Wrestling with the logistics

He misses out on so much, so much of the teenage life. You can only experience so much when you spend so much time isolated. What highlights the isolation is that since March 2020 he has spent some time with only ONE friend in that time – his only contact with someone his own age. Yes a really good friend but that’s a shed load of teenage socialising missed out on. It’s not the same but when a chance to do something special for him presents itself then you grab it, regardless of the difficulties.

The alarm went off before 5am.

300 miles of driving later, two traffic jams and we park up in Cardiff.

Trying frustratingly to find facilities that weren’t too busy and that could be used without causing too much stress.

Trying to take in a bit of the history of the Capital of Wales while avoiding the crowds.

Watching the anxiety levels rise as we join the long queues to get into a huge stadium.

But then the goal. The whole point of this. Getting the wrestling mad Hawklad into the UK’s first major Wrestling Televised Live Event in 30 years, along with 62000 other crazy fans. Was I so underdressed in a grey T-shirt and Jeans…. With much trying I had obtained 2 tickets at the back but crucially in an area with some space around us. Then for 4 hours Hawklad could be part of something, experiencing something different, something exciting. A brief breakout from the isolation

Then it was over, 300 mile night driving and almost 24 hours later we arrived back home. Wow I was tired. Yes it was difficult. Yes the trip highlighted many issues that create roadblocks to eventually easing the isolation and maybe returning him to a classroom. But Hawklad did some of that exciting living and that is all that mattered.

Heritage 2

A trip to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire. It’s a seriously atmospheric and stunning location.

It gets really busy here in the summer so it was an early start. Do as much as we can until the crowds get too much for Hawklad and then it’s a quick exit.

The trip went well. Almost first in the queue when the site opened and for a couple of hours, Hawklad had his much needed space. Precious moments in the 11th century Cistercian Monastery. Precious moments spent without touching anything, spent maintaining distances. Hawklad spent the time dreaming and instructing me on history. Well mostly…

Stood under this amazing rood structure and I asked Hawklad to enlighten me, to teach me something. He instantly described some interesting facts about Starfish reproduction. I must have had one of those slightly confused looks that parents develop increasingly to which he replied.

“Oh you wanted some information about the monasteries….”

History comes alive when you can see it, touch it, smell it. We have so much history on our doorsteps. Bronze Age, Roman, Viking, Saxon, Norman and onwards, all within a short drive of the schools. So why is school history exclusively learnt via textbooks. Not one single school trip to a experience history. What a missed opportunity.

Then the crowds started to arrive, scores of family picnics breaking out everywhere. Time to leave. Time for our picnic but ours is taken away from view, a remote road lay-by with a view. Then it’s a scenic route home.

Definitely a decent trip out but still a million miles from returning to the classroom. I think we can safely say that won’t be happening in just over 3 weeks now.

How and why

How…

How do you do that….

Hawklad definitely doesn’t get his memory from me. Today I misplaced my car keys THREE times. Couldn’t remember a colleagues name. Forgot to put washing powder in todays wash. Set off to the shops without my debit card…. That sort of thing. Nothing new there, my memory has always been a tad leaky.

Thankfully the only things that I’ve currently passed down the line to Hawklad are gorgeous eyelashes and a love for ROCK music. Only time will tell on things like my large hairy backside and Homer Simpson side profile…..

One of the great puzzles in life. Secretly I quite like the idea of being a rebellious kid like Bart Simpson but in the end why do I inevitably just end up looking like his Dad… Do’h.

Hawklad doesn’t have his Dad’s leaky memory. In such a short time he can process and store huge amounts of information. If it’s something that interests him then he just soaks it all up. Once it’s absorbed, it stays absorbed. It started with Birds of Prey. Then History. The other day I asked him to name every English Monarch, he did it, perfectly and in order. And he’s moved on to other areas, some academic, some cultural, some other things. F1 motor racing being one thing. He’s been absorbing the results, the characters, the history. Only after a couple of weeks it’s mind blowing to me.

Yesterday I tested him.

Name every winner of the world title since F1 started.

Who has won a particular GP the most.

How many career wins for drivers.

Which manufacturers did drivers race for.

In the 50s and 60s which teams did Fangio win titles with.

He was faultless. Like the last question he instantly replied

Alfa Romeo, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, and Maserati.

How does he do that. Somedays I even struggle to remember what car I drive. Why can’t school see this. Why can’t school tap into this.

Why….

