They’re at it….

What on earth is going on the conservatory window. And yes the conservatory needs tidying up. Out of focus dinosaur toys have taken over.

So it’s the first full week back at school for families in our area. Already many children have taken the quick but problematic virus test. Our Government is really pushing them while other countries are deeply sceptical of the test we use. Even our own Doctor Groups have expressed concerns. Some parents are refusing to let their children take them. Some schools have run out of the test kits. But the tests are the only precaution left in our schools.

From the parent comments on our school’s forum, a number of children have tested positive and are waiting a full test. A number of parents are isolating due to contracting Covid. But the Government rules have changed. Schools are not allowed to track potential cases without the approval from the authorities. They are not allowed to notify parents of potential or confirmed cases. Parents will only be notified if the number of cases escalates beyond a set national threshold. It seems odd that if a child has head lice then other parents are immediately notified but no notification now with an infectious disease. It also seems bizarre that under the current rules a child who tests negative using the inaccurate quick tests must still attend class even if that child’s parents have Covid, and if the child’s siblings have Covid.

Not an ideal backdrop for Hawklad to be wrestling with going back to school or not. He is still struggling with crowds. Still struggling with OCD. Still struggling to touch objects. Still struggling to venture inside.

School have said that they will try to be flexible about his return but do they really get it . His health professionals recommended a number of changes to help but these have not been acted upon. We asked if he could be put into classes with at least a few friends to help his potential return. Most of his classes have now been announced and guess what. Where are his friends……NOT in his class. It’s as if they had tried to put him in the worst class groupings possible. Let’s hope that the last two subjects fair better. Classes are full, the year is over allocated and unless a pupil leaves then switches can’t happen apparently.

Yes they’re at it again…. And it’s not helping.

And then

Another sign of the approaching Autumn Term. Plenty of insects on the windows. Yes this one is superimposed on the big boy cats butt.

The day has dawned. In hours Hawklad is due back in the classroom. One email from school informing parents that school Covid safeguards have been relaxed apart from some testing. The school day will start with all children undertaking a Covid self test. Then the Year will gather for a school assembly in the main hall. After about 3 hours lessons will then commence.

No specific contact from school about Hawklad.

No discussions on tailoring a return.

No chance for Hawklad to do another pre school visit.

School haven’t even specifically asked if Hawklad is returning.

So what is Hawklad doing?

The thought of 3 hours of being in the small main hall with something like 120 other pupils without masks has really bothered him. Bothers me….. No specific plans have been agreed with school. Nothing in place to help with his potential return. Under those circumstances he can’t return. So I have informed school that he is working from home today.

It doesn’t help that it’s an anniversary……

Let’s see if school offer anything today. At least the timetable and class details will be published. Hawklad has said he will decide on Saturday. At present he feels that he can’t return. If that’s the case then it’s a question about is the a temporary hold or the permanent switch to homeschooling.

It’s such a mess.

Whitby

Maybe being inside amongst strangers is still a step too far for Hawklad but he keeps trying. A late call but we headed towards the North East Coast. To Whitby. A small town with so much history. A small town which provided one of the key settings for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

These days it’s a busy tourist destination. Today was grey and cold, so hopefully not that busy.

Yes less busy but still too busy for Hawklad. He desperately tried to keep his distance. Often walking down the middle of the road to avoid strangers. His hoody pulled over almost to the bridge of his nose. He couldn’t stay long. It was too uncomfortable and unsettling. He resisted the urge to let me go inside to buy ice cream or the legendary Whitby Fish & Chips. We made it to see a few boats. A quick wander to the Pier. Then it was heading back to the safety and isolation of home.

What happens with school at the end of the week. Still to be determined. But to me there is only one viable road open.

The River

A Yorkshire River. A bit of an odd Yorkshire River. It’s not in flood……

In winter the River is often several feet above the top of the sand banks. But in summer the banks provide a perfect place for Swift’s to nest.

As we walked along the river edge my thoughts drifted back to when Hawklad had just started school. It was the start of the Aspergers journey. it was before any expert help came our way. Two parents trying to get their head’s round our family life. We kinda knew he was on the spectrum but what did we know. Expert guidance was still 2 years away. It was such a confusing time. But one of my clearest recollections of that time was Hawklads’s reaction to people.

Hawklad struggled with meeting people. He wouldn’t make eye contact with anyone apart from his mum, dad and grannies. His hood was always over his head and pulled down over his eyes. He would freeze or have meltdowns if an outsider was too near. If he was in a room with others then he frequently would be found in a corner, facing the wall. Outside he would hide behind trees until the coast was clear.

