In the Deep Dark Woods

A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood.

Our son adored the Gruffalo story. I think our son had all of Julia Donaldson books. We loved reading them to him, that’s what parenting should be about. Not the anxieties, the stress, the frustration, the heartbreak.

Walking through this deep dark wood took us back to that golden age. Fairytales and colouring books. Toy cars and Teddy Bears. Dragons and magic. Thomas the Tank Engine, Dora the Explorer and Iggle Piggle. When we were a team of 3. Golden Years.

But time marches on…

Son gets older. Fairytales replaced with Manga. Colouring books replaced with an iPad. Toy cars replaced with FIFA 19. Teddy Bears assigned to the shelves. Dragons upgraded to Transformers. Magic being drummed out of him by school. Thomas, Dora and Iggle now Assembled into Thor, Black Widow and Ironman. A team of three assigned to memories. The Golden Years now the Anxiety Times.

We walk further into the deep dark wood. Let’s hope it’s magic returns and takes us to a different world. One where anxiety is vanquished, dreams flourish and life is enriching.

The mouse found a nut and the nut was good.

Bird Blocked

Dad can we go to see the Birds at the cliffs”

So it was a trip to the RSPB centre at Bempton. A truly epic landscape with wonderful seabirds. Well that was the plan….

First route attempt interrupted by a work call resulting in a rapid u turn and a quick visit to the unit. An hour later we set off for the birds again. Then a traffic jam. Changed route and then we get stuck behind an accident. One route option left and this time it’s closed for the day due to road works.

Some days you just have to say ‘it’s not happening’. We turned the car round and headed home. So we had a think about bird names to describe our failure. These are mostly our sons efforts.

  • Donnocks
  • Puffbirds
  • Gannets
  • Shag
  • Red footed Bobby
  • Coots
  • Nutcracker
  • Woodcocks
  • Dickcissel
  • Great Tit

Anyway here is a bird from our last visit.

Break time

Why had Captain Chaos adopted his ‘please don’t’ position. Not being threatened with a walk. Not been shouted out. No need for a bath. Bizarre.

*************************

An item on the news caught my attention. Strangely it was not the ongoing brexit cockup. It wasn’t the story about some TV celebrity going out with somebody else I had never heard of. It wasn’t the recurring piece on the UK is about to have the best summer in 50 years – more chance of my football team winning something. Don’t start me on that one – 1969 for the last European trophy and 1955 for a domestic one.

No it was the story which got the least news time. ‘ School break times are becoming a thing of the past’. If you listened hard enough you could hear a few quickly presented facts.

  • 11 to 16 year olds now get 65 minutes per week less break time than they did 25 years ago
  • Just 1% of secondary schools now have an afternoon break time
  • 82% of secondary schools now have less than 55 minutes for lunch
  • 25% of schools have lunch breaks of less than 35 minutes
  • One in eight school children have a reported mental health problem (I suspect this only scratches the surface)
  • 22000 pupils in Year 6 are classed as severely obese but apparently this has nothing to do with the reduction in break times. Even though the Chief Medical Officer is calling for at least 60 minutes of moderate exercise per day – unlikely to happen when you are sat at a desk

A helpful person from the Government said it was nothing to do with them as it was up to schools to sort out the school day. Strangely he didn’t mention the strict targets his Government had placed on schools.

When our son returned from school today I found his uneaten lunch and unopened bottle of water. Apparently he didn’t get time to have them today. So no food or drink in 8 hours – that is clearly conducive to educational excellence.

His average school day seems to be a 10 to 15 minute morning break which is just enough time to get to the next class. A lunchtime of queuing to get into the canteen, then grabbing some food and making your way to the next lesson. Again in the afternoon a break just long enough to allow kids to get to the next lesson.

How can this be right. I can hear the howls about ‘kids are there to learn so that they can get good jobs’. But sorry kids do need to have fun. If they are enjoying school they will learn better. School is not just about feeding our warped society, it’s about preparing kids for life. It’s ups and downs. It’s work time and its leisure time.

Modern day schooling has become sadly dysfunctional.

*************************

Food in the kitchen finally moved the dog. All is revealed. It wasn’t his ‘please don’t’ position. It was in fact the ‘all the socks from the washing basket looked too tempting so I pinched them and needed somewhere quick to hide them and lying on them is the best I can think of’ position.

Blood Red Sky

“Dad its a long time since we had a properly red sunset. I can only remember seeing 3 blood red ones.”

He’s right. We are lucky here. It’s a daft thing to say but we have a big sky here. Not much blocking it out. Well apart from Yorkshire Clag – that’s thick low cloud. When we get a clear sunset they are often stunning but very rarely blood red.

But very occasionally we get one.

