No more than four words

We tried a new game a few hours ago. We had no more than 4 words to describe someone. It initially started as purely a wrestling game but spread out into the wider world. It sounds easy but I found it extremely testing. Just shows how verbose I have become.

Anyway it started off with Wrestling.

AJ Styles – Son (Best Wrestler on Earth), Dad (He has lovely hair)

Becky – Son (The Man) *** that’s on all her T-shirts

Undertaker – Son (A bit creaky now) Dad (Older Than Me)

Edge – Son (Best Entrance Music Ever)

Kane – Son (Still my favourite)

Brock Lesnar – Son (Paid Too Much) Dad (Scary but very boring)

Vince McMahon – Son (Likes Pretty Women) or (Likes Big Sweaty Men)

Then we went outside the Wrestling world

President Trump – Son (Sneaky and not nice) Dad (Plays too much golf)

Stephen Hawkings – Son (Science GOAT) *** GOAT stands for Greatest Of All Time, Dad (Appeared on The Simpson’s)

Einstein – Son (Science Second GOAT)

Homer Simpson – Son (Dad)

Hillary Clinton – Son (How did she lose)

Barack Obama – Son (Very Nice Clever Man) Dad (Can We Have Him)

Bill Clinton – Son (Cheeky and Naughty)

Bono – Son (Dad hates him) Dad (I hate him)

Gordon Ramsey – Son (Never heard of him) Dad (###@### f### off)

Bear Grylls – Son (Too mean to Bugs)

Squidward from Spongebob – Son (Dad)

PewDiePie – Son (YouTube Sensation) Dad (Who ???)

JK Rowling – Son (Made Money from Magic)

Patrick from Spongebob – Son (Dad)

Messi – Son (Footballs GOAT) Dad (Sign for Newcastle Please)

Arnold Schwarzenegger- Son (Terminator) Dad (Get Into the Chopper *** with an Austrian accent)

David Attenborough – Son (Mr Wildlife, Legend)

James Bond – Son (Drinks, Women, Guns) Dad (Sean Connery)

Prime Minister May – Son (Useless and Not Nice) Dad (Worst Ever PM)

Angela Merkel – Son (Proper Leader) Dad (Better than ours)

David Cameron – Son (Useless but almost nice) Dad (Caused this Brexit mess)

David Beckham – Son (Overrated) Dad (Never Liked Him)

Bill Gates – Son (Very Clever Very Rich) Dad (No More Updates Please)

Made up

Today I was thinking about how nice it would be to have some colour in the garden again. I tried to picture some flowers. The flowers I could see in my mind were last years plants. Couldn’t imagine any new flowers.

Our son’s school does ask the kids to do an awful lot of homework. Too much really. One of his assignments was to start putting together his autobiography. Red flag alert. This is a recipe to just reopen old wounds. Son was equally apprehensive. So I contacted school and expressed my concerns. We agreed that rather his own biography he would come up with a fictional one. As his hand is still not fixed I was going to scribe his thoughts.

“Ok I am in my 70s”

“I was born in the South of England”

Good start.

I like music”

“My best friend is called Keith and he also likes music”

“I have another friend called David who I often share clothes with”

Not sure where this is going.

“I joined a band with my friend Keith”

“We played our first concert in 1962”

This sounds a bit like Mick Jagger.

“Well it is Jagger”

No you can’t use him, it’s supposed to be made up.

“Oh, Ok.”

“I am middle aged and I am a lecturer”

This sounds more like it.

“My father is very religious”

“I am an archaeologist”

“I’m scared of snakes and I am also an adventurer”

By any chance does he go looking for the Holy Grail.

“Yes, how did you know?”

Because its Indiana Jones. You can’t use him.

“Why he’s made up”

You just can’t use him, make one up about a child not a famous adventurer.

“Alright can I be an 8 year old boy”

Yes much better

“I am a bit cheeky”

“I live with a large family with many kids. I have a really annoying older brother and uncle”

“I am always getting shouted at”

This will make an excellent biography.

“Every Christmas my family go on holiday but they always forget me, so I am home alone”

Deep sigh…. Fine you win, you can be Kevin….

What works

Anxiety, sadness and fear. Three words which unfortunately are too often near the top of our household vocabulary. Along with fart, burnt food, turn the music UP, where’s the remote, sorry I forgot and Dad you Muppet.So what have we found that actually works for both of us. Here are some of the winners.

5,4,3,2,1

We have found that this technique is really good at taking the edge off panic attacks. It doesn’t work on any underlying problems but buys some time. At the first sign of increased anxiety:

Think of 5 things you can currently see,

Think of 4 things you can currently hear,

Think of 3 things you can currently touch,

Think of 2 things you can currently smell,

Now do 1 large breath.

