Grief

One night in late October, W woke up in the middle of the night and wanted to talk about something she had dreamed about. After we had chatted and W was tucked up in bed once again, I saw that I had had lots of missed calls on my phone. I called my Mum and discovered to my utter sadness and shock that my Aunt, who I was close to, had died suddenly two hours before….

My Mum and I stayed on the phone for hours, not really knowing what to say to each other, but just wanting to talk about our shock, our family, and how my Aunt’s young adult daughters would cope without her.

It all seemed so surreal and I cannot imagine the trauma that my cousins would have gone through that night. My heart broke for them and for the rest of my family who all now had to come to terms with the void that was left in her place.

I didn’t sleep at all that night. Instead, I stayed up, trying to make sense of what had happened and trying to figure out how to tell W that her Aunt had gone.

…In the morning, when I had composed myself a little, W and I talked about Aunty T and what had happened. It was the first time W had experienced the death of a family member and I don’t think she knew what to make of it. I was determined not to cry when I told W, but sadly I did. I told myself that it was ok for W to see my emotions sometimes, especially so that she could see that sadness is a normal reaction to such an event.

That morning, W and I went straight to my parent’s house (my partner had to work and my stepchildren were away with their other Mum, so couldn’t come with us), where W did very well coping with seeing lots and lots of family members at once. She did not see too much distress as people were very careful to not talk a great deal about the upsetting stuff in front of W, but she did understand that we were all very, very sad about what had happened. Although our extended family had all been brought together again by such an awful event, it was still good for W to have the chance to meet so many members of her family at once.

A few days later, it was time to go home. There was nothing more for us to do at my parent’s house and we needed to get back home to try to find our new ‘normal’ before the funeral could take place (which would be some time in the future due to investigations that were needed beforehand).

I had no idea how W would react to all of this… at first she seemed ok and quite matter-of-fact about it, but as time went on, she started to realise the permanence of death, that she would never see Aunty T again. I won’t go into details here of how W was affected specifically because, although this blog is anonymous, the details of how W’s grief affected her over the coming months are very personal to her.

The truth is that W struggled. We took it slowly, reading books about grief and loss and talking about it whenever W needed to (Winston’s Wish have excellent resources for children experiencing this). It was awful to see the pain and distress that she was going through, especially as I knew very much what that felt like for me too. I made sure to mention Aunty T in passing sometimes, just to show that it was ok to talk about her (and it still is – I still talk about her a lot when something we do reminds me of her).

A few months later, W is doing better. She is still obviously grieving and feeling the loss, but the anxiety isn’t a daily struggle for her any longer. I have been careful to not push her too hard to talk, but to just be open to talking whenever the subject comes up. W still chooses to read the books on grief from time to time and we will do this for as long as she needs to.

I do not know what the next few years will bring in terms of our grief; whether we will get back to normal, remembering Aunt T fondly without all the pain that comes along with the memories, or if we will forever feel this empty place in our lives that she used to fill. All I know is that I have to do what is best for my children to help them through it, but I still can’t comprehend that I will never see my lovely Aunt again. However, somehow we have to find a way to move through life without her. And that, I think, will be very, very hard for all of us.

A workplace ignoring basic human rights?

Imagine there was a workplace – in this country – where basic human rights were ignored.

Where you were not allowed to go to the toilet, even if you pleaded with your supervisors to let you go. You had set times to go to the loo and the toilets were locked outside of those hours.

Imagine you were not allowed to work part-time. Even if you found full-time hours so stressful it made you ill. You had to work… and it had to be full-time. No exceptions.

Imagine you were not allowed to request holidays. You were only allowed holidays at set times of the year, chosen by your supervisors and not you. If you went on holiday outside of your supervisor’s chosen times, you were fined for doing so.

Imagine you were forced to stay at work after hours if you didn’t finish your work for the day, or speak out of turn to a supervisor, or were wearing the wrong clothes. You didn’t get paid for these extra hours – You simply just had to stay at work until your supervisors said that you could leave.

