Questions

A hospital visit is now an even more unpleasant experience. Masks at all times except when you were in a separate room with no other people. One temperature check. All staff with masks and gloves on at all times. The place filled with clearly very panicky people keeping their distance. The children’s ward only allowing one parent in with a child.

But here’s a thought for you.

We faced far more detailed pandemic questioning from the Boiler Repair team (over 20 questions) than we did when we had to access two separate Hospitals and a Surgical Theatre (one question) ….. I guess that’s what happens when people are confused, scared and left without clear trustworthy guidance from the Government.

Differences

Wild Strawberries growing under the blueberry bush. Certainly wasn’t expecting these to grow here but with an open mind, this is such a result.

The decision to abandon mainstream schooling is in our son’s hands. It’s his life. His risks. His anxieties. His dreams. His future. So ultimately he decides. If it was my call then I’ve made my mind up. It would be homeschooling from September. That viewpoint has hardened with the last two communications from school.

The first was a summary of the schools position. Basically son is low attainment and has significant educational needs. Progress will be difficult. His educational needs are best met in the bottom set. With effort he may still be able to get a few qualifications. He is best following the normal teaching programme with no specific interventions (which would eat into tight school budgets).

Ok….

Then the next communication was his school report for the year. It painted a slightly different picture. To quote a few phrases from his individual teachers

  • Strength for creative writing,
  • Worked hard to produce some fantastic work,
  • Excellent attitude,
  • Will progress very well in subject,
  • His remote learning has been great,
  • He is a star,
  • Class work of the highest standard,
  • Superb young historian,
  • Considerable talent in the subject,
  • Very good understanding of the subject,
  • Pleasure to teach.

Ok….

Two conclusions here. One is that the report comments are standard across all the kids and so they mean nothing. Just a way to keep parents happy.

OR

The report comments are the reality and something is seriously wrong with schools overall assessment.

I strongly suspect this is a common pattern across the country. It mirrors current government thinking. If thinking is the right word to use. Basically kids with educational needs do not fit neatly into the factory production line educational approach. Minimise input costs to generate a set and limited output. Discard those items which fall out of the narrow design specification. Educational needs equate to additional teaching costs which will not be funded. Thus the best approach is to dump kids with Autism, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ADHD, disabilities and mental health issues into the bottom set. Conveniently forget about them. If these kids then get the odd qualification out of the system then the authorities can pat themselves on the back after a job well done. Let’s not forget the important thing, all this delivered all so cost effectively.

Maybe I am being cynical but that’s the reason I am definitely falling into the homeschooling camp.

Really

So the great Boris Johnson let’s open ‘Schools in September’ plan is becoming oh so clear. Basically let’s disregard all the current Covid guidance. Let’s squeeze the kids back into the cramped schools and forget about social distancing. But here’s the master plan. Let’s split the kids into year groups and ask the year groups not to mix. That way we can try and reduce the spread of the virus amongst all the poor sods in the school. Maybe stagger some start times and do a bit of cleaning here and there. If teachers go off sick then try to squeeze more kids into even larger classes. And that’s basically it. Oh and of course schools are safe because Boris said so. OK….

Last week some schools in the English city of Leicester were opened even though confirmed cases were rising alarmingly in the area. Parents were assured it was perfectly safe to send kids to school. On Tuesday it was announced that schools in the city would close on Thursday as part of a local city pandemic lockdown. So it’s apparently safe for kids and teachers to go into school until midnight Wednesday at which point it becomes unsafe again….

Dad is that really what a Prime Minister should look like….”

***** photo from the Daily Record******

Well that’s the neatest I’ve ever seen him.

Dad. It looks like he’s doing a Paddington Bear and he’s keeping his sandwiches safe under is hat.”

Certainly not keeping his brain safe under there. No one has seen that for years. Still the brains not needed as he has his special adviser.

The one who looks like a Sith Lord and can ignore lockdown rules .”

Yep that’s the one.

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

Now here’s the thing. The special adviser is Dominic Cummings. This lovely chap.

******photo from The Guardian******

The X-Files could have spent many a series and several films just on this shady villain. I will give you just one little nugget. He passionately believes in Eugenics. The belief that the key for our countries development is to improve the gene pool of the population. That is to encourage those deemed ‘the finest’ to breed and breeding out those who do not fit the template. That means the likes of our son would not be included in the desired gene pool. Can’t have defective genes in the pool…..

Welcome to modern Britain. Welcome to the Government. Where’s Mulder and Scully when we need them.

Excuse

This was the last few hours of the heatwave before the stormy weather arrived.

