Broken

A long and winding road if you can find it.

You kind of assume that your country is geared up to support its young people. That they matter. Well they should matter and countries should be geared up. But this is Britain, where support and mental health services have been under funded and in recent times cut back. Britain which has a Government that wants to return to ‘good old Victorian values’. Britain where children are only seen in terms of future economic value. In Britain where support is frowned upon by those in charge. In Britain where children taking time off in the immediate aftermath of a significant bereavement is described by the Government as ‘extended holidays’.

In 2016 Hawklad lost his granny and mum within 6 weeks of each other. A traumatic experience for anyone but for an 8 year old with Aspergers, it’s an emotional maelstrom. But here’s the thing. Sadly he won’t be the only child in this position. But where’s the support. Schools are not set up to cope. In Hawklads case the school cared but where clueless. The specialised education services in the area had been effectively closed down to meet savings targets. I approached his Doctor who just referred to child mental health services. He warned that they had a backlog of cases. That was all the Doctor did. Hawklad was already on the waiting list for Aspergers support.

That was it for over a year. No support. Left up to me, someone who was struggling already. How do you start to help someone when you are broken.

Finally we got to see the Child Mental Health Team. They worked on anxiety issues but no bereavement counselling, no Aspergers support. Luckily his dedicated worker was wonderful and she did try but it was not her area of expertise.

Fast forward to 2021 and Hawklad still has not had any bereavement counselling. Taking a wider view. He had some help with a physiotherapist but that was cut. He started speech therapy but that service was cut. He has had a few months of Aspergers related support but the specialist retired and was not replaced. He has had no dyslexia support. He does get some support for anxiety but that is patchy.

AND he is one of the lucky ones in Britain….

It has to be better than this for all our children. THEY ARE NOT JUST ECONOMIC RESOURCES. It won’t change here under this Government, it will only get worse. BRITAIN is BROKEN when it can’t care for its children.

Challenged

Millions of years of evolution. All that natural selection stuff. Leading to me. This morning it took me 2 hours to work out that I had my top on inside out. It didn’t go on right. It didn’t feel right. It didn’t look right. I was bemused at not being able to find my shirt pockets. I could have sworn this shirt had them……. It still took me two hours.

Here’s the worst thing. It then taken me another two hours to correct the mistake. In fact I’m writing this still sartorially challenged.

It’s either a sign that I’m not likely to see anyone soon or I’m single…..

I will let you make your mind up on that. But with homeschooling there is no uniform requirement. Actually I’ve dressed much worse than this over the last year. Definitely too many fashion crimes. But it really doesn’t matter in the end. Well not until someone sees me.

Hard work

Apparently I was wrong yesterday. My inner Lefty took hold and clouded my vision. I made an inappropriate attack on politicians who benefit from expensive and exclusive private education while refusing to properly fund pupils in the rest of the education system. I wasn’t the only person to get annoyed at that thought. But we were slapped down by the Eton educated Prime Minister. Children enjoy exclusive education because their parents work hard.

Many do. Can’t argue with that. But then you turn the argument around and what does that mean to a poor child in a poor school. It means that they should blame their parents for not working hard enough……

Clearly I’ve let my son down by not working hard enough…. That explains the gaps in his education.

I should really follow the example of our illustrious leader. Travelling 200 miles in a private jet to attend a summit of world leaders where he says he wants to talk climate change. Clearly getting a readily available and environmentally friendly train is not working hard enough for him. Treating himself to £13000 worth of gourmet food during the lockdown while refusing to give our poorest children free school meals when they need it the most is clearly hard work. Getting a rich friend to pay £200000 for a designer makeover on his flat while cutting 40% of the overseas aid budget is real grafting

Hard work people. That’s all it takes.

Flower

Came across this rather marvellous flower just outside the church walls. That good that even Captain Chaos opted against cocking his leg against it. The ultimate sign of respect. Unusually the dog only passes up on such treats if stinging nettles are in the immediate locality.

Stinging nettles in the locality.

