As good as it’s got

It’s been a funny old summer. Most odd. For some reason the only thing growing here has been weeds and the lawn. Actually it was a spectacular year for nettles.

In terms of garden produce this is about as good as it’s got.

Is this it. Is this as good as it gets.

My hopes and dreams would definitely say NO, so much more to come. The tired mind and body today might give a different answer. Sometimes I feel stuck. Caught in an endless loop. Two steps forward then two steps back. No clear route to my dreams. Lots of effort and then a few weeks later I’m still stood in the same place.

But then I drag my body to the back fence and I look at a particular tree. A tree that had come to represent so much in my life. A tree that is battered and bruised. Storm after storm. A couple of direct lightning strikes to boot. Once accidentally hit by a farm tractor.

Definitely a lob sided tree, stood alone on an exposed hill.

Yet it’s still here. It still stands proud. Every day I can see it in the distance.

One day maybe the rainbow will land on that tree. It certainly deserves that.

So yes I might be tired and frustrated today but that tree has reminded me to keep going. Change might not come today, but tomorrow is not set in stone. It could just happen. Hopes and Dreams most definitely still in play.

Is this it. Is this as good as it gets. LETS SEE ABOUT THAT.

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.

Anniversaries

Another year and another anniversary. Time passes. It never stops. It never stops.

These words will go live almost 5 years to the minute when I received that call from the Hospice. That conversation has faded into the mists of time now. I remember just a few words “I am so sorry”.

The first two anniversaries were so tough. I was in a bleak place. I couldn’t understand why my time had stopped but the world kept turning. It never missed a beat. How could that be possible. One thought dominated. Why her, why not me. The wrong person went. Over an over, the same thought. I was kinda rooted to the spot. No dreams left intact. Living purely through the eyes of our son.

Now it’s 5 years. What does an anniversary feel like now.

More like any other day. Does that sound bad….Even for me time doesn’t stop. Yes some moments spent remembering. Maybe not enough moments. But I know now. Those times have gone. The good and bad times. Just memories now. Time has moved on. I have moved on. New Dreams. Time moves on.

I won’t lie to you. Yes I still sometimes think -‘maybe it should have been me’. But……There is a phrase that can grind on me but in this case it’s true.

It is what it is.

Yes it is. That’s how it’s worked out. I can’t change it.

Memories are in the past, locked in time. I need to deal with today. Yes it’s an anniversary but it’s also another parenting day. Time doesn’t stop, even on an anniversary. Yes hopefully time for memories but also time to dream.

So how does this anniversary feel. Important YES but i realise it’s just about the past. Important but not as important living. So what does it feel like. It feels like today. It feels like the gateway to the future.

Memories will come but forgive me I need to dream first.

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.

Wrestling with a decision

Still no word from school. A day of planning for a potential return lost….

Still no final decision on the return to the classroom. The case for school not helped by the Politician in charge of Education in my country. Remember him, the person with a horse whip on clear display on his desk. In his words schools are ‘safe and protected’. When asked how that was during a pandemic with up to 40000 new cases per day, he floundered and waffled. Then he said that because ‘The Government’ has installed CO2 monitors in schools. They would indicate where air quality was a problem. Windows could be opened, classes could go outside, they could consider other stuff…. He was then asked a simple question, had any schools received monitors for the start of Term and the answer was ‘NO, they will start to be issued later’. They have known about this for 18 months….. Why can’t they just invest in proper school ventilation and reduce the excessive class sizes in English schools….Why enforce masks on school buses but not in school. Finally just decide on what is happening with child vaccinations.

So what is Hawklad’s decision. Still no final word but here is a potential indication. He loves watching Wrestling. He loves going to see it when they tour. He can go to see a Wrestling Event in a few weeks. Normally he would have snapped my hand off for tickets. This time his answer was different.

“If I can’t manage school then I can’t manage going to see wrestling. No Dad don’t get tickets……”

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.

Anyone for croquet

Hawklad was feeling anxious. Really anxious. This time next week will be tough for him. It will be a tough call. Classroom or Home….

Sometimes it can feel very isolating just the two of us kinda cut off from the real world. Maybe there is a danger we take root.

