Another early start. This time a seriously early one. A perfect insomniac storm. 3am. Hawklad has woken and can’t sleep. I have not been to bed yet and sleep feels a million miles away.
Hawklad wonders if we can see the dawn brake. On the coast.
So a few moments later and after I had sampled the meanest of espressos, we are driving. Driving past badgers, foxes and owls. Before 4am we arrive at RSPB Bempton Cliffs. It’s still pitch black and we have the site to ourselves. It’s such an eerie feeling walking in the complete absence of light and sound. Even to early for the thousands of seabirds perched precariously on the cliffs. No wind and even the sea was strangely becalmed.
In perfect time to watch dawn brake. No thoughts of an Albatross who was apparently out at sea. Who needs one bird when you get to watch all this unfold.
The dark was a challenge to my iPhone camera but it gave it a go.
By 7am a few people had started to arrive, mainly here to take up prime spots and wait. Hoping on catching sight of one particular bird. They had no idea what they had just missed. The deafening sound of seabirds hides the peace that existed just 2 hours ago.
We were back in the car and driving a few minutes later. The site had lost its appeal to Hawklad. Even a handful of strangers proving too much for him. But he had got to see a spectacular show first hand. Just the two of us so without his anxieties. He slept during the ride home.
Yes it was a ridiculously early start. Yes I went more than 24 hours without sleep. But it was worth it for those couple of hours when Hawklad felt that he had the world to himself. I suspect it won’t be the last time we do this. Yes there will be time for trips out to build those social bridges but those come with anxieties. We all need these times and places of sanctuary. Hawklad does. Yes even a worn down parent needs them.
It’s been another blue sky Yorkshire day. If only it was warm. Really cold but definitely hot under the collar day.
An email from school definitely livened up the day and focused the parenting mind. In a nut shell the email said
Today and the next lesson in Citizenship will be about sexual awareness and consent. It’s a legal requirement. Hawklad is not in school. We can’t do online education for this one, its deemed inappropriate for the subject. So tough. Over to you parent. STAND UP AND DELIVER. We can send you one video on consent. BEST OF LUCK
I tried to rack my brain back to my school days. From what I can remember the sex education lesson involved a nervous make teacher mumbling for 10 minutes then he showed a video. As it was a small TV the class had to huddle round for a sight of the action. After just a few moments a clip of a baby behind delivered was too much for one lad called Donnie who was stood on a bench . He throw up over those in front of him and then fainted, spectacularly crashing backwards to the floor. The lesson was abandoned and that was it. Not much help.
I can’t revert to the classic ‘better speak to your mum about this’. So had to man up…..
How did it go. Badly. After flailing around for 5 minutes under the most forensic questioning I did the decent thing and reverted to YouTube videos, of varying educational quality…..
I can’t remember this being in the patenting terms and conditions I signed up to…
It’s funny how you forget things. A couple of days back I was writing about my lame brushes with fame. Then this morning another memory flooded back into my mind.
My Dad took me on a train to see a charity cricket match. My first ever game. I think I was about 8. It was one of those matches with former cricketers, celebrities and a few local club players. It was a decent turnout of stars so a large crowd turned up.
Some quite well known former Yorkshire and England players with one huge star. One of England’s greatest ever fast bowlers and larger than life characters, Fred Truman.
At the end of the game my Dad told me that I would like to get Fred’s autograph. That was news to me….. Handily Dad had brought an autograph book and pen. Almost as if the autograph was for him…. So I was sent off to obtain the signature while Dad finished off his beer. A bit later I came back with various scribbles, one was definitely a TV celebrity – Leslie Crowther. But no Freddie.
That clearly wasn’t to Dad‘s liking and he decided to help me now. After much looking Freddie was located. He was in the players changing room. Next thing I knew Dad had pushed me through the door with clear instructions. Your not going home until you get that signature….
I was surrounded by men in various states of undress…. All appeared to be drinking. No sign of Freddie. So I asked. Freddie was in the showers. So yes I did get the greatmans autograph. When he was completely naked. How could I forget that…..
Dad was happy. I never did see MY autograph book again….
This little beauty came from my mums house. Many years ago. She had been given it as a present. Kept it for a few months, just long enough for it to be seen by the present giver, then it was packed up and ready to be shipped off. Mum had a habit of doing that. Presents would get aired just long enough then put away never to be seen again. When she left us and we ended up clearing the house it was like an Aladdins Cave. Me and my sisters playing a game of spotting which of our presents never got used.