Imagine having your break times taken away as well for any of the above reasons.

You wouldn’t stand for it, would you? You would even campaign for the rights of those employed by this company to make conditions better for the workers.

Imagine if the employees discussed here are children.

This ignorance of basic human rights is happening every weekday in this country, within our schools.

To our children.

We have conventions on rights for adults, EU working time directives, enshrined in law, but no such thing to protect children’s rest time within schools.

At work, in the UK, your employer legally has to let you take the rest breaks that you are entitled to. Not so in school.

You can take paid holiday from your workplace when you want, as long as you give your employer the correct notice. Your employer can still say no, but you do have a degree of autonomy over holidays. Not so in school.

All employees have the legal right to request flexible working (e.g. changing hours to part-time, changing working hours, compressed hours, home working and flexitime). Children do not have a right to flexible schooling. On very, very rare occasions in this country flexischooling is considered for a child at a state school, but it is considered a temporary measure until full-time schooling is resumed. If a child is at school, it must be full-time, long-term.

Children do not have the right to go to the toilet when they need to. In this country. On this day. And it is a disgrace.

We cannot continue to treat our children in this way. Our children have rights and feelings too. They are humans just like the adults who should be here to protect them.

2nd December, 2018 – Christmas prep!

This week had a Christmas theme, with all of us getting out the Christmas decorations and preparing the advent calendars (my partner makes them for the children). It is such a lovely time of year and, although we are all atheists, we do still involve ourselves with Christmas events and pantomimes that are happening near us, just as we do with other religious festivals.

So here is what W learned this week, in subject order as usual…..

Science / Nature: W asked about the days being shorter now and why that happens and when the days will start to get longer again. We chatted about the seasons and the Earth’s tilt.

W later asked why the date of Easter moves, so we talked about the phases of the moon and how that affects Easter. Then she asked why the moon has phases, so I explained that to her too.

In the evening, W spent some time telling her stepsiblings, J and D about Blue Planet and what the different creatures do, which I suppose solidified her learning from last week.

Whilst we were going through the Blackwall tunnel, W asked why there were bars at a certain level in the tunnel. I explained that it is lower on one side and the bars are showing the height of the lowest part of the tunnel, so lorries can only go on one side and they can check whether they fit by looking at the bars.

Literacy / English: On one of our train journeys, we read a book together, which she really loved (and I wondered if the other passengers did too…..).

Wrote a song about Christmas and then also wrote some events on the calendar.

PE: On Monday afternoon, we went to W’s gymnastics class, which W did brilliantly at. She listened so well in a class of 12 children and followed the instructions and concentrated for the duration. The teacher gave her lots of praise and wrote down what she had learned in her book, so that she would know where she was up to next time.

She loved it at the class again and is very relaxed and calm there. She knows a few of the people and likes to play in the hallways with them.

Play: She showed great negotiation skills when it was time to put up the Christmas decorations with her siblings. After that, W had a great time playing with the Christmas toys. She adores the Playmobil Christmas scene and spent ages sorting out Santa’s workshop. In fact, she then played with it every day, sometimes letting all her other Playmobil toys join in!

Drama / Performing Arts: We went to the theatre to see a brilliant adaptation of Rapunzel. We talked about the actor who plays Rapunzel, who is black with purple dreadlocks. There was no prince rescuing Rapunzel – instead Goldilocks came to Rapunzel’s tower, where they worked together to defeat evil and free themselves.W loved the performance so much – She especially liked having her information sheet with her during the panto, so that she could work out which actor was playing which part and which actors played more than one part.

W’s stepsister, D (8) had a xmas show with her Saturday dance group, so we watched that. It was a Harry Potter story with singing and dancing. W watched kids in groups of 3-4 year olds, all the way up to teenagers doing different dances. We talked about why the very small children had more simple dances and the older kids had more difficult ones.

