March

This is NOT today. Just needed some sun. Needed some fresh air and a different view.

This photograph was taken on our last outing before lockdown mode started way back in March.

Back then Covid was a headline but still only one of a number of main stories. It was very much carry on as usual and nothing to see here. A handful of National cases but everything was apparently under control. The Government insisted that Lockdowns would never be required here due to the countries world class response.

So on this walk we had taken the dog with us. A new local walk. In my mind I was planning to return the week after. Drop Hawklad off at school and 15 minutes later I could be running along this track.

But the first tell signs were already starting to appear. As we approached field gates Hawklad refused to touch them. I was asked to try and open them using a stick. When we got back home we both had to wash our hands for minutes. Full change of clothing required.

A couple of days later our family lockdown started. Then one more week later the national lockdown started and schools closed.

Our world shrank and the remains that way today. This wet and windy January day. Seems a very different world now.

Lake

The winter farm lake is starting to form. Wow it was wet feet trying to take this photo.

So again today the Government is telling parents that they must send their children to school if it’s open. It’s a mess. Some schools have been closed. Some are opening soon. Some partly closed. Some are opening today. The PM again is saying schools are perfectly safe. He must have evidence that shows children, teachers, teaching staff, parents and carers cannot catch the virus. Wish he would share that so it can all be cleared up. Maybe he could share that with his own scientific advisers as well. The Government is again threatening parents with legal action and fines. The teacher unions are taking the Government to court over its failure to operate safe working environments. It’s such a mess.

So where do we stand? Hawklads year group is kind of homeschooling for the next two weeks then after they have had one covid test they are back in the classroom on the 18th. Well not Hawklad.

His call is that he can’t go back yet. He will look again at the end of the this half term. I’m trying to get another medical exemption letter from his Key Health Worker who is due to come and visit him this week. If they won’t issue one or are not allowed to by the Government then they can see me in court. I’ve seen enough Perry Mason episodes to look after myself. I won’t be the only parent there.

Heres the thing. Put the Aspergers severe anxieties to one side. Each parent and child has to make a judgement call on if attending school is safe. Well clearly safety cannot be guaranteed. More so now than ever with this virus. Children, teachers, parents, grand parents are ending up in hospital with it. The Government might try to hide that information, but it is happening. The virus can infect all age ranges. So it is an individual judgment call. Is the benefits of classroom education and socialisation worth the inevitable risk. That’s not a call for Johnson or his inept Education Minister. They have a track record of lying, not caring and making the wrong disastrous calls.

Each family will have a view. All as valid as each other. Even without the anxieties and present fears, OURS would be no it’s not worth the risk. It won’t until the virus is under control and schools are allowed to put in the necessary safety mechanisms. The first has to be opening up home online schooling. That reduces the numbers in school at any one time, creates space, starts to build a safer more inviting learning environment.

Galapagos

So no new animal photos this New Years. A year without the holiday zoo trip. So we replaced it with a few hours watching a David Attenborough DVD. Which worked out quite well and significantly cheaper.

Dad I’d like to go to the Galápagos Islands

Your mum went there on one of her adventures. I must find the photos she took.

What did she think of it.”

She really loved it. Well until one of the volcanoes had a minor eruption which restricted where she could go and then she caught a minor tropical disease as she left.

What happened.”

She ended up being holed up in a hotel room Ecuador. She missed her flight back.

Didn’t you fly out to check on her?”

What do you think. If she’s had a tropical pesky then she could keep it to herself. 6000 miles was as close as I was getting….

Yes I’m with you on that Dad”.

**********

15 years after that tropical virus the ‘avoid the pesky’ strategy is in overdrive here. It has been for 9 months. It will be for many months to come. I’m fairly relaxed about things but Hawklad most definitely isn’t. So we batten down the hatches. Get ready for the long haul. It might be an idea to stock up on those Attenborough documentaries. They are probably going to get some hammer during 2021.

Cinema

It’s that time of year. A definite feel to the movies we have watched. Can you see the theme.

Scrooged

Home Alone 1, 2, 3, 5

The Grinch

A Christmas Carol

Muppets Christmas Carol

The Santa Clause 1,2,3

Elf

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

The Polar Express.

For me I just can’t quite catch the connection. Sure there must be one if I look hard enough.

One of the things that feels amiss this most odd year (that doesn’t work as 2020 is even) is the cinema experience. Before Hawklad we would always have a Christmas trip to the pictures (as my mum would have said). A meal before hand and then a movie. Such a lovely experience. So many wonderful memories.

Taking my mum to see The Horse Whisperer on Boxing Day. She hadn’t been to the pictures in 40 years. She was most puzzled not to watch the Pathe News segment before the movie. She refused to get up at the end and waited until the credits played through. Apparently she was waiting for the National Anthem to be played…

Trips with my partner to see huge blockbusters on Christmas Eve like the Lord of the Rings Movies. Then coming out in time to sing carols in the city centre.

Even after the world changed Hawklad and I kept the tradition going. A changed Aspergers tradition. We would take in the first, early morning screenings of movies like Jumanji and the Rise of Skywalker. Popcorn at 8am works on so many levels. Then we would go and get him his favourite takeout. All before midday.

