 16 questions. That paper as a final in 2 and a half years time would be so cool for him.

Black Friday

Dad what on earth have you bought…”

Tibetan Singing Bowl Set — Easy to Play with Cushion & New Dual-End striker for Holistic Healing, Calming & Mindfulness ~ Antique Design

It’s a Tibetan Singing Bowl.

Why…..”

It was really cheap in a Black Friday sale.

Ok Dad but why….”

It offers a multi sensory path to enhanced meditation and spiritual enlightenment.

You’ve just read that from the label.”

Yep you busted me. It does sound good.

So does an 100 inch TV and that would be much more useful. ”

Yes but the TV would not be less than £10. So tomorrow you might catch me sat outside creating some beautiful vibrations and hypnotic, haunting moods.

Can I throw a bucket of water over you.”

What’s it feel like to have a really cool and hip Dad.

I wouldn’t know. I can talk about having a muppet as a parent.”

Ok, do you think I should just use it as an ornament.

“Yes Dad but that still doesn’t change the fact that you are a monumental muppet.”

No I guess it doesn’t, especially when you see what I’ve bought next…..

Eat chocolate

I received a lovely present today in the post. The government support package for Hawklad will expire soon. So I need to reapply. Helpfully they have sent the 50 page application form to complete. I can’t submit the old paperwork and need to have more recent assessments and evidence. That’s a nightmare at the best of times but during a pandemic!!!!!!!

Only thing for it….. A bar of dark chocolate, a decaf coffee and listen to some angry music. Today’s choice, the latest from Roger Waters. That’s one seriously cheesed off artist recording those songs. That fits as that’s the music I would make today. Normal people are forced to jump through hoop after hoop for their kids yet friends of the Government are awarded multi million pound contracts without any due process. Roger Waters would certainly get the irony.

Well I then made a start. Book an appointment for a new assessment from a Paediatrician. On the waiting list. That’s currently a one year wait and growing. It’s a start…. Where’s the next chocolate bar.

But here’s the really scary thing. Our Son is fortunate as he has had some support. We somehow battled through the intentionally difficult minefield to get that. So many are either unsuccessful or are just missed. That’s the children, adult support is almost none existent. Discarded by our society that has its priorities so badly skewed. What’s the answer. Certainly to keep fighting. Most definitely to eat chocolate.

Wean myself off

This was last year. One hour into my trail run. Apart from missing the exercise I hope you can see why I miss running free.

Eventually you have to accept reality.

Hawklad’s anxieties are still rising. More routine tasks are becoming more difficult for him. He can largely control the dynamics within our house and garden. Lots of washing, extensive quarantining of items and being careful what he touches. He is ok within his castle walls. He is not ok with me venturing out.

Beyond those walls and that’s a completely different world. An alien, dangerous world to him. His doctors are clear – this will take a very long time to start to address. It’s not going to start happening until a pandemic is well behind us and as one of our leading scientists pointed out – with a fair wind we may start returning to something like normal life at the end of 2021. That’s assuming the new vaccines work and roll out soon….

So for me the reality is that our personal lockdown will likely stretch through 2021 as well. My mindset has to change. Away from getting through the next few months TO living the much longer new reality.

So back to the photograph. Running has become a bit of a drug for me. Now I have to completely wean myself off that. I’m nearly there as it’s been so long without it. Time to permanently replace it with other things.

Short movies

Dad can we switch this movie off. I’m feeling very uncomfortable with this.”

Son loves Marvel movies but for some reason he just can’t handle Spider-Man Homecoming. It’s just that one movie. The other Spider-Man movies he really enjoys. Certain movies just throw him. It starts off with him fidgeting then he is not able to look at the screen. Then he starts to pacing about. Finally he has to leave the room until it’s switched. Last night a few minutes later he was happily watching a Wolverine movie.

I remember the first film he did this with. We had gone to see Hotel Transylvania at the cinema. Within 15 minutes we had left. We ended up watching another movie and he enjoyed it.

So some movies just get to him. The last Joker movie is another we switched off quickly yet he loves all the other Batman films, even the much darker ones.

