Nightmares

3.30am (Yesterday)

Dad I’ve had a nightmare. The Great Heathen Army came looking for me. They keep swarming over the hills towards us”

That time during the night is not the optimum time for my brain to discuss Norse Armies. Especially ghost ones. But parents find ways, especially when they are beyond tired. You just want the best for your kids. It’s tough when you see them distressed.

What weapons did they have.

Blood covered swords, hammers and axes

Ok now imagine them with some silly weapons. Something like sticks of rhubarb.

Bananas”

Perfect. What are they wearing

Viking clothes”

No make them wear something silly, sillier the better. The least scary thing you can think of.

Summer dresses”

Perfect. Did you see the Viking Leader.

Yes he was massive. A fearsome warlord.”

Would he be so fearsome if I was the warlord.

Your not massive or fearsome”

That’s the point.

Dad you will need a name. Your version of Erik the Red, Snake in the Eye, Forkbeard or Ivar the Boneless”

Ten minutes later much laughter. Some of the names are unprintable. But

  • Erik has lost the remote control
  • Halfdan Apple Crumble Slayer
  • Bagpuss the soft furry one with fleas
  • Ubba the demon cook
  • Sigurd my pants are buried in the garden
  • Sven Fork Lightening Farter
  • Ivor Big Arse

Tonight a bit of silliness quelled the storm (or to be more precise the Ghost Viking Army). Son found sleep again. But it’s tough. Tough on kids stressed out. Tough on the patents. My batteries seem pretty flat. But that’s what you get when you sign up to be a parent.

Sleep won’t come for me but at least I can have some bizarre daydreams about me being a Viking warlord, running over the Yorkshire hills in my finest summer dress armed with a stick of rhubarb and a banana. Now that is the stuff of nightmares.

Money is clearly everything.

Our local council is North Yorkshire County Council.

Over a year ago our Local Council agreed to make savings of £2m to its service budget. Unbelievably our Council decided to end free home to school transport for disabled and special needs pupils aged 16 to 18 years old.

This is the same council who does not provide any specialist support to kids with dyslexia.

This is the same council who has been cutting the size of Educational Health Care Plan grants to disabled and special needs kids who somehow manage to get through the tough pre qualification assessment. Penalising the very kids who need the highest level of support.

Today our Conservative Council – that’s the same party our Prime Minister heads, thats the Prime Minister who recently said ‘I’m on your side” – announced that the first year of the cut has resulted in a £800k saving. The Council reviewed itself on this issue and concluded that “the implementation of the policy has not had a detrimental impact on the ability of young people accessing their education”

Well that’s well earned pat on the back for the Council then. Is it just me who gets beyond severely pissed off with this – please tell me if I’m missing the point with this because I will happily crawl back into my little hole if it is just me.

Maybe some of our esteemed councillors should venture out of their plush council chambers, get into their Jaguar, BMW or Mercedes cars and actually see what the real world is like for a change.

Perfect Sunday Mornings

For us the perfect Sunday morning was a Swiss one. Maybe I should get sponsored by the Switzerland Tourist Board – any free bars of Toblerone would be happily received ….. in my dreams. Suspect that the Visit Yorkshire Team wouldn’t even give us a free stick of rhubarb.

A leisurely breakfast of hot chocolate, caffeine, freshly made bread, butter, various cheeses, fruit and birchermuesli. Sat by the lake looking at the Alps.

Then a short walk to the boat stop and wait for the precision perfect boat to arrive. Sometimes it’s a stunning Steam Boat.

Then sit and watch the world go by for 2 hours. Stunning views. An early wine or fresh peppermint tea. Maybe even some Swiss choir signing. Certainly some chocolate.

Happy Days.

Whitby

I must admit even routine trips out seem like big adventures these days. Occasionally it’s good to return to the outside world. Makes me feel kinda grown up.

We had an afternoon trip to Whitby for a medical appointment. It was cold, wet, windy and misty. But as ever stunningly beautiful. It’s one of those places that when the sun shines it is just the most picturesque place. But in a wild storm it is truly a perfect place for Dracula to land and wreck havoc.

