Homework

The hardy old rose bush right next to the front door. Against all the odds, it just keeps on giving.

In a few hours the school at home project restarts again. One more 7 week push before we finally arrive at the summer holidays. What kind of Britain will it be? The old normal, the new normal or something else.

This afternoon was glorious. Hot (for here) and sunny. Unbelievably not a single cloud all day. This is Yorkshire remember.

Yes this is Yorkshire but sadly it’s connected to England. Which means it has to live with the Government’s take on education. So while the sun beat down, we were inside. Trying to get homework completed and revision to stick. It’s bizarre that we force kids to work during holidays and weekends AND yet we have a part time Prime Minister who avoids such weekend and holiday work at all costs…. Yet again one rule for the many and another much nicer rule for the few.

The really frustrating thing is what exactly is the homework achieving. Four hours today and what did our Son learn….

What is the point of this Dad. I’ve not learnt one new fact. Not done anything which is interesting. I’m bored out of my mind. My hand hurts from writing and I dislike these subjects even more.”

Sadly I can’t argue with this. The school system here has been deliberately broken. Not by the teachers but by people in The Government. People who enjoyed the benefits of expensive private education. It’s not about developing individual kids now. It’s all about ticking political boxes for those in power. This government will not change its mind. But change is needed. So it will be local change.

We will continue with the school at home project until the summer. Remember this is not homeschooling….this is just trying to do exactly the same school lessons just not with the kids sat at a desk in the cramped classroom. In the summer our Son will decide what he does next. To go back to school or to go for full homeschooling. It’s his call. If he defers to me then he is leaving school. But what to do with the next 7 weeks. We have just brought in a new house rule.

Son will only be expected to do additional homework if it meets one of 3 conditions

  • He will actually learn something from it,
  • He will find it interesting,
  • It actually is going to contribute to his overall assessment. (Staggeringly much homework does not. Frequently it is not even marked in detail and sometimes not at all.)

We did have a fourth condition but that was dropped

Dad that’s a pointless condition. How many kids will honestly admit to actually wanting to do a piece of homework. Definitely never me….”

So if a piece of homework does not meet one of these conditions then he won’t be asked to complete it. I will write into school and let the teacher know. If the school wants to push it then they can deal with me. In our house – I am the headteacher and remember I don’t currently have a PM…..

The ship

Dad what’s the date?”

That’s a relief not missed mums birthday.”

Thankfully still not here yet.

Don’t mind missing your birthday like I did last year. To be fair you forgot it as well. Luckily I remembered sometime during the day.”

It’s not the first time I’ve forgotten that. My sister gives my a Calendar each year with all the family birthdays marked on. She even puts mine on just in case.

When his mum was still running our ship (she was good at that) it was all different. She would carefully map out the birthdays. Make sure we made each one special. Now I just focus on our Sons.

The ship analogy is a good one. Mum was definitely the captain. Charting the course and organising. Son was the special passenger who occasionally would help mopping out the ship. The passenger who would happily drop anchor miles from anywhere. Dad was the slightly confused crew hand, who tried to look important but could never remember where he put his sword. After mum joined a much better ship in the sky, our boat was rudderless in very turbulent oceans for far too long. Thankfully we avoided the rocks. Now the special passenger and confused crew hand try to jointly steer the ship.

We both really like this boating view of our home. Son summed it up perfectly.

Dad we are probably going round in giant circles in the ocean. Never going to find that island paradise at this rate. Maybe we should put the clearly most sensible in charge. That will be the gerbils”

He is not wrong there.

Over my head

One of the advantages of not cutting the hedge. A bit of overhead yellow is always very nice.

Dad this is just going over my head.”

He wasn’t referring to the hedge as well…

“This is refusing to enter my brain. Sometimes dyslexia is a right pain in the butt….”

He was referring to French. In particular today’s lesson. All about grammatical gender. It’s not an easy concept for English speaking numpties like me as we don’t tend to get so focused on gender and nouns. Which is most odd as our language is heavily derived from Anglo-Saxon and French, which are. So you can hear my brain chug away when it sees

A simple word like HAPPY become in French either HEUREUX (masculine) or HEUREUSE (feminine).

Hard for me, a nightmare for a dyslexic. So a lesson of writing these out for an hour is just torture for him. Yes you can try and learn the rules. But when you struggle to pick up word and letter patterns – it’s not much help.

Hey Dad I’m dyslexic in multiple languages. Surely I get a badge for that.”

We should really be switching dyslexic kids to different learning techniques. Maybe focusing just on visual and verbal learning. Using fun, online teaching resources. Finding out what works and what doesn’t work for each industry child. Unfortunately teachers are given so little flexibility by our Government. They have to stick to the national curriculum. Sadly the factory education approach doesn’t work for many. So we try to make the best of it. But it’s not easy seeing your child struggle.