But this year it’s no cinema. Any trip is just so out of reach for Hawklad and his anxieties. The world has changed. Even the prospect of Wonder Woman and Black Widow epics won’t overcome those fears. Maybe the trips to the Pictures have stopped for good. We will just have to see what the future holds but life goes on. It’s time to recreate that Christmas tradition at home. So we will pick a movie. A good movie. Set the dvd off at 8am. Microwaved popcorn in plentiful supply. The Christmas Cinema tradition continues.

That feeling

Holidays, special occasions and anniversaries can be a beautiful time BUT…

They can be a nightmare for many. A time when isolation, fear, anxieties and loss are amplified. Where a spotlight is directed on what is no more, what will never happen and what is looming. A time when probably the last thing you want to hear about is all around you. Blasting out from the TV and Radio. Seemingly the only thing that people are talking about.

I know that feeling because I’ve been there. Been in that position. I know what it feels like. Even after 4 and a bit years (is it really that long). Even though I’ve started down new roads, new paths. Even though I’ve learnt to smile again. That feeling can still be there. It probably always will be.

With me it’s a double edge sword. That feeling hits. My heart and spirit drop. I want to retreat. Hide away in my room. Find safety and sanctuary there. Yet doing that immediately opens up that feeling of isolation and being confined in a small space. A prison. Feeling even more alone.

So yes I so understand this feeling. That feeling still lives with me. Not all the time but it’s never that far away. Especially at these special times.

If you are in that place. Your not alone. I’m with you as well.

Sunday Sunday

Greyness lingers all around this small part of a world that seems quite alien today.

I’m watching the ebb and flow of the tiny water droplets seemingly suspended in the air while listening to Leonard Cohen. Does the world still exist beyond the ever closing bleak murk. Feeling a little too detached this morning. Maybe a little too ground down today. The waves of grief and loss seeming a little stronger over the last few hours. Worries for my son feeling just a bit more oppressive. Have I still got the energy to do this.

But it is what it is. Life must go on.

I really must stop listening to Cohen on a Bleak Sunday morning. Or maybe I really should.

“There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in”

From Anthem by L Cohen

Greyness lingers all around this small part of a world that can still be wonderful. The mist will clear. When it does it will reveal blue skies, blue skies which are always there.

Time to start living.

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.

2022

Dad that’s not a bad sky at all”

It’s a grand one Son.

You always say GRAND these days”

It’s just a way of saying something is impressive. It’s a bit like you saying something is sick….

Dad I was thinking about school. What happens if I still can’t go out during next year as well. Maybe I’m not ready to go back until 2022. What happens then?”

Well we just carry on. We’ve coped for most of this year. We just do the same next year then. Although I might have a ZZ Top beard by 2022 .

I so want to see that.”

Make a change for you. Having a Dad who looks cool….

That’s never happening. As you would say Dad. You are a Grand Muppet.”

You never know. One day….

Dad is that your mobile Dad going off.”

Yes it is. A message. Oh look they have rescheduled our Ozzy concert. Was supposed to be next week but they have put it back to October 2022. Time for me to grow a proper beard.

Dad time for me to maybe venture out again…”

Childhood

So many pupils from our son’s year group are isolating. I’m also hearing that other pupils are being asked to isolate in other year groups as well. Many teachers are off. It’s all a bit of a mess really. Many schools are like this in the UK. They don’t feel like environments conducive to learning at present.

These are stressful times for many. I’m not sure the Government understands this. Or chooses to ignore this. Bland statements that ‘schools are the best place for children’ are recited everyday. It might be in terms of the Economy but….

Some children need to be in school. Some need to be at home. They definitely need to have the chance to have a childhood. A good childhood. It’s often too easily forgotten how much stress and anxiety they are under. Unable to see friends. Unable to do some of the stuff they love. Living in a stress filled world with so much confusion. Told to wear masks in buses and shops, yet told not wear them in classrooms. Frequent enforced teacher switches. Many sadly forced to isolate or deal with the actual virus. Living in a small world with few holidays and adventures. Watching never ending grim news reports. How much stress are many of our children under. We have to do something about this. To me that’s more important than the short term needs of the economy.

Our son is racked with anxiety. Too much to allow him to venture through the front gate. A significant part of his precious childhood is being spent in isolation. That’s hard to take as a parent. All I can do is to keep him feeling safe, try to shutout the bad stuff from the world and to try to find ways to help him still enjoy his childhood. He’s had a tough one already. Loss of his mum, coming to terms with Aspergers and now a Pandemic. That’s why I’ve got to work all the more harder. There’s still a childhood to be enjoyed.

Ghosts

I was listening to the new David Gilmour song and one line really hit me.

Yes, I have ghosts, not all of them dead.

For me that is so true….. Often the ones which are not dead are the hardest ones to deal with. They can appear at any time. They fill my head with negative thoughts. Once there they can haunt me for days. Missed opportunities. Past mistakes. Errors. Broken promises. Heartaches. Dead ends. Let downs. Sad memories. Inhibitions. Self inflicted hurt. Bleak times. They can hold me back, stop progress, bring on self doubt and herald the return of depression.

Those thoughts still live within me. They aren’t dead. Ready to reappear when I drop my guard. When I am low. When I am tired. When I’m facing a leap of faith. They all relate to past events but the memory still lives on within me. They try to shape my present day mood and choices.

Maybe it’s time to deal with them. Exorcise them. End the hold they have over me. Life is too short to waste. Its time to fill my soul with positive thoughts and memories. Ghosts should be dead.