Planning pt 1

A carefully planned day trip. A trip 140 miles north up the coast. To deepest Northumberland. To the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. A stunning tidal island set in the North Sea. To reach it you need to cross a one mile causeway which disappears when the tide comes in. Saint Aidan founded a Monastery here in 635AD. Even today you can see why.

So much planning was needed. Time the arrival as the tide was just revealing the causeway. Stay just long enough before the crowds arrived.

Unbelievably the plan worked. Hawklad got his day out with few crowds. That is definitely the blueprint for trying to expand his world on HIS TERMS.

Waters

Why is it that as I get older my body rejects more and more food and drink. More foods and drinks that it struggles with. AND why is it always the stuff I love. It’s never broccoli or cauliflower or beetroot.

When I mentioned that to Hawklad he simply sighed, shrugged his shoulders and reflected on life.

“It’s because you love the really unhealthy things…..”

There is that…..

Water is good but add shed loads of full on coffee and it’s not so good anymore. Ice is good but add bucket loads of Cream and …….

I guess it’s just like education. Learning is good but add too much British Schooling and sadly ……

Am I being unfair, probably so but it’s sometimes hard not to be. Up to 12 months ago Hawklad loved HISTORY. REALLY LOVED IT. He loved learning about History. He loved learning about details, facts, dates, people. He couldn’t get enough of it. But then the school HISTORY syllabus hit. He has zero interest in Victorian Crime and Serial Killers. He didn’t want to learn about the details of infamous crimes and punishments (month after month). Today I found him staring into space. School history lessons finally moved on from Jack the Ripper. Now he is having to learn about the development of the American Cattle Ranching Industry after the Civil War. Unfortunately that is just not Hawklad. He is rapidly falling out of love with History. He is falling out of love with learning.

That can’t be healthy or right. Is it so hard to tailor learning to the individual. Clearly so as this afternoon hours were spent trying to parrot learn Ionic Chemical Equations. Guess what

More hours of Hawklad staring vaguely into space.

Should it really have to be like this.

Recharge

Another day, another one of those days……

Absolutely no sign of the sun. Unremittingly damp, cold and bleak. Our poor outdoor solar festive lights have now officially gone on strike. Switch them on and there is just about enough power generated to muster a dim flicker and then nothing.

I can’t begin to tell you just how wet and muddy I got on today’s walk. but it was still good to be outside. There is always things to see.

That is a seriously impressive Hay Snake.

Yesterday I talked about the fantastic reading progress Hawklad has made. Reading history textbooks is a real statement. But things are never straightforward. He still really struggles with writing. Getting his ideas out on paper. Here his dyslexia still dominates. His handwriting just won’t develop. His typing is laboured and inaccurate. His ideas don’t reach the paper.

He feels so much frustration when he can’t make much progress in this area. And he does feel real frustration. He can now read. He has an amazing mind and can visualise things that are way beyond me. Ask him something like to list all the British Monarchs in order, and it’s a breeze for him. Ask him who where the defendants at Nuremberg and he can name them, including the verdicts. Ask him to work out a complex sum in his head and he can do it effortlessly. Yet ask him to add to simple decimals together and he is lost. Ask him to tell the time and as hard as he tries, he just can’t. Ask him to list the alphabet and he just can’t get the order right after D.

It’s tough seeing your son get so down on himself. I feel his frustration intensely. As a parent you feel like you have run out of ideas. It’s impossible to not get down on yourself as well. But that’s not helping anyone. When tomorrow comes and Hawklad is again trying his heart out, and he will. He hasn’t given up. He won’t give up. I’m the one who needs to get going again. So that’s why those walks in nature are so important. Even in bad weather and unlike those solar lights, I do recharge. So we can try again tomorrow.

Cobwebs

It’s that autumnal time of year for cobwebs. The local world is covered in them. Definitely another great reason to go outside. That one is almost good enough to play tennis with.

If only the cobwebs didn’t extend to my brain…..

Trying to show Hawklad how you work this little beauty out.

If 9 grams of water is decomposed, how many grams of oxygen and hydrogen are obtained?

If only it was just this one question. Another 30 questions of increasingly fiendish difficulty are facing Hawklad. As his science expert (🥸🥸🥸🤪🤪🤪) it was my job to explain that to him. Oh the brain cobwebs. That part of my brain has been much neglected over the many years since leaving university. Strangely no cobwebs in the parts of the brain that could answer questions like

Who won the FACUP in 1955?

Who played the hero scientist in Quatermass and the Pit?

Name all the characters in The Penguins of Madagascar?

Recite every word from The Dead Parrot sketch?

But sadly chemistry has much cobwebbing for some peculiar reason. So after 90 minutes of mental short circuiting I asked the next question with some trepidation.