Numeracy / Maths: On 1st December, it was time to open the advent calendar. W is now obviously really good at reading the numbers and doesn’t need help at all this year.

We played the Orchard Toys Bus Stop game, adding and taking away people from a bus journey. W really enjoyed it and did well.

When brushing her teeth, W said she was going to work out maths sums in her head without using her fingers. It took quite a while, but she did it entirely by herself.

PSHE: We read an old Christmas story, which I had to pause in order to chat about the gender of the characters in books. Usually, I just change ‘he’ for ‘she’ in kids’ books to balance out the genders and to make the numbers of male and female characters equal. In this book, it wasn’t possible. J and D knew the story well and are used to me changing a couple of characters, but this time, there were 13 male characters and two female characters, who didn’t speak! We had a chat about how this used to be the norm in older books (and still is the case in a lot of modern books) and how it is important that stories reflect the actual population. We talked about which characters needed to be male for the purpose of the story (none of them) and which could be changed. Then we enjoyed the Christmas tale!!

We went to the Christmas fair at the end of our road, which was really good. W got to sit in a fire engine and try on a firefighter’s hat. The firefighter showed her the safety goggles inside the helmet and also the heat-reflecting goggles. They showed us their oxygen tanks and the dial which shows how much oxygen is left. W also learned that the firefighter in charge can see how much oxygen each firefighter has left on her own machine too.

W saw the heavy machine that can cut through metals, and the sledgehammers, axes and hoses too. She enjoyed seeing what they do with all the tools.

There was a ‘treasure hunt’ afterwards, where the children had to search for certain crocheted items on the stalls and get a stamp for each one. Once the sheet was full, they got a chocolate prize. W did very well and recognised most of the items herself. She was confident at talking to the stallholders too.

Socialisation: After the Christmas fair, we went to E (10) and F’s (7) house for a bit. They worked on their Christmas tree, which this year they are making out of Lego. W made an activity course for her soft toy dog to play with, with D and F. Then W asked their mum for a pen and paper and sat down for ages drawing pictures. She drew one of her with her toy dog, which was really good, then drew another of lions in the snow!

Later, more children arrived (T [6], J [9], B [7], N [10] and T [8]), all of whom W has met before. She played well with all of them.

On Monday morning, W’s friend, N popped over for a short time. They had a lovely time playing and W really enjoyed it.

On the train, W met a dog who W stroked and played with for the whole journey. She chatted confidently to her owners.

Art: Later, she made a Christmas decoration from pipe-cleaners and beads.

W played on her online advent calendar game. She did well with the jigsaws, then played an art game, filling in detailed colours, in which she had to use the drop and drag function and very fine control of the cursor.

W decorated her dolls’ house for Christmas. She was really inventive with the materials she had and showed good spatial awareness with measuring spaces and putting appropriate decorations into them.

Next week, we have yet more Christmas-themed activities!

25th Nov, 2018 – animals!

This week was all about animals – sea creatures, pets, land animals, climates and habitats. Here is how W’s learning progressed throughout the week:

Science / Nature: W went over what she had learned last week about bats. It was good to hear that she had absorbed all the information.

We have been working on the days of the week and the names of the months and have made good progress, often reciting the words when we are on a train or in the car.

We watched 2 episodes of Blue Planet, which W was absolutely amazed by. We have the poster that goes with the series already and she loves learning the names of all the different sea creatures. She also learned about the food chain in the oceans, storms affecting the seas, false killer whales and how they communicate with (and remember) individual dolphins.

At the petrol station, I explained where the tanks of fuel are and showed W where they are filled.

W’s stepbrother, J (10) chatted to her about the equator and deserts.

We spent some time looking up where the major organs of the body are. W was interested in the fact that the stomach is behind the ribcage and not in her ‘tummy’.

She asked if frogs have teeth and how they bite things…. then later asked about flamingos: how they eat and how they dance.

