Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for a little bit of Switzerland.

In all our trips to this wonderful country we would usually spend our time in the mountains and the lakes. But as soon as son joined our trips we would need to find time to visit Tierparks – Zoos. Every so often it would be to the large zoo in Zurich. But his favourite animal place was Bern. A city with a wonderful little zoo and a bear park.

Bern is such a beautiful city.

Bern is the de facto capital of Switzerland. The country doesn’t have an official capital but Bern is classed as its federal city.

It’s strange in all the visits we made to Bern it was always sunny.

The Zytglogge (Clock Tower) is over 400 hundred years old. Every hour a wonderful mechanical music show entertains the crowds.

The old part of the city which dates back to the 12th century is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Cathedral of St Vincent towers over the city.

The thing that strikes you about Bern is that even on a work day it seems such a quiet city. It’s also such a friendly place. The first time we came looking for the zoo we didn’t have a clue where to go. At the train station we asked a passerby what was the best way to the zoo. He happily provided us with a city map and then walked us to the correct tram stop. That’s not going to happen in London…..

The river Aare sweeps through Bern and the hilly ground often offers wonderful views across its many bridges.

The city is famed for its Bears. Thankfully the city has invested in improving the Bear Park.

Walking round the city, even a beautiful one like Bern is in the end – very thirsty work.

How wrong I was

Not our garden, this is from a neighbours garden. Very jealous especially of the lawn which when cut always resembles a bowling green. So unlike our used rugby pitch.

Another stormy and very wet day. That’s the third weekend in a row for us. The weather is doing nothing for our souls. Nor is the imminent return to school. His anxieties levels are starting to peak now. Soon he’s back into that alien environment. The hope is that he will return and he’s been moved up in at least one subject. Just move him up in History and it would boost his confidence so much. I fear that’s a pipe dream. I would also be staggered if the support system has suddenly improved. How can it. It’s the same teaching team, with the same school education strategies and with schools struggling for resources. But on the bright side we have been told to celebrate as soon we will have a new blue UK passport. A passport made in France….

Maybe he will decide to abandon the failed school project. Can’t blame him and I would fully support that. It would be so worth it to lift this cloak of anxiety which often suffocates him. It’s not as if the school approach is delivering results. In most subjects he’s bored and starting to stagnate. I have asked school for the latest benchmark data on his reading, writing and performance. Again I’m not holding my breath. I’m still waiting for school to do any meaningful assessment work on his reading or writing. I suspect it will be spelling tests and nothing else. The Physiotherapist contacted school to say that he was clearly struggling with handwriting and asked what concerns the school had about his handwriting. The response back was that no teacher had raised any concerns. Really….

At his last school they worked with the heath service to monitor his reading age every quarter. He left that school with a reading age three years below the expected level for his age. His current school has so far refused to do another benchmarking assessment. The argument is that he’s doing so well and a benchmark would not change his teaching programme. Read that as they cost money and all kids get the same set teaching approach. Well if you don’t have benchmark information how can you say he’s doing so well. We don’t know if he’s catching up or if the age gap is widening.

It’s funny looking back at this parenting gig. I always realised it would be frustrating and tiring. But I always assumed the school system would largely take care of his education. How wrong I was.

Poets Society

The feeding zone has been active today with the usual characters. Yes the characters are making a mess of the lawn but it’s always so good to see them. We don’t get too many human visitors these days so who is going to notice the rugby pitch of a lawn and I don’t think non-human visitors are that fussed.

Another largely sleepless night. One short dream, a viewing of the stunning yet grim Everest movie and a bout of late night blog catchup. While reading a friends post a thought entered my zonked out brain. How many other souls are struggling with sleep currently. We really deserve our own secret club. Maybe the name should be The Dead Tired Poets Society. Dead Poets Society is a truly stunning movie. If we want to be selective we could be the Dead Tired Parents Society.

But why stop there. We could have so many subgroups.

For the financially challenged – The Dead Broke Poets Society,

For the puzzled amongst us – The Dead Confused Poets Society,

For the bad cooks – The Dead if you eat this cake Poets Society,

For those feeling happy – The Dead Chuffed Poets Society,

For those who can regenerate – The Deadpool Poets Society,

For the rubbish Fortnite players – The Dead in five seconds Poets Society,

For the rubbish negotiators – The Deadlock Poets Society,

For the strong amongst us – The Deadlift Poets Society,

For the gardeners amongst us – The Deadheading Poets Society,

For the Monty Python lovers – The Dead Parrot Poets Society,

And for the impassive people – The Deadpan Poets Society.

Today was another fun day. Fun but with son’s anxieties bubbling just beneath the surface. I have emailed school to tip them off but deep down I know they won’t do anything. The teachers won’t be informed and if they were – what would actually happen. Not much. I’m not sure how much training this group of teachers have had in dealing with anxiety. They certainly have had little specialised training in areas like dyslexia and autism. Maybe that’s why my first questions to the teachers tends to be

You do know he has Aspergers and you do know he has Dyslexia and you do know he has Dyspraxia.

