Sleepless Change

Sometimes change goes smoothly. This beauty was happily rooted then along came a big bully in the form of a trampoline. As a result the plant was uprooted and moved. Absolutely no issues and the flowers are as stunning as ever.

Sometimes change does not go smoothly. Our son has real difficulty with change. Even the smallest change can lead to an anxiety vortex.

He has had the same bed since he was a toddler. It started way to big for him – not anymore. The dreaded day has been looming where he finally outgrows the bed. That time has now arrived. For months I’ve been warning him that he will need a new bed but he has remained steadfast in his rejection of the idea. Time for action.

While he was at school I moved his bed out. Replacing it with the spare bed. Face it the spare bed hasn’t been used in 3 years. So when he came home we had a bit of a meltdown.

Dad do you remember I helped put it together with my toy toolset.”

I so do. I can feel tears on my part forming. But he agreed to try the replacement bed for at least one night. In the end it went quite well really. The house is still here. We didn’t break the space-time continuum. On the downside sleep was a tad limited. When I say limited I mean next to nothing.

So tonight we will try again. Hoping sleep deprivation will be an Ally. If he’s not asleep by 2am I will let him sleep on the sofa. Not sure what I will do then. Probably just move his old bed back in and have a rethink.

I hate change. I hate being tired. Like most parents I hate the passing of time.

17 years

These two beauties have been with us for 17 years now. My sister gave them to us as a house warming present. Along with two garden gnomes!!! My partner loved the plants but she hated with a passion the idea of garden gnomes. To save them I had to hide the two chaps under the hedge. I was supposed to have taken the sledgehammer to them. As the hedge grew the gnomes got increasingly buried within the branches. Now they are completely lost. Must have an expedition to find them one day.

The two plants have been stars. All those years ago I dumped them in two large plant pots and that’s it. Never touched them again and every year they deliver. It’s really poignant that they are still here and yet my partner….

I remember having a long chat with my partner all those years ago. Sat outside with a bottle of wine looking at these two small plants. Do we plant them or put them in containers. If we put them in containers we can bring them with us when we move. Our small bungalow was not going to be big enough for the family we were about to hopefully start. Stay here until the second was on its way and then move. However even back then my partner was always reading the property pages to find that dream family house.

17 years later I am again outside looking at the two plants. How times change. The wine is replaced with a herbal tea. A large part of the lawn has disappeared under a trampoline. The hedge is much bigger. The same two chairs we sat on 17 years ago are much more weather beaten now. The garden which was filled with conversation and laughter back then now feels a very lonely place this afternoon.

Soon the school bus will be heard and family life with recommence. The rest of the day will hopefully be filled with questions, dreams and smiles. It’s family life but certainly not the one we dreamt of 17 years ago.

Question Fun – Adventuring

The Wonderful Rory (A Guy Called Bloke) came up with a question challenge about Adventuring. As my adventure days are on hold answering Rory’s question will be as close as I get to adventure for a while. So here goes.

What are five [in your eyes only] top quality Adventure films?
Touching the Void, North Face – German film and it’s grim, Eiger Sanction, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Alvin and the Chipmunks – Chipwrecked…….

What would be your ideal Adventure [not holiday – Adventure]

Climb Everest

If you were planning your Adventure of a Lifetime which is the best season for you to go?
Cold and Snow – called Summer in Yorkshire

What kind of activities do you enjoy doing and what would you never do?

Definitely Climbing never Caving

If you could live anywhere in the world for a year out of the answers below, where would you choose?

In a Castle

Under the Sea

In a Forest

In a Dungeon

On an Alien Planet

On the side of an Active Volcano

In a Castle haunted with nice ghosts. If I could get an Ironman suit then it would be an Alien Planet.

What are three great adventure quotes?

“Climbing up a mountain beats staying at home peeing on your rhubarb” – Bizarrely I came up with that one while climbing in Lake District.

“I look at climbing not so much as standing on the top as seeing the other side. There are always other horizons in front of you, other horizons to go beyond and that’s what I like about climbing.” – Chris Bonington

“Because it’s there” – George Mallory

America is named after?

Was it named after the America’s Cup? Or after Captain America.

Who reached North America first out of the following people’s?
Spanish, British, Vikings, Portuguese

I thought Donald Trump said it was him.