The Sweetie Jar Oracle

If our son is going through a period viewing the world through unhappy filters we start the Sweetie Jar Oracle. Find a large clear jar and a bag of brightly coloured sweets. Not sure about the rest of the world but in the U.K. smarties, fruit pastilles or Skittles work well. Sort out say the red and yellow sweets. Then identify one of the colours as good and the other as bad. Then over a period of a few days, maybe a week start to fill the jar with the appropriate coloured sweet every time a good or bad thing happens. After a few days hopefully you will see more good sweets than bad sweets. This usually convinces our son that although bad things do happen, good stuff happens more frequently. You can then eat the sweets….

Good Memories Store

We have an old small suitcase which we use to store good memories in. It’s full of old photos and handwritten notes. Every time we remember a good memory I write it down and put in in the suitcase. When times are bad we can then dig out the memory store and hopefully receive an instant boost to the soul. Has the added advantage of making sure you don’t forget those all important wonderful moments in time.

YouTube

Just losing himself in a YouTube documentary works somedays. I remember one occasion when he had an awful day at school but after 45 minutes of YouTube watching he was a happy little bunny. Worryingly he had found solace in documentaries about Caligula. What happened to Peppa Pig…

Wheelbarrow Train of Pain

Talked about this in a previous post. It stops my sudden urge to punch the wall with frustration. Basically load up a wheelbarrow with heavy stuff then push it round the garden. The number of circuits depends on the severity of the frustration.

Lego

Found that building a Lego set really helps take our son’s mind off his anxieties. It’s also good for his fine motor skills. It’s often frustrating for me as it just reminds me that I never got round to buying the Star Wars Death Star Lego set. Now it would be cheaper to buy a real Ghostbusters Proton Pack and get Bill Murray to personally deliver it to us.

Trampoline

Almost everyday on his return from school our son heads for his trampoline. 20 minutes later many of the frustrations of the day are put to the back of his mind.

Late night dog walking

Walking the dog never really helped our son. He was often too concerned about bumping into others. We would be having a happy conversation but suddenly someone would appear on his radar and he would be lost to anxious social thoughts. Almost by chance we then found the delights of night time dog walking. At night no one is about in our village. We have the fields and lanes to ourselves. Now it has become an excellent stress reliever. We frequently use the walks to plan out in detail the next days schedule.

Bad things league table

Every so often we run the bad things league table. We both list all the things worrying us. We then work together to rank them in order of how much pain they are causing us. Points are awarded for the severity of the issue, it’s frequency and how difficult it is to solve. It quickly identifies the stuff we need to focus on or prepare for. Because it’s done as a league table our son finds it easy to talk about and work with. For the issue which is the league winner we then spend a few minutes working out a couple of actions which might help knock it off its top spot for the next league table.

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

One of the activists 100% guaranteed to raise our spirits will feature in the next post…

School Dracula

This is the Hospitium a 14th century listed building in York’s Museum Gardens. These days it’s a venue for conferences, weddings and special events. Many years ago it was a support building for the Abbey.

St Mary’s Abbey was founded in 1088. The surviving ruins date back from about 1270. York is such a good place for kids to actually touch history.

Over Christmas our son spent a few hours here trying to imagine what life was like before it fell into ruin. Recreating the sounds, the people, the buildings, the life. Big scale creative play. I must admit I was lost in the world of dreams to. Mine was a world of ghosts, ghouls and vampires. I had almost forgotten how much fun you can have when you release your imagination.

This was the visit when the first seeds of home schooling started to be scattered. Last term had been grisly. No real sign of development. No evidence of school making any effort to provide an effective and supportive teaching environment. Most importantly a really unhappy and anxious child.

Our son loves subjects like history but not the way school deliver it. He likes the History Teacher, she is really nice. But being in the bottom set and given his encyclopaedic knowledge – he’s not learning anything. Plus regardless of which class you are in the teaching is so traditional. Text book after text book. Very dry and not very dyslexic friendly. Unfortunately it’s the set teaching approach dictated by the government.

Between my thoughts of ghosts and ghouls I also pondered with so much real life history so close to hand, why not bring the classroom here. Bring the lessons alive. That’s when the thought pinged, if school won’t teach here, why don’t I.

We will see.

The trip was completed with the required extra portions of ice cream. That night my imagination had clearly not been put back in its box yet. A dream about Dracula. But not the bloodthirsty vampire. This one was about a reformed Prince of Darkness. He had sold his Transylvanian castle and bought York’s Museum Gardens. He wanted to turn the gardens into the finest history school in the world. All the teachers were ghosts and ghouls. And Dracula was selling the ice creams and he didn’t skimp on the portions. Now that’s a school.

Countries gone mad

“Dad if we won the lottery could we buy a deserted island and live there?

