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…
Significant events of the last 10 days or so:
Genius Brat went to genius camp and we drove him there and had a few days teenager-free holiday a deux – in Northamptonshire. It is a surprising pleasant place to holiday in, though not exactly a tourist area. It was a lot better than when we did the same last year, when we had to leave a day late because of my bad back and I had to hobble everywhere. I read a lot of books.
The morning after we got back, I went (non-resident) to a film weekend in a local conference centre, and saw four films back to back (well, three on Saturday and one on Sunday) which was less exhausting than I expected, since only one of the films was at all intense.
I finally signed the contract for my next book.
I generally felt good.
Today I went to the dentist and the hygienist and was told what good teeth I had. I can’t help feeling proud of this in spite of having no responsibility for the fact at all. My gums, for which I do hold some responsibility (ie they improve when I take better care of them), have also improved a great deal since my last visit
GB’s school was closed today because the builders have found a potential asbestos risk. And several teachers are stranded at various places in the world because of the volcano. However years 9-13 are back tomorrow, though not years 7-8. I can envisage a number of parents being seriously inconvenienced. Thank God I work for myself (and sometimes get on quite well with the boss….)
GB’s best friend found my lost favourite earring at church last week, when I wasn’t there, and pinned it up on the church cupboard for me to find this week. I am eternally grateful.
Meanwhile, our holiday in the US this summer is gradually falling into place, as various Mennonites offer to host us. That is, if planes are flying across the Atlantic again by July…
All right, so I haven’t blogged since the week before Christmas. All I have to say is, Christmas came, and it went, and it went well. I only got slightly irritated with my mother once, which must be a record. And as I said before Christmas, it doesn’t matter if you don’t get Christmas perfectly right, because another one will be along in five minutes. Or so it seems. Likewise with years – I can hardly believe that it is 2010, however one is going to pronounce that (I favour twenty-ten, myself – after all no one ever said ‘one thousand nine-hundred and ten’ a century ago, as far as I know).
Genius Brat went back to school today, with posh new clothes and shoes, and it seems to have gone well (he didn’t find his lost homework book but he did check out his teacher appointments for parents’ evening tomorrow, which he had lost with the homework book, and remembered to give back her Oyster card to his no 1 fan, who left it at our house before Christmas). Meanwhile I struggled to get out of bed and get down to work in what should be a very busy week. I didn’t do very well, getting out of bed at 10ish and going back there at 12ish for a couple more hours, although I did manage to read about half of the book for which I’m meant to be writing a foreword by Friday. I’m not getting very good sleep at the moment, as my jaw splint (which is supposed to open my airways and keep me breathing in my sleep) has gone back to the makers for repair. Hopefully it will be back soon.
Usual mix of success and failure, then. Also I have put on three pounds over Christmas, no doubt owing to consuming large amounts of chocolate. It’s all gone now, so the diet can start. Tomorrow. (Actually I ate a very frugal lunch today so feel quite good about that.).
PS Freecycle is offering ‘More baby hangers’. Are there so many people round here who want to hang babies? (on the Christmas tree perhaps…).
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?)
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.
Yesterday: I receive a letter from Genius Brat’s chemistry teacher that informs me helpfully that the deadline for his chemistry coursework is Tuesday 22 June, a date which does not exist this year. Even assuming she meant Tuesday 23rd June, it was not hugely helpful to send, second class, a missive informing me of the deadline which only arrived on the deadline. She also informed me that the coursework was worth 33% of the overall mark, and that he could be moved down to a lower set if the work was not submitted. Added to this is the fact that he missed the Core Science Chemistry exam last week because of illness, and we are well on the way to a failed GCSE.
GB very nonchalant about the whole thing, saying that he can afford to lose one GCSE. I, not very convinced, raise the matter at home group, and lose hours of sleep over it, as well as posting it in every prayer forum I can think of. I also write a panicky email to the Chemistry teacher, asking if there is any possible leeway. My email bounces back the same evening.
Today, I transfer the contents of the email to a letter and, reasoning that it is foolish to post it when the school science wing is 10 minutes walk from home, I go and deliver it by hand. I have done all I can.
Lo and behold, GB saunters home from school and remarks, ‘Oh, I found the chemistry work I’d already started and did some more work on it. I can finish it tonight and the teacher says I can hand it in tomorrow’. My mouth drops open with disbelief.