On Wednesday, we had to go to the vets to get the kittens neutered. We talked a lot about why neutering is important, then W asked what happens to the cats testicles after they have been removed (!).

We saw lots of dogs in the veterinary surgery, and we chatted to the owners about the types of breed and their ages etc. We ended up spending a long time in there (drop off, collection and waiting for medication took 2.5 hours in total) and W was very patient indeed. She played with another child (4) and chatted to her about the cats.

When we were eventually called into the room with the vet, W learned about the process of having an operation and what happens in what order. She chatted to them confidently. Afterwards, we learned about how to care for the cats for the first week after their operation.

We then watched Jo Brand’s cats and kittens programme, which was educational again.

At the train station, we saw a police dog checking people’s bags. W asked how they are trained to do that and we talked about how they have a favourite toy and they are given that toy when they do the right thing. The police officer came over with the dog and introduced him to her. He was called Bobby and had a business card too. It was lovely that the officer did that as there was clearly a big police operation going on with armed officers too, but he took time out to speak to W about the dog.

We looked at the ‘magic mirror’ that was set up at the station. W loved the fact that she could see herself in it, but that there were other things that she could see in the mirror that were not there in real life. She saw a pride of lions moving near her and absolutely loved it.

Geography: We talked about tectonic plates, mountains and glaciers again, which she loves explaining to me.

South Africa came up in conversation randomly, so we talked about the climate and habitats that are there.

Play: We got the Xmas decorations out and the children loved looking through them all. Afterwards, instead of playing a board game, we played a memory game where we put 5 decorations on to a tray, covered it, removed one, and then the children had to work out which one I had removed. We all really enjoyed the game.

We played the ‘Guess How Much I Love You’ board game quite a few times and, although it’s a little young for all the children now, they enjoyed it and played well.

History: In the car, W asked about World War II, so her stepsiblings, J (10) and D (8) explained a bit about it to her. We also talked about refugees in an age-appropriate way.

Spatial Skills: We did a jigsaw instead of a board game on Thursday, which was lovely. W used to do so many jigsaws when she was 3 and became quite good at doing them, so it was good to see her enjoying them again.

W wanted to check her Lego builds that are on display in her bedroom, so that she could see if there were any pieces missing. We did two full sets and made a list of missing parts, then found the pieces that we needed from her ‘spares’ box.

She later put together her new Playmobil set by herself, following the instructions with no problem.

PSHE: We talked about burials and what happens after a funeral.

Maths / Numeracy: At bedtime, W randomly told me: “3+3 is 6. 4+4 is 8. etc etc”. She enjoys adding numbers for fun and I hope that continues!

On the train on Wednesday, W did some work in her new Shopkins activity book. There were colouring- in activities, writing, spot the difference, mazes and numbers.

On Thursday, she asked to go to her drop-in Maths and Drama classes. In Maths, she was given a worksheet with addition tests and she just sat and worked on it by herself. She asked for help from the teacher when she had run out of fingers to add up on, so the teacher helped her to find a new way of adding when she does bigger numbers.

Also in Maths, she played a numbers game where they drew different parts of a robot according to which numbers came up on a dice. The next game was one where she stood back-to-back with a friend (T), 6, and they each wrote down a number. They had to guess what number the other had from being told what the total of the two numbers was.

Drama / Performing Arts: In Drama, she played games pretending to be animals and also telling stories and guessing which fairy tales they are. She really enjoyed this class too.

Socialisation: At the classes, she saw her friends, B (7), A (5) and T (6) from our regular Monday social group, who were pleased to see her!

English / Literacy: At home, D had put a new poster on her wall and W did a good job of trying to read the words on it.

W wrote wedding and birthday cards for friends and family. She insisted on doing it without help, and did a good job.

Home Economics: We baked a lemon drizzle cake, and decorated it with many hundreds and thousands.

