The boys have lost things

This is the kind of house that just seems to encourage losing things. Lots of things. Which is remarkable when you consider it’s smallish bungalow. Including the garage and the loft, we only have 8 locations for stuff to mysteriously disappear. But it does. All the time.

The house is the home just to boys these days. That includes the pets. So we can definitely say that THE BOYS HAVE LOST THINGS.

Already today we couldn’t find

  • Hawklads FIFA 20 games disk,
  • The new pack of Weetabix,
  • My bank card to pay for something online,
  • My car key,
  • One of my socks – followed instantly by shouting at the dog,
  • A black pen. Can find loads of other colours but not a black pen which Hawklad needs to do a little homework,
  • My new pack of tea,
  • The laptop – how can you lose a laptop….
  • A pair of scissors,
  • My fitness band,
  • The WiFi passkey,
  • The new pack of batteries I bought on Thursday,
  • My mobile,
  • The book I’ve been trying to read for a couple of months now, frustratingly I only have 4 pages to go. It went missing while I was reading in bed. It has been lost for weeks. Ransacked the bedroom today, still no sign. It’s a rubbish crime story but I just want to find out who did it…..

That’s a typical day here. Boys will be boys….

But at least we found time to talk today. We ended up talking about our lockdown and the stuff that we miss. The things we have lost in our own little worlds. For me it was being around people.

Running in the countryside and walking in the mountains.

Going to see my team get beat. Spending time with the friend I meet up with.

We both agreed on missing concerts.

We also both agreed on missing going to Switzerland.

Hawklad talked about not going to zoos and falconries as much. Not being able to have a takeout or pop in for a real ice cream. Not being able to meet up with some of his friends. Missing out on not visiting the seaside.

Not going to wrestling shows.

And not being able to visit historical sites.

There was more but you get the point. Lockdown does have an impact on all our worlds. It means making sacrifices. But we do that all the time. The worry is that too many kids are losing out of key parts of their childhood. It’s about making the best of what we do have. Still trying to make memories. Remembering to keep living.

Working hard on harvesting

Apparently we are enjoying the last few days of summer weather. It’s kinda sunny and kinda warm – if you ignore the cold wind. The forecasters are warning that soon the weather will be most definitely very different. Very cold, wet, grim and grey. As a result the farmers around here are desperately trying to get on with stuff. Even working when it’s dark.

It’s also time to start harvesting our own little garden crop. Today it’s a few apples, onions, carrots, tomatoes and potatoes. Some have done better than others……

Can anyone speak carrot. What’s the carrot for ‘you do know this is Yorkshire and you are about to be given a right weather spanking. You don’t have months of sunny growing weather left, you have no more than 3 days. So get a move on….’

Why is it so simple to grow weeds yet those so called easy grow carrots prove so pesky. It’s as if the carrots pop out of the seeds, feel the Yorkshire soil and go ‘YOU HAVE GOT TO BE JOKING’.

So if the carrots play ball then we are moving into a spell of living off stews, soups and apple crumble. I can happily live with that. I’m always thankful for whatever the garden yields. It does have to contend with the muppet gardener and Captain Chaos.

So yes it’s that time of year. The weather starts to break OR in our case, break even more. It starts to get colder and darker. For many it can be a tough change. Heralding a long period of what feels like ever increasing claustrophobic imprisonment. Me included. That’s where friendships, happy things and dreams are so important. They can help soften the sadness, even lift us into a better place. So for me it’s time to increasingly focus on those things. I can’t do anything about the weather but I can do influence the truly important stuff. Soon the autumn colours will become spectacular. The important stuff can lift the soul. Yes the following months can be bleak BUT they can also yield so much beauty and wonderful moments as well

Now it’s time to give those carrots a good talking to.

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.

Scary creatures

A good blogging friend was taking about finding a big spider in her garden. That friend is on a different continent. A place where you get spiders that are big, scary, poisonous and they even jump at you.

Did I ever tell you that I am not great with spiders.

So the prospect of scary spiders brings shivers down my spine. A movie comes to mind – Arachnophobia. Give me Jaws and Sharks anytime. Sharks need our love especially as Trump has decided to bully them as well now.

Scary spiders. No, no, no.

Hawklad loves to go to the zoo and handle spiders. The bigger and more deadly the better. The last trip I just about heard him say as he handled a Tarantula- ‘Isn’t she lovely….’. It was difficult to hear him as I was stood 30 yards back, hiding behind a wall. That’s great parenting……

Fortunately for me I live in Yorkshire. The land that time forgot. We don’t really do scary animals. Those cows can look at you in a funny way. Ferrets can nip a bit (especially if they are in your trouser pockets). Don’t get in the way of a squirrel and his nuts. Those Scarborough Seagulls are hooligans when you have a bag of chips. Get on the wrong side of stick of rhubarb and it can very awkward.