Do I believe there is a God who answers prayer? Well, to paraphrase a song, ‘Ma’am, I do tonight’.
Mothers, remember the day when you first left your precious darling at the school gates? Bet it was you, not the kid, who cried a little. I did. I’ve had another of those milestones today: my son’s first GCSE exam. I was definitely more nervous than him, indeed I have hardly slept for the last two nights, though whether these facts are connected I cannot tell. As he is youngest in year, and this is the first Science module, taken a year early, which means he is taking it at 14 instead of 16, there was extra cause for anxiety.
He however was totally laid back, refused to do any revision until the morning of the exam, and then just allowed me to take him through some test questions (which I have to admit, after a wobbly start, he answered competently). He turned up just an hour after he left, having done the 40 minute exam in just 20 minutes, not having used the extra time that he gets because of his Asperger’s, or the prompt, or the laptop. I can only hope we don’t get a nasty shock when the results come. I do however have to remind myself that intelligence tests put him in the top 5% or, on certain skills, in the top 1%. And these exams are designed for the average.
Have had a mailing from a Christian arts conference in the Netherlands, with a booking form that asks me ‘What artistic raining have you had?’ [sic]. Well, I don’t know really – it was raining sideways into my ear on Sunday, does that count as artistic?
Which reminds me of ‘autistic’, which reminds me that I went on a group tour yesterday around the Tree House school for autistic kids, which was founded by Nick Hornby and his friends and is now in a beautiful new building in vibrant Muswell Hill. (Right next door, incidentally, to a psychiatric hospital where I have memories of visiting my late brother). It doesn’t take Asperger kids, so no use to us, and anyway GB is doing well in mainstream, with some hiccups. Actually the head of another private school, for the whole autistic spectrum, was there, but this is only primary so not relevant to us either. I so wish it had been there when we were looking for a primary school – it’s even in Crouch End where he used to go to Montessori.
Met another Aspie parent there who, after a few mins of conversation, said ‘ Do you have a blog?’ Turns out she has been reading this – I can’t believe how many people find this blog. So Sandra, if you’re reading, hello there.
School has been a sensitive subject for Genius Brat lately. He is actually doing incredibly well, but feeling overwhelmed by the mountain of coursework and other homework to catch up on. In fact in the two weeks before half term (which was last week), he only went to school four or five times: three days the school was closed because of snow, one or maybe two days he wasn’t well, and one day I let him stay home to catch up on coursework and get over a panic about it.
After the half term rest I thought things would be getting back to normal, but having been feeling ill on Sunday, he was not much better yesterday (Monday) so I kept him home another day, and left a message on the Attendance Officer’s voicemail to say he was unwell. I really think he was fighting a bug, as he slept till 2.30 pm! (although this could be normal teenage behaviour…). Then today he woke up in a big panic about a piece of German coursework he hadn’t done which was due today. Just to make sure he really had a German lesson today I checked the school newsletter online to see which week of his two-week timetable we were in. Imagine my embarrassment to find that yesterday was in fact an INSET (staff training) day and so there hadn’t been school yesterday in any case!
On the strength of that, it didn’t seem so bad to be missing today, so he stayed home and we worked together on his German. The irony is, he’d already done a quarter of the work to a really high standard, and didn’t need all that much help from me. He gets in such a state over the work but when he actually gets down to doing it, he always does it absolutely brilliantly. I wonder how we can get over the panic factor?
With reference to which, I am currently reading a book called The Explosive Child, which came highly recommended by a US Shipmate whose kids, like mine, have neurological deficits. It is indeed amazingly helpful, but I am waiting for the sequel: The Explosive Parent.
By the way, did I ever say I loved my church? I love my church… rush of love occasioned by a really fantastic ‘members’ communion’ (agape meal) last Tuesday. I don’t know how I’d survive without these lovely people.
As my son was off school last Friday, we didn’t receive the school newsletter which he normally brings home at the end of the week. As a result I decided to read the newsletter on the school website, which has been a most educational experience. Not the content of the letter so much as the interesting use of asterisks. For example the newsletter records that the ****nal Double Club has been involved in a football and literacy project (clue: we are in North London).
I then went on to read, as far as possible (it is very detailed), the newly written Behaviour Policy. This informs me that ***ist behaviour will not be tolerated, and that responses to the policy will be ****ysed.
Guess the omissions! It seems the child protection software on my new iMac is a little overzealous…