Carnivorous Rabbit

I keep promising to do better and Achieve Things here, don’t I?

Ah, well. I make the same promises at Weightwatchers every week, and I haven’t shifted a single pound since October. Or, leastways, I have – all the 10 pounds I gained in the festive interim. Christmas represents, in the weightloss battle, a bloody big snake. I’ve clawed my way back up the ladder to exactly what I weighed last time I mentioned it. I have re-joined the gym in a mutinous fury, ostensibly with my own metabolism, but knowing full well that the problem is my congenital sweet tooth coupled to my engrained belief that a meal should overflow the plate all around the rim.

I have some vague intention this morning of delivering a Hairy update, so I could then – theoretically – resume blogging without having to retrack and explain things. 

 So. I have seen a near-perfect job advertised, and am oscillating madly between brooding gloomily what my chances of getting it are, and telling myself that if this one doesn’t pan out there Will Be Others. The pay is atrocious, naturally, but I think John would just be delighted to see me doing something. I was chuntering on about the parlous state of my personal employment nation the other morning, and he said – fairly kindly – ‘Yes, but you’re a wordy eccentric who can’t get up in the mornings.’

Sadly, he is bang on the money. Or, more precisely, on the reason why I will never have any.

Neither will he, much, if this agricultural year continues on its trajectory towards Noah’s flood. We have planted almost nothing, which is virtually unheard of in living memory. Whatever did get drilled, locally, rotted forlornly in the ground. So, already in the red for seed and tractor diesel (both for sowing it and ploughing the ground up again after it failed) Midlands farmers are looking likely to have a quiet year. Potentially this means John will have an unprecedented amount of free time this spring/summer, but it will doubtless be too soggy to take the caravan anywhere. I feel meteorologically Picked On.  

Harry continues to be Ace, with a huge side order of Impossible. I spent a humiliating 40 minutes sobbing in front of the Headteacher and SENCo a fortnight ago, trying desperately – and futilely – to mentally regroup after they warned me that Harry’s funding (which buys him 10 hours a week of one-to-one teaching assistant time) will dry up like spit on a stove at the end of March. The school have promised me – possibly to save their carpets from saltwater damage – that they will continue the input from their own budgets until the end of the summer term, but the thought of the next academic year makes me panicky. I am PTA chair (and, of late, an unpaid TA when teachers are under the cosh): I regularly hear things about the school budgets that depress me.

My belief that Harry’s overall trajectory will be a fiery trail of glory remains undimmed, but he does, currently, blatantly present several overlapping Specific Learning Difficulties to us. The Educational Psychologist that could unpick the exact nature of these issues is charged by our County to the School at £250 an hour. The school feel that £250 is better spent on TA time than psychology, and I broadly agree with them: whatever Harry’s diagnosis and recommendations, all the school are likely to be able to practically implement is similar to what he already has: targetted individual learning time to maximise his concentration and progress.

Of course, they don’t altogether see what we see. School are confident that, although failing a little (Harry is ‘below expectations’ in nearly every area) he will continue to make good progress. They highlight his high scores for IQ and reassure me.  I know they think there are other children in his class who need individual help just as much as Harry does, or possibly even more – and don’t get it, because they aren’t statemented, and Harry currently is. (Only for speech, alas, which is why he is losing it in March. We can’t shut the bugger up.) They expect he will overcome his difficulties with learning. I share their long-term confidence, but he is becoming rapidly disaffected with learning now, this minute, even with help, because learning with a SpLD means working twice, three, four times as bloody hard for a poorer result – and I’m grimly aware that next year, with no external funding, the battle will be between me and the school. He is my super-special-precious-snowflake, and I am not as sanguine as they are. Hence, I feel that we are likely to obtain a privately funded EdPsych report before next year, to tell me exactly what I need to pester the school to provide for him – in the sinking knowledge that they have to share scant resources among many pupils with need, and I will be the squeaky wheel expecting grease. Which feels wrong, but else can I do?

There isn’t enough fucking money, is the long and the short of it. Every parent of a child with special needs I speak to tells me the same thing. All across the county, all across the country. I know three families with secondary-school-age children with specific learning difficulties who have sent their children to private school, at enormous cost, because it was abundantly clear that state-funded education (even in an outstanding-rated school like ours) did not have the resources to meet their children’s need.

Harry is receiving help from other sources, although we are still awaiting for the joint OT/Physio assessment I told you about last June to materialise. Oh, and I am told by that department that there is no-one that can assess his sensory integration issues, either, because there’s no-one trained to do it locally. *pause to smash crockery* It’s absurdly underfunded and, ultimately, failing children. There are kids out there with far worse issues than Harry, from far less privileged backgrounds, from parents with fewer mental resources, and God help ’em.

Harry’s wetting has nearly stopped. (I am touching all the wood I can politely lay hold of.) We don’t get much warning yet, and there are plenty of skedaddles to the toilet with his fingers firmly stemming the flow, but the pants are seldom sopping wet anymore. He has been dry before and I have celebrated too soon; on this occasion, however, I have successfully moved the underpants drawer from the hall (easy daytime access) upstairs into his bedroom, and he is pleased with his progress.

If I had to put a pin in a venn diagram of SpLDs,

my best guess currently is dyspraxia with some autistic behaviours and a soupçon of ADHD. Regarding autism, it came as a largeish shock to me late last year that Harry’s peculiar array of peculiar peculiarities probably had a name, because I was fairly clueless about the whole business and had thought that his affectionate personality squarely ruled him out for it. Not so, Watson! Of course, rapidly following on from that was the rosy dawn of enlightenment concerning my own peculiar array of peculiar peculiarities. Harry, poor lad, is me – turned up to 11. Anyhoo, we took him for an initial Clinical Psychology assessment last week, and it went well, because they instantly GOT the quirks, without having to explain them laboriously. And the myriad sensory horrors. And the constant, senseless, angry defiance and the endless, infuriating, oppositional behaviour. 