It’s so unpredictable. Just can’t anticipate these movie meltdowns. The problem movies don’t have a common theme. Last year a nondescript Disney Christmas movie set him off. At Easter the Pixar movie UP caused another meltdown. It’s not that they are scary. They are not more sensory than other ones. Not louder and not more violent. It’s not about death. We have never been able to pin the reason down.

But at least he knows that as soon as he gets the feeling that a movie is wrong then he can just switch it off. No questions will be asked and we will find another one to watch.

Dad it’s like you and your football team.

He is so right. These days watching them play is deeply unsettling and often requires me to look the other way….

Hide behind the sofa.

Another grey and damp morning. Now where did I put that brilliant and always helpful Parenting Guide again…..

I had an email from school. One of those emails that immediately sent me scurrying for safety behind the sofa.

It’s a legal requirement for school to deliver sexual health education in Year 9. The education will be across a number of lessons. It will cover Relationships, Puberty, Sexual Transmitted Diseases, contraception and other sexual health issues.

As Hawklad is not in school, the teacher will send me the lesson materials and I was asked if ‘The parents would be ok delivering the material to your son…..”. Well that will be me then.

As I see it I have basically four options

Say No

Continue to hide behind the sofa

Deliver the material

OR just show him an episode of South Park.

Jim Morrison

Definitely been one of those mornings. One of those French mornings…..

It’s taken us 8 weeks to work out that class has been accessing a learning resource that we didn’t know about. So two months later Hawklad finds himself behind. I guess it was one of those things that was discussed in class but not passed on. Deep joy.

I can officially say that this subject has become a disaster.

Anyway I think the time it would take to catch up would be better spent on other activities. Maybe even playing with a non school sanctioned language app. Let’s see if we can find one that works for him. That would be a start. At least it would start to give him the basic skills and bugger the school tests in this subject.

I must admit that this so mirrors my time at school. I so struggled to learn French. Just wouldn’t stick. In the end sitting my final French exam was a bit of a Hail Mary Pass. Not much hope.

But strange things can happen.

Half the exam was the expected shambles. A series of random guesses really. Then the final question accounting for 40% of the marks. Read a long French newspaper article and answer questions in English. I should have had zero chance. But unbelievably the article was about Jim Morrison and The Doors. OMG I know every answer without reading the text.

Two months later I received my certificate in French. I had scraped a PASS. Must have got a perfect score on the final question and winged 10 marks from my other guesses. Yes I owe my French Qualification to Rock Music.

Groundhog Day again…

The weather is a bit stuck here.

This is basically it…..

Feeling stuck is often not a great feeling. Today I feel must definitely stuck. Stuck in Groundhog Day. It feels like that….

  • I tend to wake up at the same time and experience the familiar tiredness,
  • Sling open the curtains to see mist, greyness and everything dripping wet,
  • I get Hawklad up in the same way and set him up as usual for the home at school project,
  • The home at school hours pass in the same way. The same lessons requiring the same input. The usual lessons delivering the usual frustrations,
  • I cook Hawklad the usual food, repeating the same 7 day food cycle every week,
  • Every day looking over the fence and wondering what it would feel like to run free. Then shrugging my shoulders and start moaning about the weather,
  • The feeling of going round in circles during my exercise workouts. I tried to introduce yoga to freshen it up. But it’s often just the same poses performed in a slightly different order,
  • Spending ages trying to get the never ending cycle of washing to be semi dried on the radiators,
  • Opening up the work laptop and finding nothing in the to do list,
  • Listening to the same news. The same world problems. The same self deluded madmen hogging the headlines. The same lies,
  • Going through the same quarantine procedures with post and deliveries,
  • Feeling the same frustration with hobbies. As hard as I try to learn German and the Piano, each day I seem to be back at square one again,
  • Going round in circles trying to get the support Hawklad needs to truly flourish. Failing and then trying to provide that support in my untrained, and rather random way,
  • Realising it’s another day isolated,
  • Venturing out at night to hopefully look at the stars to only find the mist has turned into heavy rain,
  • Trying to keep myself awake during the evening movie then finding sleep escaping me as we move beyond midnight.

Definitely feels like Groundhog Day.

But here’s the hope. Just like in the wonderful Bill Murray movie it is still possible to break the cycle eventually. Just got to keep trying. Forcing myself to experiment with what alternatives are available. Remembering the good dreams. Yes one day 6.00am will bring a truly new start.