Touch of Orange

Wet old day here in Yorkshire, it’s been wet for days now. Unbelievably we are still covered by drought rules and a hosepipe ban. Well there isn’t much need for our hosepipe presently, it’s been pretending to be a sleeping snake in our long grass for months now.

Yes it’s WET, yes it’s NOVEMBER, but there is still a touch of orange if you look hard enough.

A good walk to just switch off.

Hawklad goes through phases where THOUGHTS get stuck. Anxious thoughts, stressful thoughts, negative thoughts, confusing thoughts, possible upsetting thoughts. Thoughts that just won’t go away. They seem to take on more meaning, seemingly acquire more permanence. I remember reading a Psychology Article that labelled these thoughts as Mind Bullies. These thoughts try to bully you into thinking that they are more significant, have more meaning than other thoughts. Not just thoughts that quickly disappear, these try to take over. Try to ruin the day. Try to bring a person down.

Today Hawklad decided to write down the problem thoughts. He wrote down 168 Bully Thoughts in just a few hours…. As he said.

Definitely overthinking.

I try to help but I’m no specialist. Am I doing more harm than good, I have no idea. But here’s the problem, there is no access to specialist help for many. School only focus on academic performance, huge waiting lists and insufficient capacity effectively rule out mental health support. Hawklad is not self harming, not violent, not suicidal, so he is viewed as low priority and has little chance of getting specialist help. Limited resources have to focus on others. Then all too soon he will be classed as an adult and then the support completely dries up. So families and friends do their best to help.

We will keep fighting these bullies.

Fungi 2

It’s been a cracking Fungi season. A gift that keeps on giving.

The school half term holiday starts tomorrow evening. The school at home project has completely nosedived this half term. Any support provided is becoming at best very very very patchy, too many of the subjects are dropping completely off the radar. It’s all very vexing and we both quip that it feels like the postman will be bringing a letter from school saying that Hawklad has been sacked. So a week off is needed to lift his spirits, to relax. He is seriously stressed out.

Apparently NOT….

School has made it clear that for pupils like Hawklad, this half term is about work and revising. The school will be checking to see that pupils have put in the hour after hour of work by setting tests as soon as school reopens again.

All work NO play.

I realise other parents might take a different view but this is so wrong to me. Everybody needs a break, especially in these times. Kids need time to relax and have fun. So many are stressed out. Stressed out with school, freaked out by the madness they see unfold all around them. No wonder that UK Child Mental Health Services are being swamped. Latest figures show that over 400000 children per month are being treated for mental health problems.

So here, yes there will be a small bit of work but hopefully bucket loads of relaxation and play. If Hawklad isn’t up to work then stuff school.

Shy cat

Yesterday the mad dog got a bit of blogging attention, well today his partner in crime is getting the spotlight. It’s big fat cat time.

Shame he’s a bit shy….

Or is it just sign that it’s such a hard life being a big fat cat.

Here’s the thing. I feel like copying the cat sometimes. Well not that thing he does when he’s bent double…. But definitely this covering the eyes truck. Definitely feeling tired and worn down. Parenting doesn’t really give you many breaks. Single parenting since 2016, no meaningful breaks really. No holidays. No letting what’s left of my hair down. Throw a pandemic in and each day seems to be very similar to last one. Spooky that it was Groundhog Day this week, apparently the little hog chap farted which means it’s another 6 weeks of eating Lasagna or something like that. You get the picture.

This feeling will pass. I’ve had these spells before. A better nights sleep will help. Maybe a shed load of caffeine and chocolate will do the trick. Mum would get me to play some sad music as a pick me up, so where is my Pink Floyd – Final Cut album (wow that’s a cheerful thing) or even darker, The Best of Alvin and the Chipmunks. But until I get my mojo back, maybe that soft, big pudding of a cat has a point, at least for one night.

Moors

The North Yorkshire Moors late on a cold January evening. This is truly an amazing planet with so much staggering beauty to be experienced and enjoyed. It’s really there, we just need to remember to lift our gaze upwards.

Back in 2016 that was an alien concept. Gazing upwards. Why when all I could see was never ending emptiness with no sign of light. Robbed of dreams and a way forward. Refusing to move from a door which had abruptly slammed shut and as long as I waited, would never open again. I felt like screaming but what was the point, who would hear, I’m not even sure I would have heard or even cared.

But now in 2022, as I watch the setting sun cast a golden light over the moors, my gaze is lifted once more.

Yes life might still be tough somedays but it’s good to dream again. Different dreams, bigger dreams. It feels wonderful to want to experience the world and what it has offer again.

Thinking

A Sunday in a very quiet part of Yorkshire. A good place to think.

It’s now over 5 years since I became a widow. Where did those 5 years go. Some days it feels like a lifetime, then there are times when it only seems like yesterday. Whatever it feels like, a lot has changed over those years. I’m a changed person with a changed outlook on life (and death). There were times when I thought that was it, life was over. It was just a matter of survival. But I made it through those times and I’m ready to start experiencing what this world has to offer again. I am dreaming again. Different dreams and whisper it, bigger dreams. Maybe that’s a surprising thought. Grief has taught me how to better LIVE. Looking back, to the run up to my partner dying, my priorities were far too often skewed. Maybe I was just surviving. Taking life for granted. Going through the motions. Not looking for adventures. Already personally hemmed in, struggling. Then everything changed within two weeks. Suddenly life’s safety net was removed. I was a single parent with the established script ripped up. I didn’t realise it but I suddenly had to face up to life. Over those 5 years I had to make changes, reappraise everything. Finally decide what was truly important to me.

