Wet, wet, wet

Wet, wet, wet.

This happened the other day. Have you had those moments in life when you think you are on top of things. In the zone. Finally mastering life. When in fact you have just walked off the edge. Living a complete nightmare. From hero to zero in an instant…..

I was out in the back garden. Working out on the patio. I had completed my weights and kettlebell routine. Smashed through 20 minutes CrossFit. Seemingly on top of my game. Unusually feeling good. Feeling so good I decided to enrich the soul with a few minutes of Tai Chi. I was at one with nature. Feeling the Chi surge round my body. Stress levels plummeting. Performing beautifully the ‘Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg’ move. AND SUDDENLY a manly cough behind me.

“Excuse me mate where do you want your parcel leaving”

I could see the smirk on the delivery guy stood 3 yards behind me. How long had he been stood there. The shame. The butt of jokes in the pub tonight (good job they are closed). Stress levels through the roof.

Don’t you just love life……

Farmer

Been far too grey and misty over the last few days. Too much winter. So let’s have a little bit of summer. Yes Yorkshire does get some of that. Sometimes.

This is one of those great footpaths. A footpath across the crop field that the local farmer dutifully maintains. Not easy to get lost of this one. I always think it would be funny if the farmer built in a maze to this path. He could get hordes of walkers lost here for hours. Could be a nice little money earner for him. Send his sheepdogs in to rescue the walkers for a small fee.

In that photo if you keep going straight. Climb the hill. Keep going straight and in about 10 minutes you will crash into our overgrown garden. You could get seriously lost in there.

I feel a little lost today. I think many of us are. A little tired of Groundhog Day. Bored with 2020. Hours , days, weeks and months seemingly merging into each other. Having to constantly look at the date on my mobile and then check the calendar to work out where I am. Is it a Sunday? Not sure.

But there is always hope.

This time will pass. Directions will be rediscovered again. The farmer will work on his lovely straight path again.

Fibonacci

We had a bit of a perfect storm during the morning. AND for a change it wasn’t the Yorkshire micro climate to blame.

MATHS

In particular number sequences. A whole 90 minutes dedicated to the little beauties. Geometric, Arithmetic, Square, Cube, Triangular, Fibonacci. I always remember thinking Fibonacci sounded like a really cool wrestler. The Maths Tutor didn’t find that thought very amusing.

For those who quite rightly have forgotten mathematics from school and college, the Fibonacci sequence is where the next number is the summation of the preceding two numbers. One of those things you are taught and will probably never need it. Fibonacci has only ever cropped up twice since school. Annoyingly not in the school exam. I remember giving one unfortunate External Consultant a bit of a frosty reception when he tried to convince me that I should be using Fibonacci to better manage agile teams at work. I think the poor chap learnt some new Yorkshire words and was then ushered out to annoy someone else.

The second time Fibonacci entered my world again was today. This morning we discovered that our son struggles with number sequences. He just can’t see the patterns. It wasn’t helped by the frequent use of decimal points to make the patterns even more pesky. Much frustration. Son couldn’t see the patterns at all and his dad could see the patterns BUT I struggled to describe them in words. Clearly one of those things I can do with out thinking but I’m not entirely convinced how I do it. Bit like trying to programme the washing machine.

But here’s the thing. I convinced son that it didn’t really matter. If sequences do come up in the exam then they won’t count for many marks. He can still have a stab at them and if all else fails, guess and move on to stuff that he will be able to do. And after his exam unless he meets many keen External Consultants, he is unlikely to need number sequences again. He’s better off learning stuff he wants to learn and stuff that he will use.

Let’s leave Fibonacci as a wrestling star.

Argument

One leaf in the corner of the garden. It definitely has a story to tell.