What was Christopher Columbus’s aim of  his second voyage to the New world?
Clearly it was to find somewhere unpopulated to discover and claim. Because you can’t discover and claim a land if somebody is already living there.

What happened to the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan?

I think it was knocked down to build a big wall. Apparently that part of the world needs one.

What was the most exciting Adventure you have ever been on?

Trying to pick up a Christmas Food order from M&S on Christmas Eve

Where in the world have you had the most fun exploring as an adult?

Lake District Fells

When in Rome, one does as the Roman’s do, however When on a Sandy Beach,  one does ……….. ?
Pick up the discarded plastic bottles.

Whilst out and about exploring on an adventure, what is the most scariest thing that has happened to you?

My climbing partner started playing U2 on his Walkman while we were halfway up a rock face.

Of the following choices which would you prefer to explore?
A sunken city 

A lost city 

A forgotten city

An uninhabited island

An uninhabited island

Would you rather swim with sharks or dolphins?

Can’t swim so sharks (get the agony over with quicker)

What’s the worst piece of travel advice you have ever received?

You look like you know what your doing. You can navigate.

What’s the best piece of travel advice you have ever received?

Don’t get lost

What is on the top of your bucket list?

My bucket list is probably binned now. My efforts will go to letting son achieve his.

Best musical track you can think of for each of the following: explortation, adventuring or travelling?

Iffy Pop – Lust for life

How many countries [or States/Counties] have you visited – please list.

France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Netherlands, South Africa, Congo

Three items you simply could not travel without?

Camera, Sunglasses, A Whip

Have you seen the path

The path was going well.

The path then went. Not sure where. Maybe this way.

No. Maybe this way.

“Dad have you got any idea where we are supposed to go”

Does it look like it. And with that I tripped over a branch went face first into the undergrowth.

I thought you were a climber. Someone at one with the wild” – much giggling.

I am at one with the wild that’s why I’m currently kissing the ground.

Bear Grylls would now shimmy up a tree to the top and look out over the forest to see the direction we should be heading.”

Not sure the trees will take my weight. Probably end up bending one over and launching myself like a catapult into the North Sea.

Is it a Plane, is it a Bird or is it a flying muppet”

Finally we found a path and made our way home. As we walked up the towards the house.

Dad can I have a cake when I’ve washed my hands”

Bugger. I knew I forgot something. Looking at my watch the cakes had probably been at medium heat for 3 hours.

Some days you just feel lost. Things go wrong. Life is hard. You feel so vulnerable. So fallible. Beyond tired. I’m not alone on that one. It’s human nature. It’s the parenting condition. We all have days/weeks/months like this. What’s the expression

You get good days and bad weeks….

Train journey to the Ogre

It’s Sunday and it’s Switzerland time….

Switzerland is a spectacular country which means its train journeys are often just off the scale. No need to read a book here. Just look out the window and drink the views in.

The trip from from Lauterbrunnen to Kleine Scheidegg is one such experience.

The train goes on further up through the Eiger Tunnel to the JungFrauJoch. Known as the Top of Europe. But that was just too expensive. One day maybe… So we got off at the stop where a short walk takes you to the base of the famous North Face of the Eiger.

On the trip up I remember looking out of the train window in awe with our son repeatedly saying

Mum can you tell me the story about the legend of the three mountains AGAIN”

The legend is that a beautiful young girl (The Jungfrau) is in danger from an evil Ogre (The Eiger). Only a brave Monk (The Mönch) can protect her. They forever stand next to each other in an eternal struggle.

Son loved this story and his mum loved telling him it. On this trip she must have retold it at least 30 times. Another smiley memory. Happy Days and my love keep telling that story.

Bird Blocked

Dad can we go to see the Birds at the cliffs”

So it was a trip to the RSPB centre at Bempton. A truly epic landscape with wonderful seabirds. Well that was the plan….

First route attempt interrupted by a work call resulting in a rapid u turn and a quick visit to the unit. An hour later we set off for the birds again. Then a traffic jam. Changed route and then we get stuck behind an accident. One route option left and this time it’s closed for the day due to road works.

Some days you just have to say ‘it’s not happening’. We turned the car round and headed home. So we had a think about bird names to describe our failure. These are mostly our sons efforts.

  • Donnocks
  • Puffbirds
  • Gannets
  • Shag
  • Red footed Bobby
  • Coots
  • Nutcracker
  • Woodcocks
  • Dickcissel
  • Great Tit

Anyway here is a bird from our last visit.

