Reading

Mostly a day to stay inside and dry but always keeping an eye out for those brief gifts.

In the end, no video conference call this week with school. School staffing unavailability led to a late cancellation. Apparently school will organise another teacher – parent day in a months time.

Ok move on, it’s the weekend.

As a kid I remember one thing really clearly from childhood weekends. Virtually every Saturday morning I would walk to the town’s library. The northern coastal town looked old and tired yet the library was a bit of an oasis. On the outside it looked like any other slate grey concrete block. But on the inside it looked brand new. Clean, bright. It even had a little indoor goldfish pond in the middle of the children’s section. I would select a book and sit beside the pond. For a couple of hours it was an escape from the claustrophobic reality. A working town cut off from the world by the sea on one side and polluting industry on all other sides. Hardly anyone went on holidays. It seemed like most adults would venture as far as the local chemical and steel plants to work, then it was back to the town to live. It did feel so claustrophobic. The only two escapes. The freshness of the beach and books in the library.

Fast forward far too many decades and it was like life repeating itself. Now miles from that old existence and a pandemic hit. Suddenly a picturesque village on a hill became isolated. Month after month of enforced isolation and it felt claustrophobic again. In the modern life there was thankfully a few more escape routes. One of which was again a library. This time quite a bit smaller and an awful lot redder than the old town library.

The village library

The converted old telephone box is the village community library. So a bit like when I was a child, excitedly checking out books to read, let’s see what books are in the library today. Sadly no goldfish to share the books with this time, it’s probably going to be with cows in the farmers field.

Spot anything you like ? Pleasingly the books I’ve donated on a few occasions are not there. Hopefully someone in the village is reading them as I write this.

I can’t begin to tell you just how great it felt during the lockdown to be able to walk a few yards to a little red library. To pick a book and have an adventure. Just like that little boy from that northern town, having an adventure in a library.

Isolation

Perfect isolation.

Sometimes isolation is needed. Over the last two years some of that isolation has been enforced. But much has been locally needed isolation. Needed by Hawklad. It will be needed going forward. The question is how much. Maybe less. Maybe more. It will change over time. This week it’s been needed much more.

Whisper it as well. Isolation maybe needed by me as well.

Perfect isolation.

Not ready.

Another weekend has come and gone. Again just the two of us. Talks in the garden, walks around the deserted fields. Occasionally passing a fellow dog walker in the village, bringing just a quick nod. No deliveries. No postman. No sign of the neighbours. No phone calls.

Here some are starting to ignore the Government line that Covid is under control. Numbers are rising rapidly here. The hospitals are stretched again. So people are far less likely to stop and talk, preferring a quick shout from across the road.

That is adding to the isolation feel here.

We did look at visiting somewhere else, Hawklad fancied a historic site but the online booking systems clearly showed that there where extremely busy. So we stayed put. A weekend at home. Not using the car saved a bucket load of cash.

The last person I had a conversation with before the weekend was with his health professional. When I raised the school pushing for him to sit exams, she was clear. A clear “ he is not ready, not ready at all for that, he is potentially months or more likely much longer away from being anywhere near ready for classrooms or exams’. So let’s see what schools attitude is when I convey that message to them.

Anniversary

The poor daffodils have taken a bit of a weather pounding over the last few weeks.

It’s official. Two years ago to the day that Hawklad’s SCHOOL AT HOME project started. He hasn’t been in a classroom in all that time. That’s a long time. Is it too long to make a school return realistic, manageable for him. Only time will tell. All I can do is support him. Try to maintain a safe, happy home and keep as much of the pressure off him as I can. Progress has to be at his pace. See how he goes, see what he ultimately can manage and what he wants to do.

Looking back, we both laughed today. We remember the conversations back in March 2020. I think we both remember saying, ‘let’s give it a week’. That should have been ‘give it a week plus an extra 103 weeks….’.

Back in 2020 we had been struggling with school. They had bottom setted him. They had given up on his dyslexia. Yes we had been thinking about homeschooling. Then we crashed unexpectedly into these two years. This odd halfway house. Not true homeschooling, not true classroom schooling. The SCHOOL AT HOME project, happy second birthday.

Exams or not

That’s a gnarly tree at night. It looks like how I feel…..

Finally we have some exam clarity. The exams papers will be sent out to Hawklad who will complete them at home. This is ok (this time ) as they are internal school exams. Mock exams.

After that the problems are clear.

Hawklad has not been in class for two years now. He has worked really hard at home, but let’s be honest, he is no where near returning to school. As the Psychologist working with him points out, a return might not be feasible before his final exams. If this ends up being the case school have provided the following options.

1) undertake the exams in the main exam hall with the other students,

2) sit in a separate room with two members of staff and sit the paper,

3) sit the exam at home with two members of staff watching over him,

4) resit the entire course

5) get no qualifications from the courses he has worked hard on.

He can have access to a scribe. He might be eligible for up to 5% mark consideration for exceptional circumstances, but he might lose a similar amount of marks for using the scribe.

Here’s the thing. None of those options fill me with any confidence. Fine if he gets back into the classroom in the upcoming months. But that looks unlikely and if he did, it’s going to be a huge shock to his system. He can’t even go into a shop for a couple moments so how could he get into school and stay there for an exam. Something like 10 exams. How much damage would that do to him.

The exam at home option has flaws as well. Apart from one boiler service repair visit, we have had no visitors in the house since 2019. On that boiler repair visit, Hawklad stayed in another part of the house and refused to go into the boiler room for weeks afterwards. His house is like his safe, protected area. Even family visitors are use to sitting outside in all weathers. So how will he react to two strangers being in the same room as him for hours. Maybe we could try for an outside garden exam but that’s weather dependent (this is Yorkshire).

Resitting the course. He would know no one in school at all. how daunting would that be.