What’s the next lesson?

Its History Dad. All about the 1542 Witchcraft Act.

Oooohhhhh. #@##%##@…..

It’s ok Dad, we have unbelievably done that before. I’m good on that. You can stand down for 90 minutes and have a rest.

The 1542 Witchcraft Act is clearly a horrible moment in our history but I get a rest, so for one day only, it’s gone up in my estimation. Does that make me a bad parent…….

Outings Part 1

It’s autumn and it’s about to rain – AGAIN.

Maybe it’s just Hawklad’s Secondary School (11-16 age) but what happened to School Trips. Ok a Pandemic hasn’t helped but even before that kicked in, where are the school outings. At his last school they would go out once every term on a school trip. Always to places that supported a current learning objective. Trip to places like castles or Viking sites that fitted in with History. Trips to churches and mosques to support RE. Trips to plays to support English and Drama. Trips to the countryside to look at Geographic Features. Trips to local science labs to foster interest in Science. Trips to Sporting Venues to encourage PE. It’s been so different at his current school.

Before the Pandemic kicked in NOT ONE educational school trip out for Hawklad. A few pupils got the chance of a trip to France to see war sites, but spaces were limited. With so much available on the schools doorsteps. So much History, Geography, Science, Religion. Why don’t the school use it. One of the best learning tools is surely to put the textbooks down and actually experince what your learning about. To see, touch, smell the subject.

Why am I always so at odds with modern schooling in Britain. Surely there is more to education than just trying to increase the length of the school day and reintroduce Victorian discipline into the classrooms.

Crime and punishment

The sun sets on another day. Closer to another school at home week. Yes that’s right – no return to the classroom yet. Actually that might not be such a bad thing.

I’ve mentioned this before but I find some of the syllabus just completely baffling.

Hawklad loves History. He really loves History. I’ve never seen him ever find History anything other than awesome. He has a passion for it. Until now. Until the School History Programme. One third of the course is on Crime and Punishment. So far he has spent weeks learning about Jack The Ripper, Victorian violent crime and Capital Punishment. He has months more of this to come.

Yesterday Hawklad said that he was finding this all seriously disturbing. It was making him really anxious and stressed out. A few phrases struck home

“I found some of the images really disturbing.”

Some of the crime descriptions and autopsy details I just can’t get out of my mind.”

It’s putting me off History…..”

This is school history, it’s not criminology, it’s not a Stephen King Horror Novel. I know history will often have to cover really distressing topics but does that really have to include graphic details about a notorious serial killers crimes. Yes they are graphic….. Of all the history in the world to go for and the Authorities had to pick this. I know the Government has a bit of a fetish about Victorian times. They like to hark back to ‘good old’ Victorian Values. Why… Is it about the unrestrained power of the rich that is appealing or is it the downtrodden lifestyles of those without. Maybe it’s those in charge liking the idea of having Victorian punishment regimes at their finger tips. But whatever the reason, do we really have to suck our children’s education into this area as well.

“It’s putting me of History”. A subject he loves. Not on my watch…..

Summer holidays

So we are deep into the Summer School Holidays. Actually in Yorkshire they should be rebranded as the ‘Are you kidding me, is this really supposed to be summer’ School Holidays.

Currently I’m thinking about some of the things Hawklad gets up to and contrasting them back to my school ‘summer’ holidays. Bearing in mind that this was before home computing and just prior to the mass dinosaur extinction. Back then my brain was officially switched off for 6 weeks. Sharks think they are so clever when they can shut down half the brain for sleep but keep the other part of the brain functioning so they can still swim. What’s really special is me shutting all of my brain down for the entire summer holiday and still managing to occasionally get out of bed by lunchtime. I didn’t need the brain to find Dads secret chocolate stash each day. That tin in his garage was always filled with chocolate cigarettes – wow how things have changed. I could also just about name Newcastle United’s upcoming fixtures. That was the sum of my holiday brain work.

Now contrast that with this ‘summer’ holiday. Hawklad is memorising the French kings and queens. He’s learning the outcome of every case that went before the Nuremberg War Trials. He’s also trying to improve his knowledge on UK Sea Birds. He has also been watching every season of the American version of The Office on the TV while at the same time also watching a YouTube series about the Roman Empire on his tablet. Apparently he can only get through both series in the 6 weeks if he watches them at the same time. That’s in between playing online with his friend who has covid and trying to build bridges to the outside world again.

Has he really got 50% of my genes or are those genes just heavily concentrated in his bushy eyelashes.