Missed goal

I admired this beautiful plant. Admired it as I was sat on the bench. I was actually sat on the bench to inspect my injuries. A rather too enthusiastic attempt to score a garden goal ended up with my head first in the hedge. A few cuts and scrapes but the flower took my mind off the pain. Can’t believe after all the damage, I didn’t score the goal. This was all done to the backdrop of Hawklad laughing his socks off.

Dad do you want help getting out of the hedge. Are you ok?”

Hawklad concern is better when your not wetting yourself with laughter.

It was like an albatross with too much in its belly trying to get into the air. Little legs struggling to pick up enough speed to take off. And failing spectacularly. That was too funny Dad”.

Hawklad that was a cracking goal

You missed Dad. It was all for nothing.”

Oh man. I thought I had hit the target.

You certainly hit the hedge, unfortunately the ball was less accurate. Actually it was very similar to your head. It ended up buried in the hedge. Shall I help you out Dad.

No I’m doing that by myself now.

Dad you’ve left a big hole in the hedge. Maybe it’s your new art. Body dents in the natural world.”

I could tour the world hurling myself head first into different world landmarks.

It’s a big hole you have left. Looks like a hippo has crashed through.”

Hawklad are you saying I’m as big as a hippo……

“Of course not Dad. That would be unfair on Hippos.”

Now you mention it, that is a big indent. Did I really make that.

Yep. Being a responsible parent weren’t you Dad. It’s a good job I moved out of the way as you would have hit me.”

Responsible parenting goes out of the window when your son is taller than his Dad. Look at the bruises on my shins from your kicks. All the world great footballers have to endure the dastardly attempts to stop their artistry.

“I’m only defending myself from a charging hippo. Funny I’m not seeing Messi or Neymar playing in my garden. It’s more like Gloria from Madagascar. ”

Absolutely no appreciation from my so called son.

That’s right Gloria. Now go and fetch the ball from the hedge….”

I will after Gloria sits down and inspects her injuries. Oh… Look at that flower.

The third sequel

The third sequel already. The Trilogy done in one day. Eat your heart out Peter Jackson.

So this is the third instalment in the ‘what has changed over the 6 months of pandemic isolation’ saga. This time it’s what has changed for me. I guess this one is called The Return of the Kermit the Frog King. So what has changed then for me.

  • With Hawklads increasingly pronounced Social and Health related anxieties the last six months have seen a ramping up of the parenting pressures. Fewer breaks, more challenges and yes less support. In the UK small amount of support that has survived the Conservative Funding Cutbacks largely stops when kids hit the teenage years.
  • Have become a home educator. A school facilitator. A Classroom Supplies specialist. Much smirking…. After 6 months I’m still winging it.
  • I’m sleeping less. Much less. Just can’t seem to reset the insomnia cycle.
  • Certainly more isolated in terms of actually meeting people outside our little bubble. In 6 months I’ve seen family members twice, one work colleague (and good friend) maybe three times, neighbours a handful of times, the local shop workers maybe a couple of times a month, the dentist once, one visit from the boilerman, a few health workers and doctors. That’s about it. Oh actually forgot one person. The Postman, the only person I see regularly. I count his fairly frequent waves as my most regular physical contact. Luckily I have lovely online friends.
  • With not meeting too many people I’ve started noticing human life more. I notice dog walkers in the fields, cyclists, passing cars, voices from the street, even planes in the sky. A reminder that a bigger world still exists out there.
  • My conversation skills have never come easy to me. I have to work on and practice them. That’s just not happened for months. Even on most phone calls I can feel myself becoming increasingly wooden.
  • My largely unseen dress sense is becoming increasingly avant-garde.
  • I have lost 6lbs but you wouldn’t notice it. Having to resort to consuming far too much Soya (Soy) which isn’t great for my tummy. No I’m not pregnant.
  • I’ve stopped running and walking and road cycling. Must admit it’s not doing my old contact sport injuries any good. Bits are starting to seize up. So I’m trying to find my inner Yoga. Or as I call it Controlled Falling Over.
  • Work has dried up. This was supposed to be a really busy year. Lots of new jobs and major events. In practice that all was cancelled. Remains cancelled. Some plans have been put in place but really I’m not going to get much work until 2021.
  • I’m more able to fill my day without leaving our little household world. No need to visit shops daily, coffee shops, cinema, visit family or friends. I’m not saying it’s a good thing, but it comes easier to me now.
  • I do tend to overthink things now. Can have days when I do sober too much time internalising stuff. With me that’s not necessarily a good thing. It’s such a short stroll to self doubt and negativity.