Slowly over the following years things started to change. With so much hard work he became better able deal with people. Not comfortable but he found a way. He developed a slightly wider network of friends. Really close friendships formed.

Today we are walking along The River. We are avoiding people. We came off the path because Hawklad was struggling. The hood was over his head again. We headed in another direction as soon as an outsider came into view. If he couldn’t avoid them then he hid behind me. Down by The River he could hide away. He had the place to himself and he could tell his Dad all about the migrational pattern of Swift’s. It felt isolated but safe to him. Away from others. He’s comfortable with me and his best friends. Others just no way.

It feels like I have been here before.

Twilight walk

Late evening dog walk. Normally a time of beauty, quiet and peace. A much needed feeling of solitude for Hawklad. But not this night. The sound of the farmer had at work as the light gives out. No sound of silence tonight.

Another day has started and the Government ‘schools are perfectly safe’ campaign is in full swing. Children are are very low risk of getting ill from COVID. Crossing the road is much more dangerous. So all children should return to school immediately and there is no need for any COVID mitigation strategies in the the classroom. Forget your masks and go for it. This even applies to Extremely Clinical Vulnerable children. A Government Health Agency has just wrote to over 55000 families to inform them that now their extremely clinical vulnerable child should not shield anymore. They are expected back at school. Previously they have been informed to fully isolate due to the health risks associated with COVID. Now it’s suddenly become safe. Reassuringly the Head of that Agency also claimed last year that the UK had a world leading COVID strategy. Also argued that effective track and trace of cases was not needed. Also claimed that Large Scale Mass Public Gatherings carried no risk at all (days before they were stopped on safety grounds). Argued that the UK would not suffer significant deaths (currently 132000). OK….

Covid is such a difficult area to manage. I accept that. But children are catching Covid. Are suffering from severe and long Covid. They are in intensive care. Too many have died. It’s time my Government was honest with us. We are averaging well over 30000 new cases per day. We have 26x more cases than this time last year. Most days sadly over 100 people die. Most other countries are vaccinating children. Most other countries are installing improved ventilation in classrooms. Most other countries are maintaining sensible precautions in schools. My Government has decided to drop all precautions. Let’s be clear the Government and it’s officials know this. They have an level of child illness, suffering and death which is acceptable to them. They will see that as manageable.

But then rather than trusting children and parents with making a decision on their families safety (which will be different for each family), they are forcing the issue. Forcing families into sending children back into school regardless of the individual circumstances. Threatening legal action. Sending Government Officials after families. Regardless of family health risk profiles. Regardless of any mental health concerns. The only view that matters is the Government’s.

Parent views only matter with this Government when they provide a convenient excuse for the friends of the PM to justify the few ignoring the rules while everyone else has to obey them. One rule for them, one rule for us.

And on top of that the Government is now saying that responsibility for controlling covid in schools is purely the responsibility of parents and teachers. It has nothing to do with the Government. I wonder why that is…

Hawklad will go back to school when he is ready. He knows best. I trust his judgement. It is his health and well-being. Sadly I don’t trust those in power who are supposed to be on his side. They don’t care.

Moors

A short drive takes us into the heart of the Yorkshire MOORS. A stunningly moody setting for generations of fantastic storytellers. Wuthering Heights could only be set here in Yorkshire.

Today seemingly a perfect place for a trip out for Hawklad. He wanted to go out but to somewhere quiet and remote. The busiest time of the year for tourists yet we had the place to ourselves. Often it felt like we were the only two humans in these lands. That’s what Hawklad needed.

The setting perfect for forgetting the anxieties starting to build around the upcoming school return decision.

Then the decision was back centre stage for me. One small occurrence bringing the enormity of what Hawklad may soon be facing into clear focus.

A wall to be climbed. A set of steep, uneven narrow steps to be navigated. Helpfully a wooden handrail helped with my balance. But Hawklad couldn’t touch the handrail. Didn’t matter that I was probably the only person to touch the surface in hours. He just couldn’t touch it. Don’t laugh but he found a use for his old Dad. I stood next to the steps and he used the top of my head as a temporary balance aid. We laughed.

If he can’t touch surfaces how can he return to an overcrowded classroom with shared learning materials and equipment. He can’t touch door handles. He won’t even be able to touch his desk.

Two weeks to go and how can this school return happen.

Moody Moors. Moody Dad.

Heather

A small family trip to the moors. A carpet of pink.

I’ve always considered my family pretty close knit. No conflicts. No splits. Yes we got geographically spread but we still kept in regular contact. Regular visits.

Then three things happened .