Art: I had a giant box arrive with some stock for my shop and W asked if she could draw on it. She spent ages drawing cats and rainbows on it, inside and out. She asked for a light inside and took her night lights in there too so that she could see her masterpieces properly.

In the café on Friday, W entertained herself by drawing in my notebook, making more pictures of cats.

All her free time at home on that day was spent decorating the giant cardboard box again. She has now branched out into drawing butterflies too.

This rounds off our animal-themed week nicely. At the moment, W is interested in all living things, whether they are sea creatures or land animals. She has such enthusiasm for learning when it is a subject that she enjoys, and I hope that continues into her future.

 

18th Nov, 2018 – a quiet week

This week was mainly about taking some time off learning while we have some family time. However, as learning happens all the time anyway, here is the incidental learning that happened, without much effort at all…..

Literacy / English: There were quite a few birthdays this week, so W made cards for friends birthdays. Her writing was very good and she concentrated on the task well.

Later in the week, W wrote a letter to Santa. She did extremely well with her letters, copying some out and writing some by herself.

On Thursday, W asked if she could try to see some bats, so after looking up some information, we found that we may see some that night, since it was a warmer night. We did manage to see a couple and then W made up a poem about our walk, which she later turned into a song.

Our last piece of work on literacy this week was when W decided to make a sign for the house. She did well trying to spell the words.

Home Economics: W helped to make cake and flapjacks for a family gathering, which obviously she loved as she got to lick the spoon!

W then asked if jelly has gelatine in, so we talked about what it is, where it comes from and how it works.

Maths / Numeracy: We played ‘Pop to the Shops’ by Orchard Toys, during which, W was reading the two-digit numbers for the first time (“forty pence”, rather than “four-oh”, for example).

W played Minecraft with her stepbrother, J (10) and later her stepsister, D (8) too. J built buildings for her on her tablet and W furnished them with J’s help. I love the way that they work together on their Minecraft buildings. J seems to really enjoy helping W with her learning these days.

Science / Nature: There was salt on the platforms at the train station. W knew it was there to stop people slipping, so we talked about water freezing and why salt made a difference. We talked about how else you could melt ice.

On the way home, we talked about why the sun sets and the fact that the Earth spins.

W asked about condensation on a water bottle, so I explained to her where it comes from ad why it happens.

Music: W wanted to learn a song that we used to sing from when she was a baby, so we did, then later W played the piano at the train station. We talked about the notes and chords.

Engineering: We were delayed at a London station, so we watched the engineers building part of a large building using a cherry picker. Then we saw a freight train and counted the carriages together.

We talked about earthquakes and how builders can ensure that buildings don’t fall down, by making them able to sway (W has a slight fascination with earthquakes lately).

Socialisation: On Monday, we went to our regular social group, where W played with her friend J (5) for most of the time.

AS always, W had a great time at her Rainbows group, playing with her friends and doing craft activities.

Play: W played with her toys (mainly My Little Ponies) a lot, taking care to categorise them as she did so.

When we played Uno on the train and W is getting very good at the strategy side of the game now. 

On Friday, W made a stable for her toy horse using boxes and chairs, then played with them for a long time.

Art / Design: W decided to design some wedding dresses, taking care to include the tiny features that she wanted on them.

PSHE: W still has lots of questions about death and funeral services, because of our recent loss (more about this here). I am glad that she is talking about it and asking lots of questions. I really do believe that when children hold in their grief, it can build to a much worse level than when they are encouraged to talk about it whenever they need to…. I am trying to remember this for myself too….

This blog post is much shorter than usual because we have actually done far less in terms of education than we usually would. However, I know that this is normal after an event such as a death in the family and I also know that it is important for us to take the time that we need in order for us to heal as a family.

11th Nov, 2018 – when I grow up….

W has asked questions about the future this week and has given consideration to what career she would like when she is older. More about this below, in the usual format of subject order:

Play: The theme for W’s play this week has mainly been ‘My Little Ponies’. W has played with these delightfully plastic toys with both me and her stepsister, D (8) at various points during the week.