Not an area you ever see Captain Chaos lifting his rear left leg off the ground to ….. Even the farmers cows avoid here…… But it is a great area for harvesting nettle tea….

It’s also a great place to drop something. This afternoon I was taking a works call. In a desperate attempt to stop falling asleep or going crazy, I went outside. Outside with the mobile, pen, paper and mug of coffee. As the work call dragged on the duel prospect of sleep and madness increasingly beckoned. To distract myself I moved to the fence adjacent to the mutant nettles. Why, I do not know…… Then the inevitable disaster. The pen and paper toppled off the fence and with unwavering precision they were consumed by the monster stinging jungle. Taking the notes I had made during one of the worlds most boring ever phone-calls into oblivion.

Two options

1) get seriously stung fishing the notes out,

2) own up and basically restart the dreaded work call again recapturing the facts and data.

Only one sensible option I could ever take. Neither….. End the call and just guess……

Does that make me a bad person 😂😂😂😂

Sun burnt

The walk with the mad dog is a lot more pleasant when it’s weather like this. Whisper it, I got a little sun burnt. Sun burnt in Yorkshire. That just sounds so wrong on so many levels.

Feeling a bit burnt by school. The big school year exams start on Monday. We still don’t know the actual timings. We don’t know which subjects are on which days. We don’t know the arrangements for Hawklad. We don’t even know if he is sitting the exams. This week school is closed. So I’m guessing it’s wait until first thing Monday and hope we hear something. If not, then I have no idea what will happen. It’s just a mess.

Nothing I can do at present so I might as well use my time more usefully. Go and find the sun cream. That’s sure to bring the rain back….

Thoughts and dreams

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.

It worked.

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

Feedback

When I first moved into the village all those years ago I remember going for a walk. No map, no real idea where I was heading. Just went to explore the new locality. Near the farm track in the photo is a path. On that first walk I followed that path. It looked like it was going to take me in roughly the right direction. But with no map I couldn’t check. Guess what. It went in the wrong direction. I got lost and it took me hours to get back home.

Hawklad has been submitting homework studiously all school year. He’s hardly had any marks or feedback returned. He’s been asking me to check his work as he just wasn’t sure how he was doing.

This morning out of the blue he received a very brief teacher comment about a piece of work submitted last week. The first feedback from this teacher in over a year. The comment simply said ‘Spot on’….

Here’s the problem. I had checked that work and it was good but it had mistakes. Some big mistakes. I had sat down with Hawklad to show him where he was right and where he was not so right. We talked through ways to answer those areas better. That’s feedback. I’m sorry but ‘Spot on’ doesn’t help Hawklad. He could end up going into exams doing some things the wrong way. Yes provide praise and reassurance but please also give tips to improve…..

Nothing

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.

Hermit

We all get those conversations where the other person seems to assume that we have been granted the power of mind reading.

A phone call exchange this morning sums that up perfectly….

I’m surprised you haven’t responded sooner to my concerns.”

I’m sorry but I’ve got no idea what your talking about…..

I would expect a prompt and courteous response…”

What is your concern because I have no idea what your talking about.

I’ve told you exactly what my concern is….”

No you haven’t…

I spoke to you yesterday when I phoned you….”

No you didn’t. I spoke to one person on my mobile yesterday and it certainly wasn’t you. In fact I have no idea who you are.

I emailed you as well and you didn’t reply to that “

I didn’t reply as I didn’t get your email. Are you sure you’ve phoned the right person…

Perfectly sure. You know exactly who I am. You can’t just fob me off. “

I haven’t got the foggiest who you are.

Your still avoiding giving me a straight answer.”

Who do you think you are speaking to…

Simon ######## from xxxxxxxxxx”

That’s not me. That’s not my company. You have phoned the wrong person.

You have been so &*#@@!!! Unhelpful.”

**** and with that he slammed the phone down****

Wow…… I can so understand why people become hermits now…… Maybe a few more years of lockdown might not be such a bad thing…..

Road

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.