Patchy

Sometimes nothing is better than spending a few minutes kicking fallen leaves randomly around the garden. It’s good to go back to childhood feelings again. Autumn is often a great time for that.

Today’s visit by our son’s health worker has been cancelled. She will try again in a few weeks. It is what it is. At least we are due to get some help, many are not so fortunate. We just have to accept that what support we do get is likely to be very patchy over the coming months. Yep, we will be travelling these roads for a long while to come.

If anything we have just started the journey. Son is still wracked with anxiety and fears. He is most definitely house and garden bound. No sign of progress as yet. Actually no sign if progress in ages. We are not talking a few days here. We are already 7 months into his isolation. We will be adding many more months to that. Realistically his anxieties have become intertwined with the wider pandemic situation. How can he improve, his anxieties ease when the country is still in pandemic mode. If he ventured out he would just end up seeing people wearing masks and frequently looking nervous. It feels like manning the battlements until things start to pick up again.

That’s where kicking fallen leaves comes in. It’s so important that Hawklad still enjoys life. Enjoys his childhood. We find ways to fill our small world with fun. Yes kicking leaves ticks all those boxes. AND it’s fun for his old Pop as well.

All gone

Where have all the leaves gone! I tell you where, in our front lawn.

The last few stormy days have rapidly accelerated the autumnal transition. Soon the colour will feel like it’s been sucked out of the landscape. Just dark greens and greys. The hope is that blue skies will frequently lift the mood. A close friend likes to remind me that as grey as the sky may appear, a blue sky is still close by, just behind those clouds. Yes there is always hope.

That’s so like bereavement and loss. When it first strikes it will seem so claustrophobic. You feel imprisoned in a world of pain and sadness. No way out. No hope. No dreams. No way new happy memories can form. Everything has gone. That’s it.

Every grief journey is different, unique. But so many travelling those roads will eventually in their own time find a way out of the darkness. Clouds will start to part and blue skies will slowly appear again. Hope and dreams will start to form again. You can start to build again. Start to live again.

Philosophy

In England we like winding country roads. But occasionally we get a straight one. Like here, almost a French feel to this.

A week ago I was driving along this road and suddenly had a thought. Always dangerous with me. So I parked up and stood by the side of the road. I wonder what the passing drivers thought I was up to. Given the brakes going on the cars, maybe they thought I was a speed camera operative. About 20 years ago I was a civilian manager in a Police Force. It was decided that the handheld speed cameras needed replacing. To cut a long story short the traffic police were asked to test 6 different cameras under similar conditions. Six police cars went to a known speeding zone. Can you imagine the panic on the unsuspecting drivers who screamed over the brow of the hill to be confronted immediately by 6 police officer stood next to each other, pointing 6 cameras at the speeding car. Ones bad enough BUT SIX.

Anyway enough of speeding cars having the worst 5 seconds of their week.

I’d stopped to look at the lane because I had suddenly realised that I had been up and down this road thousands of times over the years and I had never really stopped to look at the beautiful trees. So that’s what I did. But then another random thought struck me. All about which direction to head in. Not easy to choose here as there are so obvious signposts. So left or right – no idea. Bit like life somedays. No obvious direction. Then a smile. My first bit of philosophical thought in years. Why not just head off in the opposite direction to which way your bottom is currently pointing. Yes that works for me.

Kind

It’s autumn and the leaves are falling. Here when they fall they undertake a kind of heroic mass migration. They migrate to our front lawn. Has to be our lawn, never any of my neighbours. These fallen ones have just started their journey heading inevitably to just below our front window. Then they like to stay put. That’s so very kind of them.

I’ve been trying to be kind to myself as well. If I’m happy then I will be a better parent. Trying to find enjoyable things to do. Maybe discover some new hobbies. One of which is learning to play the piano. Finally making use of an electronic keyboard which has been basically just gathering dust. The piano tuition app I’m using is good. Quickly I can now start to read music. I can play a rustic version of Ode To Joy. But I couldn’t understand why the piano app kept talking about one key being middle C when with my careful marking out of the keys came up with a different answer. Then the penny dropped. Can you spot the deliberate mistake in the pink scrawls……

What a muppet. Ok the app might be right…..

Golden times

Unlikely to get too many trips out to enjoy the wonderful autumnal colours this year. But at least I will spend more time looking at very our own mini displays. Too often these are not fully appreciated.

