It’s his choice

My son recently asked to go and look at a school, and if I am honest I was filled with dread. The thing is, I always made sure I put my son’s wishes first and thought of myself as a ‘facilitator’ rather than a dictator. And just like the Rocket seed experiment I didn’t want to put him in a ‘cell’ and measure his progress in test results.13000304_1595364034115448_1442000222672393200_n

We have been semi-structured but of late that structure has been broken down into a complex grouping of activity and opportunities to learn with lulls of inactivity where he is able to make his own learning opportunities, or as professionals call it ‘play’.

My worries stemmed recently from an old friend they told me that ‘you need to send him to school, because your fear of school cannot be his’, she meant well but it caused a turmoil of issues at home. I suddenly felt a need to prove myself and my own choice to keep him home. I reeled off a history of our journey so far;

  1. We are overachieving as per the curriculum in all the subjects, some topics are taking our learning to that of levels that even GCSE students have not broached.
  2. I am learning as much as my son is.
  3. We don’t need to worry about getting up early, in fact we can lie in everyday and especially on sleepy days we can lie in bed together and still make progress on our literacy, maths and general knowledge.
  4. My 5 year old understands the in out referendum in fact we can watch his ‘lightbulb’ moments like milestones developing. Just like him learning to take those first steps seeing that instant he considers a point like in out Europe, ‘it’s OK mum we can just buy our own produce!’ Priceless
  5. We can plan toilet breaks and trips with loo breaks and he can shamelessly be a young boy without fear of teasing reprisals and accident panic. If he was at school I would be on call to go and clean him up or he would have to change to dry clothes and no washing!

Yes how can going to school and having urine on your skin all day be in the best interests of any young child?

All that said and done, I asked my son ‘why do you want to look around a school, is it because you don’t want to have school at home any more?’ his reply just solidified my faith “no mummy I love you being my teacher but I just want to see what it looks like” – to deny him that right would make me a dictator NOT a facilitator. Sounds like I have no choice we are going to look around a school – not because we want to go to the school but because just like a windmill he want’s to see how it looks – so just like any castle/blacksmiths/car factory, a school is still an establishment that can be studied by way of a field trip. Only instead of a field trip to a field to do a biology lesson we are going to a school…….interesting but never say never 😀Fort_BanksES_classroom_resized

This was ‘our’ choice not mine any more.

Bus Vs Car the search for socialisation

I suddenly became aware of a major issue with out home educating ….. I have no car! I am slowly starting to see that the groups are splitting rather than merging – there are those with a car who go everywhere and do everything, organise trips to places that even determined public transportation users cannot reach. Money is no object to them. It’s really starting to affect our Home Education – Socialising is a question so many people raise in so many recesses of the educating circles. How do you socialise?

Location A has zero interest to son to attend yet it is mum friendly with nearby toilets a tea making facility and other nice mums to talk to, no physical exercise necessary. Location B has all the play mates no loo’s no creature comforts for mum who is suffering badly with her Fybro today. So which of the two locations do we choose?

Has to be B doesn’t it really – yes it’s outside and yes it requires you to be out of your comfort zone but you have to go where it is best for your child to socialise not YOU! Difficulty is that you may well be in agony tomorrow but at least child has a chance to run around be an idiot perhaps cause some trouble but mostly run around in circles and enjoy being daft.

Queue that moment when you went to location B as specified and not only did you get the location wrong but they have moved location B to 22 mins walk up the road- ermmm yes queue hip dislocation and fatigue with Fybro pain hot hips burning and swelling like two large balloons strapped to the sides and also carry two heavy bags loaded with spare clothes beach buckets and spades picnic blanket etc. No I don’t hurt at all son I am just having a lie down on the nice cool grass. Ha like Mummy gets much sympathy 😦

We get to new location and finally pass out on blanket child is ecstatic but then you need to add that the wind is about 60 mph in your face and you are the only mum not able to stand in the shelter of the beach hut 😥 Sat on a blanket hip throbbing like someone has hit it with a hammer, wishing that the sun would return and the rain would not threaten us with extinction.

When the lead mum chose to go for coffee drips of others followed saying something like we forgot the picnic so we are going to order food… in the most un-childfriendly establishment …. Weatherspoons! I ask if we are following and I am begged for 5 more mins of running around and causing trouble, so sure then the rain hits! Oh yay majority of group now inside no socialisation for either myself nor child – think it’s time to call it a day and say that was possibly the worst experience ever!