But we don’t really do scary spiders or insects. A few small and timid spiders. This is as big as it gets. A Daddy-Long-Legs. The most delicate creatures going. We end up desperately trying not to hurt or damage them. Even I can get up close to them. That’s the kind of spider and insect I like. Friendly and most definitely not one that is going to eat me.

You

This was a year ago. I stopped on one of my long runs to take this photo. It would have been just after 9am and Hawklad would have been in school. After the run was finished I would then drag my muddy body to the supermarket. Definitely seems like an eternity ago. I wonder when I will go running here again. Probably not in 2020.

We all need those things in life to hold on to. A person, a friendship, a love, faith, a hobby, a destination. It will be different for everyone. Maybe it’s one thing. Maybe it’s a range of things. But we do need these in our worlds. For our health and wellbeing. I remember listening to a politician who I really respected. He talked about his love of hill walking. How walking had become such an important part of his life. But he was sad because due to work demands he had been forced to stop something he loved so much. Tragically it didn’t work out for him and his life was cut short. We do need to hold onto these things which lift us up. We all need to find the time. Listen to what our inner selves are telling us and needing from us. Hold onto and treasure those things and people we love.

So running has gone. I’ve found better more enriching things to focus and care for. But I realise that I do need a fitness activity to replace running. Ultimately the exercise bike is monumentally boring. So at present running has been replaced with yoga. Briefly stopping to take a photo has been replaced with failing to get anywhere near holding a handstand. Happy Days. I feel another lego yoga post coming on. You have been warned.

Joking to one side, please remember to find the time for YOU. You need that.

Seems like a lifetime

I accidentally stumbled across a social media post from a parent from Hawklads school. It contained a photo of a trip to the beach whichsome of the families had made last week. Clearly having great fun. It will do the kids so much good to start living again.

I was so happy for the kids and happy for the parents. They are really nice people. They deserve fun.

But the post brought a touch of sadness. Wouldn’t it have been lovely if Hawklad had been there. To be with kids his age. Enjoying himself. Enjoying being a teenager.

Actually it would have been good for me as well. The last time we went to the beach with other families was 2015. I’ve kind of forgotten what the feeling must be like. You get use to the isolated life style. It becomes all consuming. It becomes who you are. Back in 2015 I remember turning up. Watching Hawklad play with the other kids. The parents had a barbecue. We played games and sand cricket. Built sandcastles. We talked, laughed. We hugged.

But that was then. It’s 2020 now. Different world. It was a different world even before a pandemic. The last time I actually hugged someone was at my partners funeral. That’s virtually 4 years ago. It’s 5 years since we went to a meet-up with other families.

It seems like a lifetime ago.

Sunday Sunday

After the briefest of heatwaves Yorkshire has gone back into winter.

This was midday.

Grey, windy, wet and chilly. You know it’s a great August Summers Day when at 6pm you have the lights and heating full on. Yes the woolies (sweaters) we’re back on as well. The string vests banished until Mr Sun decides to come back…..

But even on a slate grey day you have the potential to find something to lift the heart. To brighten and enrich the day. That happened to me. Feeling kinda grey on a grey day. Bit down, bit frustrated, a little hemmed in and a tad lonely. But then a beautiful life gift and the world seems a better place again. Definitely smiling again. Suddenly I’m more fun as a Dad to Hawklad.

Yes it’s still grey outside but even there ….. I can now spot other colours apart from grey. They were always there just I hadn’t opened my eyes to them.

Get it

The rain is finally starting to pass. The cold is moving on and the temperatures are slowly rising. Perfect time to visit a Rose.

Over time we all lose things that are so important to us. That could be love, friendships, people we care for, pets, our health, our passions, relationships, parts of our very essence, our personal freedom, a space to breathe in, that perfect job, our hopes and dreams. Life can be so very hard.

Often it’s so easy to think that you are alone dealing with these things. That no one understands. It’s such an unsettling feeling – thinking that no one GETS YOU. Believing that you are alone in these struggles. I’ve certainly been there. When you do open up, the awkward or baffled looks you get. The indirect suggestions to ‘get over it’, ‘move on’ or ‘sort yourself out’. The overt signals to ‘please shut up and change the subject’, not even wanting to listen. Often these come from those who seemingly know you the best or are close to you. Friends, family and partners. You do end up feeling isolated and alone.