Son always calls Whitby Abbey, Dracula’s Castle.

If the weather had been kinder we would have ventured onto the beach and search beneath the cliffs. It’s a fantastic place to find fossils. It’s just wonderful to see him searching. Methodically digging and searching through stones. Then suddenly a bit of arm flapping and he is deep into a dream world of dinosaurs.

Once we leave Jurassic times a walk round the small port and Son is lost again in dream world. This time dreams drift 250 years ago to Captain James Cook. Whitby was his home port and his famous ship The Endeavour was built here.

At the medical appointment the consultant handed our son a sheet of paper which had his future appointment dates listed. Instantly son announced

I won’t sign anything before the terms are checked out by my lawyer”

Kids learn so quickly these days.

I am walking

Well he survived the first day back at school. Currently he is bouncing on the trampoline. I have got no idea where the energy comes from. He trooped in from school. Gave the school day 2 out of 10. Demolished 3 tomatoes, an apple and a slice of cake. Gave me a run down on the newly announced Generation 8 of Pokemon. Apparently this generation is based on Britain – that’s going to the grumpiest bunch of Pokemon ever…. Then he set off for the trampoline.

This is all on the back of 2 hours sleep last night. Just too anxious to sleep.

His Dad is somewhat less energised. Evidenced by this morning. I had a morning meeting. So I left the house with car keys in hand. Ten minutes later I came to my senses. I had walked straight past the car, down the drive, out of the village and heading down the path towards the next village. No idea where I was walking. If it was work then that’s a 10 mile hike…….

Dog walk

I suppose I am a creature of habit. Everyday the dog gets exactly the same walk twice. One with me in the morning and then a nighttime walk with our son.

It’s kinda reassuring as I can let my mind wander onto today’s areas of concern leaving the legs and the dog to navigate the route.

It’s an introverts paradise. Hardly ever bump into anyone. Open views. No sign of habitation. At night our son is guaranteed complete isolation.

Every country will have places like this. Places you can still escape from the rat race. Seemingly cut off from the hustle and bustle of modern life. I give you Yorkshire.

Walls Work

The snow has left little old Yorkshire. Still cold but no white stuff. At the edge of the garden the thaw has revealed the first signs of spring. At last some colour. Before this photo we had four flowers. Unfortunately a slightly excited dog obliterated one. So now a hastily erected wall of stones – eat your heart out Mr President – is protecting the remaining delicate buds. And as we are told walls do work.

School Dracula

This is the Hospitium a 14th century listed building in York’s Museum Gardens. These days it’s a venue for conferences, weddings and special events. Many years ago it was a support building for the Abbey.

St Mary’s Abbey was founded in 1088. The surviving ruins date back from about 1270. York is such a good place for kids to actually touch history.

Over Christmas our son spent a few hours here trying to imagine what life was like before it fell into ruin. Recreating the sounds, the people, the buildings, the life. Big scale creative play. I must admit I was lost in the world of dreams to. Mine was a world of ghosts, ghouls and vampires. I had almost forgotten how much fun you can have when you release your imagination.

This was the visit when the first seeds of home schooling started to be scattered. Last term had been grisly. No real sign of development. No evidence of school making any effort to provide an effective and supportive teaching environment. Most importantly a really unhappy and anxious child.

Our son loves subjects like history but not the way school deliver it. He likes the History Teacher, she is really nice. But being in the bottom set and given his encyclopaedic knowledge – he’s not learning anything. Plus regardless of which class you are in the teaching is so traditional. Text book after text book. Very dry and not very dyslexic friendly. Unfortunately it’s the set teaching approach dictated by the government.

Between my thoughts of ghosts and ghouls I also pondered with so much real life history so close to hand, why not bring the classroom here. Bring the lessons alive. That’s when the thought pinged, if school won’t teach here, why don’t I.

We will see.

