Spikey

Meet one of the worlds great predators. I guess these are our equivalent of the shark. The Yorkshire Spikey Shark. Hanging from the tree or hiding in the undergrowth, waiting to pounce. Pain beyond pain.

I fell off a garden ladder again yesterday. Cut my thigh, back and bit of under skin bleeding in the knee. But my forearm – oh wow the pain – landing on one of these spikey chaps was the worst part. Still hurts today. Could have been much worse. My large backside wasn’t that far away from landing with much force onto Mr Spikey.

It was just one of those accidents. Was trying to be careful but the ground just gave way. Probably thanks to Mr Mole and his tunnels. The bit I struggle with is that I’m doing these things on my own. Hawklad’s fears mean that I can’t expect him to help out. So no one to point out the risks I’ve missed. The better ways of doing things. And no one to hold the steps as I go up. Actually no one to send up the ladder rather than me !!!!! I guess it means that my life is about trying to turn two person jobs into single person projects. Not ideal but needs must. Often having to do tasks that are way beyond my skill mix. Things I shouldn’t be really trusted with.

So as I stood in the house trying to apply antiseptic to my cuts, while trying to figure out how to get a plaster on my back cut….. Hawklad appeared and gave me one of those looks…..

Dad I take it you have been gardening again. You know it’s bad for you.”

Why don’t you just pay for a professional to do it properly and safely.”

But there’s the other side of being single. Time spent with Hawklad is time I can’t work. So choices have to be made. Paying for gardening comes way down the list of priorities. So this won’t be my last garden accident. But that’s life.

J

Grouse

Most definitely not like this today. The strange yellow thing in the sky has most definitely gone on holiday. Hopefully not a long one.

Currently I am looking out of window into the rainy garden and thinking. I’m guessing this home at school project has many months to run. As a single parent it’s trying to get my head round the logistics of that. At present there is not much work and what work there is can be done at home. Shopping can be done through a combination of home delivery and very quick trips to the small local store. But what happens if I need to make a longer trip out. Hawklad is not comfortable at all being left alone.

The options are limited at the best of times and these are not the best of times.

Normally our options would be one of two sisters (but one-off those is 2 hours drive away, and both don’t drive) and a couple of local parents who have known Hawklad since the age of 5 (they are busy so are not often available). Unfortunately under the new Government Lockdown rules all four options are now banned. Breaking those would leave us open to heavy fines. The Government has even encouraged people to contact the police if neighbours flout the rules. The irony here is not lost, flouting rules if you are a member of the government or the dad of the PM is said to be entirely reasonable. Under the new rules our only option would be for a grandparent to stand in. Unfortunately ours have all left this world. But here’s another irony, those grandparents would fall into high risk groups. Those who should be shielding. Are grandparents seen as expendable….

The other irony is that those who would be an option before they were banned fall into much lower risk groups. They can’t babysit for us but I could go to work with them and sit alongside them in an office – that’s apparently fine. We could even put on green camouflage and go grouse hunting together without any punishment. Maybe that’s the childcare answer, we set up a grouse hunting lodge in the garden. The first ever vegetarian one….

Fifth year

So here I go again. Starting another grief year. This will be the fifth one. Grief is not something that suddenly stops. It changes, it evolves but it doesn’t leave you. It becomes part of you. It’s part of me. It will always be part of me.

I remember back in 2016 thinking Life had made a terrible mistake. The roles should have been reversed. It should have been me that went first and my partner became the single parent. I must admit I had the same thought a few hours ago. Why her and not me. For whatever reason it just happened that way and I’ve had to get on with it. But it doesn’t stop me thinking that especially on the anniversary. These days I realise that I will never know the answer. It just happened that way. The key is make sure I’m the best parent I can be for our son. My partner would have done exactly the same thing. Being that parent will not happen if I am constantly inward looking. So let’s put that question back in its bid for another year. Let’s get on with the fifth year of grief by focusing on the here and now. Yes it’s the fifth grief year but more importantly it’s the fifth year of being a single parent. That’s got to continue to be my focus.

L

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.

1000 odd days

This is a photo from 3 years ago. I stumbled across it while looking for some old climbing ones. Another typical Yorkshire August day – all four seasons in one day. It got me thinking – what’s the same and what’s changed in those 1000 odd days. See that’s what a professional accountancy qualification can do for you – I’m good at those complicated adding up calculations.