Then I remember the silver lining… I got to spend all afternoon with my son walking the cliff tops and finding new places to explore on another day. Not all is lost 😀

Dirt be gone Home Ed yippie

Well I just put my paintbrush down and with only a hallway to paint (aka no-one will notice if I leave it a year) I am starting to feel that we have accomplished something. A meeting with the LA confirmed that my initial complaint that the policies needed changing and the people working for the council needed training as well as structure – has worked! The policy is now changed for the better with a minimum standard on voided properties in the Isle from now. People have been given a voice – I hope and the workers who were coming to me rushed and without a lunch break will now hopefully receive regular breaks as scheduled.

That all aside I am so pleased that the little bit of Educating we have been doing has been enough to keep little man quietly comfortable and ticking along nicely, but now I feel that we have just missed the bus to the party so to speak.

I don’t know if it is because we have been renovating this flat to make a good stable base to return to (queue praise for my veggie patch and fine decorating skills) or if it is because it is Spring and everyone is going about their own thing waiting for something to be organised using the fine weather – but I feel a bit annoyed that just as I am ready to be swept up by the influx of appointments (the Home Educating kind) I am still doing the niggly little appointments like Dr’s, fence, heating just lost pressure and a few other bits still hanging on like a dead weight around our necks.

I am mostly looking forward to meeting up for the beach or going to the park for a picnic and going on organised trips that mean meeting up with all those people who need dusting off and the cobwebs blowing out.

We’ve found that our self led project based learning is really starting to take off, with the questions like ‘what animals have no bones?’ leading our journey in our spare time. It is good practice to have spare time as this allows for ‘play’ in the raw sense of the term and it allows independent thinking. I think this is why we have done so well with the semi-structured route.

Speaking of which have you ever gone to the beach and lost your purse in the sea? Yes in our adventure to forage for boneless shrimp in the tidal pool left me scurrying around for my purse in the sea amongst the rocks and seaweed. Let that be a reminder to always check tides (my surroundings) whilst trying to catch a runaway shrimp!

The best thing about our journey is that I am finding out just how smart my son really is, yesterday we had to go for a blood test and I had told him how it was so they could experiment on his blood and yes it would hurt a little; well he came out with an explanation of his adventure by recalling that the lady ‘distracted him with bubbles whilst the other lady could take the blood’. Yes he knew the ploy and that was when I suddenly realised that my son is wise!

Change of tact I think is in order…….

Broken but I get up again

And hello again,

I know it has been a while but there is a good reason. After finding out about my disability and about how much it was affecting me, my life took a turn, for a while it was a turn for the worst but I found a silver lining.

I was made Homeless.

Yes it was difficult and tough but we have now arrived at the end of a very long 6 month journey. Sadly the council saw fit to put a disabled mother and child in an ex-heroine addicts home, they fixed some of it but left so much more work. Their excuse was that they were at the end of their budget and that policy is to blame, environmental health wouldn’t issue on themselves yet the property I was finally told ‘move into it or we will discharge our responsibility to house you’ would have failed the environmental health check if it was a privately rented property.

The front door was ‘barely secure’ according to the supervisor that manages the void properties, and the guy who boarded up the back window said he boarded it up as instructed after the police had smashed it and was told to leave the property to be cleaned as it was full of needles.

I found blood and faeces in the bathroom and I found silver drug trays around the garden and down the back of the radiators. We found urine on the walls behind the white wash and the whole house has been tar stained. I feel sick from remembering the state of the place.

NOW it is CLEEEAAAAN as a whistle! I have despite pain and dislocations removed all the wallpaper from the place (except sons room which I painted and carpeted before I knew what was lurking behind the paper). I have had a new front door, 4 lists of repairs to the maintenance company, a new kitchen and carpet throughout.

And who has helped ….. why my lovely home educated son who has scraped the wallpaper painted the walls and turned the oven on to warm up when I have been up the ladder (taking wood-chip off the ceiling). I have a little angel sometimes – sadly it has turned him into a flipper.

By flipper I mean that he FLIPS at everything – you say no… he throws a temper tantrum like a 2 year old!

He thinks he is equal and I am all for promoting the independence of a young up and coming man, but he is 5! Not 15!