So as I stood looking across that peaceful graveyard I could see something which I had missed. Grief was about coming to terms with loss, coming to terms with regrets, trying to be the best parent I could be to a young child who needed me AND a process of coming back to life again.

Anniversaries

Another year and another anniversary. Time passes. It never stops. It never stops.

These words will go live almost 5 years to the minute when I received that call from the Hospice. That conversation has faded into the mists of time now. I remember just a few words “I am so sorry”.

The first two anniversaries were so tough. I was in a bleak place. I couldn’t understand why my time had stopped but the world kept turning. It never missed a beat. How could that be possible. One thought dominated. Why her, why not me. The wrong person went. Over an over, the same thought. I was kinda rooted to the spot. No dreams left intact. Living purely through the eyes of our son.

Now it’s 5 years. What does an anniversary feel like now.

More like any other day. Does that sound bad….Even for me time doesn’t stop. Yes some moments spent remembering. Maybe not enough moments. But I know now. Those times have gone. The good and bad times. Just memories now. Time has moved on. I have moved on. New Dreams. Time moves on.

I won’t lie to you. Yes I still sometimes think -‘maybe it should have been me’. But……There is a phrase that can grind on me but in this case it’s true.

It is what it is.

Yes it is. That’s how it’s worked out. I can’t change it.

Memories are in the past, locked in time. I need to deal with today. Yes it’s an anniversary but it’s also another parenting day. Time doesn’t stop, even on an anniversary. Yes hopefully time for memories but also time to dream.

So how does this anniversary feel. Important YES but i realise it’s just about the past. Important but not as important living. So what does it feel like. It feels like today. It feels like the gateway to the future.

Memories will come but forgive me I need to dream first.

Deep sigh

Thought for the day. Latest data reveals that in the UK 34,000 children are suffering from Long Covid. In Scotland it has been announced that when schools return they will maintain Covid precautions such as masks. The Scottish Government is also spending millions on improving classroom ventilation. Meanwhile in England, all Covid precautions have been removed from schools as they are deemed perfectly safe….

Deep sigh.

There have been many DEEP SIGHS recently.

We have just found out that the Psychologist supporting Hawklad is leaving in two weeks time. At this stage the Service is not able to confirm when a replacement will be put in place. They can’t even confirm if the support will continue.

Deep sigh.

It takes Hawklad a significant amount of time to build up confidence in new faces. It took a lot of work from this professional to establish a bond, unfortunately now it’s all change again. That’s been the story over the last 5 years. So many new starts….. Even if a replacement is immediately put in place it will take many many months before any kind of meaningful link could be possibly established. That is at a time when his stress and anxiety levels are rocketing with an impending return to classroom teaching (?). A time when he is likely to require high levels of support.

This service is the last remaining support that Hawklad gets these days. But like most areas of child mental health, it’s a service under stress. Service demand rapidly outstripping its limited resources. The service has to prioritise those children most at risk of immediate harm and many families miss out on the help they so badly need. We may well start to miss out. Too many children suffer. Parents and families try do their best. Muddle through. But some of these areas are highly specialised and parents are just not equipped to deal with the issues. Plus many parents are already running on fumes and are struggling.

My country can find the money to buy additional nuclear missiles, can find the money to buy a new luxury royal yacht, can find the money to build a High Speed Train link that few people want, can find the money to pay Government Ministers legal fees and cover bullying damages awarded against a member of the Government. YET the country can’t seem to find the money or desire to protect its very own children.

Deep sigh.

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.

Path

Follow the path and see where it leads….

No sleep. Technology problems. Word Press in more scheming than Skynet from Terminator. Part of my life seems like a real bind at present. Hard work. Uninspiring. So unlike other elements of my world.

I could really do with walking along that path right now. A time to relax and gather my thoughts again. Problem is that it’s been at least 16 months since I walked here. It’s certainly not being walked today.

And that path. Where does it lead. Well keep walking straight. Straight over the small hill. Dead straight across two more fields. You get to my garden fence.

A path I have trod so many times. A path I love. But heres the thing. I never once walked it with another person. I’m sure there is a message in that thought somewhere.

Childhood

Do you remember when school holidays meant time off for our kids….

Hawklad and I received emails from school this morning. The emails set out the times of the upcoming year exams. Straight after the half term week holiday. The emails listed all the areas which each pupil are expected to cover in revision. The revision also includes mandatory online tasks that won’t be marked but will be monitored by teachers. All tasks are expected to be completed. The email stressed that they are expecting pupils to undertake significant work levels over the week off…..

To be fair to school they are only following Government guidelines and instructions. The Government has repeatedly spoken of its desire to increase the length of the school day and reduce the number of school holidays. It believes children have too much time off. They have it too easy…..

Parents will have differing views on this. I think you might be able to guess my take on this. I think it’s all BS…… Making pupils work harder and longer is just a smokescreen for covering up the failings of our current school system. Too many trumped up experts getting jobs as politicians, thinking they know best. It shouldn’t be about the quantity of teaching, it should be about the QUALITY of the education.

Ban politicians from education. Let teachers teach… Let Headmaster run the school. Involve the pupils and parents fully. Reverse the trend to test at every level just to populate government performance league tables. We are even testing 5 year olds for pity sake. If the politicians want to do something useful then they should concentrate on finding the resources to help specialists deal with the growing mental health crisis amongst our children.

And above all. Let children enjoy their childhood.