It is often the little things in life that we miss. Don’t fully appreciate. Take them for granted.

Before 2016 at this time of year we would drive as a family through the tree lined country roads to the local arboretum. A walk round the thousands of autumnal trees ending with a hot chocolate at the cafe. It’s not until these moments are gone that you realise how golden those times were.

After 2016 I would drive son to very the same arboretum. Trying to control a mad dog while son kicked around in the fallen leaves. Ending in the cafe now so he and the dog can enjoy a bacon butty. I would saviour a freshly ground full on caffeine burst. Golden days not possible this year.

So maybe those annoying fallen leaves in the front garden will actually come in useful. Let’s go and have a thrash about in them. Followed by a home made butty and yes a hot chocolate. Yes different times, but still golden times.

Colour

It might be autumn. It might feel like autumn. But some bright colours are hanging on there, even if they are getting a bit isolated.

Dad why have you got shorts on.”

Because I feel like having them on

But Dad it’s freezing.”

It’s good for the constitution.

Well it’s not good for my eyes. It’s so uncool.”

Hawklad you have no taste.

Well Dad don’t come running to me when you get Frostbite. Time to cover your legs up.”

*********

I have to admit it was a tad bracing on the legs. That cold that when I tried to have a hot bath to warm up, my legs immediately sucked all the heat out of the water. Sat in luke warm water after just few seconds is no fun.

I understand that Hawklads primary concern with shorts is not for my wellbeing. He doesn’t like wearing shorts. He doesn’t like the feel of fresh air on his legs. He doesn’t like the thought of people looking at his legs. He is not keen on others wearing them as well, certainly when they are near him. He has been this way from about the age of 5. He has not worn them in all that time. It’s even on his medical record and the doctors have wrote to school to tell them to make the necessary adjustments to their sports uniform policy.

I like to exercise in shorts but quite quickly after I have finished you will hear the following words echo across the house – ‘is it about time you cover your legs up…”. It’s another little element of our Aspergers house.

It has started

I love the Autumn colours. The hot chocolate. The coming prospect of winter sports on the telly. An excuse to snuggle into warm, thick jumpers (sweaters). The dark skies filled with stars.

Some things I don’t like so much.

The dark days. The sense of isolation. The sense of foreboding. The rain. The mind numbingly cold wind. The rain seeping through the back door.

AND the leaves. Thousands of fallen leaves. For some reason our garden is seemingly the final destination for all the trees in the area. Today I looked at the neighbouring gardens, at most a couple of lonely leaves – all missing their buddies. Well I can tell them where they are. In my garden….

So it has started. Going to get a lot worse, well in our garden anyway…..

L

Another sign

Another sign. Another sign that autumn is fast approaching.

Signs are always useful. Like signs from school. Signs telling us what on Earth are we supposed to be doing.

School did say that the individual subject teachers would be hopefully in touch to let Hawklad know what he is supposed to be doing while he is doing the enforced ‘school at home’ project. Teachers are really busy. We are not expecting one to one help or lots of telephone calls. But I was hoping for maybe just one email for each subject just summarising the work requirement for the lesson or the week. Maybe another email to check if he is doing ok.

So far only one teacher has emailed once setting out what is expected of Hawklad for that subject. Luckily one of the new Teaching Assistants is really trying to help as well. She is attempting to contact the teachers and remind them about Hawklad. She has sometimes obtained some more information that she has passed onto us. But she is struggling as well. Plus she has her existing class responsibilities which she can’t just drop.

So in a nutshell we are really none the wiser about what is going on in most of the classes. We don’t even know what topics are being looked at. So the school day consists maybe of one 90 minute block when Hawklad can do a reasonably full lesson. The rest of the day is filled with looking at blank screens and empty school email boxes. All we can do is wait and randomly pick some educational videos to watch. It’s all so very frustrating.

So definite signs of Autumn arriving, signs of meaningful school help would be most welcome.

Foot bath

The sun so tantalisingly close but no cigar. That’s as close as it came to beach weather here in Yorkshire today. When I say beach weather that is in terms of Walruses.

The picture is perfect for my mood today.

Trying to be a ray of sunshine but not quiet achieving it. After the stress of the last few days I was aiming to have a nice day. At home sorting out the works payroll run while listening to a fine collection of relaxing music. Not forgetting to fit in a run around a slightly extended lunch break. Well that was the plan.

