Tuesday, 13 April 2010

"Protection" or Prejudice?

There is much written at the moment in Blogland about the Children, Schools and Families Bill, Child Protection and parenting choices. What most of you reading this or any other Blog today might be unaware of is the potential impact across all society that this Bill might have had if passed (and still might have if Labour are re-elected and have a second attempt) which extends beyond how you choose to educate your children. It challenges something totally fundamental in our society. Not only does it challenge the right parents currently have to choose how their child is educated but introduces an unpalatable advance into the erosion of individual choice and independence to be and live as we choose.

The CSF Bill which has largely been dropped due to pressure from Home Educators who not only objected to State interference in their right to educate their children as they see fit but also pointed out the obvious - that a HE child is no more or less "at risk" than any other school educated child, all of whom have long periods of time at home. The unfortunate Khyra Ishak was indeed deregistered from mainstream schooling but was not, by any stretch of the imagination Home Educated. But suspicion is the child of ignorance and choosing a path for your family which is in any way different from the vast majority should not leave you open to prejudice. Yet Ed Balls has stated he fully intends to "provide proper protection to home educated children" if Labour are re-elected.

There is a veritable industry that exists to "safeguard children" now which must therefore justify its existence on a daily basis. So deep is the desire to prove themselves at every level this "protection" system is trapped looking for cases and fitting individuals into their preconceived moulds. There is no room for uniqueness, for unorthodoxy, God forbid you do not choose to or are unable to tend towards the mean. This offers up a perfect opportunity to convert misunderstanding into accusation. 

This is a constant battle fought by parents of disabled children, particularly those with invisible disabilities. So vast and complicated is the framework in which support is or is not available that if there is not an immediately visible, convenient niche in which to slot your family (either inside or outside that framework) then you invite suspicion and intervention. Instead of training health professionals, social workers and other front line workers to respond to individuals on a case-by-case basis we are trapped in a system where government frameworks and policies constrain free, rational thinking and financial accountability has been stretched to require self justification at every level. In our case we have a very able, but clearly autistic child who does not fit the mould of expected outcomes for education and behaviour management. Consternation and lack of alternatives precipitated enquiry and accusation because there wasn't a tick box for our family.

The modern world needs to learn  to celebrate individuality, in a current time frame rather than persecuting those with something unique to offer society. We are taught to recognise and remember those who were "different" in history and we are learning, slowly, to recognise apparent "deviations" from the norm when faced with large groups. Religious toleration, racial and social acceptance are goals many aspire to if not reach but still, in the twenty first century it is still socially and politically acceptable to seek and root out, to stigmatise, persecute and victimise that which is unfamiliar and alien. It seems we have learned little and increasingly offer ourselves up to be judged by supporting continued and increasing State intervention in our lives. Without individuals and individual ways of living we might just as well enter a Brave New World and admit defeat of the very essence of being human.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Juggling - Advanced Level

I rarely post about my kids' medical issues, it's not something I particularly enjoy writing about and I seriously doubt anyone reading this Blog would choose to read such contributions.... but if you are reading this and therefore have at least a passing, superficial interest in my family then today I feel it necessary to share at least some small details.

Our youngest son made today a Red Letter Day. A day of Great Significance, although by no means the only one. Up there with H learning last week to ride his bike, today A went to the loo. Now I'm not talking potty training here, but the celebration of something most of you no doubt take for granted. Not to mention something very very few of you might see as cause for celebration!

The juggling referred to in the title is as you will no doubt correctly assume, my daily challenge. Actually I rather like the picture, because it really does illustrate for me my perpetual daily challenge on so many levels. We all learn to juggle from an early age, none so well perhaps as mothers. If you prefer an alternative analogy consider instead plate spinning, keeping everything spinning smoothly whilst avoiding any accidents! Life is supposed to be like that, it's fun, creative, absorbing, exhausting, thrilling and stimulating. I thrive on it - in the absence of a high flying paid alternative the more challenging life at home is the better. On the whole. And maybe with a minimum sleep guarantee. But what if the plates get further apart, change sizes, or the balls increasingly assume their own unique trajectories?

