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…

Memory tricks

You get sone days when running is particularly tough. Tough physically and certainly tough mentally. On those days I need to set mini goals to tick off on my run. Memory tricks to convince the body to keep going. On this route it’s to reach 9k. At 9k I get this view. Doesn’t matter how many times my little legs take me past here, this view never fails to deliver. The view is lost way too soon and it’s back on the slog again. A couple of hill climbs are fast approaching. I’m not the spring chicken I once was. Those hills hurt. Currently the only thing that works (apart from using a car) is to count. When the climb starts it’s about counting from 1 to 100. The deal is that I can only stop running up the hill at 100. So far every time I have got to 99 I have reset the count back to 1. Don’t say 100 or skip past it really quickly and I must keep going for a while longer.

These little tricks help me. Now we are searching for another one.

We all have blind spots.

One of mine was historical dates. I’m normally good with numbers. I can memorise phone numbers really well yet I just can’t remember dates. As hard as I try those dates just won’t stick.

Son has a few blind spots. He’s good with numbers but can’t get his head around decimal places. Ask him to work out 24×37 and he can do it ever so quickly. Yet ask him to add 1.3 and 3.8 and it’s impossible. Whatever we try just doesn’t work.

He can remember dates with ease yet times are a different matter. He struggles with the concept of time. He struggles to tell the time. Digital clocks are problematic while analog clocks are impossible. Everything we have tried has basically failed. So now we come to this Sunday.

It’s the Year 8 French Exam tomorrow. One of the areas which is bound to come up is telling the time in French.

Dad if I can’t tell the time in my own language what chance do I have in telling the time in something which probably isn’t even my second language.”

Everything we have tried has failed. In the end we settled on an educated guess approach.

Learn parrot fashion il est ….. heures ….

Then assuming he can’t work out the right time in English he will put the first number he sees (converted to French) after heures and the second number before. If he can only see one number then that goes before heures. That gives him a chance. Ok it doesn’t work with every time but it’s the best he can manage. He’s found his own way of trying to get through this challenge. It convinced him that if he’s sees time questions then he still has a chance. It’s worth having a go. Gives him hope and belief.

So tomorrow at the same time he is enduring his exam I will go for a run. I will suffer with him. Let’s hope both our memory tricks work.

Knock on effects

Oh my ….. Daaaaaaad. I’ve forgotten some homework.”

A shout at 7.00am to send shivers through every parent.

Forgotten French. We have five online tests to complete. It’s due first lesson today. SORRY. ”

Any thoughts of a calm relaxing morning had just been torpedoed. The normal carefully mapped out pre school routine replaced with an hour of panic and a rush to answer 60 questions. A stable routine is so important for most kids on the spectrum. Well not here today…

As Son later described the scene. A Dad whose French skills are very sketchy. His French skills apparently heavily weighted towards buying alcohol – not much use in school homework. And a kid who is even more dyslexic in French.

Dad it was like the script for Dumb and Dumber 2″

After 30 minutes of mayhem I ordered Son to grab some breakfast.

Can’t find the cornflakes Dad can I have some biscuits and an apple.”

“Son if it’s food then I really don’t care…”

Then I shouted out the questions and typed up the replies from our son. Finally five minutes after we normally leave we finished the last question. A mad scramble to get the school uniform on. He struggles with knots so I have to do his school tie. Today that skill deserted me. Now we are seriously behind schedule. Fingers crossed for clear country lanes. So today we get stuck behind the driver who clearly learned to drive in either a milk float or Sinclair C5. A driver whose instructor had taught them that the best racing line was straight down the middle of the road so no bugger can overtake. A driver who today was heading all the way to school.

Somehow I managed to get him into school with seconds to spare. Problem was that now I was late for a works meeting. In the carnage I had not managed a drink or a visit to the toilet this morning. No time to brush my teeth. Wearing yesterday’s clothes. So I arrived looking totally disheveled, in real need of a drink and the toilet. Guess what. The water was cut off at work due to emergency repair work. So no drink and NO TOILET…. It felt like the longest meeting ever.

Ninety minutes later I’m running into a petrol station like Usain Bolt. The one toilet was engaged. You couldn’t make this up. Ten further painful minutes later – RELIEF. Unfortunately in the breakfast chaos I had left my wallet at the house. So no money. So no drink. Not good when you looking at row upon row of drink heaven. So another thirty minutes before the first drink of the day.

Yes it was a chaotic morning. Simply forgetting a piece of homework had a knock on effect for the next few hours. Got to keep it in perspective though. So many people are truly suffering and this was at worst just mildly annoying. I can smile about it. I did eventually get a nice run with some gloriously moody views. And I expanded my French vocabulary.

Je vous souhaite une bonne journee.