I was looking at a Social Media exchange about a secondary school in another part of the country. Parents were discussing how good the place was or wasn’t. Clearly it was quite a heated exchange. On one side you had comments like

It’s a great school…

Look at the grades the kids get…

It gets fantastic OFSTED ratings…

My daughter is likely to get straight A’s thanks to the teaching…

I love the school. It has discipline and look at the results it gets…

My daughter won an award for Drama because the school pushed her…

Fantastic teachers,

You always get a minority who are never happy…

Well if your not happy take your child to another school

Well homeschool then, miss out on the special treatment you son gets then…

And on the other hand you got comments like…

My child has just been dumped in the bottom class,

The teachers don’t care,

My daughter is getting no help, just left to fall behind,

My son keeps quiet and doesn’t cause any trouble in class. Wish he did as the teacher might start spending some time with him,

I’m not sure the teachers even want to know that he has ADHD,

School is not bothered that my son is scheduled to get no grades,

It is useless at helping kids out who have special needs.

That last line gives the basis of the argument away. The English School System provides one model of teaching for all pupils. It works for some kids but unfortunately a few too many are left behind. Increasingly special education is seen as a distraction to the main school function. An unnecessary drain on resources. You see articles in the Press basically talking about those children getting funding to cover additional needs as a gravy train for parents. That approach mirrors government thinking. Yes schools are given some targets for educational need but a school that fail in this area can still be seen as Excellent. The key is hitting the limited exam, performance management, how well they stick to the curriculum and the financial targets set for them.

I bet you can guess what side of the argument I would have been on. But I would add one important thing. All schools have good, dedicated teachers. Teachers who care. But they can’t provide for those children with additional educational needs when they are hamstrung by government. Where they are undervalued and trying to teach classes with up to 30 children crammed into them. With a set and unwieldy curriculum which must be strictly followed. I remember a conversation with school about computing. The teachers shared my frustration at having to teach Hawklad so much coding. Coding is a nightmare for dyslexics and some on the spectrum to learn. But they had to teach him that because it was a key part of the national curriculum set by government. Surely we can find a way of teaching all kids which offers the change to offer different learning routes depending on the individual.

A school can be excellent and at the same time fail to many of the next generation.

Winter is coming

Winter is coming.

A time for wooly jumpers, gloves and warm hats. Sliding on ice patches. Snow ball fights, sledging and snow angels. Steaming hot chocolate filled with marshmallows. Writing names of frozen car windscreens. Fires and hot water bottles. Crisp winter walks with stunning moody landscapes. Long dark night skies filled with the wonder of the cosmos. Warming soups and stews. A perfect time to cuddle close to those you love. A time to feel alive.

Winter is coming.

A cold, bleak time. When the frequent bad weather forces you inside. Cuts you off from the world. When the darkness and howling winds matches the mood. When loneliness echoes around the surrounding walls that makes your home feel like a prison. A prison where the sentence is solitary confinement. Memories filled with loss and grief send shivers down your spine. Counting the long days until Spring returns. A time to survive.

Winter is coming.

I have experienced both. I know the opportunities and the threats it can offer. Which one will this Winter be?

Well that’s sorted then

I was conscious that this Christmas will be different for us, different for Hawklad.

No end of school term activities and parties.

No Carol singing in the city while drinking hot chocolate.

No Santa Train ride. Ok we are doing our own car version.

No Charity Santa coming through the village on a trailer pulled by a tractor.

No festive walks along the beach and finishing off at a little cafe for his festive ice cream.

No visits to friends.

No family meet-ups.

No trips to the Christmas Market.

No trip to the zoo in New Years Day.

No family Christmas meal.

No Boxing Day walk with picnic.

No festive trip to the cinema to see a blockbuster and then whatever festive film they have showing.

No carol singers coming round the houses on Christmas Eve.

Basically it will be just the two of us and pets. Sticking to the house and garden. Maybe only one trip out to do the Santa Car ride. I was feeling bad about that so I brought it up with Hawklad. I explained the differences to him

……. so it’s going to be really different this year. How do you feel about that Hawklad?

“So no family at all?”

None!

“Absolutely no visitors?”

None!

“No festive trips out?”