It’s kinda sad that an 11 year old thinks that way. But I fully understand why and YES I would jump at the chance. I remember a time when I loved my country. Those days have sadly gone. Like many folk from Yorkshire we would happily declare independence. York becoming a capital city sounds cool. The national dish could be the Yorkshire Pudding. Our national sports would be cricket and being grumpy. The national animal would be the Ferret. Instead of having a nuclear deterrent we could threaten people with our rhubarb sticks.

You might think this is daft but trust me this is off the scale sensibility compared to the stupidity of modern Britain. Nothing sums up the state of the union better than just one single news story. Given all the potentially catastrophic events circulating around us (and there are many) – the attention of the media and a good proportion of the population has been on …… the horror of a bakery introducing a vegan sausage roll across its 900 stores. The likes of Piers Morgan (one of the not funny loonies and self pronounced TV Star) went into meltdown saying things like “Nobody was waiting for a vegan bloody sausage you PC ravaged clowns”. The news story is everywhere, you just can’t get away from it. I use the term news story very loosely.

I waited with anticipation for our son to return. He would cheer me up, bring much needed sensibility to my world. Unfortunately not this time.

“Dad the school want me to either write left handed or type left handed until my right hand gets better, that includes trying to do exams with my weak hand. I told them that I struggle to coordinate my left hand and that’s the reason I can’t tie knots. Told them that the Doctor was trying to help me with it but the teacher said I just had to do it”

“Dad did you complain about the behaviour in our bottom class”

Yes….

Well they did something”

Please let it be something positive

They moved a really well behaved girl up a set because she was struggling with the behaviour in our class and they moved a really naughty boy in to replace her. It was a lot worse today”

Only thing left is to go and buy a lottery ticket. That remote island is calling. Anybody fancy joining us.

Boxing Day

We have had a decent anxiety free run really helped by the enforced absence from school. But the settled spell started to break down last night. The first indication was during watching the Jim Carrey Grinch movie. Clearly our son was becoming increasingly unsettled by the film (has seen it before and enjoyed it). To the point it was abandoned before halfway.

A few minutes later son was being sucked into the dreaded anxiety vortex.

Again it was concerns over school. Less than 2 weeks before he had to return to that dreaded place. Poor support. Too much homework. New Exams. Does he have to re-revise for the exams he missed. Doesn’t want other kids to poke fun at his dyslexia. Too many weeks until the next school holiday…..

To the backdrop of a repeated pig oinking noise as the dog happily played with his new toy we tried to talk things through. At 11pm we agreed to abandon trying to find a solution. Let’s just try and kick this into the long grass for the next week. Try to enjoy the time off. So we started a little game. The game is to try and guess the other persons answer to a multi choice question. The loser has to play bad tasting jelly bean roulette (a silly Christmas present).

If we won the lottery which of the following would you want to do first and which would you least want to do.

  • Live in the Amazon jungle for a month
  • Climb Everest
  • Go into space
  • Sail to the bottom of the sea
  • Drive around a racetrack in a F1 car.

We have until lunchtime to come up with our own preferences and guess the others answers. Which do you think our son would go for? Will report back.

But at least it has stopped the anxiety vortex turning into a full on storm for a few hours anyway. Or maybe it’s difficult to have a complete meltdown to the background sound of a pig getting repeatedly chewed.

Duty of Care

Rain rain and more rain. It’s that wet I’m waiting for Aquaman to pay us a visit. Having said that it’s that wet here that he would probably catch a cold. I wouldn’t want that to happen.

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

I wonder if our son is a future lawyer in the making.

“Dad did school check to see how I was?”

No

“Don’t you think they should have asked?”

Well I did phone the school absence helpline to tell them you were off.

“What did you tell them?”

Its an answer phone. You only get a few seconds, just said your name and you would be off till at least the end of term

“But they didn’t phone you back?”

No

“But I tripped over a hole in the path at school. Lots of holes have been there since I started at that school. Doesn’t that make it the schools fault. If something is your fault then shouldn’t you check to see how things are. See what they can do. Ask how it happened. Fix things so they don’t happen again. Check on those hurt when you are supposed to be looking after them”

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

When I was his age all I could have managed would have been

Ow my finger hurts” and

” Is it time for ScoobyDoo yet”

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

This type of thing fills me with so much hope. We have so many special and unique kids. So much untapped potential. If we allow them to they can change the world for the better. But it also troubles me as a parent. Is my son growing up too quickly. Is he learning about the real world too soon. Short circuiting his childhood. Becoming an adult too soon. I don’t know what the answer is. I should ask our son – he understands the world better than I ever did. Even though he is often so at odds with it.

Basically after all these years, all the miles I have done, I still feel so much more comfortable in the ScoobyDoo world than ours.