Tag Archive | Education

New Year. Renewed determination

First of all.  ‘Happy New Year’ to you all.

Over the last couple of weeks I have struggled to put a blog post together. I would like to say that it was because I have been so busy and enjoying myself, that I have not had the time to sit down and write anything but the truth is a little like the reasons I have neglected commenting on other’s blog posts or responding to posts on twitter – I have nothing useful to say!

Okay, maybe that is the wrong chose of wording. What is probably more accurate is I have lost confidence in my own voice and have got myself into a ridiculous headspace where I feel anything I say will come across as completely wrong or unhelpful. It is a completely irrational thought process and completely unhelpful, but yet I seem to be allowing it to overwhelm my private thoughts while continuing to demonstrate an external image of being a strong and in-control mother who is confident in her parenting of her sons.

Don’t worry! This post is not going to be an ‘Eeyore’ style post. I have let the trials and tribulations of parenting Buzz and Waxy overwhelm me for long enough and while I know I still do not have the courage to ask for what I need from the people I need it from for myself, having Bumble home over the Christmas holidays has given me a little more space to regroup and reflect on what I need to do for my boys in order to support them more effectively and help them become the beautiful young men that they are blossoming into in already. And, in the process of doing this, hopefully Bumble and I will feel less like we are permanently living in hostile warzone with the boys and professionals and we can find the time to look after ourselves a little better .

For the past couple of months Buzzbee’s separation anxiety has been overwhelming for all involved and if I am honest because it 90% of it has been directed at me.

To give you an idea of how extreme it has got. I have got the boys back in the car after a supermarket shop and go to put the trolley away (2 cars away and I am still within sight), I return to the car to a hysterical Buzzbee who is inconsolable. Another example is when panic ensues if while out Bumble and I suggest that to save time we split up to get the jobs done quicker – he wants everyone to stay together at all times.

I know there is a huge control dynamic developing here and Bumble and I are working very hard to not allow Buzzbee to control us but we are needing to be very careful because every therapeutic bone in our bodies is saying that something has triggered off this overwhelming fear response in him and until we can identify what that is or we can find a way to help him work through the ‘BIG’ feelings so that they are no longer controlling him anymore, we need to tread carefully.

It breaks my heart to see him in so much pain. He takes 2 steps forwards and progresses in one area and is so proud of himself and then ‘BAMM’ something else comes along and he is thrown into yet another crisis and we have to fight hard to not let all the progress he has already made, become lost.

At the moment I could go on forever about what I believe Buzz needs and should have by now received but rather than go into another rant or tirade about it, I have spent the last few days coming up with a ‘Battle Plan’ and I am determined this year…… I WILL NOT ALLOW PROFESSIONALS TO BRUSH HIS NEEDS UNDER THE CARPET. This year I am going to get him the assessments and support he needs and if that means I have to be a thorn in the side of people until they listen. Then so be it.

As for Beeswax! On paper to most it appears that he has every bit of support he needs and yet last year the majority of my time and energy which I should have been using to find Buzz the support he needs, I spent it dealing with Waxy and the infuriating staff at his school and their inability to understand the effects trauma and complex attachment history can have on a hormonal and emotionally immature, teenage boy and how the complex relational dynamics between how he is at school and how he is at home, is causing an unnecessary rift between us all.

In the coming weeks we will have Waxy’s GCSE options open evening and I know that school, as well as Bumble and I would like to see him cover as many subjects as possible and we are confident he could achieve high standards but at the same time, Bumble and I are concerned!

Waxy is incredibly bright but simply from the conversations I have had with school and Waxy himself, we are aware that there is already a lot of pressure being put onto him when it comes to maturity and independence, especially with him organising himself personally and academically. While we are constantly working alongside Waxy to boost his confidence in this area, he still needs a lot of support. Sadly this is an area we are failing to help school understand and rather than them seeing us as trying to support him and work closely with them, they see it as we are over anxious parents who don’t want to ‘let go of the apron strings’ – which is amusing, considering he boards most of the week and refuses to come home during the week.

School see what Waxy wants them to see and sadly even now, after more than 3 years at the school, he still does not trust the staff enough to let them know what is going on for him, so holds it together all week and lets ‘Mount Vesuvius’ erupt every weekend.

Waxy is torn. He wants to be more independent but when he is put into a situation where he has the opportunity to ‘spread his wings’, fear takes over and he sabotages himself which then results in people becoming ‘reactive’ rather than ‘reassuring’ towards him and we end up back at square one.

My goal this year is to find a way to help school understand that Bumble and I are not the ‘enemy’ and rather than them repeatedly working against us, I need to find a way of helping them to see that we want to work with them and help our son feel supported and confident that he can achieve his full potential, rather than things staying as they are now and risking him slipping through the net and his needs not being identified until it is too late for him.

I have rambled on here and I am sure that none of this will make the slightest bit of sense to anyone reading it, but what I am trying to say is for too long now I have ‘let things slide’, or taken a “softly, softly, catchee monkey” approach and that has got me nowhere. I need to pull myself together, channel a large dose of therapeutic Zen and become a ‘Velvet Bullldozer’ from now on.