Yes things have changed for me. They will continue to change as our personal lockdown is not going to end anytime soon. Potentially months more, maybe much longer. With us being an Aspergers Family that was kind of in place before the pandemic. Maybe many of these changes were already happening before the March lockdown. They have just become more pronounced. Maybe these are longer term changes. Maybe it’s much more than a three episode trilogy. Maybe it’s a permanent feature.

Clouds

To us a sky filled with dragons.

To us the second cloud photo has a ancient mythical warrior sky surfing. That’s what we think anyway. Even can see his shoes.

Clouding dreaming is such a great game. Well it is until someone starts to cheat.

Hawklad can you see the Transformer surfboarding.

Oh yeh. You can see his feet as well. Actual it’s more like a warrior from say Ninjago or Power Rangers.”

That’s right. Maybe even a mythical warrior.

Not really Dad. More like the Silver Surfer.”

Ok very Silver Surfer like with just a little bit of ancient mythical warrior added.

Whatever Dad. Oh look there’s a cloud that looks like a giant Pineapple with a little bit of ancient mythical warrior added.”

Where?

Oh Dad. There’s a cloud that looks exactly like a Football Stadium with a little bit of added ancient mythical warrior added.”

Where are you looking?

Dad look at that fantastic cloud. It looks like a giant Christmas Tree with an ancient mythical warrior sat on top.”

Where are you looking son?

That’s the best one yet. That cloud looks like a massive castle with a moat surrounding it with a load of ancient mythical warrior manning the battlements.”

Your winding me up now aren’t you Hawklad?

Never. Would I ever do that to you Dad …..”

Yes you would.

Monday

Got to just follow a trail. Hope it leads in the right direction.

So the school reopens a week today. Most kids will return. Some won’t. Our son will not be able to return at this stage. How long will he be out of school. Weeks, months, permanently – no idea. So we have to work on the assumption that he will return at some stage. So with minimal help from school and nothing from the authorities, who do we try to keep him on track with his classmates. To ensure that if and when he does return that he has not fallen behind.

The plan is to get the class timetable from school. That will form the basis of the learning each day. We won’t stick to the class timings but will try to focus on covering the subject matter. First call will be any lesson notes that are posted in the school system. Ensuring we do any work assignments that might be posted as well. I will ask each teacher to at least provide an indication of what topics will be covered and the copies of any handouts that are provided. Then it’s Dad trying to be teacher, looking for relevant videos and resources on the internet. All work completed will be emailed to each teacher at the end of the day. Any gaps we will make up with stuff son wants to cover.

If this school at home project extends further then I will supplement gaps with buying online teaching packages.

We are lucky that my work has basically dried up. Not much until 2021 at the earliest. The positive is that frees my time up to focus on being a teacher. Maybe I need to dress like a teacher?

That’s the plan. What could possibly go wrong.

Mobile blues

Mobile phones are not designed for me. I have a regular habit of putting them in the washing machine, dropping them on stone floors and squeezing them into pockets alongside keys, which are not great for delicate screens. The current phone has done well to last for so long. But there comes a point on no return.

One too many bounces off an unforgiving surface.