She has also spent a lot of time playing loudly with her stepbrother, J (10). Their play usually involves bringing all the covers and pillows from all the beds and making some sort of den in the living room. Then we often all have a pillow fight.

Art: At the dinner table, W decided to get her pens out and do some drawings while she was waiting for food to arrive.

W later found some beads that were an unopened gift in her bedroom. She opened them and made a flower out of them, which looked fabulous!

Board Games: We played Chinese Chequers a few times this week (for those that don’t know, we have a nightly routine of tidying, then playing a board game all together). W was proud of herself for winning against all 5 of us. Usually D wins this game, but I think W was determined to win a game this time!

Monday’s ‘board game’ was ‘Pass the Pigs’ where you throw two tiny pigs to see which way up they land and get points accordingly. W loved making a score chart for us and wrote it all out carefully. She was so proud of herself to see that she could write all those numbers herself (I added up the scores and she wrote them down).

Literacy / Language: On Saturday, I had to send a parcel to Russia for my business. The address was written in the Cyrillic alphabet, so I showed it to W and explained that there are different alphabets, used in different countries.

In the morning, W made a list of the things that we needed to do that day. She made it with help and then we used the list to determine what we did.

We also learned some French words while we were playing, just for fun.

W has a toy that she has had since she was a baby – it is a phone which talks and sings in Greek (it was passed down to us from a friend of mine, who is Greek). She has been playing with it this week, trying to learn the Greek alphabet as she goes.

Science / Nature:  We watched a CBeebies ‘Operation Ouch’ video on Youtube, showing what happens to the bladder (via ultrasound) when you have a wee. She was really interested and watched it twice.

W asked what political parties there are in America and we talked about the Democrats and Republicans and how the colours for the parties are the opposite to what they are here. 

When we were at a firework display, looking at all the beautiful colours in the sky, W asked if the sky ever ends. This led to a discussion about the Earth’s atmosphere and space.

W then asked lots of questions about how fireworks explode and what makes the noise etc.

On Tuesday, we had a chat about haemoglobin and iron as I have to take supplements.

We got a new poster from the Open University that we put up in the dining room. It is from the Blue Planet and shows the layers and depths of the oceans and what lives in each. W wanted to write the names of some of the depths of ocean, so she wrote “Epipelagic” and “Mesopelagic” on paper. Big words for a small person…

At dinner, we talked about the fact that people live in the International Space Station for 6 months at a time, then W asked her stepbrother, J, to read her the poster on oceans to identify the creatures on it.

On Thursday, we took the cats to the vet and W told the staff there that she wants to be a vet. She was also chatting to them about why each dog was barking / putting it’s tail between its legs etc. She could tell which dogs were friendly and which were nervous, which was brilliant. 

When we were at Kings Cross, W asked how the building was built, so we looked that up on my phone as we were waiting for a train.

Politics / History: W asked about November 5th and why we celebrate it, so we touched on the story of Guy Fawkes and what happened, in simple terms.

D (W’s stepsister, 8) taught W a song about the ancient Egyptians, which D had learned at school. It included references to Osiris, Isis, mummification, Pharaohs and pyramids. They sang it over and over.

Home Economics: W helped to make some biscuits to take with us to the local firework display, mentioned earlier.

PSHE: On the way home from the display, W asked lots of questions about Aunty T (more about her here): what her favourite things were, what she liked to do, what her favourite flowers were etc. I must say it was good to hear W talk about Aunty T again and, although it was difficult for me to talk about her without getting upset, I know that it is right for us to remember .

At night, we talked about feelings and how big feelings are less scary if we talk about them. We chatted about how you can share your feelings and how that makes it feel so much better because then someone else knows about it too.

Economics: At the post office, we saw a delivery of lots and lots of coins, so asked why they need such a big delivery. Then we saw the money van go to Sainsbury’s to take their notes away. She was fascinated by it.