I’m not sure what the plan is, if any, regarding the misplaced sense of entitlement and injustice, coupled to the level of crossness he feels on a frequent basis (which appears like a sabre-toothed carnivorous rabbit out of a blue-skied hat). They seem to feel that they can help him with his extreme sensitivity to mild, mild (mild!) peril and suspense. He can’t even watch cBeebies anymore (the preschooler channel) without running from the room several times an hour, quivering with fright. Tackling that would be nice, because his anxiety really limits where we can take him, and what activities we can expose him to. No cinema. No theatre workshops. No story-telling. Nowhere loud. No, for the love of almighty Christ, fireworks. Unsurprisingly, the kid likes documentaries.

I do wonder if I’m over-analytical (ref: Ann’s peculiarities, above) and thinking he’s worse than he is. John tends to think that all will be well; I tend to think that it’s more serious than he thinks, and we’re probably both right. John acknowledges all Harry’s issues, but considers that he’ll outgrow them. Maturity is certainly something he badly lacks, and needs in order to move forward with many of his issues. I also think that some psychological stitches now will save 9 years of struggle later. At the end of the day he can let his education slide, if that makes him truly happy. I fundamentally want to raise a child at peace with himself.

Whatever: we are inexpressibly lucky, because when he isn’t being thoroughly awkward, he is being a complete delight. We took him along to my cousin’s wedding a couple of weeks ago, and immediately on arrival at the reception, he headed out onto the dancefloor with great intrepidity – and stayed there, in solitary splendour to begin with.

His dyspraxia/hypermobility bit him in the bum now and again, but any evening in which you dance Gangnam Bhangra Style with your Mum & Dad whilst stood smugly atop a speaker has to be a winner.

I think he’ll do, really.

9 Responses

  1. I am so happy for the update, although I am sorry about the weather. I do see that you have cause for optimism about Harry. Thank you for posting.

  2. I’m with John – I think you worry too much. But how else are you going to get him help he might need if you’re not constantly maneuvering for it? Sigh…

    At any rate, I had a dream about you recently. I was at the library and I found a series of children’s books that you had written and illustrated and I was trying to take a photo (unsuccessfully) of them all to email to you. So there’s a thought for your future career – celebrated children’s author.

  3. I think you’re both right, too. As always, Harry reminds me so very much of my Middle Child, who at three scored as Moderately Developmentally Delayed, one point from Severely so, and had blah blah motor skills eighteen months expressive language nine months ETC. and is now, while still undeniably A Weird Kid, eight and reading at an advanced level (with help at school that is, alas, rapidly drying up as well because he’s Not That Bad, Comparatively). I don’t think he’ll ever be “normal,” but I absolutely think he’ll do 🙂

  4. He’s quite the mover! Maybe he’ll be on the futuristic equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing in 20 years time. You know, the one where they wear neon and silver spacesuits, and the judges float on giant metal lilypads…

    I don’t know whether you or John is more accurate about Harry and the future. All I do know is that he is a delightful boy, and that he’s very lucky to have a mum as prepared to fight for him as you are. You wordy eccentric, you. 🙂

  5. S happy to see this today, mostly because I love to hear from you but also as a reminder that many people I love to hear from post irregularly and perhaps by own lapses can be forgiven.

    On the subject of documentaries, known in our house as docus, I commiserate a bit on the peril problem. Our Bean demands tiger docus but goes to pieces if anything is growled at, let alone killed. (There is one that works, and it won’t once he realizes that those tiger bones mean someone killed the tiger. I certainly won’t be telling him.) He also requests giraffe docus, which should be easy, but peculiarly, the only ones we can find feature the schlockiest tension-building imaginable, and therefore he cannot watch them, either. No great loss, as the choices are insufferably twee British colonials and their pets or the American one, a kind of giraffe Business of Being Born.

    Meanwhile, I am so sorry to hear about the terrible planting luck. Is it normally the case that you plant so early? I realize in writing this that I don’t even know what you grow. Full disclosure: I have a migraine and have taken a codeine, so my attempting to puzzle this out on my own involved looking at your date stamp, deciding you’d written this in May, realizing that it said 2013, which is this year, realizing you’d written this From The Future, goggling, and finally remembering about European dates. So.

  6. Of all the eccentrics, the wordy ones are my favourite. What is needed here is a way of making dosh that makes use of your undoubted talents. Hrmm. Ideas..

    So sorry about the funding ending. It must be horrible to have no way of knowing what effect what you are doing NOW will make in the long term. This is hugely stressful in itself. Like you, I am being treated to my own mini-dawn. Suspense and peril: that’s a thing? That I have! (I cured myself by writing my own stories, so I could control/understand the suspense mechanism. I wonder if Harry likes being the creator?)

    I am also hopeful for the wonderful, dancing Harry, not least because of his redoubtable family.

  7. It is so lovely to hear from you again, HFF! And from the looks of things, it appears that Harry stands a much better chance of receiving favorable grades in dance than John did. That boy shows promise!

    It appears John has a way with words himself — love LOVED his description of you. I’ll keep my fingers crossed about the continued academic support for Harry, and for a good growing season all around. With the exception of waistlines, of course. And even then, I’m hoping for a happy exception to that case too.

  8. I ran across an article recently (can’t remember which newspaper it was in…) that suggested that many children with Autism spectrum disorders do wind up outgrowing most of the symptoms by adulthood. Then, they become engineers. 🙂

  9. I actually believe this amazing blog post , “Carnivorous Rabbit The Hairy Farmer
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