Toe

Some things in life are naturally beautiful and guaranteed to make you smile.

One of those days. Not enough sleep. School at home was a pain in the buttocks. WordPress continued to act like an incompetent evil overlord. An upcoming concert I was really looking forward to (which had already been rescheduled from last year) was cancelled. Smashed some cups (unintentionally). THEN Hawklad decided to walk into wooden table and clearly has broken his little toe. At least I can see evidence that some of my genes have passed down the family line. Nothing we can do except get him to rest up for a few days.

So in need of distraction I decided to strike one item off the growing DIY list. Let’s put the external mail box back on the wall. Much drilling, much banging, much muttering, much screwing. The mail box was up. Not a bad job at all. Level and well secured. Shame it was upside down…… Not sure what the Postman would think of a letter slot at the bottom. Not the first time my DIY has taken a walk to the a Southern Hemisphere. Summed up the day…..

On days like this those things that make you smile are even more important. Even more treasured.

Let’s set the record straight

It’s amazing how dealing with just a couple of work emails can send me heading towards the chocolate jar and thinking fondly of getting marooned on a tropical island with absolutely ZERO internet connectivity.

I needed to relax.

What better way than dig out a bit of vinyl and listen to music. I love music BUT not enough to carefully categorise and sort the LPs into any meaningful order. Preferring the random, hotchpotch approach. So this afternoon I opened one of the storage cases and grabbed 3 records. Let’s see what musical treats came my way.

First off a definite blast from my long hair, rocker past. I think most teenage rocking males of my generation would claim to have at least one Pat Benatar album somewhere in the bedroom.

Then an odd LP. Sometimes you buy because you love the band. Sometimes you buy because of the music. Then other times you buy because it’s a cool looking picture disc.

Then finally arguably my most random records. When I was 12 I jumped on a plane for the first time. Headed for my only trip so far to the Southern Hemisphere. To visit my big sister who had emigrated to South Africa. A month in Pretoria and Johannesburg. A staggeringly beautiful yet scary and incomprehensible Apartheid dominated land. My sister lived in an area which was still to have a functioning television service. So they listened to the radio, played records and at weekends either went to the cinema drive-in or hired a movie reel and played it on the noisy home super 8 projector.

My sister always seemed to play one record back then. IPI TOMBI. A show featuring traditional indigenous South African music. Fast forward many years and I was at a car boot sale in deepest Yorkshire. Guess what I found. Brings back so many memories.

Weather

It’s horrid weather today so let’s go back a few weeks. That’s better.

I heard someone from the Government brush off a parent talking about her daughters genuine fears and phobias about returning to school. Her daughter doesn’t think her classroom and school is safe enough. From the sound of it her daughter is in a similar place to Hawklad. Really struggling. The interviewer cut off the parent saying that she was in the minority and the vast majority would see things much more positively. The message from the Government followed instantly. People and kids who had concerns and fears needed to listen to the majority. Schools are completely safe, just get on with it. Parents have an obligation to send their children into schools when they open.

Meanwhile back here the NHS Psychologist is just at the early stages of a treatment programme to try and help with Hawklad’s deep seated anxieties. No guarantee that the programme will ever work. This week’s task is for Hawklad to try and stand in the front garden for 1 minute. The message is don’t worry if you can’t do that. Even a few seconds will be a massive leap of faith. And if he can’t do it at all then we can try another week. Pushing people with significant fears and ingrained anxieties can do so much harm to their long term mental health.

The Government and the ‘Majority’ are not trained mental health practitioners. They have absolutely no idea what some people are going through. On this issue they can stand out in the rain and whistle for all I care.

Worry about it

The thaw has set in. No more snowy sun roses this week, maybe not until next winter.

I wrote a few hours ago about how I was missing the snow when it’s gone. You only really miss those things that are special to you.

There’s a difference between missing something and worrying about something. The disappearing snow is also worrying me a little. During the national lockdown the snow helped create an impression of a really small available world. What we can see and touch is all that is available. We are not missing out on much.

But is the thawing snow a symbol of change?

Some Governments are keen to reopen and relax restrictions. Is that way too soon. Who knows. But the message that it will be soon open for everyone misses the point. It’s not going to be open for everyone. Anxieties and Fears don’t get fixed overnight. The vaccinations won’t have reached many people including the kids. Many will only have had one shot. We have rapidly changing mutations. Some will continue to wear masks others will ditch them.

