Mayhem and Stardust

We are the proud parents of, amongst others, Jig, who has a handsome collection of diagnoses (ADHD, AD, FASD) which probably mean nothing and a generous smattering of fairy dust which probably counts for everything. School was a huge challenge and so we decided, probably rashly, to move to the country and home educate him. No medication, no 'support', chickens, space, a farm on the doorstep and a beach nearby. What could possibly go wrong?

Archive for the month “March, 2014”

Icarus Boy

Finding a topic for the day is one of the joys of my current life.  I love not knowing what we might do and then stumbling across something that I really want to do and then – this is the good bit – doing it!

I found a lovely interpretative dance piece about Icarus on the BBC. We both enjoyed it and then set about writing it up and making wax and feather wings.  That was about half an hour ago.  Jig is still attaching new wax and feather wings to playmobil people and testing them off each of the steps. People take what they want from myth and legend, which is its value, and today we learned that Icarus should have tested his wings first.  If he had thought it out then he would have known that the wax would melt (Or more likely, as Jiggy says, it would have been too heavy)

Testing wings.  Isn’t that what childhood should be all about?

Image 3

Jumping off the path

I write here about Jiggy.  Of my six children he is the one that I have been so totally responsible for and he is the one who is now so entirely under the radar that I feel the need to speak publicly about him, to hold our stories out as proof that we are doing what we can and that we are being careful with him.  I don’t want the sort of ‘support’ that leaves us feeling smaller and weaker, less able to raise him, less able to understand him the way we do.  However, being off grid is a scary place.  It is quite isolated out here. I occasionally consider pointing out to the local authority that they really should be keeping an eye on us but then I picture hordes of grey suits bearing down on our colourful and chaotic little world and shudder.

That said, Jiggy isn’t the only one who would benefit from some time in this bubble of ours.  Moo has had nearly four years of education and still can’t do simple number bonds to 5. She has been on School Action for some time and the academic gap between her and her peers does nothing but widen. Many children exposed to drugs and alcohol in utero need to go over and over a thing before it sticks and school just don’t have the time. I think I probably spend about thirty hours for each hour that school has to bank simple basic building blocks such as money, time, number bonds and times tables. She loves school though and gets much more socially out of it than Jig ever could, or did. So, with her blessing, I am considering suggesting a flexi school arrangement for her, to scoop her out of the race she is so clearly losing, to move the goal posts and to make a new Moo shaped space for her in this quirky world that is our day.

It is IEP week this week, perfect timing.


April 29th

IEPs are all about writing a to do list that doesn’t actually impact anyone nor does it require any actual resources or input from anyone that is out of the ordinary run of things. I am happy to play those silly games when I need to – which is when I am letting my children settle, giving them time, waiting to see what will happen.  However, those times end.  I don’t expect anyone to know that I have changed my tack, or that I am now going to start requiring actual action rather than virtual action and it may be unfair of me, now, to be demanding that learning deficits be addressed by the application of some sort of actual teaching when I didn’t before.  But then life isn’t fair and they have had a good ride thus far.  If the SENCO doesn’t have a plan for me by Wednesday 3.30 then Moo will be home with us one day a week on a maths workshop day pending their further communication to me regarding a real individual education plan – with actual teaching.  No doubt I am not as good as the teachers, no doubt they could do a much better job, no doubt there have been umpteen training days and policy wallah meetings about how best to teach her but, in the end, no one seems to be actually doing it.  Better me than no-one. Flexi schooling has never been a first choice and, if I were a different, braver, calmer woman I would have had her at home full time anyway but I’m not.  This may well be a good enough compromise.

3 Minute March

Continuing the theme of concentration, one of our goals for this year was to get better at sitting quietly and doing a task.  Sitting quietly means not talking or making any other sort of noise, it means not moving out of the seat.  It means focussing on the task in hand and actually doing it.  We started in January with one minute as a goal, February was two and here we are in March.

Three minutes seems like a tall order right now but none the less, here we are and so did two.  In order to practise this sort of concentration we have begun simple meditation exercises recently.  There is nothing to lose when we both sit quietly and together, listening to some carefully filtered guided mediations.  I think that most parents of adopted children come to a realisation, at some point, that they are effectively on their own.  That even the best support and advice in the world doesn’t parent your challenging child.  You do.  Resourcing yourself becomes absolutely essential to both of you.  Putting your own oxygen mask on first is an unavoidable necessity and yet somehow feels like a luxury. It really isn’t.  Achieving calm may well be one of Jiggy’s goals but in order for that to be even slightly likely I must be peaceful first. There are days when that is as unachievable as three minutes of focussed and productive activity but that doesn’t mean we don’t keep practising.  We are both getting there.

Anyway, we are now in minute 12.  We did not achieve the task but we have achieved being in a seat for all of that time. We did not achieve quiet but he did not speak words for over three minutes in a row.

It is only just March after all.

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