The look I get back with the generally vague replies suggests either they don’t or they do but given the 1000 things they are dealing with this is never going to be a priority. So my parenting anxieties are mounting again. That’s why having fun is so important. It’s great for my son and it’s such a release for me. A release which is even more important when sleep fails you. Can you guess what tonight’s insomniac movie is. I’ve dropped enough clues.

Dead Poets Society.

Deadpool

Sleeping feels a bit like a Jenga tower these days. Takes a lot of effort to get it going then it’s so precarious that the slightest disturbance and it’s over. Most days the effort seems wasted given the time the tower actually stands. So last night the same pre sleep ritual then all too quickly a random dream wakes me. That’s it can’t sleep. So at 4am I’m watching Deadpool 2. Not sure if It was the sleep deprivation but I found the movie absolutely hysterical. So by the time son was up I was ready to rumble.

I certainly have to rumble. The first signs appearing of son becoming anxious for the upcoming week and the return to the big bad world. I’ve given him the option of immediately pulling him from school. But he thinks he should give it some more time, even if it’s just for a few more weeks. He wants to see what school does with the class settings. Does he finally move up sets or is he again consigned to the bottom set. I must admit I’ve given up hope in the mainstream school system. It’s not improving any time soon. Kids like our son are going to continue to be labelled an inconvenience and consigned to the educational bin. I will continue to try and work with the teachers but movement at this late stage is unlikely. Homeschooling looks like the only positive call. So yes things will be really tight. Yes I’m going to have to watch out that I don’t burn myself out. But for me the homeschooling time has arrived. But it’s son’s education so it’s his call. So on Monday school starts again. So already the anxiety levels are starting to build.

So we need to rumble harder. Need to work harder on the fun. The smiles and laughs will be just that little bit harder to produce. So Project Fun needs to go into overdrive. Today we try a new game. The Trampoline Water Challenge. Let’s try to bounce while holding various containers containing cold water. Bouncing with a full washing bowl will be the ultimate challenge. It’s a challenge which is designed to get you wet. Very wet. If unbelievably I don’t end up drenched then it may call for a headfirst dive into the farmers field rain lake. Whatever it takes today.

If Deadpool wasn’t so naughty then this would be a really funny movie to watch. If you took out the unsuitable bits then I guess the running time would be down to seconds. So it’s a time to either watch a series of Red Dwarf or Black Adder. Or maybe it’s time to revisit Monty Python and the Holy Grail. All guaranteed to make him laugh and LAUGHTER is the only currency we are dealing in today.

Terrible Poetry Contest

Photo from Inside Croydon

It’s Thursday so it must be Terrible Poetry time thanks to Chelsea Owen. This weeks challenge is set out by Chelsea.

“I normally encourage entrants to follow basic rules; today, however, I’ve decided we need to bring back a type of poem that’s terrible for a reason other than cliché composition. I speak of the Little Willie poems.

Here are the specifics, copied from the last time we tried these:

  1. The Topic is to write a Little Willie poem. The name comes from a way of writing poetry that was popular in the early 1900s.
    From A Treasury of Laughter*:
    “Every paper began to print ‘ruthless rhymes,’ and every contributor tried to invent a catastrophe more gory in event and more nonchalant in effect than its predecessor. The favorite ‘hero’ was Willie, and although other characters sometimes crept into the quatrains, the terse lines became known as ‘Little Willies.’”
    I included three of the tamest examples at the end of this post.
  2. The Length is about four lines, a quatrain. Some were written as limericks or a double quatrain; but most were short, clever, and darkly humorous.
  3. Rhyming is imperative. These poems usually follow an A/A/B/B pattern.
  4. As I said, this week the poems are terrible because of their message. I expect darker tones, questionable humor, and stretches into creative venues writers never knew they had. If you’re sensitive, stay away. If you’re twisted, come on in.
  5. One might be tempted to up the Rating, but this is the sort of clever writing that makes readers uncomfortable but stays in the PG range.

You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (February 21) to submit a poem.”

********************

So here goes then

Poor little Willie lived in England but was an immigrant

Posh Boris didn’t like Willie so his deportation was imminent

But Willie worked in a Care Home looking after the sick

But Boris didn’t care because he’s such an uncaring slippery dick.

Uphill

It won’t be long until the snowdrops are gone for another year. This year has been a good one for them here. My partner would be so happy. She would be less happy with our Government. All the headlines are proclaiming the new hardline stance on immigration. Basically if you don’t speak English brilliantly then don’t bother trying to work here. Not sure they have thought this one through. Basically anyone from around here speaks Yorkshire so we are buggered.