Does that really leave Hawklad with the real prospect of getting no qualifications after his school days finish. He has worked so hard.

So I’m sat typing these words and I’m feeling parenting angst. What on earth do we do. I really don’t know. Unfortunately doing nothing is not an option. Deep sigh. I’ve been single parenting since 2016. I. I might have got this right. I might have done the best I could possibly have done for Hawklad, but….. Have I got this so badly wrong. Have I messed up the most important job of my life. That is a deeply unsettling feeling.

Shy cat

Yesterday the mad dog got a bit of blogging attention, well today his partner in crime is getting the spotlight. It’s big fat cat time.

Shame he’s a bit shy….

Or is it just sign that it’s such a hard life being a big fat cat.

Here’s the thing. I feel like copying the cat sometimes. Well not that thing he does when he’s bent double…. But definitely this covering the eyes truck. Definitely feeling tired and worn down. Parenting doesn’t really give you many breaks. Single parenting since 2016, no meaningful breaks really. No holidays. No letting what’s left of my hair down. Throw a pandemic in and each day seems to be very similar to last one. Spooky that it was Groundhog Day this week, apparently the little hog chap farted which means it’s another 6 weeks of eating Lasagna or something like that. You get the picture.

This feeling will pass. I’ve had these spells before. A better nights sleep will help. Maybe a shed load of caffeine and chocolate will do the trick. Mum would get me to play some sad music as a pick me up, so where is my Pink Floyd – Final Cut album (wow that’s a cheerful thing) or even darker, The Best of Alvin and the Chipmunks. But until I get my mojo back, maybe that soft, big pudding of a cat has a point, at least for one night.

Nearest

Early morning frosty walk.

One of those walks where it feels like you have the world to yourself.

And someone is on a mission to find the nearest tree.

Sometimes that nearest tree is frustratingly too far a way for such little legs.

February 2020, the last time Hawklad was at school. Where did those couple of years go……

Up to that point Hawklad hadn’t been comfortable in school. Well not his current secondary school, a school with over 800 other pupils. Too big, too noisy, too many sensory distractions, too many faces, too many strangers. It had been so different at his first and so much smaller school. Just 2 classes with no more than 40 kids. He felt more at ease there. He made some very good friends there. Frustratingly those friends got spread around the next school with none in his class stream. But he did manage to make a few more new acquaintances. So he did get to socialise with people his own age.

Then the last two years happened.

Two years of school at home.

In those two years, socialising has been at a premium. Two years and he’s seen one friend. She is good friend he met at his last school. They play some online games together and have met up a few times. But that’s it in two years. That is one consequence of a pandemic.

Two years and counting.

Go with the flow

A walk in the deep, dark wood. No encounter with The Gruffalo on this walk, maybe next time.

Another Yorkshire Gem, Dalby Forest on the edge of the Moors.

A short school at home week. Just 2 days. Should be eight lessons, one lesson dropped for Covid testing. Three lessons, no idea whether they happened or not. One lesson with a few brief notes provided. One quite detailed lesson and one exam to be sat at home.

Sometimes you have to go with the flow. Schools are struggling. Teachers off. Support staff off. Pupils off. Old, unventilated classrooms. Covid in school. Additional pandemic workload. These are challenging times. I will politely chase up homeschooling issues but with understanding.

So when the lessons don’t happen, we go with the flow. Lost schooling time creates more time for the school of life. That school is fun. It has few boundaries. Definitely no exams. Only expectation, having fun. A trip to the Deep Dark Wood is definitely fun……

It’s safe to go back.

I have to admit that I am not in the slightest bit upset about Hawklad avoiding a return to the classroom this week. He is not ready. As new covid cases average 200,000 a day. That’s a number that doesn’t include the large number of people getting reinfected, it’s also at a time when many with symptoms can’t get tested. The worry is schools have been closed for 2 weeks, what happens when the variant hits the classroom. Without schools, today in England 157 children were hospitalised with Covid.

Apparently schools are safe and the Government has done everything to protect the children and those who work in them. Reluctantly they have reintroduced masks. Pupils will be tested twice a week if schools can get hold of the test kits. And with a big fanfare it’s been announced that 7000 ventilation units will be finally purchased for schools.

UK classrooms are frequently cramped and poorly designed. We also have some of the largest class sizes across Europe.

One problem with that announcement is that there are over 32000 schools in the UK. Let’s say each school has 10 classrooms, Hawklad’s school has well over 50. So which of those 300000 plus classrooms will get the 7000 ventilation units. That’s a lot of cramped, over crowded classrooms left with inadequate air quality levels. Good indoor ventilation is seen as a key defence against an airborne virus. As one headteacher pointed out, the Government could have put in a ventilation unit into EVERY classroom for half the cost of the new Royal Yacht, which the Government is buying. The Yacht is seen as an essential purchase. Our children clearly aren’t……

New Years Day.

2022….

Well the most has gone. That might even be the smallest patch of blue sky.

Can you spot the bird of prey gatecrashing the photo.

No zoom on the mobile, so this is the best I can do. The Gatecrasher.

I meet this gatecrasher every morning when I come down this lane, usually sat on the overhead power line. Such a thrill.

Soon we were on the road to the local wildlife park. A New Year Day Tradition which went on covid hold last year. This year we will arrive as it opens, wear masks and keep our distances. To protect others. Make sure we leave before the crowds arrive. The two of us have done this every year since Hawklad was a toddler. Just the two of us. His mum always decided to give it a miss, preferring a day at home. Maybe TV. Maybe catch up on sleep. It is an early start and a 90 minute drive. A quiet house can be very appealing. If she had realised time was so limited would she have stayed at home. Put things off repeatedly for another year.

I think I know the answer to that…..

Some choices you don’t get a second crack at them.