Watch this space!

bulldozer

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Bittersweet moments and new beginnings

Ok first of all.  This post is not the original post I wrote for this weeks’ #WASO.  I appear to have some how lost it on my journey to Birmingham at the beginning of the weekend.  Hopefully it will turn up at some point, but enough about my ditsy brain.

Since returning to school at the beginning of September, relationships with Buzzbee’s school have been nothing short of stressful for all involved.

It would be so easy for me to write long angry paragraphs, stating in explicit detail every mistake they have made, but it wouldn’t help either Buzz or them, and heaven knows I don’t need to stress myself out any more than I am. So why am I writing this?

A short while ago another emergency meeting (PEAR) was held to review Buzz’s statement and Bumble went in my place (I recently I found it difficult to contain my emotions long enough with one head-teacher – 14 professionals no way!).

At the very beginning of the meeting Buzz’s head teacher threw a curveball into the purpose of everyone being there. She FINALLY admitted that his needs were too great and that they no longer felt that they were being fair to him. She told the professionals that although she and her staff were committed to him, she feared that without specialist input he would eventually end up being permanently excluded.

Although we do challenge her analysis that `his needs are TOO great’, we do feel that they are in completely over their heads. Despite all the training and advice they have been given, the staff still appeared to be ill-equipped (it does feel sometimes more like they weren’t even trying). They wanted a nice compliant little boy who trusted them, who they could understand, and who would be a joy to teach.

What they got was a very mistrustful, frightened, emotionally unpredictable, avoidant boy whose fear of failure they had activated. They had encouraged his avoidance of learning for so long because of their own fears of his emotional outbursts and the repercussions they were having within the school community. They had got their selves into a difficult situation and didn’t tell us until he was so far behind that they were all trapped on the hamster wheel of shame and despair. By the time we were told, even we were lost for answers.
Anyway fast forward a few weeks to the present time. Since this meeting things have moved on, a SEN panel did agree to look for a more specialist school for him, but they openly admitted there is nothing around for him.
Hmmm, this is where it all gets a bit messy, and please forgive me if the rest of this post is a little disjointed or rambling. I want to keep my feelings of anger at how he has been let down by so many people in his life in check for a minute, but at the same time I am currently feeling very emotional about the whole situation, and about the difficult decisions Bumble and I have had to make in order to support our youngest child.

As I said within our area there is no provision for 7 year old boys who need that extra input but do not fit into any of the SEN criteria or are too young to attend a specific school. The only school that they ‘plucked out of a hat’ was a school in a different LEA that is a primary EBD school, which in all honesty would have traumatised him even more (if we thought an EBD school was appropriate, we would be fighting to get him into Beeswax’s school).

Ok, rambling again. Anyway, this school is oversubscribed, so I needlessly had to make myself even more unpopular than I already was by voicing my concerns about their suggestions.

Rather than keep waffling I need to get to the point.

After several weeks of toing and froing, and an overly complicated flexi-schooling timetable, which school were constantly adjusting, so some days even I couldn’t tell which end was up, let alone poor Buzzbee trying to manage all the changes and different transitions.

I am not saying that the whole flexi-school plan was completely useless or that none of it had a positive effect on Buzz because a couple of the alternative learning activities have been great and not only has he come home happy and chirpy, rather than showing his usual resistance to go somewhere, he is not only eager to get to his destination in the morning, but he also doesn’t want to leave at the end of the day. One of these activities is a forest school and he adores it (although this shouldn’t be a surprise to me – he is an outdoor child after all). He also loves his hour with the ponies each week, but sadly this is coming to an end as it is only a short-term programme.

Back to our big decision! Bumble and I have decided to formally remove Buzz from school and I will, for the time being, educate him at home until a time when we feel he is ready to return to school.

Am I mad?

Maybe! Both Buzz and Beeswax are hard work and the only time I really get a break is when they are at school, but in reality at the moment I am not even getting that with meetings for the boys and transporting Buzz here there and everywhere, on top of needing to cover school work with him on the hours/days that he is not in school. I have had to be his mum and teacher but without the pay.

Do I think we have made the right decision?

Definitely – we couldn’t let it go on any longer. Not only was his education being damaged but more importantly the current situation was having a dramatic and damaging effect on his social and emotional wellbeing; and his self-confidence and self-esteem have hit rock bottom.

Will we come up against a lot of resistance and criticism for our decision?

Probably! Buzz himself at some point will buck against the idea of having to work at home but I can soften him with the knowledge he will still be able to attend forest school. My guess is the LEA will not be very happy and will try to make my life difficult for me for a while, and all I can say is “bring it on”! Thankfully both our families understand why we have taken this decision and are fully supportive of it.

I am actually quite looking forward to the challenge. Hey, you never know -maybe I will learn something new. What are my chances of being able to avoid covering Dinosaurs?

Although it is the right thing for us to do, it is bittersweet because it is not what we really want for him, but we feel we have been forced to do this, in the best interests of our child.

And so begins a new chapter for our life in the hive.

Time to learn

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