Exams

I hated exams. Really hated them. I hated the time pressures. I hated the enforced silence. I hated having to sit still for three hours. I hated the weeks of revision (maybe days, ok maybe hours….) and I really hated realising that I had revised the wrong subjects. That unsettling feeling, gazing round at all the pens scribbling away frantically while my pen was being twiddled in my fingers as I waited for the brain to find just one relevant point to write down.

But I really hated the stress and anxiety which goes with exams. I would make myself ill with worry. I felt terrible. That can’t be healthy or good for a teenager.

Already Hawklad is starting to get significant worries from the impending mock exams. Really bad worries. He’s worried about struggling with understanding the time constraints. He’s worried about his handwriting. He’s worried about the alternative (trying to work with a scribe that he just doesn’t know). He’s worried about not being able to get the stuff in his brain out onto the paper. He’s worried about the pressure causing his dyslexia to return and nit being able to read the questions. He’s worried about having to sit still (he naturally paces around). He’s worried about sitting next to strangers. He’s worried about exam questions that remind him of his anxieties that have beset him. He’s worried about the silence and how that could spark anxiety meltdowns. I could go on but let’s just say the exams are getting to him.

How can all this pressure be anything other than harmful for someone who is battling serious anxiety and phobia issues…..

His main exams are in June next year, although he has to take a couple this year. So what do we do. I’m going to speak to his psychologist for advice but decisions have to be made. I’m not going to let exam worries get to him like they got to me.

Thoughts

A path across the hills.

A path frequented by farmers, dog walkers and intrepid Muppet Dads. A path that doesn’t seem to lead anywhere in particular. Meandering around hedgerows and the occasional isolated tree. One of those locations that you can so easily get lost. Definitely a great place to lose yourself. One day it might even be a cool place to find myself.

It’s been one of those days with too much thinking time. Plenty of thinking yet no real insight. No new paths opening up while managing to add more roadblocks to existing roads ahead. It’s been one of those days. Feeling like it’s one step forward, two back and a few too many sideways. That feeling isn’t much fun sat in the house.

But on a path across the hills, it just means more walking is required….

Isolation

Late evening colour from Yorkshire.

It’s been one of those pushing up hill days. School doing as little as possible. A flu jab that ended up being a magical mystery tour around an NHS property – the signs had blown over in a wind storm and countless potential jab recipients were walking aimlessly around a vast site like a scene from ‘Night of the Zombies’ or ‘The Teletubbies’. Then news that Hawklad’s mental health support is getting reduced again. Was supposed to be a couple of yours every week. Then it was reduced to 45 minutes every two weeks. Soon it’s going to 45 minutes every month. Just not enough resources to meet rising mental health needs amongst our young. It’s all about government priorities. Well at least he’s still getting some help, that’s something.

Finally time to relax a bit. Hawklad was watching an Adam Sandler buddy movie. He does make Hawklad laugh a lot. I watch bits of it as I caught up with some housework. Funny how housework doesn’t ever sort itself out.

The movie was all about a group of childhood friends meeting up now they were middle aged. I must admit it got me wistfully thinking about how life has worked out over the last few years. Single parenting, living out in the sticks, a pandemic…. All are the equivalent of the FRIENDSHIP Hulk Buster Suit. Seeing friends has been officially been BUSTED. In over 5 years I’ve had one meet-up with a friend which lasted 2 hours at a so called football match. What I would give now for a few of those Adam Sandler type friend meet-ups. Just his much I would give for just 30 minutes with my best friend. Sadly I bet I’m not the only one feeling this way. These are isolating times.

Frustration

This week has been frustrating. So frustrating.

It’s been as tough a week that I can remember on this school at home project. Links with a number of teachers have become very strained. I bet the teachers are as desperate for the upcoming week break as we are.

Work has been a struggle. What can you do when so many are off with Covid. Not enough people still standing to cover the jobs. As much as I move the pieces around I’m always going to be short. Oh yes, sorry, apparently the pandemic is over….

My diet is a struggle. It’s a gluten and dairy free life for me at present. Yet those items are strangely unavailable at our local stores. Clearly the gluten free wagons are stuck somewhere trying to get into this brexit wonderland. I guess it’s a week of mostly jacket potatoes. I know what Matt Damon feels like in The Martian now….

Wow I need a break. But that break seems further away than ever. If only I could be Boris Johnson. Tell everyone we are in this together, take £20 a week off the poorest in our country then jump on a jet for a weeks painting and drinking at a Billionaires pad in the sun.

Dreams of a much better life are there. Stronger than ever. Just not this week. Not any time soon. Need to be patient.

Sleep. I find it’s a commodity vastly overrated but actually much needed….

And yet…..

If I just look up it’s amazing what I can find even on a 1 minute walk to the postbox.

There is always something to hold on to. There is always hope. When I focus on what really matters to me. The amazing in my life. I realise actually it’s still a wonderful life. Yes I’m ready to go again…..

Rainbows

One rainbow makes the last 24 hours of rain worthwhile.

One day the dark times my country are experiencing under this charlatan of a leader will be over and a true rainbow will be there. I just want to give you the words of our Rogue Prime Minister yesterday live on TV. Strangely not being publicised by his friends in the media but it’s telling of his character. So telling.

I’ve given you the most important metric, which is – never mind life expectancy, never mind, you know, cancer outcomes – look at wage growth,”

This man would happily unplug your life support to charge up his mobile phone. One day he will be history, just a really bad memory. Until he is gone then he will continue to destroy and ruin so many life’s.

As dark and as difficult as life can seem, a rainbow might just be around the corner.