Now only parts of the phone work. As Monty Python would say – It is an ex parrot. It can still make calls but has a habit of switching off after a few seconds. Not great when you are trying to wait in a call queue.

Well Dad you will just have to buy a replacement.”

I will add it to the ‘need to replace when money becomes available’ list. May well be not at the top.

But Dad it’s an essential item. Think of the calls you will miss.”

I don’t get that many calls these days. We have a normal phone. I know it’s hard to believe but I can remember a time before mobiles. It was great fun. I remember setting off for a meeting and driving 4 hours to Northumberland. Only to find that the meeting had been cancelled just after I had left. No way to contact me. So I had a chip butty in Morpeth and then set off back. Best work day ever. No work, chips and listening to music. Now they would have just contacted me within minutes on my mobile

Dad what on Earth is a chip butty.

Hawklad you have never lived. It’s a sandwich filled with chips (fries). It’s the food of champions.

Ok. But your phone is an essential item.”

It’s not.

It is Dad. Think of work.”

They can use the house phone and send emails to the laptop.

How will you know if I’ve missed the school bus.”

Well you won’t be on the school bus for quite a while. Actually you probably won’t be at school for a quite a while.

What about taking photos.”

I can just use the camera. The camera hardly gets used these days.

What about the music you listen to.”

I can go back to my old MP3 player.

Think of the times you use the calendar on your phone.”

Ok Hawklad I smell a rat. Why are you so keen on a new phone. Is it to do with games….

Well funny you should bring that up DAD. It’s more than a game. We need a phone to play Pokemon Go. Even the Doctor said that this app was good for me. So it’s like an essential medical prescription…”

******And with that I am on the lookout for a replacement phone. I will compromise. Definitely a previously enjoyed one. But definitely it’s jumped to the head of the buying list – that’s Doctors orders******

Reality Check

****** this post may descend into shouting at the government *******

Apparently I am many things

  • A bad parent,
  • Scaremonger,
  • Irrational,
  • Unpatriotic,
  • Have no morals,
  • Coward,
  • Selfish,
  • Life chance basher,
  • Union supporter,
  • Left wing troublemaker,
  • Part of the problem.

These are all terms which the government and its chosen media friends have labelled those who have raised doubts over the decision to fully reopen schools. At those parents and teachers who are not yet convinced that schools are as safe as they should be. It’s no surprise as Boris has a mantra – you are with me or against us. Well I’d rather be against you…..

So if the likes of me are going to be demonised well I might as well set out a few facts for Boris. I’m sure he is a facts man.

  • Actually I want schools to open. But I want our schools to be safe for children and adults. I also want them to be modern, inclusive and true sites of learning. Sadly run down cramped classrooms operating under Victorian principles are just not good enough.
  • Repeating ‘they are safe’ over and over again without backing that up with actions isn’t going to win me over. Remember this is the government that said it had thrown a protective wall around care homes – lies – tens of thousands died as a result.
  • No real change has taken place in schools. A few more hand washing facilities. Some one way markings. Giant group bubbles. Masks on school buses, sometimes in corridors but not in classrooms. To Boris why make meaningful change when it’s much easier and cheaper to demonise teachers and parents for any failings.
  • ‘They are safe’ would imply that a deal has been done with the virus so that it won’t venture into school buildings….. Children can get it. Children can pass it on. Adults can get it.
  • By bringing in giant year group bubbles schools are said to be perfectly safe. What about the adults in the system. Teachers, support staff, parents, grandparents.
  • How does the ‘they are safe’ phrase work for pupils and adults with underlying health conditions.
  • How long does it take a government to bring in an effective testing and tracing system. In March we were told we had a world class one. April we were promised a world class one by June. In June we were told it wasn’t a priority anymore. In August they can’t decide if we need one or not.
  • It’s ok showing glossy pictures of modern classrooms with a handful of pupils studying in socially distanced bliss BUT the reality is that too many children are crammed in crumbling classes with at least 30 other classmates and teachers – social distancing is impossible for them.
  • Issuing pandemic guidance to schools on a Friday before many schools open again 3 days later is beyond shambolic.
  • Young people gathering outside a school in groups of 30 are liable to be fined £10000 for breaking social distancing rules yet put them in a class and suddenly it’s completely safe.
  • Parents considering the safety of their children are not the threat to life chances. The threat to life chances is a government that intentionally messed up the exam grading process for thousands of pupils this August – many have lost university places as a result. It’s a government that is hell bent on taking education back to the 19th century. It’s a government that intentionally discriminates against children with learning disabilities. It’s a government that sees kids taking time off for bereavement as an extended holiday.
  • So parents will be fined for not sending their kids into school even if they think it’s not safe. Yet Boris fully backed his Chief Advisor when he broke lockdown rules. He apparently was doing what any caring parent would do. So a caring parent would drive 200 miles as a family to their grandparents country estate hours after testing positive. Stopping off for petrol on the way. Then a couple of days later drive 30 miles on your wife’s birthday to a tourist location. Apparently this was to test the advisor’s damaged eyesight and to see if he was fit to drive – with their poor toddler sat in the back seat. It’s not even double standards.