So I am debating the idea of a reward chart – just so he and I know where we have gotten to in a day/week/month. I am easily distracted and often loose my consistency and I think if I have a framework it helps both me and him to check each others homework so to speak.

My plan is to have him mark a sheet of paper each time I say ‘no’ and I mark the paper each time he reacts negatively. This way I can see if my behaviour is in check as well as his – like a pact to both behave better as I have to admit to being snappy and grumpy due to the tiredness of being up till midnight scraping walls n painting ceilings.

If you’re still following my blogs – why not feedback to me what you try to do when you have a stressful time of things?

Nurturing their inquisitive mind

We have just received our James Dyson Challenge cards and I am so excited to try them out. My little man loves cars and pistons so this is a fantastic opportunity to experiment with more educational and mechanical processes. He loves to experiment and we are steadily building a large collection of knowledge about semi-non-Newtonian fluids, gears, levers, pistons and how the world works. I have also noticed of late that a lot of his questions are related to animals so a healthy mix of physics, mathematics, chemistry and biology is being absorbed.

Today we watched the second part of the Blue Planet, a live BBC program about the gathering of whales and other marine life of the coast of Los Angeles in Monterey Bay, he suddenly asked ‘What do Hippo’s eat?’ Crickey I thought that’s a good question and I opened up the computer got up Google kids search and got him to type in the word ‘hippo’ and I filled out the rest. We were confronted by a list of very helpful statements including that they hunt on land at night to eat grass and dropped fruits as well as shoots. It was funny because just before we looked it up whilst he was eating his breakfast he said “Mummy I think they eat cabbages!” I pointed out that cabbages are on the land in farms and they would not likely eat those. His response is so brilliant that I had to document it “Yes but Mummy we can harvest the cabbages and throw them in the hippo’s mouth so they can eat it!” Bless him I thought, so once we found that they love semi-Sahara habitat it kind of explained why they walk for up to 6 miles a night to forage for food, also that they can go without for 3 weeks. His next question was when do they sleep then if they forage at night – a very good logical question – so I read a bit more further down the fact page and we soon read that Hippo’s sleep in the water and automatically float up when they need to breath. They are closely related to pigs and dolphins. We also learnt that they have to stay in the water for so long because their skin will crack in the sun. They also secrete red sweat which until recently people believed that they sweat blood.

Amazing what you can learn from following a 4 year olds logical and reasonable line of questioning. Which is ironic really as I was just discussing with my partner how much different he is and how grown up. His father said my son was too opinionated! Wow I said perhaps that’s because his parents are opinionated and I would rather that than him constantly asking questions and never knowing the answers, he knows so much more than a child of his age so he has an opinion on everything that may come up in a conversation. He is involved in every aspect of our lives and so everything that we find of interest he has ultimately learnt to have an opinion, either he likes planes or he thinks they are boring but he knows WHY! That’s the most important fact – he actually knows why he likes or dislikes things not because he has never seen/felt/heard or smelt it but because he has experienced it! Unlike many 4 year olds he has been able to negotiate with shops, find out about himself and the world he has been emerged in but he has also seen the news and felt sad from a Disney film, his natural inquisitive mind has been satisfied and he has luckily never been told ‘wait till you are older then you will find out for yourself!’ I feel that to tell a child that they can’t know something yet is like a promise that you never intend to keep. How can you recall that you told your child at the age of 4 that they had to wait until they were 8/9 to find out?

Quite recently I was at an event and the child asked a question of their mother. The mother responded with ‘when you go back to school you can ask your teacher.’ I thought this rather an odd concept as it was going to be difficult for that child to remember what it was that they wanted to know until 2 weeks time when they get to school and can ask. I suppose one could see it as a non-essential part of learning if they cannot remember what was such a pressing matter, I tend to disagree. As I was growing up we were told there is no such thing as a ‘stupid question’ yet by outsourcing the role of ‘teacher’ is that affecting the child’s learning to limit it to school time only?

