I figured something out

It was time to live life on the edge. We finally charged up one of Hawklad’s birthday presents, a remote control helicopter. Not one of the professional ones, this one was surprisingly tiny made out of what appeared to be the thinnest of plastics and the most brittle of metals. It was one of those Amazon ‘80% off’ deals that entices you in for that one extra present, yet never quite explains to you that basically there is a really good reason this thing is so CHEAP.

Anyway after a few months it was time to give this helicopter its inaugural and probably only flight. The instructions talked optimistically of 15 minutes battery flying time, yet it gave off the impression of a single use item. As Hawklad said

“Well if it’s going to crash and burn on its first flight, let’s make it spectacular and film it”.

He remembers….

This is not our first dabble into the world of remote control, cheap toys.

There was the rally car that split in two when it hit the apple tree.

There was the toy drone that launched itself over the house and imbedded itself in the neighbour’s drive. It ended up as flat as a pancake.

There was the first helicopter then smashed into the house at a Warp Speed 10 and smashed into a thousand pieces.

And there was the so called unbreakable hovering glowing ball that had one uncontrolled hop before it smashed into the fence. It was then definitely anything other than unbroken.

So we were understandably not very hopeful. But you know what. The helicopter actually flew. It hovered. It landed. Yes it had a few heavy landings but it SURVIVED.

It was unmarked when the batteries ran out. Here is the really cool bit that made me smile. Hawklad took the remote control and flew it himself. Normally he backs away and watches others take control. He often just watches me do it. But on this day he had confidence in himself. Yes I had to check that we were fully alone first but he did it. He enjoyed it.

Yes that lawn has taken a hit from a family of moles, a badger and an excavating pup…

And here is what I figured out. Actually this was the first time that he took the controls, the first time I could convince him to have more fun doing than just watching. The first time he could overcome his fears of failure. So what did I figure out then…..

I’ve had the controls every single time one of the toys has crashed and burned. Muppet Dad is a liability. Toys last when I watch and don’t play. OH PANTS.

So my job is now paying for things and then most definitely just filming when they are enjoyed…….

Needs Must

Sometimes needs must.

The UK School Summer holiday is 6 weeks of much needed rest and recovery. A chance to unwind for Hawklad but it brings one big problem.

CROWDS

Any visits have to be carefully planned and precisely timed. Exposure to those pesky, anxiety spiking crowds have to be minimised. So when he says he wants to go to a particular popular tourist area, over 130 miles drive away, it takes some working out.

Three hours drive on some narrow roads….

Crowds probably start building up just after 9am….

Need time for a decent walk, some sight seeing, a picnic…..

Maybe catch some Osprey hunting just after dawn…..

So Needs Must.

Last Saturday morning we set off for Kielder Water while it was still dark, just after 3am. Arrived just after 6am.

It worked, we had the place to ourselves. Three glorious, relaxing, refreshing hours before the first cars started to stream in. When that happened, we set off home. Hundreds of cars and caravans heading West, one rust bucket heading East. A good trip out without anxiety.

Last week I briefly popped into a supermarket. At one of the checkouts was a mother trying to cope with a boy clearly having a meltdown. Sadly some of the other shoppers were not exactly understanding. Too many were being horrible to the mum, yet they had no idea of the back story. No idea what the child was going through, what the mum was trying to deal with.

I have it easy, some parents definitely don’t. They are doing what they can. Needs must.

Swiss Sunday

It’s now been over 7 years since our last family holiday to PERFECT Switzerland. Switzerland is one of the most beautiful countries on the planet. Perfect for relaxing. Perfect for adventure. Wonderful food and drink. With its precision perfect public transport, no need for a car. Friendly. Polite. Safe. Cultural. Healthy. I could go on and on. But there is another reason that it’s PERFECT for our FAMILY. Asperger/Autism Families often find travel difficult. Ours most definitely did. Holidays can be a logistical nightmare. For an enjoyable holiday, so many factors often need to be carefully controlled. Routine is important. Does Hawklad feel safe, relaxed, happy. He needs so many factors to be in place to enjoy a holiday. It’s so easy for things to spiral out of control and you end up just wishing to be back home. Back home to that safe, predictable and controlled environment.

But here’s the thing about Switzerland. He is always happy here. Yes the trip part way across Europe by plane or train was usually a nightmare for Hawklad. Yes a logistical nightmare which needed precision planning. But every single time we crossed the border into alpine heaven, he was relaxed and happy. Everything seemed to be in place for him and worked just right for him.

He can’t wait to go back.

I can’t wait to go back.

Yes, to our family, Switzerland is PERFECT.

Heritage 2

A trip to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire. It’s a seriously atmospheric and stunning location.

It gets really busy here in the summer so it was an early start. Do as much as we can until the crowds get too much for Hawklad and then it’s a quick exit.