It feels like you are holding onto the side of a giant bolder as it tumbles down a hill. Not in control and just grimly trying not to fall off. But eventually you reach the bottom. You can take a breather before you start tumbling again. I guess the secret is to make the most of the flat bits. Grab that ice cream and think of ways to make the tumbling down hill more fun. Must be possible. Remember being a kid and rolling down the slopes. As long as you avoided the nettles and animal droppings, it was the best laugh ever. So we will put our thinking hats on, how to make learning French fun.

Bonne journee (yes I know I’ve dropped a mark for the missing thingy off the e, but my keyboard doesn’t do French)….

Please note one of my great regrets is that I’m not multilingual. I love talking to people who can effortlessly switch languages. So I will keep going. You never know, one day…

Rose

First garden rose of the year. Ok strictly speaking it’s the neighbours rose. It’s sneaked through a hole in the fence which I should have fixed by now. But I will take this.

Dad what are you doing?”

I was trying to build a DIY fire pit. The last one had disintegrated in the lovely Yorkshire winter weather. Trying to harness my inner Bear Grylls, I was in the zone.

Are the sides supposed to be so uneven. Is it a square, a circle, triangle or pentagon?”

Ok it had some symmetrical issues….. it started off as a square.

Oh, well it isn’t a square now. And the height is all over the place. It’s like looking at The Alps.”

Yes that was an unexpected design feature.

It’s not the most sheltered spot. Not sure lighting a fire will be easy there.”

Didn’t think about that….

Don’t you think it’s a little close to the oil tank.”

Oops I forgot about that great big green tank with OIL and FLAMMABLE written in big letters down its side.

Dad I’ve got a better idea. Why don’t we forget about the fire pit. When we need a BBQ then why don’t we just run an electric extension cable outside. Then we can just rig the George Foreman Grill to work outside. Job done and you don’t need to spend days trying to light the fire….”

That sounds like a better plan.

Evolution

It’s a hard life being a much loved dog toy. Life is a real chew.

Somedays even a Grumpy Cat has to hide. I so felt like doing that today….

Dad v Trampoline…. that’s absolutely no contest.

A desperate attempt was needed to get son bouncing on one of his favourite things again – a pigeon and chicks decided to build a nest right next to it. To heavy to drag I attempted to dismantle the metal object of torture. After one hour of trying to prise apart the first two metal poles, Son helpfully pointed out

You are not making much progress. Actually NO PROGRESS. Come on Dad, you are at the head of an evolutionary chain stretching back millions of years. Think of all the biological progress which has led to you. Surely a pigeon and a chunk of metal isn’t going to beat you.”

NO IT IS NOT. The pride of my species, THE DADS will triumph.

A truly brilliant plan was hatched. My Archimedes moment. After much searching in the garage I returned with 8 wheels taken off an odd bed (waiting to be scrapped). I had attached the wheels to blocks of wood. With all my strength I managed to lift each corner of the trampoline and force the wheel blocks underneath. Suddenly I have a trampoline with wheels and with the appliance of a little pulling force …. IT WILL FINALLY MOVE.

That was the plan. A brilliant plan. Unfortunately in practice the plan had one or two minor issues. The weight of the trampoline just embedded the wheels into the ground. When I say embedded, the wheels disappeared completely into the ground and must have been buried inches below the surface.

After Son had stopped laughing he left me with this gem of wisdom.

That’s my Dad he is a muppet. The man evolution forget about”

Nettles

You know your garden is badly overgrown when you manage to fill a wheelie wheelie big Wheelie Bin full of weeds in less than 15 minutes. I guess that’s one of the advantages of council refuse collections only happening every two weeks. After only a few minutes weeding you might as well stop for 2 weeks.

I have to say the weeds didn’t go without a fight again. Nothing like trying to pull out angry nettles. They are the Sith Lords of the garden kingdom. Today I was prepared. Thickest gloves I could find, long sleeve top and combat trousers. I still have a lot to learn in the ways of the dark side. One particular large nettle was refusing to come out of the ground. With one final effort the nettle exploded out of the Yorkshire soil. Unfortunately far too much upward force had been applied and the delightful stinging plant whacked me in the face and neck. Shall we just say it’s smarting a tad….

I wasn’t weeding out of choice. The house had become very much off limits. Son had to voice record a presentation for school. He was suitably unimpressed. So to try and not put him off, I went outside to garden. I’m not sure how it finally sounded and I’ve promised him not to listen to it. But the barbed mutterings from inside the house did make me smile.

How am I supposed to perform under theses conditions….

Typical I do a good one and I forget to start recoding the stupid thing….

I bet Johnny Depp would struggle with this script….

And breathe….

Argh, why does this microphone make me sound like a Sith from Star Wars….

Oh for the love of …. I’m sounding like a chipmunk now….

Oh god I’m starting to sound like my Dad….