In short the real enemy to our children is not parents. It’s not teachers. It’s not even a virus. It’s the Government.

Pain

There is a physical pain associated with parenting that is off the chart. Excluding childbirth which thankfully I will never have to experience. Standing bare foot on a piece of lego. A weaponised toy. In the garden there is something that comes close to lego. It’s this lovely little thing. A tree which overlooks our garden and likes to drop these little bombs onto the lawn. Accidentally pick one up – agony. Kneel on one – agony. Get one attached to the top of your training shoe – beyond agony. Horse Chestnuts hurt….

Dad I keep hearing that as you get older your body starts to hurt. Is that true. You should know as you are so very old…..”

Yes eventually the body does hurt. Playing contact sport or falling off cliffs doesn’t help. You can do stuff about the pain – mostly. But you do get to a stage when you realise that I’ve used this body up, so can I have a new one.

So when did your body start hurting?”

Everyone is different. At school one of my friends had a Chopper Bike. It had upright handles and a gear stick brilliantly placed right in front of your undercarriage. Chris had a big crash and encountered the pointy gear stick at a frightening rate of knots. His hurting most definitely started when he was 10. It ended his choir signing days. I think my body pain started after I was 30. Playing contact sport on a Saturday and not being able to move on Sunday.

Is that when Dad decided he wasn’t young anymore?”

Yes it was. I suddenly released that being a goalkeeper hurt. I stopped bouncing off the floor so well. There is a brilliant comic from Scotland called Billy Connelly. He says that you know that you are not young anymore when your can’t bend over without making a noise, usually a groan.

I can confirm that. I groaned 193 times during today’s yoga workout.

2020 the year music stopped

2020 has been some year. Is it really only August. Time seems to have so slowed down. Many things have just stopped. Live Music most definitely.

Looking back to the start of the year it all seemed a bit different. We were looking forward to a fantastic concert year. I had worked my socks off and secured a whole list of discounted tickets. It was on paper a great year of gigs and some top bands.

*********

The Who

Whitesnake

Foreigner

Europe

Aerosmith

Wayward Sons

Ozzy

Saxon

Deep Purple

Blue Oyster Cult

Hollywood Vampires

Killing Joke

**********

On paper that’s how it will remain for this year. All cancelled some pushed into 2021. So yes something potentially to look forward to. BUT…….

Has the concert zone closed for us. It was always a delicate balance for Hawklad. His enjoyment of the music, the spectacle, a chance to see the bands he loves to listen to. Balanced against his social anxieties. His fears of strangers and crowds. The positives just outweighing the negatives. As a result he could get himself to concerts. Yes it would need his hoody pulled up until the lights went out. But he was ok doing that as he felt that rock crowds were easy going and accepting of all kinds of looks. This was confirmed on our first concert trip. Dad wore the most embarrassing T-shirt he could find. Hawklad was reassured to see that I didn’t get one single strange look and was never asked to leave.

