Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly virtual visit to beautiful Switzerland.

This week let’s find the usual alpine landscapes mixed with a few animal ones as well. All from wonderful Switzerland.

As a toddler son loved animals. He still does… One day he would love to have a falconry or zoo. I so hope he does.

Every visit to Switzerland gave him an opportunity to get close to animals.

AND as we always arrived on a Saturday a trip to his favourite shop in the world on the Sunday. A shop in Interlaken with a huge range of Schleich toy animals.

He would get to buy 4 new ones. He was always careful to pick toys which he couldn’t get hold off in tour Yorkshire shops. Then the new members of the team would then get a 7 day guided tour of Switzerland.

A guided tour which would take in at least one zoo.

Happy days and definitely hungry work….

Open your eyes

Looking through a few flower photos and guess what I found. Another appearance from our friendly garden visitor. This unexpected find brought a much needed smile.

The unexpected hospital visit was tough. It was physically and mentally tough for our son. Hospitals are not pleasant places at the best of times but during a pandemic. Just awful.

It was a routine procedure but it made me face some demons. Waiting for news in the building where my mother died and where I found out my partner would be dead within days. Too many traumatic memories flooded back. Sat by myself in a waiting room. Yes it’s ok to cry.

Those memories and the clear unpredictability of the future made me realise what is so important to me. The things I need to cherish and make the most of. No more trying to email when talking to our son. It’s such a bad habit, you miss out on so much and son can see the lack of focus. Quality time MEANS quality time. It took something so unpleasant to clear my mind and refocus my priorities. Your never to old to open your eyes.

Gift

A brief break in the clouds allowed the sun to appear. Then came the gift. A beautiful gift that only lasts a few moments. In the great scheme of things just a flicker. Then it’s gone. Just like life. So we might as well live like a rainbow then. Let’s burn brightly and bring happiness into this world.

Swiss Sunday

It’s just turned Sunday here in Yorkshire. It must be time for our weekly trip to the country which means so much to our little family. Beautiful Switzerland.

A country which is just under 850 miles away to the south east of our little Yorkshire bungalow. Actually 850 miles doesn’t sound that far away when you say it quickly. Ok 2020 will sadly be another year without breathing in that alpine air but 850 miles surely is doable in the near future.

My partners family has been visiting Switzerland since just after the Second World War. My partner fell in love with the country as a young child during the seventies. She introduced me to Alpine Heaven 20 years ago. Our son made his first trip here when he was one.

850 miles doesn’t sound so far. Just short enough to give us a few travel options. The air option is convenient. Either a direct flight or a quick change in Amsterdam. These days you spend more time going through security than actually in the air. Flight time is less than 2 hours.

The second option was by train. Super relaxing but much longer. A 6am train to take us into London. A two minute walk to the Eurostar terminal. Navigate the security which is completed in minutes then wait to board the tunnel train that takes you under the sea into France. Just over two hours later your stood in a Paris station. Then it’s a short walk or a subway journey to a connecting station.

You now have three options. The first option is a train journey to Strasbourg then a short train journey into Switzerland.

The second option is a HGV bullet train to Basel in Switzerland.

The third option is to stay in Paris for a couple of days to allow a visit to Paris Disneyland. Definitely fun….

The train to Switzerland option is long one, especially if it involves a trip to see Mickey Mouse. It’s a full day of travel but incredibly relaxing. Another option does exist. It’s to drive. Never tried it but it might be the best option for our son. It would be about 12 hours including an hour on a tunnel train. Driving through The Alps does sound fun. If only we had a Aston Martin to cruise in.

Until next week. Take care everyone. Remember to live and let’s see how far our little legs can carry us.

Wembley

The Yorkshire version of Wembley Stadium. Can you spot the pet trying to once again sneak into the photo.

Even comes with a discerning crowd.

If Aspergers Parenting was a football game, well today feels like we have had a key player sent off….

I always naively assumed that if and when son got an official diagnosis then a support package would be out in place to help with his life chances. How silly of me. I didn’t count on year after year, having to fight the system. Trying to prize just the hints of support from a system which has been hammered into the ground by a Government which only looks after itself and it’s friends. To summarise

  • A school system repeatedly fails kids who do not fit into the factory production line which is the UK school system. Two options, either fight for a place in one of the few special schools or accept your child being bracketed as ‘low attainment’ and consigned to the bottom set. The school will then forget about the child and then pat itself on the back if the child gets just one certificate.
  • Letter after letter, call after call trying to find a clinician who is prepared to look at your child’s case.
  • Passed from specialist to specialist who don’t have the time or resources to add your child onto their case load.
  • Service after service cut by a Government which believes that only the rich should be able to buy access to essential healthcare. A Government that sees Mental Health as no more than an excuse to avoid work. Let’s not forget they described a child taking time off from school after a bereavement as an extended holiday.
  • When you do finally get access to a service you then join the growing waiting list. Finally when your child is seen it’s virtually always by someone new, with no understanding of the back story.
  • Finally your child starts to get older and the few services he has had access to are withdrawn as he is now above the age threshold. You see the Government likes to think that after 13, services are pointless and far too expensive. Adults have to sort themselves out.