Questions Questions

In life you get so many questions. Good ones, bad ones, taxing, insightful, bizarre, left field, rude and downright stupid. I often find one response covers most of them

A big boy did it and ran away….

Then you get the questions you field which relate to your kid(s). The questions involving Autism , Aspergers, Dyslexia , Dyspraxia, ADHD, Bereavement, behaviour…..The questions from family, friends, parents at the school gate, teachers, health professionals and other children. So many questions and so often not particularly helpful ones. As helpful as losing your car keys in a crop field.

So let’s look at some of the questions we have encountered. I suspect this could end up rivalling War and Peace so I’m going to spilt this up into more easily digestible parts. So part one is the Autism and Aspergers questions. Here goes for some bizarre questioning….

“Do you want us to have him eat his food by himself now he is Autistic?” – A Teacher

As he is on the spectrum would you agree to the council being approached so they could assess the risk of self harm” – A Teacher

I realise that his performance and behaviour is really good but have you considered a Special School as he had Aspergers” – A Teacher

Are you sure he has Autism as he seems very normal and is not violent in anyway” – A Teaching Assistant

We have another child who is autistic would it be ok if we sit them together as it will be good for them. They can become friends then.” – A Teaching Assistant

“I recognise that he is very shy and doesn’t like speaking in front of others. But would it be ok if he gives a chat to to the class about being autistic. He can tell them what it’s like to be different. It will be great for his self esteem” – A Supply Teacher

He seems very talkative for someone with Aspergers” – A Doctor

He seems like he cares and shows emotions. That is so unusual for someone with Autism” – A Doctor

He’s very likely to have self harm and suicidal tendencies as he grows up” – A Doctor

Why are you bothering fighting for a diagnosis when we can’t do much for him. The diagnosis will just be a piece of paper.” A Doctor

Shall I get a nurse to take him outside so we can talk about him without hurting his feelings” – A Doctor

Is he gifted in music as many people with Aspergers are.” – A Nurse

Have you seen the film Rainman. That’s all about autism.” – A Nurse

Unfortunately you come across Professionals who are clearly living in a different age or are just so underprepared to deal with kids on the spectrum. Not acceptable but it happens.

“My Son is having a party and I want to be inclusive so is it ok if I invite your son.” – A Parent

Did he get it from the Vaccinations” – sadly more than one Parent

Does this mean that he’s not allowed to fly” – A Parent

It’s not so bad, they can be very happy and harmless really” – A Parent

Are you going to ask School to not move him up this summer and keep him with the younger kids. Won’t he be happier with them” – A Parent

Are you sure he is Autistic he is nothing like The Rainman” – A Parent

At what age will he start to grow out of it” – A Parent

Have you tried those drugs which cure it” – A Parent

Will he ever be able to look after himself” – A Parent

Because he’s autistic he won’t ever want friends will he” – A Parent

Is that why he’s rubbish at sport” – A classmate

Can I catch it off him” – A classmate

I will finish off with one that made us laugh.

Do you have to use an inhaler, my brother does and he’s like him because he has asthma” – A classmate

Racy Book

I wandered into the Village Library. When I say Library it’s really a converted red telephone box. Just enough room to open the door and edge a few inches in before you are face to face with the books. It is well looked after and has a surprisingly large number of titles. But the book range reflects the village we live in. Clear indication of the type of literature residents read before they drop off the books at the Tardis. That’s the nickname our son gave to the ex telephone box- it’s from Dr Who for those scratching their heads.

So I perused the book covers. Jeffrey Archer, Catherine Cookson, Wilbur Smith, Le Carré, Agatha Christie. Books on farming, the military, Bridge Tactics, embroidery. You get the picture. But wait – one book stands out. Fifty Shades of Grey. Somebody’s brave – the village will be holding an investigation. I can see witch trials.

Then a sinking feeling. Bugger I brought that one. I do have a reasonable excuse. In the weeks after my partner died I was not really on this planet. People kept telling me to clear the house . Be organised, get on with stuff, don’t live in a mausoleum. So I quickly (probably too quickly) started sorting out many of her belongings. Clothes went to the Hospice charity. Books to the Village Library.

I really regret rushing the process. I should have done it when I was ready not when others thought it was the right time. Potentially really important memories might have been lost in the rush. I missed the chance of involving our son in the process (when he was ready of course). I’m sure the early purge did me no good at all. If anything it delayed the grieving process. It certainly didn’t help my depression. Just destabilised me further.