After a largely sleepless night I could feel the first signs of cabin fever building. It’s been days since I’ve been able to go for a run. So needs must. I told Son that I was going into the garden for 50 minutes. The plan was to just run around the edge of the garden – repeatedly. Round and round. It’s not a big garden so a full circuit only takes a few seconds. But it’s a run. Well it was going ok until the boredom set in. Then the irrational thoughts started. All directed at one thing. The small slope the garden is on. Every few seconds I had to run up this little slope. Yes it’s only about 15 paces of uphill grass – but every few seconds I was going up it. Pathological hatred.

Wasn’t this steep when we moved here surely..

What possessed us to buy a house on a hill..

Why haven’t we levelled the garden..

Why haven’t we put little steps in..

Because we can’t as after a couple of inches of soil you hit hill rock which is basically armour plated and brakes spades.

Fifty minutes later the run ends and the cabin fever has quickly dissipated. My irrational hatred has gone. My partner would say that if we ever won the lottery we would buy a place with parkland. If it was a big lottery win then we would also have a second home in Switzerland. Sadly my partner never got that chance to live out her lottery dream. But she did get the time to enjoy this little house on the hill. The house with the garden and that little slope. It became our source of memories. That’s actually such a cool slope. It was the little sledge sliding run for our Son when he was a toddler. It was the slope where Son played with his dinosaurs. It was where we would sit on a night and watch the sun go down with a glass of wine. So the next time I do the garden run I will remember that.

Is winning best

At last sun. Just a couple of hours but even that feels like a win. Certainly lifts the soul.

Dad are you trying. That’s 9 – nil to me”

Mini Air Hockey is a tricky sport. Requiring a unique combination of hand eye coordination, reflexes, ability to bend your back for more than 10 seconds and unchecked brutality.

“Just look at my fingers. That’s missing skin. Yep I’m trying. Your just too quick for me.”

Son worries that I let him win. That’s such a difficult area for parents. Do we play hard or do we let our children win. I remember reading a story about a former giant international rugby player. He was playing touch rugby in his garden with his kids. As a feel for how seriously he was taking this game ask his garden shed. Apparently in an attempt to win the ball off his young son he crashed into the wooden structure. The poor shed was basically demolished. The Dads take on that. They have to learn to compete. When I play I always play to win. Kids need to learn this.

But on the other side I was watching a video of the great Mohammed Ali. He was boxing with a small child. Ali was repeatedly knocked down and finally the kid scored a dramatic K.O. The kid walked away with the biggest smile and feeling like a champion.

For what it’s worth I was in the Ali camp. I wanted to see my kid smile and feel like a winner. Yes the occasional defeat was important to learn about life and that failure will happen. As you get older failure comes regularly so why not grant a few years of success to the young. Son has been through so much in his short life. Seen so much sadness. He’s earned the right to feel good sometimes. But what do I know – I’m still trying to learn this parenting gig.

But time moves on. With a cruel flick of life’s switch, happily letting your young ones win becomes increasingly hard. Suddenly you can’t buy a win. The cold reality sets in. Your kid is better at stuff now than you. Maybe he should go easy on his Dad. He is quicker, thinks faster, has better reactions and has higher skill levels. What happened to Dad being a computer game legend. Now Dad is a Noob. Oh the shame.

Yes there are complications. A kid with Aspergers and Dyspraxia will struggle in some areas. It’s so important I factor those things in. Confidence levels are so brittle. It sends daggers through a parents heart to hear you kid say things like ‘I’m just stupid’, I’m useless’, ‘I’m so rubbish‘, ‘ hate being different’. So yes allowances are still made. He loves Jenga but struggles with his fine motor skills. He hasn’t noticed yet that I play just using my left hand. Connect 4 is another favourite but he struggles to see diagonal patterns. Yes I will tend to ignore the obvious connections.

So what’s your take on winning or losing?

Am I getting this so wrong?

Whatever the rights and wrongs of my approach. Dads are strange sensitive souls. We still need to feel like kings sometimes. Yes to show off a bit. Those area are becoming increasingly difficult to find these days. That’s why bench pressing weights and the ability to stomach increasingly disgusting tasting jelly beans are so important. That’s all I’ve got left. Long may I rule over those two talents.

Baking

It’s weaponised baking time. In my defence this beast was created without dairy, eggs and gluten. It’s also created without the slightest modicum of baking talent.

If you quickly skip over the earthquake damage it actually looks like a carrot cake. Scarily it is almost edible.

Today was a bit of a struggle for me. Just an hours sleep last night. Woken by a vivid dream about being late to pick son up from school. Every route I tried was blocked. Nobody to phone someone for help but I had no one. Complete feeling of hopelessness. That was it unable to sleep again. So tired and still with that nagging cold. A day when you just want to slump. Still feeling uneasy after that dream. That realisation that I am now running without a safety net. No backup. It’s down to me to navigate the next few years. It’s such a sobering thought. Yet it’s not just me feeling this way. Too many are basically flying solo with no co-pilot to take over if things go wrong. Whether that’s parenting, or caring, or putting food on the table or just surviving.