There’s a new expression taking hold in England. The matter is now closed. Unfortunately it carries no weight unless you are a member of the Government. It works like this. It comes to light that a member of the government or a sponsor has been caught doing bad stuff. Recently that’s things like criminal negligence, collusion with a foreign power, breaking the law, ignoring lockdown rules, profiteering from the pandemic or brexit, harassment, breaking procurement regulations, waiving or ignoring planning rules for personal gain and misconduct. The type of stuff that if me and you did this then we would be thrown to the wolves.

But that doesn’t apply to members of the elite.

But here’s where the phrase comes into use. So a member of the government is caught with his or her trousers down. After days of denying anything happened they issue a brief statement saying nothing bad happened and anyway it was someone else’s fault. This is then followed by the PM saying The Matter is Now Closed and I have full confidence in the rogue bandit. Now since the PM likes to see himself as a part time Emperor, well that’s it. No need for further investigation or questions. The PM has done that kinda stuff while sipping on another expensive champagne. He is court, jury and judge. You can trust the emperor as he had an exclusive private education and he had been bred to lead us. This approach is proving such jolly good fun that it’s really taking hold. The mainstream media buy it, prosecuting authorities are increasing deferring to it, as are an increasing number of the public.

So when I was a kid and I got hauled off to the head teachers office for snapping a pencil or swearing in cricket – if only I had access to the the matter is now closed defence.

If only my ‘a big boy did it and ran away‘ excuse had proved so effective……

Not had a rant for days…..

I came outside to look at the roses. And breathe..

The UK Government has a natural ability to take the breathe away. What are the words I am looking for

Self-serving

Incompetence

Charlatan

Criminally negligent

Fraud

Part timers

Out of their depth

Nest of vipers

Dangerous

Liars

Elitist

One rule for the many, doesn’t apply to them

When you think it can’t get any worse and then they take it a new level……

So on the 4th July Britain is open for business again. Something we all can sign up to if it’s done properly and safely. But this is Boris Johnson we are talking about. The laziest and most inept Prime Minister in over 150 years. So here are just a few nuggets of his so called plan

  • The governments own scientists have warned against easing restrictions too soon. If we do the safe way is to do that carefully and in small stages. The PM has said oh tish to that. British wartime spirit apparently is all we need to follow. It clearly does help a leaders senses when he has rich backers and views the world through the bottom of an empty champagne glass….
  • For months we have been told that masks are a waste of time and that we should be keeping at least 2 metres apart. Suddenly 1m is cool as long as your wear those marvellous masks (but only if you really want to).
  • Since March we have been told that the key to beating this virus is the Tracking and Tracing App. Rather than go with the Google and Apple one we decided to give a contract to friends of the Government. This world class app was promised to go live in April, then May, then June. Then suddenly it’s dropped because it didn’t work (not the Government’s fault of course, it was all down to those pesky people at Apple). Now it won’t be ready until the winter but it’s ok as it was never a priority – everyone must have repeatedly misheard the PM and the Health Secretary …..
  • This scene according to the PM is perfectly safe, carries no pandemic risk and so can happen freely (this was our nearest beach yesterday) …..
  • However this scene is not allowed, carries huge pandemic risks and deemed unsafe….
  • People are not allowed to attend live theatre due to the risks yet our PM is delighted to allow pubs to open. The PM clearly trusts Joe Bloggs and his drunken mates to act responsibly and stay 1m apart at all times (wearing a mask) after 10 pints of strong lager.

But no they haven’t finished yet. Apparently schools will reopen fully in September. The plan is to ditch all social distancing rules for children. All we need to do is to tell the kids not to sneeze on others. Squeeze them back into cramped classrooms and act as if nothing has changed. Just in case each class should try not to spend too much time with other classes. Really. It’s ok for the Government as they send their kids to private schools where class sizes are less than 15, here social distancing can still happen. But not for the state schools with class sizes of over 30. In fact the PM has dropped rules so that the class sizes can go much higher than 30. If teachers become sick then you can just have supersized classes.

Well they can just sod off. They are no Government of mine. Time to bunker down.

So back to the roses and breathe.

Wembley

The Yorkshire version of Wembley Stadium. Can you spot the pet trying to once again sneak into the photo.

Even comes with a discerning crowd.

If Aspergers Parenting was a football game, well today feels like we have had a key player sent off….

I always naively assumed that if and when son got an official diagnosis then a support package would be out in place to help with his life chances. How silly of me. I didn’t count on year after year, having to fight the system. Trying to prize just the hints of support from a system which has been hammered into the ground by a Government which only looks after itself and it’s friends. To summarise

  • A school system repeatedly fails kids who do not fit into the factory production line which is the UK school system. Two options, either fight for a place in one of the few special schools or accept your child being bracketed as ‘low attainment’ and consigned to the bottom set. The school will then forget about the child and then pat itself on the back if the child gets just one certificate.
  • Letter after letter, call after call trying to find a clinician who is prepared to look at your child’s case.
  • Passed from specialist to specialist who don’t have the time or resources to add your child onto their case load.
  • Service after service cut by a Government which believes that only the rich should be able to buy access to essential healthcare. A Government that sees Mental Health as no more than an excuse to avoid work. Let’s not forget they described a child taking time off from school after a bereavement as an extended holiday.
  • When you do finally get access to a service you then join the growing waiting list. Finally when your child is seen it’s virtually always by someone new, with no understanding of the back story.
  • Finally your child starts to get older and the few services he has had access to are withdrawn as he is now above the age threshold. You see the Government likes to think that after 13, services are pointless and far too expensive. Adults have to sort themselves out.