THINGS WHICH ARE THE SAME

  • Getting no dyslexia support from school,
  • Getting no Aspergers support or accommodations from school,
  • Still bereaved,
  • Still a single parent,
  • Still a metal head at heart,
  • Hawklad is still a lovely character,
  • No holidays, no Switzerland,
  • Pets causing chaos,
  • My football team is still useless,
  • Still see myself as European,
  • Brexit is still a shambles and a monumental exercise of self destruction,
  • Vegetarianism,
  • Can’t cook,
  • Still exercising,
  • Still 5ft 10 and a half (don’t forget the half – it takes me beyond average height),
  • Still not climbing,
  • Still can’t work out the TV remote control,
  • The garden is still a mess,
  • Still don’t like U2,
  • Still haven’t seen Avatar without falling asleep,
  • Haven’t seen my brother even though we live only 50 miles apart,
  • The garden gate still needs fixing,
  • The washing machine is still possessed,
  • Still having bought myself that ginormous telescope,
  • The blog is still going,
  • Still writing about the same stuff,
  • Still waiting for official recognition of my stellar poetry skills,
  • Still haven’t won the lottery,
  • Still losing my car keys.

THINGS THAT HAVE CHANGED FOR THE WORSE

  • As Hawklad has reached the teenage stage many of the health support packages have been removed,
  • The waiting list to see The Paediatrician is now approaching 2 years,
  • A pesky pandemic,
  • Hawklads anxiety levels,
  • Hawklads isolation from the world and other kids his age,
  • Due to circumstances had to stop running,
  • Boris,
  • Trumps antics,
  • Might be a metal head but the days of skin tight jeans have gone,
  • Lost a couple of much loved pets,
  • Don’t really see my sisters anymore,
  • School’s view of Hawklad – definitely revising his perceived ability levels downwards,
  • The number of times I have to shout or pull my hair out at school is rising,
  • I’m physically meeting less people,
  • The list of things on the need sorting out when funds are available is growing.

THINGS THAT HAVE CHANGED FOR THE BETTER

  • Hawklad understands himself and his Aspergers much better now,
  • Hawklad is overcoming his dyslexia,
  • I understand now that it’s just as ok to Laugh as it is to Cry, YES it’s ok to live,
  • Friendship
  • Close Friendships,
  • Faith,
  • Love,
  • Happiness,
  • One step closer to home schooling (hopefully),
  • My dress sense – I finally chucked out some of my pink climbing shirts.

You might be thinking that looking at the relative number of entries on these lists that the last 1000 odd days have been generally bad. But look at some of those things on the last list. It’s not about quantity it’s about quality. Yep looking at that last list, over the last 1000 odd days we have challenges but some really good stuff has still happened. That’s why there is always hope.

Story to tell – two

We all have a story to tell. Every persons story is just as precious and important as the next. Our life’s are filled with good and bad times. A rollercoaster of emotions. Filled with memories. Some bring smiles, others bring tears.

2016, it’s August. A week before I had been to my mums funeral. My partner had not been well but currently no reason to be truly worried. A Wednesday afternoon and we drove her to the Hospital for an overnight stay and some routine tests. I can see her walking across the lawn to the car. We talked in the car. Can’t remember what about. Just general stuff I guess. After she is settled on the ward we are asked to leave so the medics could start the tests. Told to come back tomorrow to visit, maybe even to pick her up. It’s now Thursday lunchtime and I’ve returned to the ward. The Doctor pulls me to one side. A sudden collapse in her condition. I sit in stunned silence. Tests results are shocking and grave. The prognosis horrific. 95% chance that she will be dead within a couple of weeks. Zero chance of making Christmas. She is in and out of consciousness. It’s extremely likely that she is not aware anymore. If family need to say goodbyes then you need to do it really quickly. Driving from the hospital like a zombie – how do I explain this to our 8 year son. She never regained consciousness and died in a hospice a few weeks later. We never did have a conversation again. The last time we talked was in the car and I can’t remember what it was about.

That’s one of my stories. It’s not easy to tell even now. I can feel the darkness starting to sweep over me. But there are other stories. Stories which bring light and are easier to tell.

Holding our son for the first time after the birth. Looking into his eyes and thinking I’M A DAD. Then thinking he’s very small – don’t drop him. Then one overriding thought. How can something so small be so pigging LOUD.