It doesn’t look like it.

Dad, can we order in extra pizza over Christmas?”

Yes Son.

“Well that will be just fine then…….”

Pictures

We haven’t don’t this for a while. Draw a picture in the ice forming on the outside of the window. Then turn the room light on and see what it looks like on the pavement. Makes us smile anyway.

It’s a tradition. Something we repeat. We do it every night we get the opportunity.

That’s a theme in our Aspergers household. Repetition.

The same foods on the same night. Week after week. Things like cheese have to be the usual brand and flavour.

Wearing the same type of clothes.

Buying the same toothpaste and the same toothbrushes. The same soap. Even things like the same toilet paper.

Watching a select group of movies and tv shows, time after time.

The same morning and nighttime bed rituals.

The same subjects we talk about most nights.

Having the same objects in the same places in the house.

The same fun animal story we tell every night. We have done this since he was a toddler. EVERY SINGLE DAY. I dread to think how many episodes we have told.

Playing the same games on the console. Just a couple of games. Microsoft might as well hardwire them into our box.

When we could get outside, walking the same walks and the same routes. Driving the same routes on the way to places. Even if that means more driving time. If we vary then we need to double back and drive the usual route as soon as we can. Going to sit in the same seats in the same cinema. Going to the same shops. Going to the same fast food joints and buying exactly the same order. Going to the zoo and visiting the animals in the same set order.

Repetition provides Hawklad with security and comfort. It provides stability for him to build bridges between his world and the big mad world. Variations can and will send him into a the realms of anxiety. At school any change to the set timetable will throw him and severely effect his performance. So it is just how things are in our little family.

So if ice forms tonight, I wonder what picture will appear on the pavement?

Welcome sight

That’s one of my favourite electricity poles. Why? Because when I used to run it was the first thing I saw when I got close to home again. Always a welcome sight.

I was thinking that after this trying year we could all do with a welcome sight or two.

For everyone that welcome sight will be different. For me what would it be….

Maybe a rock concert,

Maybe going to see my team get beat again at St James Park,

Maybe it’s the view from the top of a mountain,

Maybe it’s the Sea,

Maybe it’s seeing Switzerland again,

Or just maybe it’s seeing a friends smile in person.

Let’s hope that whatever that view is, you and I will see it in 2021.

Wilderness

One of my sister lives about 30 minutes drive in that direction. During 2020 it might as well have been 1000 miles. No chance of seeing her.

Where we live always feels like it’s so cut off from the world. Sometimes it’s so easy to forget that a city is not that far a drive away. It’s one of those rare cities that hasn’t allowed any high rise buildings. It hides easily away on the horizon.

That feeling of being cut off is helped by lack of kinks we have with the outside world. If you don’t want to use the car then it’s two small buses a day. Nothing on a Sunday. The village doesn’t have a pub, or cafe, or school, or shop. Not quite tumbleweed levels but definitely quiet and often feeling most definitely cut off. During a pandemic even the occasional rambler has become a real rarity. The only evidence that an outside world still exists is the fairly regular stream of passing cyclists. The challenge of climbing the steep hill to the village is attractive to those on two wheels. A climb I’ve not undertaken since a few weeks before the world changed for me in 2016.

A lots happened in those years. Thoughts of needing a sportier frame have morphed into ‘that ornament gathering dust is taking up too much space in the increasingly cramped garage’.

But things will change eventually. We won’t seem so cut off again. The bike will again become a means of transport. Trips to the city and my sister will recommence. Life will become connected again. Even for those living in the wilderness……

Loss

LOSS in whatever form it takes stays with you. It shapes you. It changes you. It can become you. It can define you.

For a few years it did define me. It did become me. It stopped me living. I basically just existed.

But time moves on. The journey is ongoing.

Loss still stays with me. Yes it’s changed me. But hopefully for the better. It’s taught me the importance of time. Loss made we realise the importance of life.

The next stage of my journey is to move from existing to LIVING.