The bully meets his match?

Well, the summer has come and gone and whilst I had every intention of blogging I found myself just enjoying the long summer days and before I knew it, poof, the summer was gone.

It has been an interesting summer, I don’t want to dwell on COVID 19 in fact let’s skip that subject as much as possible. This summer resulted in my eldest daughter getting her A Level results, again lets try and skip the politics of that area, let’s just say it was a very stressful time and I’m glad it is over. The outcome though was amazing and she is off this Saturday to start her Law degree at Bristol University, I am hugely proud of her achievements and whilst I will miss her immensely I am just bursting to the seams with excitement for her.

Bonnie has had an intense summer, the continuation of being in such close proximity to the 5 members of our family has not been without its issues and her anxiety levels have been incredibly high. It is her OCD that has been very distressing to watch and as a result of appointments with her therapist a decision was made to try and tackle the OCD head on.

Now Bonnie and I have read every book going on OCD, we have watched every programme and we have scoured every website, and we get it. We understand the whole concept of OCD and how that bully really should just get lost and leave her alone, and yet it is still there every night-time filtering away through her body until she goes and picks up the object(s) from the bathroom (predominately toilet rolls and towels) finally allowing her to sleep. So the decision to tackle the bully head on resulted in much the same way as if you tackled a bully in the playground and it fought back. Now, normally I would encourage Bonnie to continue to fight the bully but at this moment in time it was too strong because I felt that we were giving it too much power. Again much like the bully in the playground we have been feeding its ego and boosting it up to seem something big and important, in actually fact it is just weak and feeding off of someone else’s pain. So we have tried another tact, ignore it. Try as best as you can to distract yourself and not let it feel so powerful. Find something else in your life that can feel an accomplishment that the bully cannot take away from you. It doesn’t mean that it goes away but what it does mean is that you spend a little less of the time worrying about it.

So Bonnie has decided to invest more time in her studies, she would be year 11 at school but she has been homeschooled since year 6. This is amazing for me, do you know how long I have waited for her to come to me and for her to suggest that she focuses on her exams… well it’s a long time. Don’t get me wrong we have completed many online courses and art programmes and bought lots of books but I am talking about a clear path to sitting GCSE’s.

Some of her decision to do this was brought about by the eldest daughter achieving her exams and going off to Uni but a lot of it was as the result of time and trying to beat the bully. Since she was 10 years old and left school I have encouraged her to make sure that she was in the right place mentally and physically for life, and that her exams could wait. It was a difficult decision and met with objection by some family members and some friends who questioned (continually) my approach and who have really caused me anxiety and stress. They also left me wondering if I had got it right, was I creating further issues and distress for Bonnie further down the line ? Well it’s taken me a while but to all those people I now really feel as though I can say Nah Nah Nah Nah… I finally feel able to have the confidence in myself again and in fact I should not have doubted myself.

The teaching aspect is coming from tutors. I am truly grateful to have found a wonderful maths tutor who is kind and considerate and who constantly tells Bonnie how wonderful she is. How amazing is that !! I am capable of walking Bonnie through the concept of maths but at the same time I am not, you see I have the ability but I am not very good at breaking things down and actually teaching them. So the introduction of Anne is a life saver and to be frank I do not feel that I have failed, I feel as though I have succeeded in what was the initial plan. It’s early days but hopefully 2 years down the line Bonnie will have the results required to take her to the next step of her life, be that further education or a job, lets wait and see.

As you can tell from my spelling and grammar the English tutor is also not me. I may well have that old A level result tucked away in my portfolio but my abilities here to teach this area are severally lacking. A friend I have known for over 40 years, since we were 4 years old, has very kindly picked up this honour. Her credentials are impressive and for want of wanting to keep her down off the high pedestal that she should be on I shall not list them, but rest assured she is an excellent teacher and should never ever doubt her ability to encourage and enthuse others. She has an understanding of Bonnie’s situation and of the fact that Bonnie gets extremely tired from the sensory issues and so she is able to work with that in mind. The best thing of all is that she can let Bonnie choose texts that she would like to work with, this is brilliant because although Bonnie may understand MacBeth she chooses not to study it because it is set in a colder climate and she doesn’t like the cold. She also allows Bonnie the ability to debate areas which obviously could not happen in the same way with a class of 30 children.

So I am finally starting to see a clear path into the future. It looks promising and hopeful and full of positivity and whilst it will take some time to tackle that bully at least he is not getting the same head space that he once was. In fact bully I think it is about time you go and do one! If only it was that easy.

At the moment everyone is ‘home schooling’.

I have three children and they are all educated in very different ways.

My eldest daughter Scarlett has, up until lockdown, been attending a local college where she has been studying for her A Levels. Since college closed she has been advised that she will not be required to participate in any more work and that she will not be required to sit exams in the summer. The Government website for the Department of Education has provided guidelines for how they will provide pupils with their grades and this will be through assessment of work throughout the course from her teachers and then the teachers will be asked to grade the pupils in ranking according to how likely they were to have been to obtain that grade https://www.gov.uk/government/news/further-details-on-exams-and-grades-announced all pretty scary stuff. I think she would have preferred to have sat the exams and at least felt that she still held some control over the situation. Whilst she is not required to complete any extra work she has decided to immerse herself in one last project that the teacher has set as an optional. I have read it and it is pretty impressive.

She is impressive, she has worked hard from the very start of her A levels, and has recently been accepted to study law at all five of her university choices, these included three Russell Groups https://russellgroup.ac.uk/. She isn’t studious, it does not come easy for her, but she puts her head down and gets stuck in. I am very proud of her.

Bonnie has been home educated for the last four years. Now as some of you will have currently been introduced to the world of home schooling I do have to point out that it is not the same. Normally we can go and visit art galleries or museums or at least pop to the local art shop to browse the colours whilst Bonnie decides what she needs for her next master piece. We do not normally have an armful of celebrities offering free access to websites, we do not normally have my husband around as much to provide a break for me, we do not normally have Joe Wicks jumping up and down encouraging us all to get the day started. The point is that it is a lot tougher for us both than you would think.

The flip side is that Bonnie does have more company at the moment; on the whole this has been a good thing. Her sisters have more time for her and it is great to hear them all giggling over something that they have seen on the internet, probably at someone else’s expense.

Whilst on a trip to Cornwall last summer she discovered a book at the cottage that we were staying at and has finally managed to get my husband to contact the owner and obtain the title of the book. The book has arrived and she has started it, she is awesome this book is far too complex for me https://www.amazon.co.uk/Parallel-Worlds-Science-Alternative-Universes/dp/0141014636 .

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That leaves me with my youngest Lizzie. She attends a private school, and her days are very long and very structured. They include a lot of physical exercise and a great deal of enthusiasm is required. Her days since lockdown are still very structured and still very long. I marvel each day at how she gets up logs on and keeps going and going and going, her resilience and positive attitude inspire me.

Technology has been amazing in providing her with online lessons in which she can interact with her teacher and classmates, it’s not the same but it definitely has kept her learning on track and ensured that she has not fallen behind. It has also given me a chance to see how amazing she is at certain subjects that she says she “hates”, I now see that it is a lack of confidence and not an issue with understanding the subject. One thing that I am sure of is that this is not the same as home schooling, this is home learning, it is very different.

In conclusion it would seem that they are all coping very well indeed to their different learning situations, but before I go I have to say something. Whilst the learning is going well I am really upset for them. I am upset that Lizzie turned double digits this week and could not have a birthday party, I am upset that Bonnie cannot get her ‘teacher’ back one to one and I am upset that Scarlett will not be able to feel those mix of emotions as she walks down the corridor and out the doors of college for one last time.