So yes back to Tardis. One of the books found in the house was Fifty Shades. She bought it I think for a train journey from the vast array (not) of books available at the station. I remember my partner saying it was tacky rubbish and she was going to send it out as a joke present. Sadly she never got the time to do that. So it was one of about 20 books that found its way to the library.

I can see the look on the faces of some of the village Bridge Club society. I remember the complaints the Utility Company received when they used ‘dirty’ sandbags to anchor down some of its road work signs on our Main Street. It’s stupid but I was genuinely embarrassed that I had dropped that book off. What are people thinking of me. Am I getting the dreaded tut tutting. He should know better, I thought he was a respectable person.

Should I quickly put the book into my pocket and destroy the evidence. I could even bury it on one of our dog walks – forever hidden in the woods, amongst hundreds of white flowers.

In the end I left it. You should never destroy books. Visions of that scene of book burning in the third Indiana Jones movie flooded my mind. It also really helped finding another dodgy book in the Library. Shockingly a Mills and Boon title.

But hang on a minute.

Now I’m panicking even more. My mum would read M&B books, she had a load of them. I cleared her house out. Surely not. Without thinking did I also add this book to the Library as well. Oh the shame. Grief does crazy things to you….

About to do something unusual

I’m going to do something very unusual for me. A first probably here.

It’s time to praise school……

Yes I give it a hard time most days – probably very justifiably. But here goes with some praise.

It’s been very sunny and warm over the last few days. Doesn’t happen much in Yorkshire. Anyway one of the really great teachers (sadly one who happens to be leaving soon…) decided the kids in her class needed some fresh air rather than stuffy text books – so she sent them outside to enjoy the sun. Only bringing them in for a few minutes at the end to quickly run through a couple of learning points. Son said it made the rest of the school day so much less tiring and the behaviour in the class was improved. Big thumbs up from me on that one,

The school has a compulsory extra hour of school every week. This is to allow work on additional non-curriculum teaching. For the last few months our son was in the Book Reading Club. A tremendous idea for a dyslexic. But now for the rest of the school year the subject has changed. Now it is Archeology. How cool is that. I really wanted it to be taught by someone like Indiana Jones with a sexy hat and whip

Sorry Dad nothing like him. Looks like a teacher who doesn’t get out much.”

Socks

After my dogs failed attempt at love making we walked further down the path. Unusually for Yorkshire it was sunny and warm. So I donned my baseball cap. I must admit I’ve never really liked wearing a hat. Just doesn’t feel right – but needs must. As soon as the sun goes in the hat comes off. I would hate the prospect of wearing it all day every day.

One of the most pronounced aspects of our son’s Aspergers is his sensory hypersensitivity. He just hates the feel of certain objects and materials. For example he hates the feel of wool on his skin. He hates the feel of a scarf round his neck. He even hates the feel of the wind on his legs so he has not worn a pair of shorts since he was a toddler. He calls it an awful, almost painful sensation.

It is a common experience for many people on the spectrum. In particular the feeling can be worse when it’s centred on the hands and feet. It can materialise in different ways. Some find socks a blessing as they hate the feeling of the floor on their feet. The science talks about the brain have difficulty integrating the information from the five basic senses. Sensory Integration Disorder. Often we find the science interesting but of little practical help.

With our son he has no sensitivity related to his hands but his feet are another matter. He has always hated the feel of socks. He calls it the ‘worst feel ever’. You can see his body shaking when he has to put a sock on. At home it’s not a problem. In the garden it’s not a problem. He is always barefoot. When we go out he will often have shoes on with no socks. Even if this means getting blisters as that sensation is nowhere near the agony of socks. It helps that in the normal run of things he has such a high pain tolerance.

But for school he has to wear socks. We have tried ones specifically designed for autistic people but these did little to address the problem. Now we buy seamless ones which are as short as we can get away with. But they are still an unpleasant feeling for him. We have tried putting pressure on the feet (squeezing with your hands) or brushing the feet with a surgical brush prior to putting socks on (trying to desensitise the skin) – no help. Imagine trying to concentrate for 8 hours with that feeling gnawing at your soul. As soon as he returns home the socks are rapidly discarded. Son is happy and the flying socks makes the dog particularly happy as well.