So he needed a distraction. Something different. It was time to go hunting in the garage. What can I find. Imagine a place like the shop that Harry Potter got his wand from. Dark, cramped, filled to the brim with things that haven’t seen the light of day in years. Maybe decades. Some objects beyond rational comprehension.

As I rummaged deeper into the recesses my plight became more perilous. I stretched, bent and shakily balanced over box after box. Deeper I went into the precarious jungle of old toys and objects. Then I saw a very large old wooden box. It might as well have been an old precious wand. That will do nicely.

An old garden croquet set that came from his grannies house several years ago.

Yes it was fun. Definitely different. Some of the rules might have been loosely applied or invented. When did croquet become a contact sport. The long grass didn’t help. But the main thing is Hawklad was distracted.

Now was the time to get serious about this martial art called croquet. I got the lawnmower out and carefully cut out a croquet course. Incorporating obstacles. A Mole Hill. An Apple Tree. The Football Goal. Yorkshire Wet Grass.

Captain Chaos was a moving obstacle and introduced his own version of mayhem. Suddenly we have one of Europe’s Finest and Most Challenging Croquet Experiences.

Captain Chaos might be on to something. Croquet with a sock…..Yes Croquet is fun. And fun is needed some days…..

Is it over

Is the pandemic over. Have I missed something.

Yesterday I took Hawklad for a drive through takeout at the local Taco Bells. The drive through was coned off. After much reassurance Hawklad let me go inside to buy him some food.

Well I was wearing a mask and keeping my distance……..

The only other person with a mask was the lad preparing the food. The girl taking the orders, the chap making drinks and the person on the till were maskless. Everyone inside at the tables were maskless. Even the customers who came in after me were maskless. I even had to ask the person behind me to move back as he was no more than a foot away from me. AND the looks I got. No comments this time as I think my eyes gave away the current mood level. What’s the phrase – if looks could kill……

So have I missed something. Is it over…..

Just had an email from school saying that masks are still recommended on school buses but they are not required in any part of the school including classrooms. All social distancing rules have ceased. This follows Government instructions to schools. The email also notified parents that from the opening of schools next week, classes will now not be sent home if there is a positive case in the class. A significant outbreak would have to occur for that to happen. That decision would now not be the schools to take, it was up to area officials. Further if positive cases occur in a household then the any pupils are expected to still attend school until they test positive. Parents will now not be automatically informed of any school or class outbreaks. They will not be informed of any close contact with confirmed cases. This will only occur when a threshold of infection is reached. The school is seeking clarification on these new rules but they will have to follow them as they are Government instructions.

So have I missed something. Is it over…..

ONE MORE THOUGHT….

The Government was asked in a Freedom of Information Request to reveal what its own expert advice said about its school mask removal policy. The Government has refused to release that advice or a summary of the expert opinion as it is ‘not in the public interest to release that information’. I wonder what it says…….

Responsibility 2

That’s a tree that’s seen some living. Too many storms and a couple of lightning strikes have permanently changed its shape. But it’s still standing. Standing on its own.

In the UK child mental health services have been cut to the bone. Rapidly escalating real need while resources are stretched to braking point. Children in need either do no get any support or minimal support has to be constantly fought for. Schools are forced to stick to the Government agenda with restricted budgets. Child Mental Health and Well-being is not seen as part of the school remit by the Government. Teachers are hamstrung with an inflexible curriculum with strict deadlines. Specialist Educational Services are just not available to most children who really need them.

In the UK families are basically on their own. If your child has an educational or mental health need then you can’t rely on help being there when you need it.

Government calls it’s ‘individual responsibility’.

So with 9 days left before Hawklad potentially returns to the classroom he is facing significant stress and anxiety. He has so many life defining challenges and social obstacles to overcome. Unpicking what can be done and assisting with those areas is a highly specialist area. A service which is currently unavailable to him. Any return to the classroom will require significant adjustments in school. It places significant requirements on teachers that they are not trained for and do not have the classroom time to handle. The school is unable to secure any specialist assistance – they are just not there. Apart from his muppet Dad, he is on his own. His Dad is out of his depth. Really out of his depth.

Individual Responsibility. What could possibly go wrong.