So like everyone else in this position you just have to force yourself on. So wearily and reluctantly breakfast was made. While Son wakes up and eats I get some house jobs done. Then it’s exercise until he is ready to roll. At least by this stage I’ve got out of first gear. So it’s time to try and fill the house with happiness. Once Son kicks into gear then I have to synch with his world. A world which spins much quicker than mine. So off we go

Talks

Football

Board games

Talks

Lunch

Baking

Nerf Guns

Talks

Football

Trying not to fall asleep during Pokémon

Board games

Talks

Dinner

Talks

Movie

Bed

Blog

Collapse

Unable to sleep

Blog and here I am at 2.55am

Yes today was a struggle but the only thing that matters is that Son laughed and smiled a lot. He’s happy so I’m happy. Flying solo worked today. In fact even the baking worked today. So a good day. Yes a tired day but a good one. Job done…. So we dust ourselves down, hopefully sleep at some stage and we go again tomorrow.

Mud is good for the complexion

Today was dark and moody but thankfully the storm has gone. Gone but left us with a mini lake for my wayward football shots to target. I can confirm that is is particularly muddy and toe-curlingly cold. It’s amazing how I’ve got the entire farmers field to land in and the ball lands unerringly into the centre of the lake. Twice…..

The sliding contest was unsurprisingly a one sided contest. Son on his sledge managed a respectable mud slide of about 10 paces. My butt powered slide proved somewhat less aerodynamic. Basically it immediately sank in the mud and formed what can best be described as a sink hole. The impact somehow pulling my running leggings towards my knees. Poor kid will be traumatised for years with that sight. I guess the one redeeming feature is that since mud is good for complexion my backside should be just dandy for a few weeks….

So I took the forfeit. The 5 jelly bean roulette. As we have lost the taste chart I can’t be 100% certain on the delights which passed my lips. I definitely recognised rotten egg, booger and soap. One definitely tasted of burnt sausage. The last one was off the scale, too horrid to describe. Son seems to think it might be earthworm flavour. Well that was not his first comment on the potential flavour.

“If it’s as bad as you describe then it’s likely to be your own home made curry flavour.”

Yes that was a bad cooking disaster. As a meal shortcut I used some readymade curry paste. Unfortunately I didn’t read the bit about only using one or table teaspoons depending on taste. I used the whole jar. That was definitely weapons grade cooking. And on the subject of weapons grade food. Stand by your shelters. Lockup the kids and pets. Ensure all windows are closed. I’m about to try and bake a carrot cake. You have been warned.

Sliding

So far Storm Dennis has been ok with us. So many have had it far worse than ourselves. Last time I looked there was over 560 flood warnings. Many houses are already underwater. So so sad and it’s happening more frequently.

Sometimes having a messy, pet wrecked garden helps. It’s makes it less obvious when a storm strikes. So as I surveyed the increased mess zone something caught my eye. Unbelievably during yesterday’s weather hammering two daffodils had decided to flower.

The photo is slightly out of focus as they are being blown all over the place in the gales. But it’s such a lift to see them. Let’s hope they survive Dennis.

This week is a school break. Son is adamant that he does not want to leave the house and our garden all week. Can’t blame him at all. He is so uncertain in the big bad world at present. The bridges he builds between his and the other world are looking particularly rickety and creaky. They are so fragile that he doesn’t fancy crossing them that often this week. Actually feels a bit like a game of Fortnite. An ever approaching storm cloud encircling out little world. If you play Fortnite I’m the wally who always gets killed within the first five seconds. My job is to make you look good.

My job is also to make sure our little world is as safe and as fun filled as is humanly possible. As hard as it may seem to some people in the media – kids with autism still like to have fun, do things they like and be happy. One of the reasons why the world feels like a scary game of Fortnite to so many good souls is that too many narrow minded reptiles in the media create the storm that others have to survive in.

Anyway let’s move on to have fun.

Today the grass is an absolute squelch fest. Your shoes immediately sink into inches of mud and water. So maybe it’s the perfect conditions for mud sliding. Let’s see if it’s possible to slide from our back door to the farmers fence. That’s about 15 paces and just slightly downhill. It’s a battle between man and boy. Between my huge backside and Son’s snow sledge. The loser has to take their chances with 5 potentially bad tasting jelly beans. Surely this time I have found a use for my donut fuelled butt.

So we operate in a small world for the next 8 days. I may struggle for new photos for the blog but let’s see what we can find. May need to delve into my dusty photo albums. Don’t worry no muddy butt photos are planned.