Tag Archives: parenting

Feb 14; March 8; March 18;all in 2015

December 22, 2016

This is a sequence of posts that are ongoing. If you want to read previous posts seek out the dates above.

Parenting – something to aspire to. I did with my wife and after many obstacles in August 1998 we became parents to our first child. He was 2 years, 3 months and we were adopting him. Subsequently, we also adopted his younger brother aged 1 year in February 1999.

Parenting has been educational. Our children through no fault of their own inherited some characteristics. By the nature of the starts to their lives they had other obstacles to overcome. We have learnt much, dealt with many ups and downs.

My previous posts focused on a phase our eldest went through and started to emerge from. We are at a distance as parents now. He is an adult. My mother’s funeral on Thursday brought us together again. There was sharing of happy memories and grief, overall a positive experience.

Unfortunately later during our journey for Christmas in our new home things unraveled again. I can not say more at this stage for reasons outside our control. Two days later, going into Christmas Day without him, there has been dejection but also much reflection once more. I, unable to sleep, have reread those posts.

I go into Christmas 2016 unable to hug my eldest as I had posted I did in 2015. I do not know what lies ahead, but I do know that I still choose option B and I still love him, even though the physical distance may be longer, the ties that bind us are still not broken from this side at least.

I hope he has a Christmas that he can enjoy on some level as we will at this end.

I still love you son.

Applying my skills to a new topic/task

On January 8th my youngest son has his first level 2 BTec exam for Creative Media Production. He has never found exams or preparation for them easy. School up to Year 11 was always linked to support from TAs / LSAs and a healthy dose of help at home from Mum and Dad. Revision has been varied trying to find ways to retain facts and link points together. We have done this so that he can do his best. It has caused tensions at times but we have stuck at it.

In 2014/15 he did a level 1 course which was assessed by work on assessments and no exams, it suited. The change this year to an exam and assessments structure has worked, again with Mum and Dad support as deadlines and procrastination have not been a good combination. Exams cause that almost panic and we step in like an extra emergency service to support (idea for this came from a parents’ card about my contribution over 5 years to their son’s education).

So another assessed piece is suddenly mentioned with 72 hours to go – flexible plans are made to take this onboard and meet deadline. Quotes like ” I am lucky to have a Mum and Dad who support me” are used as reminders that yes we are pushing but for a reason.

I and my wife have never taught Creative media production. We are both consumers of many media products and are aware that this means we know some aspects of the course through applying common sense. Teaching skills also come in handy.

Since September I have used the following;

– look up the syllabus online

– find the criteria for pass, merit and distinction – both syllabus led and in college materials 

 – explain the principle of a mark scheme and why you use it to narrow down what content to include

– download and print off exam scripts to practice

– go through son’s answers with him and use mark scheme to show examiner guidance

– go through examiners report with him and see if errors he made were the same as students in that exam cycle and conversely where he spotted points that others missed for positive reinforcement

– exam timing and how long each mark should take

We have a wide range of skills as teachers and as adults that can be applied to a variety of circumstances – stating the bleeding obvious probably – this has reinforced for me the positives about my teaching and highlighted how I need to differentiate for the individual pupil.

Good luck supporting your own teenagers when the time comes.

The gift that keeps…I just want to give you a hug right now

Dear Eldest Son

Well, my first letter to you has sparked many responses from people online from many countries – it has reminded me how much we love you. Seeing you last week reinforced the difficulty of pulling back from one we love so much. At the same time your recent behaviour towards others is new and scary, but on some levels you have shown an awareness.

Last night you shared your latest new and diagnosis. Mum and I shouldn’t have but couldn’t help but get onto the web and research what it meant and where you may be accommodated.

The diagnosis makes a lot of sense after Mum read out many of the features of a combination of A and B (I am not sharing diagnosis here, not at the moment anyway). Then the possible placement, it started to make sense too, and nearer for visiting – see we really can’t let you go, nor do we want too.