Mum left us…..It wasn’t until she was not there anymore that I noticed that she was the gravitational force that held us together. We would frequently meet up at her house. We would have family get togethers but these usually happened because of mum. We would make the effort because of mum. Now that force of attraction has gone, the family meet ups are becoming less frequent and fewer turn up when they do happen.

Lockdown……The less frequent meet ups STOPPED for over 18 months. One sister who I would see really frequently has ended up not seeing Hawklad in over 2 years now…. Brother its 3 years now.

Time……As time passes we develop our own worlds. New families.

So we had a small meet up today and it felt strange. We should have had plenty to talk about, lots of catching up to do. It never happened. Even though we were physically close there still seemed to be a distance. Even Hawklad felt it. He pulled his hoody fully up – that’s a sign that he wasn’t comfortable. That never used to be the case.

When will the next meet up be, who knows. Zero sign of getting all the brothers and sisters together. The last time that happened was my partners funeral. The slow drifting apart of my family is sad but it feels kinda inevitable.

Autumn

Autumn is coming…..

Basically we have had about 36 hours of rain and drizzle. I looked up the weather stats and for hours of sunshine it has ZERO for two days now. I can’t remember the last time I went looking for the sun cream. Probably back into early July.

Perfect weather for rhubard….

Another hit on the return to school journey for Hawklad.

He is still struggling to be close to others, even outside. His trusted Psychologist has now left and we are waiting news on a replacement. The one restaurant he was considering trying to go inside for a meal, burnt down….

So it’s not been straightforward but he is still trying.

He was hoping to see a close friend early this week. Spend time at the friends house. Another important step. But we got a telephone call. His friend has Covid.

A September classroom return is seemingly becoming more problematic for Hawklad. A

utumn might see more homeschooling.

Birds at dawn

Another early start. This time a seriously early one. A perfect insomniac storm. 3am. Hawklad has woken and can’t sleep. I have not been to bed yet and sleep feels a million miles away.

Hawklad wonders if we can see the dawn brake. On the coast.

So a few moments later and after I had sampled the meanest of espressos, we are driving. Driving past badgers, foxes and owls. Before 4am we arrive at RSPB Bempton Cliffs. It’s still pitch black and we have the site to ourselves. It’s such an eerie feeling walking in the complete absence of light and sound. Even to early for the thousands of seabirds perched precariously on the cliffs. No wind and even the sea was strangely becalmed.

In perfect time to watch dawn brake. No thoughts of an Albatross who was apparently out at sea. Who needs one bird when you get to watch all this unfold.

The dark was a challenge to my iPhone camera but it gave it a go.

By 7am a few people had started to arrive, mainly here to take up prime spots and wait. Hoping on catching sight of one particular bird. They had no idea what they had just missed. The deafening sound of seabirds hides the peace that existed just 2 hours ago.

We were back in the car and driving a few minutes later. The site had lost its appeal to Hawklad. Even a handful of strangers proving too much for him. But he had got to see a spectacular show first hand. Just the two of us so without his anxieties. He slept during the ride home.

Yes it was a ridiculously early start. Yes I went more than 24 hours without sleep. But it was worth it for those couple of hours when Hawklad felt that he had the world to himself. I suspect it won’t be the last time we do this. Yes there will be time for trips out to build those social bridges but those come with anxieties. We all need these times and places of sanctuary. Hawklad does. Yes even a worn down parent needs them.

Change

Another cool and breezy Yorkshire summer’s day. The kinda day that always works better with black and white.

It’s five years to the day that I found out from the Consultant that my partner had weeks to live and was likely never to regain full consciousness again. From that day life changed. Not a gradual, planned change. This was a sudden, seismic explosion. Almost everything seemed to cave in. Nothing would ever be the same again. Those doorways onto my then current life slammed shut and locked forever.

The one single thing that kept me going back in 2016 was Hawklad. I had one job now. Give him the best possible childhood I could possibly manage, on my own. At that stage I was living purely though my sons eyes. Change had to somehow work for him .

Life was now different. Unplanned. Very much unscripted. It felt like that the life that had gone before was a more protected. More manageable. This new world seemed very real, very scary with no protection. But I guess that’s change for you. Often it’s too easy to have a change of heart. Avoid the consequences of change. Stick with the your current hand. But in that bleak 2016 moment, sticking with what I had was not an option. Change was happening and there was nothing I could do to stop it. That’s such an unnerving feeling.

Life has changed for me. There was nothing I could do to stop that. Some of that change was awful. Soul destroying. In the immediate aftermath most things felt that way. But now five years later the change that was forced upon me has largely worked out. And whisper it, much of the change has been positive or was in practice badly needed anyway. And yes in some really important areas things are actually better now than they have ever been.

Change can work with patience.