Ok…

Thankfully looking in the opposite direction to School

School is school.

School is so school.

School is so 😱😱😱😱ing school

Support from school seemingly dwindling away. A school report that had more gaps and missing information than a Donald Trump Tax Return. But at least I had booked video slots with each teacher on the Year 11 Online Parent Evening. A chance to get feedback, to give an update on how Hawklad is doing, to plan the next few months. Teachers spending time with every parent… well all apart from one parent.

Ok….. 20 minutes from the start of the first online teacher meeting and then an automated email from the booking system…

Our meetings had all been cancelled by School……

The reason from the Head of Year

They (some of his teachers) are concerned that; because they have not seen him in school for a number of years they do not have a great deal of feedback for you.

😱@🤦‍♂️#ing unbelievable

For a start the teachers have made no effort to contact him in two years, it’s been us trying to chase them. Hawklad has been diligently completing every piece of work that appears on the online school system, sending his work in, completing every single piece of homework that appears on the system, completing the tests and papers. He’s been doing that for two years. I’m sorry but the teachers should have more than enough feedback on that. The only conclusion is that most of his work has not even been looked at by school. The blanks on his report, the lack of any teacher marking on his work provide further evidence of that. Plus surely a teacher would want to know how one of their students is doing if they are not able to see that pupil in person. What’s going well, what’s not going do well. Find out if there is anything they can help him with.

Apparently not……

So where does that leave Hawklad apart from having a school that doesn’t care. A school more than happy to pick up his state funding and then reallocate it to other budgets. A request for external support to be funded from his education funds was turned down just two months ago. The Head deemed that it wasn’t a priority for his limited budget..

So the Award winning School is down to one job now, arrange Hawklad’s exams, exam location and invigilators. That’s a nightmare to organise as a parent in this country. Even with that job school had to be forced into doing that, they clearly were considering not enrolling him for the exams. I’m trying to find out if they have even bothered talking to the Exam Board about Hawklad’s unique circumstances.

His education and exam preparation will be without school support. If school do try to help then it will be a bonus but we are not holding our breath. I will try to find ways to get him a place at a college which does not rely on these upcoming exams. If I can then I will give Hawklad the option of not sitting the exams. He really could do without the additional anxiety that this process is already starting to heap up on him. He is also at such a massive disadvantage in these exams compared to his classmates, almost like he is being set up to fail by school. Set up to fail not because of his abilities or hard work, but because he doesn’t fit the education system.

We are just 5 months from the final exams. Hawklad wants college as the next step forward in September. Maybe college in person, maybe home based. It’s all about helping him get there. Whether that’s via these pesky exams or through a Plan B, we shall see.

School doesn’t matter. They have failed Hawklad.

Hawklad matters. That’s the key.

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.

Conkers

It’s CONKER season……

A rather depressingly familiar school at home week. Hardly any contact with teaching staff for Hawklad. We managed to randomly find some stuff that the classes have been covering on the online system, but not much. Even those few finds were a little dispiriting. Too many references to the class using textbooks, class learning materials that Hawklad has never seen, covering topics that haven’t even been mentioned to him. It really feels like he has only covered a fraction of the areas that his fellow classmates have. The scale of the missing teaching is now becoming all too apparent.

So we have 8 months until his final exams, 8 months to try and catch up. 8 months to try and get Hawklad ready for exams that he has had no practice at sitting. Relying on his muppet Dad to try and be an expert teacher in Maths, in English, History, Geography, Sciences, Religious Studies. School ain’t stepping up to the plate to help much. All while Hawklad is trying to re-engage with the outside world again. Absolutely no certainties that he will be in any kind of frame of mind to sit them. His well-being comes first.

Deep sigh.

It’s the weekend, time to try to relax.

Time to play with my conkers….

Fog

The first proper autumnal fog, the first of many….

I was looking at an online social media chat about Bereavement ….. well it beats watching my team try to play football. The chat was all about the recent UK State Funeral and how it had triggered emotions in many about their own personal losses. It is hard to watch a funeral and not be reminded of matters much closer to hand. I must admit as I watched the Funeral, one thought really struck me. How on earth do you grieve in front of millions, I couldn’t do it in front 40 people.

Two funerals in 6 weeks and I didn’t grieve at either of them. Focused on an 8 year old and trying to process far too many thoughts. I’m not that sure I took any of the funerals in. I can’t remember anything that was said. Can’t remember the music. Can’t remember that much at all. I can remember my brother whispering something in my ear that brought a half smile. I can remember standing with Hawklad looking at a fishpond after his mums funeral. That’s about it. Just felt like it was about waiting for them to be over.