But there are people out there who understand, who have been through similar experiences, who care or genuinely will listen. Just got to find them. Maybe they end up finding you. Maybe it’s just a random encounter. They could be many many miles away. That’s what happened with me. I’d given up hope, fully accepting that it was just me alone taking on this struggle. But I was randomly found. Suddenly I was genuinely listened to, understood again. BELIEVED IN. Now I don’t feel alone on this journey. Yes I can do this and if I do fall then support is there. A shoulder to cry on and a comforting hug. Will always be so very thankful for that. 💙

Different

Who are you looking at

I’ve always felt like the black sheep in the family. The odd one out amongst my siblings. The youngest by a decade. My brother and sisters had partied together and flown the nest while I was still at school. The tallest. The only shy one. The only one with a stammer as a kid. The only one who went to college and university. The only one you got letters after his name (M.U.P.P.E.T). The only one who never got married (huge mistake). The only bereaved one. The only single parent. The only blogger. The only vegetarian. The only one who has given up alcohol. The only one who is gluten free. The only runner. The only climber. The only one learning a second language. The only one who has visited mums grave. The only Asperger Parent. The only Newcastle United supporter. The only one without a middle name. The only one whose first name doesn’t start with a P. The only one how formed a close link with a Quaker family. The only religious one.

I could go on. Hopefully you get the picture.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my brother and sisters. We are close. Close but we don’t see each other much. Mum was always the centre. The gravitational pull that kept the various differing orbits from spinning away. I will see one sister every few months. Another one maybe a couple of times a year. Brother and the other sister maybe once in several years. An occasional phone call or text maintain a link. But since mum left we are slowly spinning apart.

So yes I do feel a little bit like the odd one out. That’s where friends come in. They get me. They make me feel not different. They make me feel whole again. Thank you ❤️

I will leave the final words to my departed partner. We were spending a night in London before we caught the first train to France. Off on our first holiday together. That was back in 2000. We were in a quiet but very full pub in Kings Cross. After a large lager my partner asked about my dieting life choice. In a voice which echoed round the pub. “Are you the only VEGETABLE in your family…”

Yes I probably am….

Life snapshot

The Aspergers life can be racked with anxieties and obsessive behaviours. Additionally Aspergers can frequently coexist with OCD. Add the death of a mum and both grannies. Then on top of that you add a pandemic. Something has to give with that kind of pressure building up. That’s what our son is dealing with and it is so very tough for him. What does that mean in practice. Well here is a snapshot of life and the impact it has on him.

Every ache, every sneeze, every spot, every pain is seen as a potential sign of a serious disease or the C word. Anxieties bring on indigestion and constipation. These are then seen by him as more potential warnings of serious, life threatening health conditions. The natural response was to frequently wash his hands. It was both to cleanse his hands but also an attempt to pour water on the raging anxiety wildfire. Washing to the point of red raw skin. These issues have existed for years but slowly during 2019 slow progress started to happen. The hand washing was just about brought under control. Then the pandemic hit. The progress was instantly lost. Suddenly the months of reassuring talk a out avoiding serious illnesses, the bodies capacity to fight back and the advances in medical science are basically blown out of the water. The problems started to mount up again and escalate to new heights.

  • Hand washing every few minutes. From 15 second washing now to washing for minutes at a time.
  • A reluctance to dry washed hands as towels might be a source of germs.
  • Harmful germs are seen to exist everywhere. Suddenly it’s difficult for him to touch taps, toilet handles and door knobs. Sheets of paper have to be left next to these so he can avoid touching them directly. Even pulling on a shirt may result in the potentially unclean sleeves coming into contact with his hands. Shoes have to be put on without using his hands.
  • iPads and joysticks have to be washed frequently and definitely before he touches them. It’s the same for things like pens.
  • When he strokes his pets he will immediately run to wash his hands.
  • He needs to see evidence that I wash my hands before I touch any of his items.
  • Clothes have to be frequently washed often multiple times a day.
  • Outside he is constantly looking out for flies and flying bugs. If they come too close then he will need to go inside to wash.
  • He has to have his own seat and no one is allowed to touch it. If they do then the seat has to be cleaned.
  • When he goes out the the front door then he consciously tries to avoid walking over any areas that the postman or others might have walked across. When he comes back in them his shoes will need to be completely cleaned. If he ventures through the front gate and into the outside world then on his return he will completely strip, shower and change to new clothes. Those rules apply to me as well.
  • Mouth-washing and gargling is frequently repeated during the day.
  • Any item which hits the ground (inside or out) will need to be deep cleaned.
  • Any new food items have to go into the garage and complete a quarantine period if at least three days.

This is daily life in our little home. I do my best to reassure, reason and modify behaviours. But it feels nothing more than trying to plug a leaking dam at present. One hole maybe plugged but in the meantime another two new holes have appeared. Counselling was there but government cutbacks have taken their toll on services. The pandemic has temporarily suspended specialist help. The result is massive backlogs and no access to help. These are tough times. For him and yes me as well. As a parent you feel helpless, definitely so underprepared for these challenges. But we keep going. We pick ourselves up and go again. Yes we will get there. We will. But it will take time. Realistically maybe well into 2021. In practice timescales don’t matter, we take each day as it comes, fortified by the love of friends.