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, 2016”

To the parents who complained about my child:

To the parents who complained about my child:

You complained because my child used the words that your child taught him, but louder.  You complained because my child challenges the whispered insults that your child delivers and that made you uncomfortable. You complained because my child appears very slightly different from yours and you used words that would damn him in your world, that would cause him immense and ongoing pain and difficulty if you had been able to but you are wrong, not about the words or the issue or the future that you wanted for him but wrong about the difference; the difference is not slight, my child is a glorious gilded giant and you are too small to even see past the stitching on the sole of his shoe.

I claimed anger with you for your complaint and the upset it caused, for the fact that it made us feel wrong when we aren’t. I said that I felt anger when I knew what you were doing and as the days have passed and the initial shock has settled I realise that the tiny pin hole that is you has allowed a growing rip in something that I thought was solid to unravel into a screaming, rending, irreparable gash and behind it was Anger herself.  Now I am the tiny speck and my Anger is a towering fury that has poured herself through what is left of the frayed edges of barrier that contained her.

She is fire and gold.  She is trailing you and all those who came before you with their petty judgments and personal failures as dust on the hem of her golden feathered cloak. She has all the systems that call themselves support and who never show up grasped in her jewelled fists and she is raising them to the black and howling storm. She has the world as you see it in a crumpled ball of greying tissue that will simply vanish into her flames. You are nothing.

And look, there on her shoulders is my son. My son who was born to a woman whose battle with your small life rules had been lost.  My son who inherited her bruises and her scars and who has tried so hard to limp along in the shoes you gave him but that are always too small for him. And look. My son is dancing on the shoulders of Anger. He is throwing his head back and he is crowing with the joy of his freedom and the beauty of his own world. My son is a barefoot dancer.

And hear, hear his words above the roar and the howling of the storm that is Anger’s song. His words are rubies and sapphires, mountains of jewels and glory that you can only squint at through your closed eyes. He makes his words spiral and dip, rise and fall and he is a poet.

And above the smoke and the fringes of anger’s burring there is a sweetness, a rich dark sap of scent that wraps lazy fingers around the copper could of Anger’s hair and it is my boy, the essence of him that sits so well here, is so safe, so cushioned.

So watch, if you dare, and listen to my Anger.


So, Jig is in school full time again. Something indefinable and yet good has happened and it is working out. Yes we have taken some steps backwards and as each obstacle arose we deliberately chose to step back in order to plan our way around it. We brought him back home for short times, and then for longer times. He stayed home for half days and full days and we kept dipping our toes back in the water, waiting for the chill of it to subside. During this time I learned the astonishing value of this stepping back, not as a failure but as a strategy. Just because school exists and just because ordinarily kids go there pretty much all of the time that does not mean we need to or have to or will even benefit from it. Some times you need to alter the plot to fit your character. School have trusted us with this and I have learned what true partnership with teachers means. My job is to parent, to create the positive internal narrative and the small world that every child needs as their firm base and theirs is to understand when my child is ready to take a step out of that small world, to be carefully led into a wider space where the outside world can begin to add its magic to the mix. Neither will work without the other. We are working together to identify which role belongs to which of us, we are valuing the essential in each sphere and we are making progress. In order to do so we have to keep an eye on the system, the usual, the prescribed norm but we need to be brave and creative enough to deviate, to make up our own rules and to do it differently. The fact that we live in a rural area with a disinterested and complacent local authority is, as it turns out, quite a gift.

It is a gift because we can just get on with doing what we know in our hearts to be right. It is a gift because every unavoidable brush we have with the system means we have to define Jig as needy and failing in order to identify the sort of environment where he would thrive. Because we can see how it has been different we don’t need to buy into that. We can tell the difference between labelling Jig’s failures (always failure to comply and accept) in order to access resources and believing Jig to actually be that list of failures. This system does not allow us to celebrate what he can do but also to nurture him and we were in danger of wasting our time by chasing meaningless diagnoses in order to get “support”.

As we rapidly approach the transfer to secondary school we are telling two stories at the same time. One of them is the traditional tale of woe and neediness, the plot includes diagnosis and assessments and a shrinking of the opportunities open to him but it is a safe and approved narrative. The other is one of potential and hope, given the right environment and supported by brave and creative people. It is a deviation, a surprise in the plot. We don’t know how this will end.

Jig 007

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