Sadly he is starting to sound like his Dad. My habit of shouting at pieces of technology has clearly rubbed off on him. I just wish these nettle stings would rub off me now. I definitely have a face perfect for radio tonight.

The science

Apparently I have to walk or run 50km next week so this chap evolves. Dads do have their uses when it comes to Pokémon Go. That’s probably as far as my usefulness goes. But at least I do recognise my limitations. Sadly sone people have boundless ambition and see no limit to their abilities. That is terrifying.

We foolishly watched the news.

Dad can I ask a silly question. Shouldn’t the science panel advising the Government be made up of scientists.”

Yes you would hope that a panel of scientists is in fact a group of science experts. For months the UK Government has kept going on about how it’s policy on the virus is determined by this secretive science elite. As they are scientists (and clearly they know more than we do) then we should trust Government policy. Ok that sounds like a plan.

He’s not a scientist. He’s that awful man who tells the PM what to do. How come he is on the science panel.”

After months of having to sign up to a science led approach we suddenly find out that the secretive science panel is compromised of some scientists but has key members who are political appointees. Cummings, the key PM adviser is a lead member. This is a man who believes in Eugenics – that is selective breeding and human intervention to improve the human gene pool. This is also a man who apparently thought that high levels of virus deaths was ok as most would be elderly. He’s not alone on the science panel. He has buddies. He is joined by a data specialist who came up with the Government’s online election campaign. He also has some very worrying views on the uses of private data. These two characters drive the science panel while some scientists on the panel can attend but are not allowed to ask questions. These have to be submitted in writing prior to meetings so they can be filtered. Suddenly it’s so much harder to have faith in our science led approach.

But what do I know. I’m only good for evolving pokemon.

Frozen

So easy to tell this is a Red Sky at night.

“What on earth is that Dad”

For some bizarre reason I have started freezing left over food. Anything which cuts down the need to shop is a good thing in our book. Any trip beyond the garden gate will send Son into anxiety meltdown and I have to admit to being uncomfortable with the idea. So stuff gets bagged up and frozen.

Remind me again, what are you looking for.”

I was searching for some frozen cheese (grated).

Well that’s not cheese.”

I’m not entirely sure what that freezer bag contained.

Why didn’t you label the bags.”

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. But this is his Dad. I’ve not got a good track record in doing things sensibly. Son knows this. He has always known this. When he was about 4 we had to have our photos taken for a season ticket at the local fun park. I had just done something embarrassing – AGAIN. Son just gave me one of those looks and turned to the person taking the photo and said

This is my Dad. He is a muppet.”

Things haven’t changed.

Convinced I had found the frozen grated cheese, I went to cook lunch.

Is that my favourite cheese?”

Yes it was. Well it was for a few glorious minutes. Cooking and tasting unfortunately disproved the fact. So today I have learnt two important facts

  1. Labelling freezer bags is a great idea AND
  2. Frozen grated cheese looks very like potato rosti.

Fathers Day

It was Fathers Day in the UK yesterday. Even in Yorkshire. Let’s give a shout out to the Dads. Yes we are in most cases crap at multitasking, dammed annoying, often in the way but we are sometimes useful….. In my case I am still waiting.

So Sunday’s Dad List in this case was

  • Make breakfast – burnt and milk out of date
  • Housework – managed to get the sofa throw stuck in the hoover and snapped the last hoover belt
  • Clothes washing – washing machine stuck on the 10 minute pre wash cycle so not exactly clean so needed to run the cycle 5 times
  • Make lunch – criminally couldn’t get the Yorkshire Puddings to rise
  • Take dog for walk – dog rolled in sheep poo so he stinks
  • Bath dog – then spend an hour trying to dry out the house after the dog started shaking himself down. Aquaman has nothing on him.
  • Pack School Bag – went without incident but will only find its success when he gets back home
  • Time for some me time – made a coffee to sit outside as it’s unbelievably stopped raining, but find a large bird has crapped over the garden chair. Clean chair then find it’s started to rain again. Cold coffee looking out at a monsoon.
  • Change bedding – ok apart from a brutal wrestling match with duvet cover
  • Cook Tea – salad is pretty much Dad proof
  • Wash up – managed to smash one cup
  • Iron school uniform – find that I forgot about the wash in the washing machine. So set off a quick Tumble Dryer run
  • Revise for school end of year tests – another opportunity to show the processing power differences between a young vibrant mind and a knackered old one
  • Run bath – find someone forgot to wash the towels
  • Iron school uniform – presentable but managed to burn my hand
  • Lock doors – not easy when you can’t find the keys
  • Catch up on Work – not easy when laptop decides it needs yet another update
  • Go to bed – can’t sleep

That’s a pretty typical Sunday. So yes Dads can be crap but we also can be busy. Ok that in my case is busy being crap – but it’s still busy. As it’s Fathers Day I will give myself a pat on the back for that. I survived another day.