I, as a rule, have good skin. I got a few spots on my forehead as a teenager, and that was it, I was very fortunate. Now as I type, I have a nasty itchy rash all along both sides of my chin, not unlike beardy snog burn. I haven’t got this from snogging, sadly. The rash extends down to my collarbone, over the left side of my ribs and then down both legs. Naked, I look par-boiled. My previously thick mop of curls is thinning at the temples. I’ve got a permanent frown line, and my jaw hurts from where I grind my teeth in my sleep.
I see my dermatologist regularly. She is very well respected in her field and so far her prodding and poking hasn’t produced a definitive reason for my spottiness. “Are you under any particular stress?” she said. “You know, more than the usual life stuff?” I heard myself saying “No, just the usual.” She continued with her prodding, muttering quietly to herself. “No wine” she said. “It’s the histamines, you don’t need those. And try to take things easy till I see you.” She packed me off with a warning not to dye my hair until this current battery of tests was over.
On the drive home I thought about stress. What is “just the usual” in my life at the moment? Well my hair is really, properly awful. I have long grey roots which I am desperate to dye, plus my baldy bits where it’s breaking of at the temples. This bothers me – I don’t look like me, I look like the driver of the school bus on SouthPark. Mr. Ginger says I’m a bit ratty too.
I kicked off my shoes and headed to my desk to attempt to tackle the huge stack on files dumped in the middle, all of which pertained to Little Ginger’s forthcoming EHCP tribunal. I’ve fought legal battles before, and won, usually on technicalities of process. Somehow this feels different. The LA’s draft EHCP was shambolic to the point of absurdity. It felt like I’d been spun round over and over and couldn’t see the start from the end. Unpicking it, line by line, and referencing each part of the law unpinning SEN has been exhausting. I resent terribly having to do this. We went through all of the plan with our SEN officer before the draft was issued and every single alteration was either resisted or ignored. It is like a study of how bad an EHCP can be and there’s a part of me that wonders if that is deliberate. Reports the LA have themselves referenced have then been ignored. Only one of the 8 needs outlined in section B has any provision in Section F. And all of Section F is linked to outcomes, not need. The document is nothing short of derisory. It is an insult to my intelligence, and worse, an insult to my son. I can take it on the chin, but he can’t.
All this is making me very poor company. SEN law is literally the only thing on my mind. The school we want for him is really only accessible if the LA agree. My panic centres on what if he doesn’t get in. And then what if he DOES get in, it’s such a lot of change for a little boy who doesn’t like change at the best of times. I’ve started what I now know to be called “magical thinking.” It’s indicative of mental strain apparently, I do it when there is literally nothing else I can control. “If this traffic light changes to green now, that means we’ll win the tribunal.” “If I see two magpies today that means two for joy and that means we’ll win the tribunal.” On it goes.
Whether we win at tribunal thankfully won’t be based on green lights and magpies, but sometimes that’s the lack of control I feel. I pour over his reports highlighting section after section, attempting to attach them to the correct need and provision. I email all his specialists to ask for updates, clarifications, specificity, and then deliberately don’t add up the fees they charge. I dig through case law (God love David Wolfe) so that I can quickly isolate the bits which support my arguments. And all this is so my beautiful boy can access what so many take for granted.
Those outside of this madness cannot believe it’s really that bad. That a system could be so broken and yet still appearing to function. That a Local Government department can be so opposed to helping the very children it was set up to assist. I would never have believed it of Britain. And there’s a part of me that thinks that a more outwardly corrupt country at least is open about every man having his price. This disfunction is covert, and the price we pay can’t be handled by greasing the palm of an official, perhaps mores the pity.
By Cross and Ginger