The trip went well. Almost first in the queue when the site opened and for a couple of hours, Hawklad had his much needed space. Precious moments in the 11th century Cistercian Monastery. Precious moments spent without touching anything, spent maintaining distances. Hawklad spent the time dreaming and instructing me on history. Well mostly…

Stood under this amazing rood structure and I asked Hawklad to enlighten me, to teach me something. He instantly described some interesting facts about Starfish reproduction. I must have had one of those slightly confused looks that parents develop increasingly to which he replied.

“Oh you wanted some information about the monasteries….”

History comes alive when you can see it, touch it, smell it. We have so much history on our doorsteps. Bronze Age, Roman, Viking, Saxon, Norman and onwards, all within a short drive of the schools. So why is school history exclusively learnt via textbooks. Not one single school trip to a experience history. What a missed opportunity.

Then the crowds started to arrive, scores of family picnics breaking out everywhere. Time to leave. Time for our picnic but ours is taken away from view, a remote road lay-by with a view. Then it’s a scenic route home.

Definitely a decent trip out but still a million miles from returning to the classroom. I think we can safely say that won’t be happening in just over 3 weeks now.

Never leaves you

Sorry for the bad picture pun……

Another one of the annual milestones is close by. I can’t believe so many years have passed.

Loss in whatever form is a part of life. That message is hard to accept at times, it definitely was for me. But when the time is right you can start to see that, eventually I started to appreciate that.

Loss never LEAVES you but it doesn’t mean that you can’t keep living,

It might well be a different life with some doors now closed but when the time is right, there are new doors waiting to be opened. It still can be a wonderful life, one you value even more because loss never LEAVES you.

Swiss Sunday

Switzerland is one of those special places. Breathtaking views, fresh mountain air and a wonderful life feel. Every single time I crossed the border into this wonderful land, I could feel peaceful calm drifting over me, the stresses of my life quickly forgotten. Looking at the photos, replaying the memories, I can clearly remember just how different I feel while I’m in this alpine paradise. I could do with that right now, definitely could.

How and why

How…

How do you do that….

Hawklad definitely doesn’t get his memory from me. Today I misplaced my car keys THREE times. Couldn’t remember a colleagues name. Forgot to put washing powder in todays wash. Set off to the shops without my debit card…. That sort of thing. Nothing new there, my memory has always been a tad leaky.

Thankfully the only things that I’ve currently passed down the line to Hawklad are gorgeous eyelashes and a love for ROCK music. Only time will tell on things like my large hairy backside and Homer Simpson side profile…..

One of the great puzzles in life. Secretly I quite like the idea of being a rebellious kid like Bart Simpson but in the end why do I inevitably just end up looking like his Dad… Do’h.

Hawklad doesn’t have his Dad’s leaky memory. In such a short time he can process and store huge amounts of information. If it’s something that interests him then he just soaks it all up. Once it’s absorbed, it stays absorbed. It started with Birds of Prey. Then History. The other day I asked him to name every English Monarch, he did it, perfectly and in order. And he’s moved on to other areas, some academic, some cultural, some other things. F1 motor racing being one thing. He’s been absorbing the results, the characters, the history. Only after a couple of weeks it’s mind blowing to me.

Yesterday I tested him.

Name every winner of the world title since F1 started.

Who has won a particular GP the most.

How many career wins for drivers.

Which manufacturers did drivers race for.

In the 50s and 60s which teams did Fangio win titles with.

He was faultless. Like the last question he instantly replied

Alfa Romeo, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, and Maserati.

How does he do that. Somedays I even struggle to remember what car I drive. Why can’t school see this. Why can’t school tap into this.

Why….

Door

A random door appeared in the village today. I wonder which world it leads to. I wasn’t brave enough to open it this time, maybe the child in me might have a few years back.

A closer inspection revealed a note, ‘free to a good home’. Is that referring to the wooden door or the world behind it.

Just over 5 weeks now until school reopens. A return to the classroom appearing to be a more distant prospect than the mystery world behind that white door. Constant hand washing, repeated clothing changes, inability to touch any alien surfaces, unable to be physically close to others, debilitating anxieties bubbling just under the surface. In a quiet, peaceful village with few people and much space, this is manageable. In a classroom and overcrowded school, definitely not currently manageable.

So let’s try to make this summer holiday time as fun and as relaxing as possible. Let’s see where the education door leads Hawklad when it’s time to open it……

1st August

With a bit of great planning by those who decide things, 1st August finds two rather special NATIONAL days.

Swiss National Day . A Nation who brought to the world staggering landscapes, politeness, precision transport, chocolate and Roger Federer.

AND

Rhubarb National Day otherwise known as Yorkshire Day. Yorkshire who brought to the world moaning, rain, wind, rhubarb, chocolate and Michael Palin.

Happy National Day here.

Happy National Day to Switzerland.