But now it’s a different world. Hawklad definitely sees it differently. Heightened fears and anxieties. The ‘is it ok to attend concerts’ calculation he would perform has got a different answer now. The negatives outweigh the positives. I know the medical advice is that this new world view could become a semi permanent switch in his Aspergers. A dynamic which won’t automatically switch off when the pandemic finally goes. It may take years. May never switch back. We just don’t know.

So maybe that’s it for our concerts. If so then it’s kinda fitting that three of the last bands he got to see just happened to be his favourites. Alter Bridge, Kiss and Alice Cooper.

So let’s enjoy the memories. It might be the year Live Music stopped for us but it doesn’t mean that music has stopped. Most certainly not.

Gemini

The old rose bush is going strong. Maybe a little frayed round the edges.

We had been watching the Will Smith movie, Gemini Man. Trying not to give the story away, basically you get a bit of the younger self getting to see the 50 year old version of yourself.

Hawklad was giving me a Paddington Bear stare.

Dad will I end up looking like you.”

Absolutely. The spitting image.

Really. What a nightmare.”

Its ok Hawklad, only joking. No you probably won’t. Apart from my eyelashes you are tending to look more like your mum.

What with the boobs.”

NOoooo. Your winding me up now. Excluding the female stuff, your face and hair is much more like your mums.

I do hope I have mums hair rather than yours!”

Stop it. I’m not sure about your body shape coming from me as well. Your going to be way taller and slimmer than anything from my side. Your definitely more elf than average size Gimli.

But the Orc runs strong in you Dad.”

That would explain my hairy legs and lack of dress sense.

Explains your cooking as well..”

True. But you are taking after your mums side of the family on body. I’m sure your male ancestors were frequently well over 6ft and slim.

So basically I might just end up just having your eyelashes.”

Yes Hawklad.

That’s a relief. This movie was becoming a bit of a horror show every time I looked at you…..”

*******

A cheeky smile fell across Hawklads face as he once again had successfully roasted his Dad.

Closer to the action

It’s been a hot day for Yorkshire. Not as hot as many places, but still hot for us.

Time to do some gardening. For the observant amongst you

  • Yes that conservatory has been taken over by Dinosaurs. I blame them for the mess,
  • Yes that ghostly and out of focus apparition in a red T-shirt is me. That’s the closest your going to get to a photo….. That’s how us with ‘faces made for radio’ like to do things….

An hours weeding. Lots of weeds pulled up and yet seemingly so little progress. But at least I’ve made a start.

Hoping for another clear night. A night of shooting star spotting. The Perseid Meteor Shower is currently ongoing. Last night at 1am we were outside. Sheet lightening frequently flashing across the sky. We always have a little game – who can spot the most… It was close last night.

Hawklad – 50 meteors

Dad – 4

Dad what are you doing?”

I’m lying on the ground, why don’t you join me…

Certainly not AND why?”

I’m thinking that if I’m lying down then I’m comfortable. Don’t have to strain my neck. I get to lie down and scan the sky. I think it’s the best way to see meteors.

*******Not the first time I’ve tried this approach – it worked well but one important safety point. Don’t put your cup of hot drink on the ground next to you. That last time my cup was visited by a slug. That’s not what I want in the dark when I’m taking a swig of warming brew********

“Really Dad. I have a problem with your technique?”

Go on then Hawklad what possible problem can you find with lying on the back while meteor hunting.

Well Dad. I’m standing up. So that takes me at least 5 feet closer to the sky action. Maybe that’s why I’m at 40 meteors and you are at TWO….”

Ok point taken.

Clouds permitting I’m hoping for a huge comeback.