Sat on a scary rollercoaster with Hawklad as we slowly pick up speed. Hearing his must reassuring words echo along the suddenly panic filled seats – “Dad I’ve just spotted two missing nuts and one support joint without any bolts.”

Sat watching a 4 year old Hawklad in Switzerland. He runs up to a man trying to do some post run stretches. He then spends 5 minutes excitedly telling this man all about Dr Who and The Tardis. Speaking to the man later to apologise we found out that the man had never heard of Dr Who and didn’t speak a word of English. What a poor confused person he must have been.

So we all have stories. Some bad and some good. That’s life for you. They add together to make up who we are. Actually taking the time to listen will open your eyes to another person. If you are fortunate you might even hear some back stories. Gain an understanding of who that person really is. What makes them tick. Without that understanding it’s not wise to jump to assumptions. Without those back stories you really don’t know anything about that person.

A story to tell – one

We all have a story to tell. All stories are just as valid and important as the next one. Sadly many stories are not told. Well actually that’s incorrect. Sadly many stories are not heard. They are replaced by stereotypes. Too many jumping to conclusions. A view that fits better into the needs of so called modern society.

This week again stories of single parents coming from The Government and it’s Friends. Scrounging off society. Shying away from work. A life of luxury…. That fits in with the message. BUT Cut to a supermarket. A parent is struggling to control a child. Those knowing looks and tuts from other shoppers. They have no idea of the back story. Just how tired that parent is. Trying to figure out a way to feed the family with so little money. Trying to cope with zero help. Being crushed by anxiety and living no life at all. Crushed by circumstances. It’s often easier for some people to cast the first stone rather than offer a hand of support.

The story of kids with Autism and Aspergers again often not heard. Drowned out by stereotypes and unfounded assumptions. Each and every child is different, unique. Each child has their own back story. But so often we here – uncaring, cold, demonic, unfeeling, lacking empathy, no sense of humour, unable to love, a burden on society, low attainment, not really like a kid should be.

Wrong, wrong , wrong. Every child is unique. That’s the point of this blog. Others bloggers do it far better than my drivel. But we try to show the real story of our kids. Hawklad has Aspergers yet he can be funny, caring, have empathy, play games, understand others, be funny, have talents, be lovely, have dreams they want to achieve, have a sense of humour and love. All kids deserve a chance. Deserve a childhood. All kids.

Everyone has a unique story. Maybe as a society we need to start listening.

Closer to the action

It’s been a hot day for Yorkshire. Not as hot as many places, but still hot for us.

Time to do some gardening. For the observant amongst you

  • Yes that conservatory has been taken over by Dinosaurs. I blame them for the mess,
  • Yes that ghostly and out of focus apparition in a red T-shirt is me. That’s the closest your going to get to a photo….. That’s how us with ‘faces made for radio’ like to do things….

An hours weeding. Lots of weeds pulled up and yet seemingly so little progress. But at least I’ve made a start.

Hoping for another clear night. A night of shooting star spotting. The Perseid Meteor Shower is currently ongoing. Last night at 1am we were outside. Sheet lightening frequently flashing across the sky. We always have a little game – who can spot the most… It was close last night.

Hawklad – 50 meteors

Dad – 4

Dad what are you doing?”

I’m lying on the ground, why don’t you join me…

Certainly not AND why?”

I’m thinking that if I’m lying down then I’m comfortable. Don’t have to strain my neck. I get to lie down and scan the sky. I think it’s the best way to see meteors.

*******Not the first time I’ve tried this approach – it worked well but one important safety point. Don’t put your cup of hot drink on the ground next to you. That last time my cup was visited by a slug. That’s not what I want in the dark when I’m taking a swig of warming brew********

“Really Dad. I have a problem with your technique?”

Go on then Hawklad what possible problem can you find with lying on the back while meteor hunting.

Well Dad. I’m standing up. So that takes me at least 5 feet closer to the sky action. Maybe that’s why I’m at 40 meteors and you are at TWO….”

Ok point taken.

Clouds permitting I’m hoping for a huge comeback.

Mmmmmmm

“Dad its about time you had a forfeit.”

****Hawklad knows me far too well. If you fancy beating someone at a challenge then I’m your man****

That’s assuming Son that you can beat your Dad.

That’s a given Dad”

Ok I’m on a losing streak which is running well over 7 years. But maybe today is MY day. So what am I going to beat you at. FIFA, Kerplunk, Top Trumps, Table Football. Maybe even a race – remember your recovering from an operation (**** what an awful parent that makes me sound like ****).