It does feel so strange that I took far more in for a woman I had never met than I ever did for either of my mum or partner. I sometimes wish I had a video of both Funerals so I could experience them, hear what was said. Feel a part of them after 6 years.

Back to the online chat, the consensus was very similar. Mostly funerals are an ordeal, to organise, to sit through. Often the grieving can only really start when you have the funeral behind you. That definitely was my experience, it felt like it was months and months later before I started. This may sound crazy but until that point I was hurting but I wasn’t grieving. I wasn’t really accepting the reality, wasn’t ready to let go. Maybe if I had let the Funerals in more, maybe I would have been more receptive to grieving.

The fog of life might have started to clear much sooner.

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.

Summer going

Where did that summer school break go. Just over a week left now and the weather is suitably moody as well.

Something hasn’t really properly sunk in until now. This is Hawklad’s last proper school summer holiday. He leaves school in under one year now. Yes some will get another summer break before college starts but others could jump into a job straight away – official end of childhood according to society.

Where did those years go.

Still no clearer on the educational path ahead. Kinda feeling like I’m going round in circles as a parent. What’s right, what’s wrong, what works, what might not work. What’s best for Hawklad’s future, what’s best for Hawklad now.

I really don’t know anymore.

One thing I do know for sure. I wish I could reset this summer break. Go back 5 weeks and make SUMMER last just that bit longer. Hawklad probably needs that. I definitely need that.

Autumn….

You can almost feel the nights drawing in.

A conversation today with Hawklad’s lead Clinician kinda confirmed the Plan A course. It’s been increasingly the likely path. Support which now comes his way from the NHS will not focus on a return to the school classroom. It will shift towards trying to get him ready for sitting exams in 10 months time, but sitting them away from the main group of pupils. A neutral, non school location. Plus the long term goal is to see if they can help him start College after this year is finished. They will issue a ‘can’t currently return to classroom note on medical grounds’. That is a relief as The Government is pressuring schools to start fining parents for keeping children away from school, even when the parent believes it’s in the child’s best interest.

So another year of school at home beckons, maybe it’s will end up being a full on homeschooling approach. Better stock up on the coffee then. Oh hang on, I’ve quit caffeine. Better stock up on Donuts then…..

Rainbows

Maybe there is a pot of gold there.

Now there are just under 3 weeks until the school opens it doors again. No news on the proposed school plan for Hawklad’s exam year. I know how school works, we won’t hear a thing until at least a few days into the new academic year. Will he get the few hours of one to one support that we have requested. Will they install the technology that would allow him to remotely attend classes. Will school just pull him from exams as they clearly feel he is a risk to their overall exam performance (already they have pulled him from two subjects). Have they looked into alternatives to exams if he is unable to sit them or they just don’t let him sit them. If he was to return to classes have they put in the plans that they promised.

One thing school has never got its head round is that Hawklad needs certainties. He needs to know what is going on, to have a plan and then he can build to it. Anxieties spike when there is uncertainty. I have repeatedly told school this, health professionals have told school this. Yet every year he starts school with no plan. He doesn’t know his teachers, his timetable, what support (or lack of support) he will get. This year he still doesn’t even know which subjects if any that he will sittings exams in, just under 10 months away now. This is starting to be deeply unsettling for him, this anxiety will just keep building.

Maybe that educational pot of gold is there. School will deliver. All we can do is wait for the rainbow to appear, unfortunately we never really know when that will be.

Needs Must

Sometimes needs must.

The UK School Summer holiday is 6 weeks of much needed rest and recovery. A chance to unwind for Hawklad but it brings one big problem.

CROWDS

Any visits have to be carefully planned and precisely timed. Exposure to those pesky, anxiety spiking crowds have to be minimised. So when he says he wants to go to a particular popular tourist area, over 130 miles drive away, it takes some working out.

Three hours drive on some narrow roads….

Crowds probably start building up just after 9am….

Need time for a decent walk, some sight seeing, a picnic…..

Maybe catch some Osprey hunting just after dawn…..

So Needs Must.

Last Saturday morning we set off for Kielder Water while it was still dark, just after 3am. Arrived just after 6am.

It worked, we had the place to ourselves. Three glorious, relaxing, refreshing hours before the first cars started to stream in. When that happened, we set off home. Hundreds of cars and caravans heading West, one rust bucket heading East. A good trip out without anxiety.

Last week I briefly popped into a supermarket. At one of the checkouts was a mother trying to cope with a boy clearly having a meltdown. Sadly some of the other shoppers were not exactly understanding. Too many were being horrible to the mum, yet they had no idea of the back story. No idea what the child was going through, what the mum was trying to deal with.

I have it easy, some parents definitely don’t. They are doing what they can. Needs must.