Unfortunately as I was heading for bed at 1am I noticed son had lost a button on his school jacket. That’s a School negative and would send him into meltdown again. So the half asleep Dad with the sewing abilities of a drunk Penguin spent most of the night basically sewing various fingers onto the front of the said jacket. How difficult can this really be. As a guide it took me 40 minutes and three hot drinks to just thread the needle. At one stage I must have dozed off as I managed to head-but the sewing box. Eventually I made bed at just after 4am with a pretty decent sewing job completed. Unfortunately now I was wide awake and sleep passed me by for another night.

Relaxation and no sleep are not a great combination. Especially when the old CD player annoyingly developed a jump while playing my favourite cds. Thankfully I made it to my run. An almost enjoyable run until my sleep deprivation led me literally down the wrong path. Normally the right one but since the last floods – not a great one. The ground was becoming increasingly squelchy until I came to the large beck. Normally a nice wooden bridge joins both sides of the path. Unfortunately the bridge collapsed months ago and is currently heading towards the North Sea. So two choices do a u-turn which will add another hour to the run or jump the beck. The need to restart work ASAP dictated the mad option. I guess I can just about jump the beck – it’s only about 6 feet. I hit the long jump perfectly and unbelievably sailed clear over the beck. My moment of triumph was short lived. As quick as my considerable momentum tried to take me forward my left foot tried to sink into the mud. Then the dreaded muddy suction sound and a foot reluctant to come out for air. Something had to give. My foot released unfortunately my shoe didn’t. Hoping around on one leg while trying to prize the missing trainer from its muddy grave. Unfortunately gravity always wins and my exposed white sock sunk into the mud. When the trainer was rescued it was full of thick cold mud. Lovely running in that for the final 2 miles. At least my left foot got a free mud bath.

But here’s the rub. To take my mind off the mud drenched foot I replayed memories in my head. Happy memories of my partner. Passing one particular farm field I was taken back about 16 years. A late sunny evening walk. Maybe one too many wines. Then trying to make snow angels in that fields wheat crop. Completely forgot that one. It’s such a treat when you discover keys to long lost memory doors.

The mood darkened a bit on news that son has to revise for two tests on Monday morning AND spelling tests will now happen every week. Deep joy. So yes it’s been a day which could have been really uplifting but never quite managed to shake off the dark clouds. Maybe tomorrow the sun will shine.

Respite from the deluge

Torrential rain for the last 24 hours. But so in need of a run to clear my head. Head to the woods for a bet of shelter. Unbelievably the rain stopped to give a brief respite from the deluge.

Sadly no respite from the school madness. Not even in Drama. DRAMA!! The subject assessment tests reflect Government policy on teaching and testing. Students are required to write the Drama Term and it’s meaning. Correct spellings must be learnt.

Tableaux – a moment of frozen action on stage

Accumulation – adding another performer arch time a movement is repeated

Exaggeration – when you perform something in a heightened style

Melodrama – a sensational dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events designed to appeal to the emotions

And on and on…. I won’t bore you with the full list.

Correct spellings …..

Really …..

For goodness sake this is Drama. This is on top of negatives which are dished out if you forget to bring in a completely black T-shirt and Track Suit bottoms for the lesson. On top of negatives for not learning lines. On top of forcing kids into groups of strangers and expecting them to interact freely. On top of negatives if kids are found laughing and having fun. Forcing kids to go on stage and perform in front of large numbers of kids, support staff and teachers – even when it leads to extreme anxiety. Isn’t it supposed to be fun and enjoyable. Obviously not according to those in charge. Some kids are set up to fail. Some kids are clearly deserving of having their confidence ground into the dirt. Just feels like there is no respite from the deluge.

Dad when I get the first opportunity to drop Drama I will go into the Guinness Book of Records for the quickest ever exit from a subject.

I can’t blame him at all. But it’s such a potential waste. Sadly it’s not just Drama and it’s not just our son. How many kids are turned off subjects which they could eventually excel in because of inflexible and insensitive teaching practices. Education should be about finding the gifts, talents and special interests in every single child. Encouraging kids to reach for the stars. Unfortunately education has been skewed by politicians who just don’t understand.

It’s time to kick this generation of self centred politicians out of the education world. It’s time to let good teachers teach. Its time to let every child have a chance and above all else it’s time to let kids enjoy being kids again.