One thing I found about nurturing a child’s imagination and thirst for knowledge is that this can happen at any time regardless of if they are in or out of school. It is therefore the parents responsibility surely to ensure that these questions don’t go unanswered. After all they are our offspring and it is our duty of care that ensures they feel listened too and important. If I asked my boss a question at work I wouldn’t expect them to tell me to wait until 2 weeks time for the answer I would expect the answer to my question as it would increase my productivity and have an impact on my daily work ethic. Similar could possibly said for a child – nurture and feed them now and surely they will grow as a more productive well rounded person. So lets as a community ensure no child/person goes unanswered perhaps we can all grow as a stronger better society……

Outsourcing

I wonder how many other Home Schoolers outsource their education needs. By outsourcing I mean anything from directing your child to a shop keeper right the way down to private tuition. I think a healthy amount of outsourcing is needed in a semi-structured campaign to educate our children, however it was as I was on the beach one day that I had a thought – how many outsource completely and how is that different to home educating DIY parents who do everything in house. I was having a few conversations with people on the beach that day about home schooling (all very positive) and the common question most people have is ‘can you really do that until they are GCSE level and don’t you need any qualifications?’.

The answer – No actually just managing to survive life up until now is enough of a qualification to pass onto your descendants – but what about those of us that want our children to punch above the level we have achieved? This got me thinking as I would be happier if my children learnt that life isn’t all about qualifications as I received many qualifications in life but these never opened any doors for me, after my Marketing and Business Studies degree I was upset to find that not a single company would take me unless I was ‘experienced’ in this field of work – it’s a catch 22 situation – you cannot get the job unless you have experience and no-one is willing to take you on as a degree student because they consider you over qualified. So I found that the best way for me to experience life was to live it, and then I made a few mistakes and found my way. The trouble is most people had lived their lived from their teenage rebellious phases – whereas I was busy studying at my GCSE’s. I had a private tutor who helped me overcome some difficulties in Maths and soon I found I had 9 GCSE’s a-c graded. The school I was at were very unrealistic and I soon found that had I passed my 12 + I would have been able to take 11 GCSE’s and so I was already seen as a ‘lesser’ worker by the age of 12 my fate was sealed.

Frustrated with the system I look back and think ‘where did I live or experience that?’ The answer is that I did not – I learnt from books which means I might be able to recall a few pages of a book that can be recited onto a bit of paper – but I think that’s called a photocopier, and I think I am better than a photocopier! Home educated children on the other hand be it semi-structured or pure autonomous learning have experienced the world and better yet they are learning why maths, English and science is important, it’s what explains the world, it’s how we figure out how to cut a cake so everyone gets and equal slice and how we trade, plan or build. My young little man is only 4 but he already holds an intelligent conversation with most adults often saying that he likes the trebuchet because it swings like a pendulum or uses a fulcrum. That’s pure physics and history for you right there! He hasn’t just learnt about mechanisms but he has seen them in action, to me this shows a more wholesome example of a child’s learning. He hasn’t just learnt to love cars but he has learnt that this love of cars can require skills in subjects like maths, science, art and letters. Because to design a car takes art, to learn about a cars horsepower and mpg you need maths but you need the mechanical sciences to make the car move. The car is named so this invokes imaginative thinking and a strong use of letters and numbers. Racing cars also have to calculate petrol consumption and tyre wear. So much can be gotten from one subject. I think we are moving now onto Spiderman which will promote the use of sewing skills, natural sciences and maths (learning about pendulum swinging) energy and also nutrition (how we can be as strong).

I don’t know of many schools in the UK that promote topic learning in this way, let alone tailor it to each child. You could argue that many children love Spiderman but what cannot be done is to breach the syllabus at many different curricular levels, KS1 doesn’t even start to touch on mechanical engineering yet my son can read, write, spell car and even tell you how a piston works! Whilst at a mere age of just 4 he can satisfy most of the KS1 syllabus but the area’s where he doesn’t he can show examples of secondary learning. Yet he still maintains the imagination and child like understanding of a 4 year old innocent little boy and if he still believes in faeries and monsters then surely that means I am getting the right balance. Magic to him still exists, yet everything that he asks is answered. He feels whole and most of all he feels listened too – isn’t that what everyone needs to achieve?

Most of all I would like to think I have taught him the skills for life long learning after all it is us that is in control of our own desires wants and needs. If he needs food he will ask or else get some himself from the cupboard, that’s independence. Most of all if he wants to learn something then he will look for it be it by asking a grown up or by cause and effect. I.e. if I press this button what happens or mum what does that button do?
In short outsourcing our teaching means that we show our children where to get the information about learning from external sources, just like a company who would employ a training course to teach its employees about a skill that is needed in the workplace. The trainer can be in-house or outsourced, many would argue that an outsourced trainer would not have the knowledge about implementing this into the company whilst others would argue that outsourced skills come with no preconceived bad practices and therefore the employees can be taught without prejudice for the company.