We have had three brilliant exceptions to this.

  • A Clinical Psychologist who worked with out son consistently for three years. She even delayed her retirement to ensure son’s diagnosis was officially approved.
  • An Occupational Therapy service that worked with him every few months to help with things like coordination. A service which was cut when he reached 13.
  • A wonderful Nurse Counsellor who worked with our son for 3 years helping with his anxieties and joining the fight for additional help.

We entered June 2020 with just the Nurse Counsellor left from his entire care package. And now the player is sent off.

The Nurse phoned today to let us know that she had been reassigned. She is great and some other kids are really going to really benefit from her time. We are eternally grateful for everything she has done. She is going to desperately try to find another clinician to take over from her. I know she will really try. We may get a replacement. The Nurse was the only clinician he really has connected with. Those connections are rare for him. Making a new connection is going to be tough and most certainly not guaranteed. As the Nurse said it feels like we have lost the progress made over the last few years.

Today feels like one of those tough parenting days. As a friend wrote recently we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and start again. We most certainly do. But it feels like it’s a much depleted team taking on the struggle. Forgive me I’ve not used a Lord of the Rings metaphor for a while. It feels like the heavens have opened. The hordes are massed outside the walls and I’m stood alone on the Battlements of Helms Deep. Just me protecting our son now. Doesn’t feel like Gandalf is riding over the horizon in the morning. I’m going to have to just find a way of doing this myself.

I’m off now to kick the ball into the net a few times. Maybe with a bit more force than usual. Then the fight starts again.

Heatwave

Yes this is Yorkshire. It’s a heatwave. Well a mini one. Whisper it, we might even get to 84F. Now we can moan about it being too hot. The Yorkshire Yoda would say that it’s ‘Proper mafting it is‘.

Dad what are you doing?”

I am watching TV.

Yes but what are you watching”

Peppa Pig…..

Why Dad?”

Just because….

Because your a big kid and so uncool”

That as well.

Have you found the paper you went looking for. I need to get this lesson done.”

Oops I forgot. Too busy watching Peppa tell George off. I will go now and look.

***10 minutes later with the required paper in hand***

What are you watching Son.

I am watching Peppa Pig”

Is that because you are so uncool like your Dad!

Of course not Dad. I’m watching it because I couldn’t be bothered to find the Deadpool DVD. It was on so I kept watching Peppa. Peppa is infinitely better than schoolwork. Young people do cool, Dads try to be cool.

Dads can be cool.

Yes they can but not when they are wearing a T-shirt like that.”

What’s wrong with my I’m Too Sexie for My Accountancy Qualification shirt.

Says it all Dad. It really does.”

His eyes

It’s been a few months since I went trail running along this route. The first time I did this route I remember thinking that the route will gentle meander up the hill. Wrong. A direct, straight up mud fest.

When we came walking here with the dog I remember telling our son that the route was into the trees. Straight up and then down the other side. His response

Why don’t we just walk round the base of the hill. We will eventually end up in roughly the same place. Makes more sense to me.

That is the perfect metaphor for life and parenting. It’s something I’m desperate to learn from.

Each person, each child is unique. What works for one person may not work for another. My path might be right for me but is it really the right path for our son. The answer is probably NO. So why should be follow me up that hill path. He sees the world through his eyes not mine. He will see and interpret things differently to me. He has to find the route that works for him. That’s the way he becomes the person that he was meant to be. Not the person I, or the government or society believes he should be. He has to live his OWN life. Become the person he is most at ease with. His true self.

Dad why wasn’t I christened?”

Because that has to be YOUR decision not OURS…..

I might be convinced that homeschooling is best for him. But only HE really knows, so it has to be his call. If in September he decides that school is safe and that it’s where he wants to learn then he will go back.