We switched our machines off and watched some TV to take our minds off it – we are learning gradually. I went to bed ready to sleep. I woke recently from a nightmare, I could not face a class, I assume covering as pupils I had not met before. Emotionally I just crumpled and needed to call for assistance.

There is my dilemma this morning, can I teach today? I have had the wracking sobs, lying in the dark. So my solution? Write a theoretical letter to you – my new outlet. Headphones on, Spotify with new discovery Clean Bandit – cheerful music fusion in my ears, cool breeze from wide open window on my shoulders.

I do not want my BD fug to descend, yes I am going to fight it. I am going to work, writing to you has helped me decide. But, I will tell my managers about my dilemma and I will take it an hour at a time because today I will be teetering on the edge when I meet teenagers who don’t know about the sort of hardships that you are going through, a time when being a teacher and father Is hard, very hard.

I love you, I want to envelope you in a big Dad bear hug, I may not want to let you go, I may cry, it hurts seeing you going through this. But one thing I hang onto is that you are safe, cared for and receiving support -‘just engage with it because I want to see you leading an independent life in the future. After all you are only 18, life has so much to offer yet.

Love Dad

The gift that keeps on giving … Visit day

Dear Eldest son… A post which many read and commented on. Well today was visit day. It had built into almost a mental block, would we be strong enough to visit? How would it go? What would it feel like…

Well, to be honest the whole experience itself wasn’t the devil it had become in my mind – what we can accept in the name of parenthood. A new system to learn and possibly reuse in the years to come as I feel that is a strong possibility.

The time span involved can be shortened by knowing when to book in, take time before being called to stage 2 of the visit procedure. What can you take in / leave behind; declarations to sign; I got two wrist bands – one for visiting and one so I could get out as a non-inmate of a male prison.

Grateful for our visit, but the realisation that after an hour of visiting that mention the slightest issue linked to “his” connections with others and the verbals start, the threats, the “I know people…”, how he will resolve matters in the future. We left feeling that this would just be phase one. He is not ready to change, not yet, he knows best…

We know this is not the example we have given him, our way of doing things was not exciting, it involved working for things. Yet still, this is my son and I feel at a loss of how this could have come out differently. We haven’t given up, but we have less and less in common.

Tiredness and low mood have claimed a lot of my non working time these last few weeks, maybe now I can start to rise again. My mind is still jumbled at the moment but I am going to resist him bringing me down again, but it’s hard, very hard.

The gift that keeps on giving …

Dear Eldest son

You are so considerate to your parents. In the last few years we have learnt so much through your decisions. I can now boast knowledge of the Mental Health Act and different categories of sectioning at both adolescent and adult classifications. I can describe what the inside of non secure and secure psychiatric units are like and the patients within. I have met many mental health workers, doctors,consultants, support workers.

I have travelled to Surrey and many parts of Essex to visit you in hospitals and placements. I have met you and heard about how it isn’t your fault and they are out to get you. I have received demands for money because you have none left. I have seen you grow dependent on a number of substances that do not enhance your life chances. I know the location of police custody suites.

I have searched and found you while making yourself homeless out of choice, I have learnt many things. In fact this statement is unfair. Your mum and I have learnt these things together. Sometimes she has learnt of them before me through phone calls while I have been at work and held onto the information so that I don’t “crack” if I hear the news during the working day.

Today a new gift, we are allowed to be on your visitor list to see you in prison. We can send money so you can have tobacco, extra food… We can learn about a new form of accommodation, another part of town to visit.

We have had a conversation – we have two essential choices…
a) cut our losses and cut all ties with you
b) hang on in there, at a distance, but wait hoping that one day that the son we love despite all of the above reappears on the other side.

We choose (b), but just to let you know,it hurts (a lot). It doesn’t help with our mental health, our spirit, it backs us into a corner, but you know what your mum and I have outlets and like this post we will let off steam because we have to. We are not unique, there must be other parents who have gone through this too, they have our sympathy too.

So,as you lie, sit, stand in your latest accommodation take some consideration for your own future. Our advice falls on unhearing ears,we can only hope that sooner rather than later you will emerge again.