Take our med schedule. Granted none of the three children currently on medication are on anything particularly significant on their own, I know some friends reading this deal with far more. But I do find myself wondering how on earth I can maintain the crazy four-times-a-day current timetable which (when typed out) spans an entire page of A4?? It comes to something when a four year old requires maximum (and over the maximum) licensed doses for FOUR medications to do what nature intended and comes naturally to children the world over.

But today is a Good Day. Because aside from the input required to make it happen, I can go to sleep in the knowledge that today, A managed to go to the toilet. Contentment indeed.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Spring is *finally* here!!!

Isn't this weather amazing? We have spent all day outside, and the Spring Clean has started in earnest. I never cease to be amazed by the enormous energy surge I experience every year as winter comes to an end, and this year it has really taken me by surprise since only ten days ago I was in Edinburgh, it was snowing and I had never been so cold!

Today the sun has shone, vests were left in the drawer and J got his shorts out. Must be Spring :)

Sunday, 4 April 2010

More musings - the importance of being me.

Today we watched "Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs" which I must say was the *last* film I expected to sit through let alone enjoy but the end really got me. How many of us feel constrained by the chains society chooses to impose upon us, half yearning to "fit the mould" and be accepted (and popular) and half desperately seeking the confidence to find the chink of light in the armour we find ourselves in and break free?

At some level most of us are (at some point) irritated by the monotony of life, however chaotic that life may seem to some! The unfolding of day after day of sameness, with the complete lack of recognition as to what might bring welcome change is frustrating and disturbing. The yearning for personal fulfilment is definitely there, but in so many ways I have that already.

So "what next"?

Friday, 2 April 2010

My brain hurts...

Just for a short time it would be nice to stop thinking - or at least to only consider banal stuff like how much chocolate to eat and whether I really need a second glass of wine. (I do, actually) We have been stuck in analysis paralysis for a week or more, the final and most traumatic of the decision making process which has been gathering pace since last summer.

Last summer, we decided we really would benefit from more space, and despite loving our current home we decided to put it on the market and at the same time consider the alternative - extending. The latter initially appeared ideal but we hadn't bargained for our new neighbours (retired couple with little else to do it seems) putting up the mother of all fights to ensure our plans were blocked, befriending the local council and making THE most ridiculous song and dance about the mere duplication of what everyone else in our situation has been doing on this estate for years. I guess it served to focus the mind, and although we revised, resubmitted and had plans of a sort passed we became committed to moving.

Then R changed jobs, and the nice little plan or dropping J at his early morning school bus each day started to look less than realistic. Throw the proposed dissolution of our Middle School System into the equation, with the peak disruption poised to coincide perfectly with H's transfer and moving started to look extremely attractive. Time to simplify, consolidate and upgrade. Cool.

Pity the Recession didn't share our new found enthusiasm. The ridiculous HIP requirement has resulted in a housing market less fluid than treacle and now completely lacking in the "just testing the water" percentage which previously gave a more dynamic feel. We've had plenty of viewers. We *apparently* have at least two buyers - but they can't sell either and thus the whole thing grinds to a halt something like Essex roads after the Winter of Discontent which created more pot-holes than the lava roads of Lanzarote. I know - I've been there.

So, in a potentially futile attempt to swim against the tide of apathy endemic in the housing market we are going to brave, possibly foolish and most definitely proactive. We're buying, never mind the selling.... but which one? A choice of two...... and that choice is, quite literally, doing my head in. We've done the floor plan comparison, walked countless times from each to the school three of the children will attend, considered the immediate locality for both and compiled copious "for/against" lists. None of it helps but seems to merely add to the general confusion however, so I seriously think we have only one option left, that of tossing a coin!

So major changes are imminent in the lives of all family members which we (all, actually) find quite exciting, and hopefully we will surge past the current Stalemate and emerge with a new home and proposed lifestyle in the next week or so! I'll keep you updated - and if you know anyone who wants to buy a lovely 4 bed, please send them our way!!
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