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.

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.

Never leaves you

Sorry for the bad picture pun……

Another one of the annual milestones is close by. I can’t believe so many years have passed.

Loss in whatever form is a part of life. That message is hard to accept at times, it definitely was for me. But when the time is right you can start to see that, eventually I started to appreciate that.

Loss never LEAVES you but it doesn’t mean that you can’t keep living,

It might well be a different life with some doors now closed but when the time is right, there are new doors waiting to be opened. It still can be a wonderful life, one you value even more because loss never LEAVES you.

Door

A random door appeared in the village today. I wonder which world it leads to. I wasn’t brave enough to open it this time, maybe the child in me might have a few years back.

A closer inspection revealed a note, ‘free to a good home’. Is that referring to the wooden door or the world behind it.

Just over 5 weeks now until school reopens. A return to the classroom appearing to be a more distant prospect than the mystery world behind that white door. Constant hand washing, repeated clothing changes, inability to touch any alien surfaces, unable to be physically close to others, debilitating anxieties bubbling just under the surface. In a quiet, peaceful village with few people and much space, this is manageable. In a classroom and overcrowded school, definitely not currently manageable.

So let’s try to make this summer holiday time as fun and as relaxing as possible. Let’s see where the education door leads Hawklad when it’s time to open it……

Pushy

The farmer playing real life MINECRAFT.

Day One of the Two Day Heatwave. Todays garden temperature from our mini weather station hiding in the shade was….

That is ridiculously hot for Yorkshire, unheard of. The forecast is that it goes even higher tomorrow. At this rate I might have to take my jumper off. Unbelievably, it was so hot that Hawklad put shorts on, WOW, the last time that happened was when he was at nursery.

You can only fire water pistols for so many hours. Well if the school doesn’t send any work, you have to improvise the learning day….. So as we sheltered inside for a few moments and dried out, I tried to get my head round the Government’s latest ideas to sort out the Special Education mess. From what I can see it’s about replacing one mess with another mess while saving a bit more money….

Currently parents have to jump through a seemingly never ending number of ever shrinking hoops until their child gets a Plan approved (or mostly doesn’t). It’s a process which forces shellshocked parents to take on the mighty big bureaucracy. The lucky few emerge with a plan that is supposed to identify needs to be met. A personalised budget is then awarded to the child to help fund this. Sounds promising but what then tends to happen is that the big bad bureaucracy then says

You now have to give us that money back and that buys you a place in a mainstream school. No money no place. That money then pays for general teaching assistants who the school then use to help out teachers. They provide no dedicated help to Special Needs pupils. Then the big bad bureaucracy talks up the idea that PUSHY parents get this gold plated education for the lucky child. PUSHY parents are taking money from the majority of other pupils. This sets parent against parent while the special need pupil is mostly left without support. That’s the current system.

The new proposed system seems to be, keep the same nightmare approval process, make it harder but add in a bit of mediation when the application is almost inevitably rejected. If you do fluke it through to getting approval then rather than bothering identifying individual child need, parents are just offered a standard ‘one size fits all’ solution. Doesn’t matter if it doesn’t suit the individual child, at least we are saving money and it’s much easier to administer.

So it’s a mess and if it changes it’s going to be just another mess, but cheaper.

Sigh, breathe deeply and slump a bit lower in the chair. Definitely time for water pistols…..