Another school at home week dawns in a few hours. How long can we give this. Today Hawklad seems further than ever from a return to the classroom. I am convinced more than ever that his learning lies elsewhere. But is his call. His future. Is it better to stick in this less than ideal course until after his exams in 18 months time or is it better to twist now. On top of his anxieties he is wrestling with these thoughts. My job is to support him and to keep reminding him that as tough as it seems, that rainbow may be closer than he imagines.

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.

Broken

A long and winding road if you can find it.

You kind of assume that your country is geared up to support its young people. That they matter. Well they should matter and countries should be geared up. But this is Britain, where support and mental health services have been under funded and in recent times cut back. Britain which has a Government that wants to return to ‘good old Victorian values’. Britain where children are only seen in terms of future economic value. In Britain where support is frowned upon by those in charge. In Britain where children taking time off in the immediate aftermath of a significant bereavement is described by the Government as ‘extended holidays’.

In 2016 Hawklad lost his granny and mum within 6 weeks of each other. A traumatic experience for anyone but for an 8 year old with Aspergers, it’s an emotional maelstrom. But here’s the thing. Sadly he won’t be the only child in this position. But where’s the support. Schools are not set up to cope. In Hawklads case the school cared but where clueless. The specialised education services in the area had been effectively closed down to meet savings targets. I approached his Doctor who just referred to child mental health services. He warned that they had a backlog of cases. That was all the Doctor did. Hawklad was already on the waiting list for Aspergers support.

That was it for over a year. No support. Left up to me, someone who was struggling already. How do you start to help someone when you are broken.

Finally we got to see the Child Mental Health Team. They worked on anxiety issues but no bereavement counselling, no Aspergers support. Luckily his dedicated worker was wonderful and she did try but it was not her area of expertise.

Fast forward to 2021 and Hawklad still has not had any bereavement counselling. Taking a wider view. He had some help with a physiotherapist but that was cut. He started speech therapy but that service was cut. He has had a few months of Aspergers related support but the specialist retired and was not replaced. He has had no dyslexia support. He does get some support for anxiety but that is patchy.

AND he is one of the lucky ones in Britain….

It has to be better than this for all our children. THEY ARE NOT JUST ECONOMIC RESOURCES. It won’t change here under this Government, it will only get worse. BRITAIN is BROKEN when it can’t care for its children.

Childhood

Do you remember when school holidays meant time off for our kids….

Hawklad and I received emails from school this morning. The emails set out the times of the upcoming year exams. Straight after the half term week holiday. The emails listed all the areas which each pupil are expected to cover in revision. The revision also includes mandatory online tasks that won’t be marked but will be monitored by teachers. All tasks are expected to be completed. The email stressed that they are expecting pupils to undertake significant work levels over the week off…..

To be fair to school they are only following Government guidelines and instructions. The Government has repeatedly spoken of its desire to increase the length of the school day and reduce the number of school holidays. It believes children have too much time off. They have it too easy…..

Parents will have differing views on this. I think you might be able to guess my take on this. I think it’s all BS…… Making pupils work harder and longer is just a smokescreen for covering up the failings of our current school system. Too many trumped up experts getting jobs as politicians, thinking they know best. It shouldn’t be about the quantity of teaching, it should be about the QUALITY of the education.

Ban politicians from education. Let teachers teach… Let Headmaster run the school. Involve the pupils and parents fully. Reverse the trend to test at every level just to populate government performance league tables. We are even testing 5 year olds for pity sake. If the politicians want to do something useful then they should concentrate on finding the resources to help specialists deal with the growing mental health crisis amongst our children.

And above all. Let children enjoy their childhood.

Call

The mobile phone is leading a charmed life. Yesterday it found its way into the garden refuse bin. Today as I weeded suddenly the little bucket next to me I was filling with weeds started playing music. Never been so thankful for one of those nuisance marketing call.

With the mobile safely back in my pocket. I got back on with the job of weeding.

Then another call. A work call. 60 minutes worth of …… what’s the word I’m looking for. I can think of a few, some I can even safely write down…

Boring

Dragging

Tiring

Fruitless

Frustrating

Dull

Monotonous

Wearisome

Mind-numbing

Soul-destroying

Insipid

Stupefying

After 60 minutes I was so tempted to switch the mobile off and voluntarily drop it back in the garden waste bin. I’m old enough to remember a time before mobile technology AND today I vote for going back to then….

Blue sky or not blue sky

Sunshine, blue sky, dark cloud, storm clouds, dry, rain, snow, bright, dark.

That Yorkshire sky really sums up perfectly my mood levels since lockdown started. It’s a bit of everything really. Swinging from smiles to tear. Feeling full of the joys of spring to darkest winter coldness. Optimistic then pessimistic. Feeling contented then feeling boxed in. Calm then anxious. At ease with the world then frustrated.

Emotional never ending tides.

Yesterday I was fighting the tears. Life seemed bleak and so restrictive. Definitely feeling cut adrift, isolated and alone.

Yet today I can’t stop smiling. Ok life feels constrained but it also feels good. Filled with HOPE and WONDERFUL thoughts. Most definitely not feeling alone rather feeling part of a BEAUTIFUL world.

Ask me yesterday and I would say what am I doing. Today it’s WE can do this.

I’m the same person, I’ve not moved, I’ve not won the money lottery. No person or no asset has entered my world. So why the swing in mood. Could it be that we are permanently riding those emotional waves. Swings in outlook are to be expected. Good moments, bad moments. Maybe the secret is to look at each day. What are the things that weigh me down and try to do something about those. Then most importantly work out what are the things that lift me up so much. If you can identify those things (maybe it’s just one important thing) then keep trying to move towards those wonderful things in life.

Yes WE can do this.