Category Archives: The joys of parenthood

Genius Brat’s schooldays

It’s still school…

I appear to be blogging at more or less weekly intervals. I suppose it’s better than nothing.

Genius Brat seems to be enjoying 6th form, but is not greatly more enthusiastic about homework/coursework than previously. And when I pointed out that Learning Support were offering him support in his free periods, his first question was ‘is it optional?’! I think he has begun to regard free periods as an opportunity to slope off early and play his new PS3 games. Plus ça change…


Lord knows how it came up, but I found myself yesterday informing my teenage son that ‘feet’ in the Bible is often used as a euphemism for ‘genitals’ (as in the cherubim: ‘with twain they covered their feet’ – and it gives a whole new slant to Ruth uncovering Boaz’s ‘feet’!) He thought for a moment and then said ‘Jesus washed his disciples’ feet’. Hm – a little Bible knowledge can be a dangerous thing…

So what did I expect?

Last night I took minutes at one of the most chaotic meetings I have ever been to, in which people were frequently having two conversations at once, and the chair was clearly feeling too knackered herself to call order. Meanwhile I was very close to the edge and greatly doubted my ability to write anything coherent.

So I sat down this morning to type them up before I forget everything (having first had a little prayer time and entrusted my day to God) and amazingly, I managed to put together something that does actually vaguely resemble accurate minutes.

Then on my way to the gym for a swim (walking there like a good girl) I remembered to pray that Genius Brat would remember to go to his German oral revision session after school (the oral is in two days and he has already missed one revision session at the weekend). Lo and behold, I sit at my desk at 3.15 pm and he has not yet arrived home, and by 3.55 he still hasn’t, and as I had hoped, he turns up at 4.00 pm having been to the revision session. Seems at least one prayer was answered – but then what did I expect?

Just for Kerensa’s delectation, on Saturday I did a short German oral practice with him. The instruction from the ‘examiner’ (ie me) was ‘Beschreibe eine Person in deiner Familie’ (describe a person in your family, for non-German speakers). He began with ‘Meine Mutter ist…’ – and then a short pause, and then ‘..alt’. That’s telling me.

Back in the saddle… or not.

So finally, after three days of no school last week (with GB thereby missing a German test yet again), we get a message saying there is school today. Only to find him just before school time saying he has a bad stomach ache, and can’t go. I tried asking if anything about school is worrying him, but he couldn’t identify anything. So one more day getting behind with coursework etc.

Oh well, I managed in spite of this to get back into some kind of work routine. It feels like Christmas has only just finished, and even now I can’t tell if it’s safe to go back into the office (ie across the landing into the spare bedroom…!). Still, I did finally take down the Christmas tree yesterday, with much sadness (I hate that task) and to the accompaniment of a CD of the Vienna Philharmonic doing the New Year concert (the Vienna Boys’s Choir singing German Christmas carols is my accompaniment for decorating the tree before Christmas).

Feeling a bit shaky after a day’s work, and not looking forward to doing minutes at the Inclusion Group tonight, but at least I’ve got some important admin done.

Three old ladies and a young one

Had lunch with three old ladies today, including two Viennese old ladies (one being my mother). Every comment or question had to be repeated, and I couldn’t help thinking that it would make a good sitcom – after all we’ve had Last of the Summer Wine about three (or was it four?) old men. This would have to be Last of the Wiener Schnitzel or something like that. At least none of them got stuck in the lavatory.

Anyway, I survived, though I was distinctly tired afterwards from repeating everything and having to interpret them to each other. That, and having been landed with an admirer of my son’s (she has been sweet on him ever since he was 10), who turned up at our house hoping to find him when he was still in an exam. I’m very fond of her, but it was quite tough going keeping her happy while she waited. I think she is trying to cash in on the fact that he appears to have broken up with his latest girlfriend. That has the makings of a good sitcom too…


The other day I went to a workshop on helping our autistic spectrum kids with relaxation. Arriving particularly early to claim one of the very limited parking spaces, I decided to wander around the gardens of the mini-stately home we were meeting in. The gardens were fabulous, but I was disconcerted to see a policewoman apparently mounting guard over a table filled with pumpkins. Could she be the pumpkin police? During the workshop I could also see out of the window a policeman walking to and fro (or possibly two policemen changing places). I never did find out what necessitated their presence (apart from the pumpkins, of course).

Noises off, and ongoing crises

Strange bangs and vibrations are coming into our house from the flat above. I hope it is just the tenants’ washing machine throwing a wobbly. And I hope it stops, otherwise we will have to buy them a new washing machine.

Meanwhile the saga of the school special needs policy grinds on. I saw the SENCO (special needs coordinator) this morning, and since my earlier emails, Genius Brat’s teaching assistant support has magically rematerialized. However she has also confirmed that there are only 8.6 TAs (what does 0.6 of a TA look like?) to fulfil the support hours on around 54 statements. This is clearly woefully inadequate, and I feel justified in organizing the parents’ meeting I have organized for Saturday (though woefully unqualified to lead it). It looks as though a feasible number of parents will be coming to it too. And we have a grant promised from the NUT to cover expenses (eg room hire, refreshments).