I’ll leave it to you to argue this in your home environment- which is better in-house learning/ outsourced learning or a mix?

WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST PUT HIS SOCKS ON?

I always like to keep things in balance so today I am writing 2 blogs, one negative entitled ‘WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST PUT HIS SOCKS ON?’ and “WHY A 2 STARTS WITH A RAINBOW’.

As You will all know my method is to do semi structured routines with organised activities trips out and social events. However I have neglected our structured routines and its had a devastating effect. The first stage was in trying to go back to a structured framework, after so many days of being out we encountered another epic temper tantrum, despite 2 time outs during a lovely trip out to do crazy golf, we came to blows when I had laid down 3 rules. 1. No throwing your golf ball in the water. 2. Do not pick up anyone else’s ball and 3. Do not throw anything its not safe. After these rules were breached we had a time out followed by a hug but then the final blow was when I timed him out for showing off in front of his friends that he could and would breach these 3 rules. So I took him out the back of the loos and had a chat. He instantly turned volatile as he thought it was to throw his ball into the water then hack at it with his gold club. Not to mention that it was breaking the rules it was also scratching the hell out of the equipment we had borrowed and the brand new adventure golf’s’ pebbles and barrels. Unfortunately little man didn’t quiet see eye to eye with me and so I marched him back to the group handed in our equipment and then said our goodbyes. He refused to hold my hand and stormed out the grounds me in tow. I was so embarrassed it was like having a row with your partner and them storming off to get in the car and drive home. This however was a 4 year old and things are never as easy as saying OK go have your sulk I will see you later when you calm down!

I had to call partner on this occasion as despite my desire not to give in to what he was asking for (a lift home) the place was simply not on a pedestrian zed area and so there was just a country road and no bus links home. By calling partner we avoided the treat of waiting for friends.

Lesson learnt – he didn’t want to go out that morning and it was a fight to get him dressed. Despite the build up of we are going to a theme park type of event he refused to get dressed and that is where my article title comes into play – ’why didn’t you just put his socks on?’

We are a few weeks down the line now and we have had lessons every day for the last 5 days so things are improving, instead of 8 hours getting him to write a number in his work book – it now takes 3 seconds and in fact he finished the book it was so much fun! Going back after the handwriting exercises were done so that he could work through the fun activities. What a difference I thought.

That brings me to a day where we had done our last page of the book, our last number conquered all the numbers up to and including 20 written perfectly. I suggested an afternoon activity of going to the library with a treat time on the computer if he was good at the with swapping his books. However I was pinched to the post when he was asked to get his socks as shoes on. He utter the words ‘you do it!’ Which if you are a child reading this and thinking how can that be bad it really is. Its both back chat and contempt for your fellow human being and should never be uttered. He was told if he wanted to go out he had to do it himself – and so the onslaught of throwing socks throwing a temper tantrum and getting angry putting his socks inside out to demonstrate tom foolery … the tactics are endless like every tool in the box was used to avoid just doing it himself. Much like the homework week we just started instead of the 30 seconds work done and then a new activity started we never got started so we could never finish. Its either my pencil threw itself on the floor, I need a drink (sipped verrrrry slowly), I need a tissue, I need the loo, I need to just play with my car, I just want to lie down for a bit, or the pencil isn’t sharp enough. Every evasive tactic as I said. So I counted to three and followed through with the threat of some time out I bed. This ultimately results in teddies being thrown out of the bed but then he has to put them back before he is allowed out of his time out.

