FAMILIAR ROUTINE RETURNS
After the cheerful chaos of the festive season it is back to normality
HOW was your Christmas? Busy or relaxed? Powdery snow and lung-clearingly cold, with azure blue skies? Heavy clouds and opaque drizzle? Biting winds which leave with one option; to curl up with a book? What is the impact of weather and disruption?
One of my Christmas presents, which lured me to doing just such a thing in the post-digestive slump, was Dr Leonard Sax’s The Collapse of Parenting.
It traces the explosion of diagnoses in the USA of syndromes in children which are often, apparently, related to behaviours. They come with a growingly familiar list of acronyms such as ASD, ADHD and ODD.
The opening pages to Dr Sax’s book sound as if they are simply an attack on the avoiding of parental responsibility, that people should come to their senses and force their children to behave better, but in fact it is a much more creative and useful volume than this.
Part of solving a problem is understanding it and part of this is accepting ‘where we are’. For example, our children all give their own, independently researched and presented leavers’ lecture to their peers and parents – some staff are there, too.
One such child lectured us on his own ‘problem’ – he is on the autistic spectrum – and in so doing advanced his own self-understanding, as well as the empathy and understanding of his peers. He articulated what it was like to be him in a social setting. It was brilliant.
We all exist in social context, after all. We all have external factors buffeting us this way and that – a usual feature of the Christmas break, as we travel, meet family, party, spend money and celebrate.
A common feature of this is the upsetting of routines, the cheerful chaos and overexcitement which is – hopefully – always worth it, but often has moments of tension.
So has January arrived with relief or dread? Well, the return to routine, the daily and weekly structures, the familiarity of bedtimes and breaktimes must all be positives for us, just in the way Dr Sax points out. Gloomy mid-winter actually means the return to normality, the relaxation of the humdrum and, if all else fails, the excuse to curl up with a book!
Fred de Falbe, headmaster at Beeston Hall School, West Runton beestonhall.co.uk 01263 837324