The trip was completed with the required extra portions of ice cream. That night my imagination had clearly not been put back in its box yet. A dream about Dracula. But not the bloodthirsty vampire. This one was about a reformed Prince of Darkness. He had sold his Transylvanian castle and bought York’s Museum Gardens. He wanted to turn the gardens into the finest history school in the world. All the teachers were ghosts and ghouls. And Dracula was selling the ice creams and he didn’t skimp on the portions. Now that’s a school.

Countries gone mad

“Dad if we won the lottery could we buy a deserted island and live there?

It’s kinda sad that an 11 year old thinks that way. But I fully understand why and YES I would jump at the chance. I remember a time when I loved my country. Those days have sadly gone. Like many folk from Yorkshire we would happily declare independence. York becoming a capital city sounds cool. The national dish could be the Yorkshire Pudding. Our national sports would be cricket and being grumpy. The national animal would be the Ferret. Instead of having a nuclear deterrent we could threaten people with our rhubarb sticks.

You might think this is daft but trust me this is off the scale sensibility compared to the stupidity of modern Britain. Nothing sums up the state of the union better than just one single news story. Given all the potentially catastrophic events circulating around us (and there are many) – the attention of the media and a good proportion of the population has been on …… the horror of a bakery introducing a vegan sausage roll across its 900 stores. The likes of Piers Morgan (one of the not funny loonies and self pronounced TV Star) went into meltdown saying things like “Nobody was waiting for a vegan bloody sausage you PC ravaged clowns”. The news story is everywhere, you just can’t get away from it. I use the term news story very loosely.

I waited with anticipation for our son to return. He would cheer me up, bring much needed sensibility to my world. Unfortunately not this time.

“Dad the school want me to either write left handed or type left handed until my right hand gets better, that includes trying to do exams with my weak hand. I told them that I struggle to coordinate my left hand and that’s the reason I can’t tie knots. Told them that the Doctor was trying to help me with it but the teacher said I just had to do it”

“Dad did you complain about the behaviour in our bottom class”

Yes….

Well they did something”

Please let it be something positive

They moved a really well behaved girl up a set because she was struggling with the behaviour in our class and they moved a really naughty boy in to replace her. It was a lot worse today”

Only thing left is to go and buy a lottery ticket. That remote island is calling. Anybody fancy joining us.

York is not the end of the story

It only takes us 30 minutes to drive into our closest city, the beautiful York. We are so fortunate to live so close to such an historic city. Such a rich pedigree.

  • It was founded by the Romans in 71AD,
  • The Emperor Septimus Severus ruled the entire Roman Empire from York for 2 years,
  • Constantine The Great was proclaimed Roman Emperor in York,
  • York was captured by the Vikings and named Jorvik,
  • Guy Fawkes (remember remember the fifth of November) was born in York,
  • York Minster is one of the worlds largest Cathedrals and took 250 years to build. It is the largest Gothic Cathedral in Northern Europe,

  • The Shambles is the best preserved ancient retail street in Europe dating back before 1086,

  • Dick Turpin the famous Highwayman was executed in York,
  • It has 3 miles of ancient City Walls still intact,

  • It is regarded as one of the worlds most haunted cities with over 500 recorded ghosts,
  • It has the worlds largest Railway Museum,
  • While other Northern British Cities built their wealth on coal, steel and textiles – York made it on Chocolate and Sweets. Rowntree’s and Terrys.

That was supposed to be the end of the post. Trust me York is worth a visit. Basically it’s a really cool City. Especially for a young kid with aspergers whose thirst for facts just keeps growing. He just laps up the facts. When I started writing this post I asked our son to supply me with the information. I completely trust his memory and haven’t bothered to double check the facts.

So it’s so upsetting when he came out with the following Statement a couple of hours later:

“I don’t want to be stupid, I would love to be clever one day”

So off we went for another late night dog walk. I try to provide reassurance. Try to build up his confidence and restore his faith in his dreams. But it often feels like a short term fix. Applying a temporary bandage to the wound. A bandage only protects the wound it doesn’t treat it. As Extreme would sing – I need to find more than words. I need to raise my game…..