Partner (bless em but they can be a pain at the wrong time) decided to ask “why didn’t you just put his socks on?” To which I then responded, “you don’t get it if its do this for me now imagine how much more I have to go through just to get to the library.” He didn’t get it he says that all he wants is his socks putting on. What he doesn’t get is that we women aren’t just mums, carers and accountants and chefs – we are also clairvoyant too! I know that despite being able to do his own socks it won’t stop there -next it will be I can’t do my shoes, then it will be I can’t do my coat, then it will be I cant walk down the stairs I need a carry, then it will be I need help walking, then I don’t want to go that way I want to go that way, then its I want to go in the car shop followed by an argument about not going in the car shop because we only came out to go to the library, then he won’t help drag the bag of books, then we get to the library and he will insist that he has the computer reward before swapping his books, then he will go into melt down when I say it is time to go and I won’t be able to carry him home. The problem is once you have one difficulty trying to get over the hurdle its best to listen to what the child is really saying, yes some children maybe just needing a hand but not this one – he can do his own socks and if he won’t then that’s an indication of his mood. If he doesn’t want to try and do a simple task like that then the other more testing tasks will be too much of a challenge. Then there is the factor that I have something called Joint Hyper mobility Syndrome, I’ve had it since I was born but didn’t know, due to stress the symptoms have worsened and much like Fybromyalgia and ME I find I get very tired when stressed. So faced with a 4 year old who is too tired and wants his mummy to do everything so that he can complete the task of visiting the library – its best to evaluate and be realistic — do I have the energy – yes do I have the energy if I am predicting a battle at every 5 meters – no  is it safe to proceed? – no then re-evaluate your time. Needless to say little man settled down picked up his teddies and played with his cars, exerting  minimum strain on both him and me.

2 starts with a Rainbow.

So I said two blogs this one is very positive – After difficulties with doing number 2 I changed tactics and found I made a break through which I wanted to share. I cut Mr 2 up into 3 parts – a / like a number 7, a corner like the one from number 4, and an arch like the one from the top of number 3, 8 and 9. By dividing up the component parts of number 2 it was then easier to see which bit of the number he was struggling with. As predicted it was the start, (start as you mean to go on as they say). So we took the arch and tried to make tunnels – but the tunnels looked more like an n than they did an arc. Suddenly I realised what it looked like and thought bill’ a change of tactics – it’s a rainbow! So I picked out all the colours of the rainbow in crayons go a piece of paper drew a dot for the start and finish and asked him to arch a line from one to the other, first he tried to be smart and took the shortest route (a straight line -) So he tried again, this time it bulged to the left and then went into a bend, so I drew a template for him to copy, he managed to guess which colour came next in succession for a the rainbow colours even referring to the purple as ‘violet’ – I was very proud of his colour pallet knowledge as he could see the ‘closest’ colour to the last one used, merging colours and blending is a real skill yet he could visually define them as red, then orange then yellow not jumping to blue or purple. All the while he was learning both colour relationships, mixtures, the feel of the crayon in his hands but the main point was he was learning that all important arc! This then led straight into drawing 3’s with the arc and coloured crayons, some encouragement was needed but he soon was able to piece the 2 back together again using the 3 different components using a different colour crayon for each component. Then I asked him to copy it using just a blue crayon, then we swapped to a pencil and he asked can I have my sticker now -so I promised if he can replicate it into his book he can have his sticker – needless to say the 2 was more perfect than any 2 I could have drawn. Success a sticker and a big hi 5. So now we have all our numbers written down and mastered – the next step is to keep repeating this writing them in a row so that he considered what numbers come after 15, then hopefully he will be on his way to counting to the moon and back!

Re-evaluating the meaning of Holiday

I was very proud of myself earlier this year when I successfully managed to book two sun holidays, one for partners birthday weekend and another for a special Butlin’s trip to Minehead for a special toddler week that would celebrate his last bit of being classed as a toddler. As he is due to turn 5 before next years summer this is the last opportunity to get involved in everything toddler we decided.

Well first holiday was a mess-up as it booked a midweek holiday and in my half asleep state of mind didn’t realise I had booked the wrong holiday deal, so after a lot of stress trying to change it I gave up as the cost would have been £350 on top of our £55 deposit. I was so angry at sun but also haven who could very well have moved the holiday to any weekend for us in the year as long as it didn’t cost us a week in self employed wages.