Anyway this little plant was shipped off early to my garden. After all those years it is now not such a little plant anymore. But it’s still going strong. A wonderful reminder of different times. A smile generator. And we always need those.
I keep thinking back to a childhood memory. The family house had no central heating and just two fires. A fake burning log pile electric fire in the back room and an old cold fire in the living room. I can remember having to help dig a path through the piled up snow to the outside coal bunker. That woke you up in the morning. It also focused the mind. No coal. No fire. No heat in the house as the electric fire used up the coins set aside for the electric meter far too fast.
Looking back I am so in awe of my parents. How on earth did they cope with 5 kids without the help of things we so take for granted now. They didn’t even have a fridge for so many years. They either grew they own food or bought it from the local small estate shops. No supermarkets to fall back on. Both had to work as well. Work hard. No overseas holidays to recharge for them. A holiday for them was catching the train to local seaside tourist towns. Whitby and Scarborough. No overnight stats as well. Jump on the train. Potter about for a couple of hours then grab fish and chips for the train journey back home. That’s one of my other vivid childhood memories. The family jumping back onto the train with our fish supper wrapped up in newspapers. As the train set off we started passing round the bottle of tomato ketchup. Proper ketchup, the stuff you had to shake vigorously before unscrewing the bottle top and copiously spreading a think layer of the red stuff over the chips. Unfortunately someone had forgotten to screw the bottle top back on. My dad started to vigorously shake the ketchup bottle just as the Ticket Collector appeared. The top flew off and dad sprayed the carriage – very very red. I still can’t work out who was more angry. Dad or the Collector. It was definitely a frosty trip home.
Seems like a different world now. As hard as I think my parenting life is these days, it pales compared to those times a few decades back. I so need to remember that the next time I start to complain about how hard my life is. Nothing compared to what my parents had to survive.
Back to dark, moody weather. Apparently it’s warmer that’s why I’m wearing a wooly hat, gloves and 38 layers….
You know your tired when you function without using your brain. You make a drink with the coffee machine but forget to put a cup in the holder. You drop a full toilet roll into the bowl. You put your shirt on inside out and back to front. You give the cat dog food and the dog gets cat food. The washing machine programme settings are several pay grades above your abilities. And you microwave a tub of mint chocolate ice cream rather than a frozen cottage pie.
Yep getting a few of those days recently.
And then I just have to raise the brain fail stakes….
Cutting hair while tired. Starting to trim without putting the No2 guard on. In fact NO guard. End result a rather fashionable shaved area. On the plus side it’s a national lockdown so no-one outside the house is going to see it for weeks. Plenty of time to grow back. And as my parents would say ‘a rider on a passing horse won’t notice..’. They would also say ‘only 2 days between a bad hair cut and a you need to comb your hair cut’ – in this case make that a few weeks…..
“Dad can we switch this movie off. I’m feeling very uncomfortable with this.”
Son loves Marvel movies but for some reason he just can’t handle Spider-Man Homecoming. It’s just that one movie. The other Spider-Man movies he really enjoys. Certain movies just throw him. It starts off with him fidgeting then he is not able to look at the screen. Then he starts to pacing about. Finally he has to leave the room until it’s switched. Last night a few minutes later he was happily watching a Wolverine movie.
I remember the first film he did this with. We had gone to see Hotel Transylvania at the cinema. Within 15 minutes we had left. We ended up watching another movie and he enjoyed it.
So some movies just get to him. The last Joker movie is another we switched off quickly yet he loves all the other Batman films, even the much darker ones.
It’s so unpredictable. Just can’t anticipate these movie meltdowns. The problem movies don’t have a common theme. Last year a nondescript Disney Christmas movie set him off. At Easter the Pixar movie UP caused another meltdown. It’s not that they are scary. They are not more sensory than other ones. Not louder and not more violent. It’s not about death. We have never been able to pin the reason down.
But at least he knows that as soon as he gets the feeling that a movie is wrong then he can just switch it off. No questions will be asked and we will find another one to watch.
“Dad it’s like you and your football team. ”
He is so right. These days watching them play is deeply unsettling and often requires me to look the other way….
Some things are scary. An old castle on a dark brooding day is definitely scary. Imagine this place at midnight on Halloween. Yep definitely scary. But some sights go beyond that.