As well as running this (admittedly with a competent co-organizer who knows more than I do), I have four tasks given to me by the CBT therapist. I am beginning to think this therapy is going to give me another breakdown. Of course, I could always say that this is too much, and decide which of the four I am prepared to try. Since I am not good enough at saying No, I could surely practise by saying No to the therapist?

Finally in this blog of bits, the Over Keen Girlfriend crisis and the German Coursework Crisis seem to have been temporarily resolved. Though I expect they will both crop up again. I wouldn’t go back to being a teenager for anything – not even for a wrinkle free body (have you ever noticed how those extra powerful hand drying machines blow the loose skin on the back of your hand into little waves if you are over 50?)

The Head from Hell

My only excuse (but it’s a good one) for not blogging since last Monday, is that The Demon Headmaster has struck again and I have been much preoccupied with doing stuff about it. To elucidate, I have discovered that my son is currently getting 0% of the 32 1/2 hours of teaching assistant support that his statement entitles him to. This is even more invidious when you consider that we live in Borough A, which issues his statement, but the school is in Borough B. This means Borough A is giving the school around £20,000 specifically for my child and the school is spending it on something else. In any other context this would be called fraud. And he is by no means the only child not getting their support, indeed one child’s parents are taking the school to the High Court over the lack of implementation of their child’s statement.

Not only that but it seems the school has revived a policy they tried to implement a couple of years ago, to put statemented kids in a ‘special’ class, which may result in all the learning support resources being directed to this group, and no support for those left in the mainstream classes. Which can hardly be called inclusion.

Fired by righteous indignation I have been working with one other parent to revive the defunct Inclusion Group, and we have got a meeting going for next weekend. We also sent details to both the boroughs involved. I just hope parents turn up in decent numbers so we can present a united front to the school. What this head has done to special needs kids is truly appalling. The sad thing is, I was in a café last week with some parents from the school with ‘normal’ kids, and they all think he’s wonderful.

Famous last words

I don’t often quote myself, but about three posts ago I apparently wrote this: ‘I don’t think I am going to go into another post-holiday depression’. What was that about pride and falls?

Basically I’ve been feeling totally horrible since the end of last week, partly triggered by a big upset with Genius Brat last Thursday. Also not helped by the fact that on Sunday at the church visitor drop-in with no visitors, I foolishly volunteered to play Dutch Blitz (it’s a Mennonite thing) against possibly the fastest player in the Mennoverse. Everyone else was slamming down cards at the speed of light and I was sitting there staring at my cards and wondering what they were for… I dropped out after the first round and went and locked myself in the loo and howled. Later a friend found me on the stairs and listened to me for a long time – our church is good at that.

Have been mostly sleeping since that time, but did manage to send off some extracts of my published work yesterday to a lady who wants to publish them in a Christian writers’ mag. This was actually my only really urgent task, so that counted as a good day.

Also managed to get out of hosting a dinner party for US friends on Thursday while The Grouch is having a church elders’ meeting; instead someone else who wanted to see them too is hosting it. I really would like to start having friends round for dinner more, but this is not the right moment. And I have cancelled my sermon for Sunday – if no one else volunteers to do it, we will have a service without a sermon. It won’t kill anyone.

I think I am on the upward curve now but still taking things very easy. I really do wish a psych would diagnose me as type 2 bipolar – it would explain the ups and downs so much better.

Messed-up days and rude emails

So. Everything was going well, GB was back at school and, amazingly, did his homework the minute he came home, and I was getting to grips with the pile of urgent admin that has been urgent for at least a year. I was all set to go to a theological forum today and tomorrow, and had even read the emailed copies of today’s indigestible papers. Then I woke up this morning and found a boy in my bed, making little grumpy noises. Turns out he was feeling ill and achy. Thoughts of possible swine flu (although I think he has probably already had it) made me feel I couldn’t possibly leave him alone at home ill, and I was feeling pretty exhausted myself at the thought of academic papers and discussion all day. So I rang the school and the conference organizers, and spent the morning messing about online while my cleaner cleaned, and the afternoon asleep. Meanwhile GB, as I might have known, declared he was feeling better. No swine flu then.

This means that in the event of his being fit for school tomorrow (which is likely), I have to decide whether I can spend the day catching up on a forum of which I have missed more than half, when I am still feeling pretty foul myself. Also I have just sent a really rude email to my bank (starting with Dear Stupid Banker!) about which I now feel really ashamed, and don’t feel like showing my face in public at all.

But really – what am I to say to a bank that sends me my user name for online banking, promises I will have a password within five days, and I still haven’t got it two months later; then when I email to point this out, and they reply to say it will be sent in the next five days, they then send me an anonymous email saying that as I have not yet activated my online banking I will have to ring them up! But the reason I haven’t activated online banking is that THE IDIOTS HAVEN’T SENT ME MY PASSWORD YET!

What kind of numpties work at these places – don’t they read their own correspondence? But still I feel bad because they are a nice ethical bank and I ought to be forgiving, and I am supposed to be non-violent in deed and word… Let’s just hope they laugh at ‘Dear Stupid Banker’…