I know that a red sky at night is a fisherman’s delight but I think it might be an omen. At the very least I would hope Dracula or the Hammer Horror movies were born from a blood red night. Just think what a nightmare it would have been if the Dracula or Hound of the Baskerville authors had come up with the idea looking at a sunset but finding that they were dyslexic. The stories may have been lost. How many great ideas have been messed up by not being able to write”

Think of all the great stories that have been made by people with Dyslexia. You just have to find different ways of getting things done. Plus what happened if the Dracula author took one look at the red sky and said ‘That reminds me of a cricket ball I’m going to write about a famous cricketer.”

After a puzzled look. What about if Stoker. You do know Stoker wrote Dracula. If Stoker had said that reminds me of a blood sucking chipmunk called Alvin. The first book would have been called Alvin Prince of Annoying Singing. That’s when you would have wished Stoker was dyslexic.”

Can’t argue with that. Another thing I can’t complain about it he is now starting to find some humour in some of his greatest fears. That’s a step in the right direction. Now what’s the odds on a blood red sky tonight being serenaded by a signing rodent…

Public Apology.

Unfortunately the last few posts have been a tad unfair to a great performer. Picked on him a bit. I do like him a bit really. No not talking about Bono and U2 – not even scratched the surface with them yet. I’m talking about Alvin. I would like to apologise to him and all his brethren. Singing Rodents are welcome here. Not you Bono – you can bugger off…

Restricted View

Since the world changed things have become financially very tight. Two wages became one. That one wage was a full time steady one but it quickly became a part time zero hours contract. We have two financial positions. Close to the edge or veering towards the edge. The hope is that we can keep going until son has left school, is independent and I can return to a proper income. But the bottom line is our son will always come first the bankers come second.

We don’t have many indulgences. Just can’t afford them.

Our son has had it so tough. Aspergers, Dyslexia, ADHD, Dyspraxia, losing his mum, losing all his grandparents. The only thing that drives me is that I want to do everything possible to give him the best childhood.

So yes we do have some indulgences.

We pay for an annual pass to a Zoo. If you time it right you can get it heavily discounted.

We pay for a couple of rock concerts a year. We always sit at the back and pay for the cheapest seats available.

Twice a year he goes to see the WWE wrestling when they come to the UK. Again we opt for the tickets right at the back. It’s not great as the wrestlers appear that small it might as well be Lego Figure fighting. But not this time. We went to see it at the weekend. This time when I booked it I came across a couple of seats closer to the ring which had been heavily discounted due to a restricted view.

Really that’s some restricted view. Great night for our son and at last close enough to actually see the wrestlers faces…

So job done today got a happy boy.

One extra bonus. On the way back to the car we watched a massive city fireworks display. Far too much for my knackered phone.

Decibels

Currently the mad dog is being completely bonkers. It’s a kinda let’s bark at everything type of day. Currently the apple tree is getting it. But as the decibels rise my mind wanders to that quiet little pup. What happened…..

Son is not impressed. If you look closely at the photo you will notice that the duvet cover is Peppa Pig themed. It’s a perfectly good cover so is still used today when his Jurassic Park one is being washed. Son doesn’t really see the practical benefits.

You do know Peppa Pig is for little kids. It’s not as if I’m watching it. I know you do when you get the chance, but not me. I was watching about the Black Death last night..”

I do have to admit that a quick bit of Peppa Pig, or the Clangers or In The Night Garden is strangely therapeutic. And yes I can’t remember the Peppa Pig episode which featured the Black Death.

All my parenting waffles are subject to a major caveat. As statisticians would say – it’s based on a very limited sample size. Like one child. One child on the autistic spectrum with dyslexia. So when I see something I can’t be sure if that is just particular to our son or is a common thing. The only other benchmark I can use is my childhood. That seems a long time ago…..

Son has a lot of areas where he is more developed and refined than his Dad. Seemingly way beyond his years. But also in a number of areas he probably still reverts back to the Peppa Pig years. Cuddly toys. Not wanting to leave the safety of the family nest. Mr Men stories. Petting Zoos. Toy cars….

Maybe it’s a fear of growing up.

But I can relate to this. Not wanting to completely forget your early childhood days. Now where is that Peppa Pig dvd….

Speaking about not forgetting things.

It’s the Great Bloggers Bake-Off this Sunday. It’s all about having a bit of fun. Pop over to Mel’s blog – Crushed Caramel (Learner at Love). She has done so much work to set this up.

Our special judge is A Jeanne in the Kitchen.

Let’s go Sunday Spongecake mad.

Please send photos of your creation(s) to crushedcaramel@gmail.com

Tenacity

This was the Yorkshire summer last week. It’s now over for the year. We are now in Autumn.

Son told a story from school today.

A couple of weeks ago one of the kids in his class got an exclusion. Repeat rule breaker. Before the exclusion he racked up 110 negatives. So he was shown the big red card. Banned from school for 5 days. It was really convenient for the kid as it came immediately before the half term holiday. So he got two weeks off.

On his return the teacher confirmed that he now had a clean record and all his previous negatives had been wiped from the record. He then asked if that meant that his newly created clean record entitled him for the end of year clean record reward. Kids with clean records are entitled to go an a trip to the local amusement park. After checking it was confirmed that as long as he didn’t pick up another negative then yes he was eligible. He punched the air and shouted “get in”. Unfortunately the teacher took offence to this and gave him a negative.