A few years back we were living in the city. I was manning the door on a super busy Halloween. A constant stream of trick or treaters. All in fantastic costumes. I felt bad for just wearing jeans and a T-shirt. I had shaved so couldn’t even claim to be a werewolf. The doorbell rang and I opened the door again with a friendly smile. Two little devils looked up at me. Before I had chance to complement the monsters on being super scary, one of the devils screamed and ran off crying. The other devil calmly asked if he could have his brothers treats. With the brave devil chomping on his chocolates I went to apologise to the parent who was stood on the street. The mum just laughed and said her son wasn’t very brave and had screamed at a few masks on the night.
The worry was that I wasn’t wearing a mask.
WOW. And that’s why you don’t get any photos of me. Definitely a face perfect for radio….
In life you get asked so many questions. But some questions keep repeating themselves. Like the classics ‘Are we there yet?’ and ‘where’s the remote control?’.
Then there are other questions. More vexing questions. One question keeps popping up. I’ve been asked this by family members, other parents, teachers and even once a nurse. It does have a number of variants but it’s basically the same question
Will your son get better?
Will his Aspergers improve?
Will his Aspergers improve as he gets older?
I’m no clinical specialist. Just a bumbling parent. But here’s my take on the question.
Aspergers is a lifelong syndrome. It’s not going to get better. Its not going to be cured. It’s not going to disappear. What might change is that over time the individual and the family may develop strategies to help deal better with some of the situations life will throw at them. Also some of the specific symptoms may fluctuate over time. For example in a number of individuals something like repetitive hand flapping may become less prevalent with age. Also Aspergers often coexists with a number of other conditions – dyspraxia, ADHD, dyslexia…. It is possible that some of these conditions could improve with time. For example our son has with hard work started to overcome some of the issues which his dyspraxia and dyslexia had caused him in his earlier years.
So yes it is possible that improvements may occur. But here’s the thing, it’s not guaranteed. Each individual case is different, unique. Things may stay the same with age. They can also get worse with age.
So we just don’t know.
The Clinical Psychologist who did the full review of our Son was quite clear. The majority of his Aspergers related traits will stay with him over his life. However at around the teenage period changes may start to occur. It could go either way. He could become fully independent or he may regress and may need some form of life long support. She talked through a number of possible scenarios. One scenario was that some improvements would occur potentially in the areas of dyslexia and the diminishing of some of the repetitive behaviours. Another scenario painted a downturn in his existing anxieties and fears. This could occur naturally during his teenage years or could be triggered by a single significant event which effects his view of the world. Tips the balance in his risk assessments of the world. This could lead to significant mental health concerns and potentially social isolation. Where we are sat currently, we are not a million miles away from that scenario. The triggers – the death of his mum, a pandemic, his teenage years…. He is currently physically cut adrift from the world. His fears and anxieties ramped up to the rafters.
Nothing is set in stone. We just have to go with the flow and see what life brings. It could be still be a fully independent life. But it could also entail a lifelong requirement for support. In this country we don’t cater for the latter scenario. Support has to be fought and won for young children. That support is at best is patchy. During the teenage years the support tends to be reduced due to funding cut backs. By early adulthood the support has completely vanished. That’s a sobering thought for parents in this position. It really is.
Captain Chaos is carefully guarding his new great tasting toys.
That Apple Tree needs a serious trim. I had a go today. Managed to fall out of the tree. Bruised shoulder but the fall ended with a fabulous forward role which was perfectly landed. The boy has still got the moves…..
School definitely still has some moves. Sadly not always great ones.
We are in the early stages of a long road trying to manage and help with our son’s serious anxieties. Anxieties about illness, unclean things, viruses and diseases. It’s so easy to tip him further into the realms of excessive hand washing and isolation. Yesterday started off heading a little too close to the rocks. News broke that the small local cafe had to close as two members of staff had tested positive for the pesky pandemic. I’ve managed to keep that from him so far. I can imagine his reaction to the thought that the pandemic was only a couple of miles away.
So while I was managing the news – SCHOOL got to work. Firstly an email was sent to him letting him know that the virus had arrived at the school. Then we got to the Food Technology lesson. All about poisoning, bacteria and viruses associated with food. James was asked to research the main offenders, the symptoms and the associated health risks. So now food has been added to his worry list.
A rather cheesed off email was sent to school…..
And today in Science it was all about diseases. The class being asked to research childhood diseases and viruses. Further they were asked to look at the risk of inherited medical problems.