The works will open for some.

For us the lockdown will continue. In a few months I will have had one of the two vaccine shots. So I will be partly covered but that’s not the point. Hawklad’s fears are actually rising. He knows that I and other vaccinated people can still pass the virus onto him. He knows that he won’t be getting and vaccine protection. He can see that children can get covid and the more severe long covid. He is fully aware of the associated serious disease that is affecting some children. He can knows that some people will drop their guard. Basically his fears are not going away. So our lockdown will continue.

So the disappearing snow kind of symbolises something else. A world is out there. It is opening again but not for us. It’s not a small available world anymore. It’s a big world again but one that we are locked out of. Beyond our reach. That worries me and makes me sad.

Sad to see the snow go.

But then another thought. A better thought. Other people, other families can hopefully start to enjoy these places again. To have adventures. Other young ones can have holidays again. Have more fun. Can be safe doing that. Memories can be born.

Maybe the snow going is a good thing.

Who do I listen to

Another day and another pompous government minister telling the kids what best for them. Not listening. Not accepting differences. Not accepting that some will be ready to jump back into life, others will not. Not accepting that his form of education is really about serving his needs and the economy. Not prepared to listen and work with what individual children and families need. Wanting schools to go backwards towards Victorian values. Totally against the notion of moving schools forward and turning them into wonderful places of learning and personal growth. To make them enjoyable and yes FUN. But what do we know, he clearly knows best. Just do what we are told.

So this middle aged pompous bloke will shut up and tell you exactly how Hawklad sees where he is. This is what he told me last night when I LISTENED to him.

  • I love to go back to school. But not because of the teaching. To meet up with my friends again.
  • Most of the teaching is so not me. Doesn’t suit me.
  • I hate being told what to learn and how to learn it. Getting no choice. Being told what to think and how to remember it
  • Hate always worrying about breaking the rules. Worrying about getting negatives.
  • Hate having to put my hand up in a lesson and ask for help. It’s so hard in front of all the other classmates admitting I can’t read something.
  • Being told it’s perfectly safe to go to school when I know I can catch covid. Being crammed in a class with someone who might have it and not know it. Having to share equipment without them being cleaned. Then being told that I won’t get the vaccine as I’m low risk. Reading about mutations that no one seems to understand. To me school is not safe at all. Just can’t go back for a long time. Until it’s really under control. Until I’ve been vaccinated with something that really works. Until I get some space in school.

That says it all to this middle aged pompous chap. Tells me where he is. That’s who I will listen to. Not some pompous government minister living his closeted life who doesn’t care and doesn’t listen.

Visibility

It was a dreadful few hours weather wise. Just so cold and wet. Really grey. Well this is Yorkshire. Really poor visibility.

Next week it’s a big schooling week. Hawklad has to pick his subject options for the final two years of secondary school. He has to do Mathematics, English and Science. But then he has to pick 4 further subject options. Two of those are really easy. History and Geography are definite selections. I think he would spend all his time on just those two if he could. But what about the other two?

Now here the problems start.

First off – will he actually return to mainstream classroom teaching? I’m not betting that he will.

Then

Our pandemic lockdown has resulted in basically zero direct teacher input on Hawklad. Apart from the occasional test result, the teachers have no grasp on things like his current state of writing and reading. What help and support he needs. What he needs for the exams. They haven’t seen him directly work since February last year. A lot will have changed in that time. Equally we have little idea what the teachers actually think of Hawklad’s position. One page summary reports issued three times a year basically tell you nowt.

So we are selecting options feeling like we are doing this in the blind. Because of the pandemic we haven’t had an Education and Health Care Plan Review meeting since May 2019. In that time virtually everyone one of the multi disciplinary team has left…. These are big decisions being made with so little visibility. The school are offering video chats with teachers but these are strictly limited to 4 minute per child. That’s 4 minutes to discuss performance, concerns, issues AND future options. It just feels a mess. It’s a mess for teachers, for parents and most importantly for the children. It’s another area that the Pandemic has found a way of undermining. No point looking for help from the Government, the PM can’t even manage to comb his hair never mind support real people. So like most things these strange times it feels like we are winging it. Winging it with so little visibility.

Bed

Still cold….

Still one of those day….