We have had three brilliant exceptions to this.

  • A Clinical Psychologist who worked with out son consistently for three years. She even delayed her retirement to ensure son’s diagnosis was officially approved.
  • An Occupational Therapy service that worked with him every few months to help with things like coordination. A service which was cut when he reached 13.
  • A wonderful Nurse Counsellor who worked with our son for 3 years helping with his anxieties and joining the fight for additional help.

We entered June 2020 with just the Nurse Counsellor left from his entire care package. And now the player is sent off.

The Nurse phoned today to let us know that she had been reassigned. She is great and some other kids are really going to really benefit from her time. We are eternally grateful for everything she has done. She is going to desperately try to find another clinician to take over from her. I know she will really try. We may get a replacement. The Nurse was the only clinician he really has connected with. Those connections are rare for him. Making a new connection is going to be tough and most certainly not guaranteed. As the Nurse said it feels like we have lost the progress made over the last few years.

Today feels like one of those tough parenting days. As a friend wrote recently we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and start again. We most certainly do. But it feels like it’s a much depleted team taking on the struggle. Forgive me I’ve not used a Lord of the Rings metaphor for a while. It feels like the heavens have opened. The hordes are massed outside the walls and I’m stood alone on the Battlements of Helms Deep. Just me protecting our son now. Doesn’t feel like Gandalf is riding over the horizon in the morning. I’m going to have to just find a way of doing this myself.

I’m off now to kick the ball into the net a few times. Maybe with a bit more force than usual. Then the fight starts again.

Fragmented

Good to see the local motorway is busy…. It’s still too busy for our son. I got special dispensation to step 10 yards out of the front gate to take this photo. Life on the edge.

It really does feel a bit like that at present. On one hand we have what apparently counts as our Government rapidly relaxing restrictions and on the other hand kids like our son….

His social and health phobias are in a pandemic fuelled maelstrom. Every few minutes he feels the need to wash his hands. To repeatedly rinse his mouth out. The fear of germs and hidden dangers becoming a real nightmare for him. He struggles to touch items like taps and handles. Even putting potentially unclean shoes on is a challenge these days. Deliveries have to go into garage quarantine for at least 4 days. Clothes need changing every few hours. And then another spanner in the works. The old house boiler completely failed. So a service call out is required. It’s now way beyond a temporary Dad patch up. That means an additional new threat to sons safe area. A house visitor! After much discussion we agreed a plan. The service engineer would come into the house only via the back door. The engineer must wear a mask at all times. I will keep 2m away from the engineer at all times. When the work is finished we will effectively lock down half of the house. We won’t venture into the areas the engineer visited for three days. Not ideal but it’s a plan. Son’s stress levels will rise but hopefully not too far. The damage to his safe area minimised.

Yet individuals like our son are expected to just re-enter the world by July 4th. The date our part time PM is declaring as the day he defeated the virus. The date he can heroically restart England. It’s perfectly fine to open overcrowded public schools in September. A few more hand sanitisers in the corridors and relaxing the rules further to allow for even larger class sizes to cope with increased teacher sickness is now the best way to deal with a pathogen. We are told ‘everything is now fine’ by the very leaders who have been proven to be wrong on virtually every single major decision they have made over the last 6 months. The very leaders who now widely seen as charlatans and pathological liars. People see this. Our son sees this. This just adds fuel to his anxieties. It’s making a bad situation even worse.

So when England reopens on the 4th July a small bungalow in Yorkshire will not. It stays on lockdown until son is able to face the world again. Who knows how long that will take. Much patience is required. We won’t be the only family facing this prospect. Again my country further fragments. I’m not entirely sure it’s ever really going to come back together again.

His eyes

It’s been a few months since I went trail running along this route. The first time I did this route I remember thinking that the route will gentle meander up the hill. Wrong. A direct, straight up mud fest.

When we came walking here with the dog I remember telling our son that the route was into the trees. Straight up and then down the other side. His response

Why don’t we just walk round the base of the hill. We will eventually end up in roughly the same place. Makes more sense to me.

That is the perfect metaphor for life and parenting. It’s something I’m desperate to learn from.