After the class the kid apparently told the group that he now had 4 months to pick up another 109 negatives so he could get another isolation and have his record wiped again.

It’s a kinda tenacity. But you really couldn’t make it up….

Fight Club

When you set your children off on their educational journey you have dreams of an idealistic life of happiness, development and fulfilment. Then you wake up…

On todays episode of Fight Club.

An argument broke out on the morning school bus. Several kids got involved in a heated exchange. Resulted in one of the protagonists being hit over the head with a bottle. Thankfully a plastic one.

In the first lesson a boy accidentally bumps into another boy. Quickly a pushing and finger pointing encounter develops. This is broken up by the teacher and negatives are issued.

In the next lesson boy X makes a not very nice comment about boy Y. This escalated into a missile exchange. Pens, rulers, calculators and books are launched. Again the teacher breaks this up and more negatives are issued.

In the final lesson of the day boy Y makes a comment about boy X. Suddenly a chair is hurled and a full fist fight breaks out with a few other kids getting involved. Teacher issues negatives and a couple of isolations.

On the afternoon school bus one boy accused another one of being unpopular and without friends. Quickly punches were exchanged. Several other kids got involved. Ended up with one boy in tears with a bloody nose.

Thankfully our son was just an observer in all these incidents. He did get hit by a stray projectile but it wasn’t intended for him and absolutely no pain inflicted. Not really sure how he views these incidents through his Aspergers filters. I suppose it teaches him about life. It might encourage him to start a martial arts club – these can really help with confidence and coordination. It highlights the issues many kids face when they are assigned to the bottom set. It’s certainly makes homeschooling look more attractive.

Back to school

Warning this post contains bad language and monumentally pompous stupidity.

In 2018 the Switzerland Glaciers lost 2.5% of their volume. It’s expected that they will have disappeared by 2090 – at the latest.

On Friday thousands of pupils walked out of UK School’s to protest about our Governments inaction on climate change. Good to see the positive response it got from our Leaders.

“It is important to emphasise that disruption increases teachers’ workloads and wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for,” a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said. “That time is crucial for young people, precisely so that they can develop into the top scientists, engineers and advocates we need to help tackle this problem.”

Our countries so called Education Secretary “let me be clear, missing class won’t do a thing to help the environment; all they will do is create extra work for teachers.”

The Conservative Leader of the House of Commons “It’s called truancy, not a strike“.

Well if you got your head out of your arses and took meaningful action then the kids wouldn’t need to walk out. If you didn’t pander to the fossil fuel companies, actively promote the disastrous fracking industry and cut renewable energy investment…. then you might be taken seriously. What trust do you expect the next generation to have in you when they see the monumental f*****g screwup you are making of Brexit. The entire political system has abjectly failed its primary roles of protecting the world and securing the futures of the upcoming generations.

This has to stop. The kids get it. Unfortunately our dim witted, self serving leaders don’t. It’s time for the next generation to take over and time for our politicians to go back to school. Maybe then they would see what a gigantic mess they have made of the education system as well.

School Dracula

This is the Hospitium a 14th century listed building in York’s Museum Gardens. These days it’s a venue for conferences, weddings and special events. Many years ago it was a support building for the Abbey.

St Mary’s Abbey was founded in 1088. The surviving ruins date back from about 1270. York is such a good place for kids to actually touch history.

Over Christmas our son spent a few hours here trying to imagine what life was like before it fell into ruin. Recreating the sounds, the people, the buildings, the life. Big scale creative play. I must admit I was lost in the world of dreams to. Mine was a world of ghosts, ghouls and vampires. I had almost forgotten how much fun you can have when you release your imagination.

This was the visit when the first seeds of home schooling started to be scattered. Last term had been grisly. No real sign of development. No evidence of school making any effort to provide an effective and supportive teaching environment. Most importantly a really unhappy and anxious child.

Our son loves subjects like history but not the way school deliver it. He likes the History Teacher, she is really nice. But being in the bottom set and given his encyclopaedic knowledge – he’s not learning anything. Plus regardless of which class you are in the teaching is so traditional. Text book after text book. Very dry and not very dyslexic friendly. Unfortunately it’s the set teaching approach dictated by the government.

Between my thoughts of ghosts and ghouls I also pondered with so much real life history so close to hand, why not bring the classroom here. Bring the lessons alive. That’s when the thought pinged, if school won’t teach here, why don’t I.

We will see.

The trip was completed with the required extra portions of ice cream. That night my imagination had clearly not been put back in its box yet. A dream about Dracula. But not the bloodthirsty vampire. This one was about a reformed Prince of Darkness. He had sold his Transylvanian castle and bought York’s Museum Gardens. He wanted to turn the gardens into the finest history school in the world. All the teachers were ghosts and ghouls. And Dracula was selling the ice creams and he didn’t skimp on the portions. Now that’s a school.