No Dad let’s do something completely different. Let’s pick a word and if I can get you to say it this afternoon – then I win.”

I’ve got this. What’s the word going to be? How about Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (****didn’t sound anything like that in my several attempts to say it*****).

No, how about we make it interesting and make it something like Mmmmmmm”

Ok that’s a deal.

*************

Dad where did we see Hollywood Vampires play?”

That was Manchester.

Ha that was easy Mmmmmmanchester.”

I’m not having that Hawklad. Doesn’t count.

**************

Dad which band did Ace of Spades?”

That’s Motörhead.

Got you. Mmmmmmotorhead.”

No no no, not having that.

**************

Dad what is the best comic book movie Universe?”

Definitely Marvel

So easy, Mmmmmmmarvel”

No no no no no. Just No Hawklad.

***************

But finally I cracked. The Force is not strong with this Jedi Knight.

Dad I’m starving, do you fancy a Chinese takeout?”

Mmmmmmmmm Mushroom Foo Yung. Mmmmmmmmmm Beancurd in Black Bean Sauce.

Got you properly that time Dad.”

Pants…. So I take it that you don’t want a takeaway meal then.

Of course not Dad.

Ok Hawklad, what’s my forfeit then?

Dad Tomorrow I’m going to make you a special drink in the kitchen. Let’s see what interesting ingredients I can find. Bet you won’t be saying Mmmmmmmm after you drink that.”

No I kinda figured that. Unless it’s ‘Phone me a Mmmmmmedic”

Money, money, money

Clearly the blueberry has given up on this Yorkshire Summer and just assumed it’s autumn already.

MONEY. Not listened to that Pink Floyd song in ages.

Get a good job with good pay and you’re okay….

That’s how the song goes. It’s funny that I love Floyd but this is the only song of theirs that I don’t like. The sound of the cash till just annoys me. It’s kinda nice that when I finally got to see them live, I can remember the concert so well yet I can’t remember them playing this song. It’s so good when the mind works like that.

MONEY. Before the world changed in 2016 we were doing alright. Finding a way to maintain two quite well paid jobs while making sure one of us was always there for Hawklad. It wasn’t easy and took a shed load of planning, but we found a way. We had a nice house, two cars (our jobs headed in different directions) and we could afford a trip to Switzerland every year. We tried to save for the future so we didn’t buy much. But it was a comfortable life and we could certainly pay the bills.

Then the world suddenly changed. I’ve just realised how lame that phrase sounds. Took me long enough. Seismic Rupture might be better. Need to think about that…

MONEY. The last thing you should be thinking about after a bereavement is money. But far too often MONEY quickly looms over you when you are at your lowest ebb. Bills still have to be paid. Food has to be bought. The government wants its pound of flesh, death brings the delights of Inheritance Tax. Two incomes suddenly became one. Even that one….. Single parenting, Single Aspergers parenting, Single parenting to a 9 year old who has just lost his mum. My job became impossible to maintain. Suddenly I was scrambling for a part time job which worked round Hawklad. MONEY became a very scarce commodity. Trying to get my head properly round these scary things is the last thing I needed when my world had just been shaken to the ground. Trying to look at a shrinking bank statement is bloody hard when it’s done through crying eyes.

That’s how it’s been with MONEY ever since 2016. I was so lucky to find a job which was flexible enough to fit round the single parenting gig. But I was still trying to pay the bills. Working out which repair jobs would have to be kicked into the future – which is most of them. Only trying to spend on the absolutely essential stuff. Funny thing is how often schooling costs suck up any spare cash. Holidays are just not happening – the last one was back in 2015. When we do have to buy items the first point of call is always the previously enjoyed or damaged sections. Our one extravagance, concerts, are always in the much cheaper – restricted view areas. We never turn down hand me downs. I’m currently looking at an exercise bike which was surplus to someone’s requirements and is held together with copious amounts of electricians tape.

MONEY. How needs it. With hindsight it’s clear that we are so lucky. So many are in a much worse position than we are. I’ve found a job that kinda fits our lifestyle. We have a nice house and garden. Live in a lovely area. Friends are wonderful. Financially it’s challenging but we are just about stable. Money helps but it doesn’t buy you happiness. Thinking of Hawklad, memories and friends – money doesn’t buy you those things.