Each person, each child is unique. What works for one person may not work for another. My path might be right for me but is it really the right path for our son. The answer is probably NO. So why should be follow me up that hill path. He sees the world through his eyes not mine. He will see and interpret things differently to me. He has to find the route that works for him. That’s the way he becomes the person that he was meant to be. Not the person I, or the government or society believes he should be. He has to live his OWN life. Become the person he is most at ease with. His true self.

Dad why wasn’t I christened?”

Because that has to be YOUR decision not OURS…..

I might be convinced that homeschooling is best for him. But only HE really knows, so it has to be his call. If in September he decides that school is safe and that it’s where he wants to learn then he will go back.

It’s tough for the parent. Trying to find the right balance. I probably get it wrong every single day. But the secret is to learn from those mistakes. Parents should learn just as much or more from their children than we teach them. So hopefully I can stop myself from saying things like

  • You need to do…
  • This is what will happen…
  • This is best for you…
  • That is wrong for you…
  • This is the truth…

Replace these phrases with

  • What do you think…
  • How do you see things…
  • What is your heart telling you…
  • What works for you…
  • This is only my opinion…
  • It’s your call…

Ultimately it’s HIS life. It’s the ultimate privilege that he allows me access his world. To sometimes act sometimes as guide and but more often just as a companion. But it’s a two way process. He also guides me. More than he realises. Until he decides to spread his wings and fly, then I’ve made the life choice to be that companion and occasional guide.

Conversations

Sorry this is a couple of days late. The new WordPress editor took a dislike to this post and it’s taken two days to fix it.

Well a bit of blue sky and no rain is a start. Even the wind has eased. Feels almost like Autumn now.

Two conversations have rather defined this autumnal feeling day. The first one with the dentist.

I finally managed to speak to my Dentist about my chipped back tooth. In a nutshell this is what the Dentist said.

  • The practice partly reopens tomorrow.
  • They have a huge backlog and waiting list.
  • They are allowed to start looking at emergency cases but won’t be able to do much with them. Basically just temporarily patch them up. No drilling or aerosol inducing treatments allowed.
  • They will get back to me when they can have a look at it. But the repair will be some time. Dependent on getting the go ahead from the Government.
  • The Government is a shambles. Just making things worse.

So basically just got to grin and bear it. Will add temporary dental fixes to my increasing list of almost skills. It’s quite bizarre that the UK’s Health Minister is spending more time and energy on getting Horse Racing going than be is on helping out the NHS and Dental services. It’s amazing what being funded by the Horse Racing Industry does for a persons priorities.

The second conversation involved a muppet but not our Health Minister thankfully.

Dad remember when we worked out that you are 25% human and 75% muppet.”

75% is probably understating the muppetry.

Well Dad I’ve been trying to work out which muppet DNA runs through you.”

Well when I used to go and watch Newcastle United play footy. When I say ‘play’ I should say ‘get beat’ at footy. Me and my friend would just sit and slag off our own team. We were definitely the two old muppets in the audience. Waldorf and Statler.

Ok but now you don’t go anymore then they don’t count. I am seeing three muppets in your DNA. First one is Beaker. That expression and the hair sticking up is just so you..”

“The second muppet I see in you has to be Fozzie Bear and those terrible jokes of yours..”

“The final muppet in my Dad is definitely Animal. You seem to approach everything. Things like cooking, gardening, hairdressing with the same care and attention that Animal approaches life..”

I can’t argue with this assessment, although I am a little disappointed not to have a little bit of Miss Piggy in me. Now do I trust Animal with this emergency dental kit…

*****Photos from Wikipedia******

Building Bridges

A fine northern river. Many bridges connecting both sides of the city. Without those bridges and the city is split asunder.

Son do you want to go out for a blueberry ice cream?

No it’s ok Dad.”

Son do you want to go and visit your Auntie. We can keep 2m apart when we get there?

Not this week.”

How about visiting your favourite toy shop. It’s open?

No I’ve got plenty of stuff to do.”

What about going to that remote walk and going to see that Neolithic site. We can stop off and get one of your favourite pizzas?

No, maybe some other time.”

These are some of his favourite things. In 2019 the slightest mention of any of these would have sent our Son running towards the car. That’s all changed now. He has most definitely burnt his bridges with the world. He is also in no rush to start to build them again. Many people will be in the same boat. We have a community split asunder. Split in more ways than this….

I understand someone from the so called Government was not happy with pupils been kept off school. Kids should be forced back to schools as it will be good for them. They don’t have the slightest idea about Mental Health awareness. Good job we are ignoring what they say.

It’s going to be a long road back for some. Certainly for our Son. It’s pointless putting a timescale on it. It will happen when it happens. Until then the bridges will remain down and we make the best of it. I’m looking out across the next door farm and into the distance. We are so blessed. We certainly can make this work for us. No rush for bridges here.