Swiss Sunday

Switzerland is one of those special places. Breathtaking views, fresh mountain air and a wonderful life feel. Every single time I crossed the border into this wonderful land, I could feel peaceful calm drifting over me, the stresses of my life quickly forgotten. Looking at the photos, replaying the memories, I can clearly remember just how different I feel while I’m in this alpine paradise. I could do with that right now, definitely could.

Stress

Well that was real fun, a first…..

It’s been over 2 years of Hawklad being off from school. Over two years of trying to replicate what is going on in the classroom, from a living room 12 miles away. In all that time the link with school has been hit and miss. But this week was the first time we had no contact from school. Absolutely no contact. Yes we tried to see if any files had appeared on the online school system, but absolutely nothing was sent from a teacher or teaching assistant. Where he found work, Hawklad submitted it but it always remained unmarked. He was due to sit a couple of exams at home but nothing arrived. Hawklad could have been sat playing computer games or walking round Disney all week and school would not have realised. There was a time when school asked each day for evidence that Hawklad was following the classes, an online register, but that was dropped.

I was getting stressed out about school, on top of getting stressed out about work, on top of all the stress which seemingly has become such a part of this currently mad world. Definitely stressed out. Going round in never ending stress circles. I had to break the circle so I found myself walking across a wild meadow. Still stressed out. Now the walk was stressing me out. I couldn’t stop worrying about stuff. Living in a world full of stress. Then a realisation, this is kinda like how Hawklad gets. Stressed out about everything. Not being able to break out of the entrapment. This isn’t healthy. So what do I say to him. Be happy. Remember the important stuff, remember the good things. We are NOT at home if Mr Worry knocks on the door. If you can do something about a worry then do it, don’t let it eat away at you. Find things you like doing, distract yourself from all the stuff you can’t do anything about and try to breath and have fun.

As I stood in that field, stressed out, I thought….

I really need to come up with catchier advice….

I do talk some rubbish…..

Easier said than done……

Why did I give up caffeine…..

But eventually I did actually follow my own advice. I drafted a work ‘I quit email’. I drafted a ‘Hawklad quits school’ email. That helped. Knowing I can just press one send button and two big headaches disappear. Ok it might create other other issues but at least they would be our created ones which we could better control. I also agreed with Hawklad that if school can’t be bothered then STUFF waiting for them. We might as well do some day trips than wait in school if nothing is coming from them.

Now I’m a lot less stressed out. Yep, I should listen to my own advice occasionally.

Settled

The weather is unusually settled here. The garden water tubs are nearly empty. What is going on, this is Yorkshire….

Not much of the much advertised heatwave so far. It finally arrived on Saturday and went Saturday. It was a bizarre day. Started warmish. Then just after midday the wind dropped and the temperature rocketed up. The garden thermometer hit 30C. Don’t laugh but that’s as far as the thermometer will go. Guess where that piece of technology was made. It didn’t have to travel too far… Yorkshire clearly doesn’t go past 30C.

But then just 4 hours later. We were outside enjoying an ice lolly and suddenly the wind picked up and changed direction . Within minutes we had to go inside for warmer clothes. It was Yorkshire cool again. A 4 hour heatwave…….

If only other things were settled.

Work is a nightmare as we are losing staff through COVID quicker than ever. Apparently it’s over……

Village life is in uproar as there are tentative plans to build houses on one side of the small village. How many. Well for a village of about 100 odd buildings, the idea is to add another new 130 homes ….. I can sense the pitchforks getting sharpened……

Car. The thirsty car now costs over £100 to fill up with diesel. The home fuel oil tank costs nearly £1000 to fill up now. Living is getting crazily expensive……

School mostly has disappeared. The work provided has in many subjects just completely dried up. Have they run out of things to teach Hawklad. Talk about feeling cut adrift…..

Yes definitely could do with some of that settled stuff.

Hidden secret

My favourite tree. Has been for over two decades now, everyday I see it from the garden, standing alone and proud. Surviving several lightning strikes and countless storms.

But today after all these years I discovered something special about that wonderful tree. A magical hidden secret…..

Hawklad sat an exam today at home. Two hours worth of work. I set him off and kept out of his way. No need for two teacher referees this time. I was asked to keep an eye on him to make sure he stuck to the exam rules. Deep sigh….. They could just ask him and he would straight away tell them the truth. On one trip to Switzerland I gave him a sip of a shandy drink. At the end of the holiday we went through Swiss Customs. We were asked if we had anything to declare. Hawklad immediately owned up to that shandy….

No I didn’t enforce the exam rules. He walked about. He finds sitting still difficult, not moving for two hours would be torture to him. He had some noisy crisps and really loud wrapped up mints. He talked to the pets. The key things he stuck to. He didn’t use any sources of help, he observed the time allocation. If only school exams could be this flexible.

So the hidden secret.

The other side of the much loved tree has a face…

An angry face. Can you see it.

Wow. How did I miss that. Just goes to show that you can never be certain that you know everything. But I do know that school exams are forms of legalised torture. Why do we do that to them.

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.