So as well as wanting to be a vet, W has said that she would like to drive the money van when she is grown, as long as there are no robbers in the future, though I’m not sure that could be guaranteed…..

4th Nov, 2018 – Hallowe’en

This week, we were not feeling up to much (more about this here). We went out a little, but mainly stayed at home in the warm, relaxing and doing whatever we wanted.

Socialisation: At a Halloween kids disco, W joined in with the games and the dancing and coped very well with the noise and general chaos. Later, it was trick-or-treat time. W was determined to go out, despite not feeling great this week, so we did and we met up with friends to go together. She absolutely loved it, although last year, someone opened their door and properly scared the children, so this time, W hung out at the back of the crowd of children, then asked her stepbrother J, 10, to take her to the front when he thought it was safe. J obliged every time, bless him.

We met up with friends in a cafe, but didn’t stay long.

Science / Nature: We had a good look at the moon and the stars as we were out after it was dark. We said we’d go and find some bats next time.

I lit a fire in the garden to burn the dry grapevine and W learned again that fire needs 3 things in order to burn. She later asked where the grapevine disappeared to when it had burned and I explained about ash and smoke. While the fire was burning, we cleared the leaves from the back garden, founding acorns and snails as we did so. 

On Tuesday, we watched a vet program on the TV while W rested on the sofa. She watched them reduce a dog’s temperature, fix a dog’s legs (they didn’t show the gory bits) and she also learned about venomous snakes. 

I had a hospital appointment and W came with me. She told the nurses that she has a toy blood pressure machine and a thermometer.  She was a little subdued, but she was interested in what was going on around her. When I went for a blood test, she watched the numbers on the screen change until it was my turn to go in.

We looked at a poster of the stomach and intestines and W was interested in how they worked. She then rearranged a children’s toy to categorise the animals within it.

I had an ECG and the nurse explained to W what it was for and what the electrodes did.

Caught a spider in a glass and W had a look at it (she would usually be too scared to approach) 

Arts: W did quite a bit of colouring-in and drawing this week. 

On Monday, I didn’t feel up to going to our usual social meet, so W suggested we stay at home and make a cat house for our cat, Flash. I asked her to design it on paper first and then make it from cardboard etc. 

Her drawings were great and so we set about making it together. Instead of telling her what I thought would work and what would not work, I allowed her to do things and then change her mind if something didn’t fit. We both really enjoyed figuring it out together and she did very well at working it out. She drew windows and doors on a cardboard box. She told me how she wanted them to be cut out. We stuck cellofane on the backs of the windows, then W wanted curtains. She decided by herself that we should stick string up behind the windows and then she cut curtains out of wrapping paper and attached them in her own way to the string.

Later, we carved pumpkins for Halloween. W drew her cat design on paper and then drew it onto the pumpkin so that I could carve it.

We watched the Disney Robin Hood cartoon film together. She was curious about whether the story was real, so we talked about legends. It was actually a rather boring movie, but we sat through it anyway as she didn’t have the energy for anything else. 

Play: W made beds for her toy dogs out of shoe boxes, using all the face cloths, napkins and towels in the house for bedding.

She also played with her magnetic pop-up toys a lot, then later played independently with her dolls and cars, getting them set up for a journey and working out a complicated hierarchy regarding who sat where. This lasted over a few days.

Board Games: My stepdaughter, D (8) had a new board game – Chinese Chequers. We all played it and W picked up the rules quickly and followed them well. She even figured out skilful moves.

Politics: General conversations with W this week have covered: the law around sending children to school, children’s rights in relation to this, Donald Trump and his wall, who pays for the Queen’s palaces, gay rights, racism in America, gun control in America, and women’s rights. All of these conversations were instigated by W, who appears at this stage to have a keen interest in politics and how the world works.

Hopefully, we will do more next week and will get out more in order to develop W’s new-found interest….