So we had all eggs in one basket, Butlin’s was our last ditch attempt at a holiday. The week before partners step-dad died and we were worried that the funeral would be during our holiday so tempers were frayed as partner doesn’t deal with grief well and despite not knowing the man well he knew him since he was 10 and doesn’t do crying (cos he’s a man). To add insult to injury my podiatry appointment revealed a diagnosis that I wasn’t prepared for. As a child I was assessed for walking issues, growth problems and bladder control problems, yet the main issue as an adult that remained was my struggle to walk without pain. I assumed it was my bend calf bones but soon learnt from a (timeshare style) chiropractor that it was just flat feet. So I told the chiropractor I didn’t want a year of back cracking and went to a podiatrist. The podiatrist listened to the same medical history I gave the Chiropractor and said quiet simply “are you the kind of person who can put your hands flat on the floor?” to which I detailed how I can put the back of my hands on the floor with straight legs behind my feet – “ I bet your hyper mobile probably score a 8 or 9 out of  9 on the scale.” He then demonstrated how my feet fan out because the tendons in my body are elastic. He detailed about my condition using cars as a metaphor and even tried explaining my ligaments structural integrity as if instead of leather straps holding two bits of 2 by 4 to a strap of elastic. I went home in a dizzy state – finally the jigsaw is complete 34 years of my life and nearly 100 years of my Nan’s life this genetic disorder has been in the family, Nan has a heart and lung problem and was labelled as lazy by siblings, my uncle suffers from a similar issue Lupus, my mum suffering chrones legendarily known for her youthful looks, I suffer from bladder and bowl issues, my brother and sister also. The penny finally dropped when I read on wiki that EDS is an umbrella for similar gene troubles with collagen and I started to realise this was the explanation that linked every last aliment – this is why I complain about feeling so ill, why I struggle with bladder hydration, why I sit almost day after day exhausted by the pain in my back. Now I have to change the way I live I thought or this will get worse. New insoles installed costing me £35 for the consultation for a new patient and £15 for a bit of foam cut and stuck to the bottom of two very thin insoles.

Holiday started badly as my plans immediately thwarted by Mr. Autistic who refused to go to bed on time to get up at a good time for travel across the m25, so foul mood ensues and calms after 2 cups of coffee, set off an hour late which always makes me twitchy. Arrived just in time for 4pm though the plan was to arrive for 12 noon! My plans are thwarted again as that doesn’t leave me much time to plan for a meal as the shows at Butlin’s have started. We ate on the run whilst watching shows and foods pretty good. We hated the beds that night and thought to ourselves have to make this a good holiday for little man.

When I was having to deal with my umpteenth temper tantrum and was starting to wonder why I was even here at all loosing the will to live and little man wasn’t interested in any of the shows, didn’t want to take part, the bed was a camper bed that sunk in the middle so we were exhausted from lack of sleep, the entertainment was limited to an 8-6pm range so our un-schooling approach of sleeping in on weekends and holidays wasn’t fitting as we needed to be up at 7 and in bed by 8 just to make the holiday work for us. The shows were all at awkward times so we couldn’t leave the resort and not miss anything and worse yet the staff were non-existent, most things were closed, the oven was rubbish I was going insane from tiredness and dehydration all the time. To tell you the truth it felt like the worst holiday ever! And little man only wanted to play in a stream with his cars! WHY are we here??? So we cut the holiday short and left.

On the way home I insisted that we see Stonehenge – we were firstly confronted with fees of £17pp to see it to which I said “I’m sure that’s rubbish there is a public footpath I’m sure of it” partner said even if there was it’s a long walk. On that walk we all reunited as a family and started to really enjoy the walk – we ate strawberries on the way back and forgot all our ills. Finally a family holiday I thought. We got home later that day and I started to research where we could go instead. I found a place in Wales with a waterfall and I suddenly remembered we have an untested tent – single skin with no weatherproof seal given to us on freecycle- perfect lets camp – no!? No energy for that ok then there’s a local site I remembered – its got running water and shallow in parts lets try that or the woods. So we checked map to see if there was a part not yet discovered. All afternoon we seeped ourselves in the history natural wonders and just pure love of a babbling brook an all in one swim suit and some jelly shoes. We ended up leading an expedition of others across several water obstacles and climbs – whilst I felt wobbly on my new feet I cooped as best I could and my little man was a hero ever conscious of his mummies difficulties and lack of energy. Daddy was also very tentative and started to see the dramatic drain the pain is having on my energy. Things at home are changing too I’m told to rest up and relax a lot more we may have started out trying to find a holiday to celebrate the last bit before home schooling officially kicks in but we ended up home schooling as a family instead. Butlin’s was too fake and too forced, instead what we needed to recharge us was a wood and lots of fresh running water, crazy really how I thought he would enjoy seeing Thomas the Tank engine and all he wanted was a free holiday of playing with his cars in a babbling brook – next time I will just book a few days off for hubby and find a nice caravan in some naturally boring place and see if we can find a castle to explore that hasn’t had been claimed by some scheme to run events and charge people to see it. My home schooling journey began a long time before we chose to or before it has yet become officially legal. My Butlin’s disaster will remain as a lesson to me – never try to be something we are not!