It’s tough for the parent. Trying to find the right balance. I probably get it wrong every single day. But the secret is to learn from those mistakes. Parents should learn just as much or more from their children than we teach them. So hopefully I can stop myself from saying things like

  • You need to do…
  • This is what will happen…
  • This is best for you…
  • That is wrong for you…
  • This is the truth…

Replace these phrases with

  • What do you think…
  • How do you see things…
  • What is your heart telling you…
  • What works for you…
  • This is only my opinion…
  • It’s your call…

Ultimately it’s HIS life. It’s the ultimate privilege that he allows me access his world. To sometimes act sometimes as guide and but more often just as a companion. But it’s a two way process. He also guides me. More than he realises. Until he decides to spread his wings and fly, then I’ve made the life choice to be that companion and occasional guide.

Where’s the shed

Here once stood the garden shed. But then an ageing Oil Tank had to be changed. The new rule was that flammable items had to be at least 6 feet away. A wooden shed just 3 feet away just didn’t cut the mustard. So it had to come down. I remember the day so well. My partner organised the skip. She took the first swing with the sledgehammer and then left the rest to me. It was a tough fight. Eventually I won the contest on a split points decision. Yes the shed was down but most of it now appeared to be imbedded in me.

We never did get round to putting a new one up. Actually we didn’t need one. The area became a little bit more green. A place to randomly put those potted plants which we have collected over the years. A nice home for a 90 year old wooden bench which has long since served its purpose and has been retired. It’s also a bit of a magnet of our sons footballs….

It so needs a good weeding but actually yellow poppies and wild strawberries are starting to grow here. Well that’s my excuse.

I’m not sure what my partner would make of it. Maybe a bit too chaotic for her. She liked organisation. The new shed was high up on my list of things to do before the world changed. But then she left our little world. Then every weekend her mum would pop over for an hour or so. She loved it. When she came over at the weekend she would often sit and look at it while drinking her coffee. Thinking about life. Watching the birds make use of it.

I’m writing this at about the time her mum would have been visiting. I’m sat in the chair she would be sat in. Yes I do think the little green area works. Maybe that new garden shed can wait for a few more years. Sorry my love…..

Swiss Sunday

Now that’s a view from a train station. It’s Sunday so it’s time for our weekly virtual trip to stunning Switzerland.

Some wonderful news. Switzerland is now open again to most of the world. Hopefully soon the good people from the US will be able to get there as well.

We have not been back to this Alpine Heaven since the summer of 2015. It seems like an absolute lifetime. So much has happened.

Yes we have so many obstacles to overcome but one day WE will return.

Switzerland is just part of us now. Feels more like Home than England. That feeling gets stronger each day.

We still have my partners ashes to spread here. The view across Lake Thun with the snow covered mountains in the background is one of the places she wants to become a part of. Her Home. Our Home.

So yes these virtual trips feel like a return to what should be our home. One day just maybe that will happen.

Good to see someone maintains a balanced diet when he visits his future home…..

Rain…

Rain, rain, rain.

Chucking it down.

Raining cats and dogs.

Hammering it down.

Siling down.

Bucketing down.

Teeming.

Nice weather for ducks.

I think we are moving from weather for ducks to weather for fish. It’s a good job we are on top of a little hill. Any lower down and we might be considering a life raft.

“Dad what are you doing?”

Listening to the rain.

Why?”

Because it’s almost hypnotic. It’s kinda nice.

The only reason I would listen to the rain is to workout when it’s stopped…. Dad Ive got a little question….”

He does have a point with listening to the rain. That last line is his favourite saying. He is always asking questions. Dozens and dozens every hour. When he says a little question he really means one question followed quickly by a bombardment of another 30 questions. Random questions to me but completely linked to his way of thinking. Often it seems like the same question but in fact each question is subtly different. Questions followed by a chance to demonstrate his Dads rather sketchy knowledge in these areas. Then a chance for son to instruct his Dad. This happens always in the garden, every day. If it’s raining then on go the coats.

Today it was three hours of football and fantasy world related questions. Looking at player stats, team records, form, tactics and formations. Intertwined with questions about characters, storylines, plot arcs and new worlds. Yesterday it was 4 hours of questions about politics and history.

Over time the daily fact and knowledge bombardment can tire my mind. Lack of sleep doesn’t help. Two parents allowed some time to share the questioning. A time to rest the mind. But it is what it is. Constantly walking about and hot drinks keep me going. But here’s the key thing to remember. It’s an absolute privilege to be granted this time with our son. To be welcomed into his world. A beautiful world which is more pure than ours. It’s what life is all about. So yes it can sometimes feel like it’s wearing me down BUT I wouldn’t swap it for the world.