Why is it that when you set the alarm to go off at 6.45am that the body alarm decides to go off an hour earlier. I think there should be an official rule. Parents are not safe to parent on less than 3 hours sleep. Certainly for me.

I dragged myself out of bed. Made myself a lovely, thick, dark, evil looking coffee. Then just as I was about to indulge I remembered. I’ve not had caffeine for over a year now. PANTS. So it was poured out and a rather sad looking decaf was brewed.

Then it was exercise before Hawklad was sorted out. I headed outside clearly underdressed for the cold. After a frigid 30 minutes of weights I headed inside for yoga. Yoga inside opens up the exercise to the pets. In this case it was the boy cat. The big boy cat. The biggest cat on the Vets books. As a result of the close attention of the big chap the yoga practice was clearly not as enriching as it should have been.

Then it was time to burn the toast. Drop the apple juice. Realise we had run out of Hawklads breakfast cereal. The usual failed parenting stuff.

Then it was the typical tired homeschooling day. Unable to get the WiFi to work when a school deadline is looming. Unable to find a black pen that works. Unable to find the required watercolour paints. Unable to find a blank A3 sheet. Unable to explain just what on Earth the teacher wants. Unable to get Teams to work. Unable to find the lesson files. Unable to get the iPad to stop changing French spellings back into the closest available English word.

‘J’adore’ might work in French, I suspect the autocorrected ‘Car Door’ is not going to get Hawklad many French marks….

I wonder what the French is for ‘clearly when I’m tired I acquire Superman strength as when I tried to then squeeze in a bit of housework, the hoover handle snapped off when I tried to push it’. I would go on Google translate to check but the WiFi has switched off again just as Hawklad has tried to submit today’s Geography work.

Nothing else for it. Food. As Hawklad tucked into his Gourmet dish (a Pot Noodle) I set about something even I couldn’t mess up. So it was yogurt and cereal. It probably would have been nice but I foolishly turned my back for a second AND

The big fat boy cat was clearly intent on upping his calorific intake. My lunch was perfect for the job.

Is it time to go back to bed yet?

Open my eyes

Too often I can’t see the wood for the trees. I’m looking but my eyes are shut.

Focusing on stuff that will probably never happen. Still hoping to walk down paths that are closed. Looking out into a landscape which is grey. Trying to find new adventures to find colour in life, but too often failing.

But then….

Two feet from the front door. Just a little bit of colour. Just a little bit of hope.

Just needed to open my eyes.

Change

Sorry going to milk our temporary farmers field lake for photos while it’s here. It does make such a difference to the view.

Time does make a difference. Look at schools. On Monday morning our PM said schools were completely safe and parents should send them there right away. Monday evening suddenly according to the same PM schools were clearly vectors for transmission and had to close immediately. Then on Tuesday the very same PM said schools were completely safe again but unfortunately staying shut. Having said that he has a track record of this. The man who championed Brexit to become leader likes to forget that before that he said “I would vote to stay in the single market (EU). I’m in favour of the single market”…..

So things can clearly change. One day I was one of two parents, the next I crashed into single parenting and the world of bereavement. Things can change.

But here’s the thing when they do change THEY CAN ALSO CHANGE FOR THE BETTER. That’s why there is always hope. Good things can still happen. So yes I’m struggling through a period or depression. Yes it feels like Groundhog Day. But it can change.

I can do this. We can do this.

I would vote to stay in the single market. I’m in favour of the single market

Start with a change

It’s still a little cold here. Definitely a cold start to 2021.

We have a family tradition. For the last 7 years I’ve taken Hawklad on New Years Day to Yorkshire Wildlife Park. Set off at 8am. Get there for when it opens. Spend a few hours wandering round the animals. Then grab a burger and leave before the real crowds arrive.

It’s a lovely tradition that Hawklad loves.

But life happens. Only essential journeys are recommended. Avoid out of area travel.

AND

Hawklad just isn’t in the right frame of mind to go. He is seemingly a million miles from venturing into public places.

So no Wildlife Park visit this New Years Day. So we improvised. A homemade burger and a Pepsi, just like he would have had. A hot donut replaced with a warmed up cake. Then we sat and watched a David Attenborough wildlife TV series.

Not quite the tradition but a decent replacement given what was available to us. 2021 feels like a year for making the best of it.