Ricky

Meet Ricky the newest member of the gang. He’s made an appearance before when he started burying his nuts in the lawn over winter. But now he has started coming for his lunch. Happily feasting next to the birds. He (or she) will be a welcome friendly face going forward.

We are just over a week from the start of the summer holidays. Six weeks of immersing myself in our son’s world. It truly is a privilege. A wonderful mind trip. Happy parent.

I bumped into a parent from his current school. They have the holiday mapped out. Immediately they break up they are going to a music festival for the first weekend. Then the kid is going on a football course for the first week. Then they fly out for a two week beach holiday in a popular Spanish resort. They come back and then the kid is off camping with the scouts. A couple of trips to fun parks and family barbecues are then followed by a family week in Paris Disney.

Asperger/Autism summer holidays can be very different to this. Ours is. For a start we are limited by finances. Our summer holidays are long periods of house lockdowns briefly punctuated with carefully selected trips to places without crowds. This means early day trips to places like Zoos – trying to cram as much in as soon the venue opens and leaving as soon as the crowds start to build. For his favourite zoo that means arriving at 9am and probably leaving around 10.30am. Trips to the cinema will be to the 8.30am screenings. Locations will be carefully planned so that he feels comfortable there. Walks will be in very remote and largely unvisited areas.

A trip to Switzerland would have been an option (he is comfortable there and the journey is familiar having done it a few times) but we just can’t afford it. Plus he is more comfortable going during quieter periods – April/October. And we haven’t tried it since his mum left us – will it ever feel the same.

So our summer holidays will be quiet and largely cut off from the outside world. That would worry me in the past. The real danger of becoming increasingly introverted over those weeks and losing any social confidence which I had struggled to build up. This year it doesn’t really bother me. Yes I might become more introverted but its not as if I have a full social diary. Introversion and isolation is the new me. I can focus on our son and see what adventures we can weave – I’m sure Ricky will play some part as well.

Oh come on…

Stood watching the sunset. Two thoughts crossed my mind.

One… what a stunning sunset. Developed without warning and only lasted a few minutes. It’s the sort of sunset that would have made my partner so happy.

Two… bloody hell my fingers hurt.

You get towards the end of the school year with the once extensive school uniform reserves drained to drought levels. Down to one of each item and they have seen much better days. Sizing is probably about two sizes to small and really they are just a collections of holes held together by a few resilient fibres. Just got to make them last two more weeks. That reminds me – I had better start saving for next terms uniform replenishment. Bet that’s cheap!!!

It maybe only two weeks but you can almost see what’s left of the clothes disintegrating in the air. It’s time for drastic action. It’s time for emergency patching. Unfortunately sewing comes as naturally to me as veganism comes to Donald Trump. I am useless. Always have been, always will be. Up to two years ago that wasn’t a problem. My partner loved darning and out would come the sewing box with such glee. My mum was also an expert in the dark sewing arts. Those days have gone now.

So now it’s down to me. Houston we have a problem. So out came my partners sewing box. A result a couple of useable patches ready to go. How hard can this really be. So a fine looking needle was selected. Several different types of thread to go for. Helpfully each has a number 60, 70, 75, 80 – what the hell does that mean – is it size, age, weight, tensile strength. Let’s go for 60 as it’s black. We then start to put the thread through the needle eye. T***, f***, s***, b******, buggerations. I might as well of been trying to give a cheesed off Honey Badger a haircut. One hour it took me, one hour of my life wasted on that instrument of torture.

Then I started to attach the patch to the trouser knee hole. The sodding thread falls out of the needle. So we start again. Two coffees later we have a needle and thread ready to go again. Now the needle won’t go through the patch. What is it made of – bullet proof armour. Eventually I punch through but with so much force that the needle eye has embedded into my finger. Blood everywhere. After a plaster has been applied I continue. Not once, not twice maybe six times the needle struggles to get through the patch but once through it passes through my finger skin with such ease. In the end my fingers resembles Spongebob Squarepants’s backside. Holes everywhere.

But finally the job is done. The patch is secured and doesn’t look too bad. Quite pleased with that. THEN. Oh for f*** sake, oh come on!!!!

In hindsight it might not have been a great idea to push the needle not only through the front of the trousers but then through the back of the trousers as well. Great work. Now the left trouser leg is completely sewn tight at the knee. What’s the kid supposed to do – hop to school, pirate style.

Don’t think badly of me. After I unpicked the stitching I decided to stick the patch on with superglue. Let’s hope it doesn’t rain.

So yes it’s a wonderful sunset but my fingers are so much more redder…

Dratini sneaked in ..

I thought I would check my phone to see if I could find a photo for today’s post. But what did I find. Without help (and rather sadly) I can say it’s Dratini with his Pikachu backing band. I honestly can’t remember taking this yesterday. Yet son is claiming no responsibility for this and the other 12 Pokemon related pictures. So clearly it must have been me. I must be going barking mad……

It’s been one of those ‘It feels like the walls are slowly closing in on me’ days. Even the walk failed to lift my spirits. No chance conversations on a day that I could have really used one. But anyway I managed to put my game face on for the return of the school bus. It’s something I’ve learnt to do pretty well. We had a laugh as he ribbed me about the ongoing carnage which is my football team. I was good on the outside, not so good on the inside….

So I was not starting from a position of inner strength when our son out of the blue said

I really wonder if I have depression. I’ve heard that it can be common with people who have Aspergers. I didn’t think it would be me but life does seem tough for me most days”

He is only 12. It was another one of those parenting wasn’t supposed to be like this moments.

Its easy to forget what he’s been through in those few years. School really doesn’t help. At least it’s only 3 weeks until they break up for the summer holidays. That will help. We have started the ‘fill a jar with red and green sweets exercise’ again. Every time our son has a good moment he puts a red sweet in the jar. If he has a bad moment then he puts a green sweet in the jar. It’s a great way of assessing his relative mood. Hopefully as in previous cases we get more good sweets than bad sweets.

I really do worry that my depression is also rubbing off on him. That just would not be acceptable. I’m unlikely to be fixed any time soon so will get my best game face ready. I will redouble my efforts to ensure that he has great fun during this weekend. Let’s get the jar stacked with red sweets. Saturday morning he wants to do some Pokemon Go hunting. That will be more odd looking photos on my mobile. You have been warned for next week blog photos.

Sherlock’s Yorkshire Canon

Last night we sat down to watch a couple of episodes from the wonderful Sherlock TV series. One of which was the Hound of The Baskervilles. Or as my helpful word checker wants to autocorrect to – the Hound of the Basketballs – that would be a slam dunker of a book. It is the episode where Holmes and Aspergers are specifically referenced. When Lestrade talks about the great detectives awful people skills Watson specifically mentions Aspergers. I could see no apparent reaction from our son.

However later the following was said

I know it helps explain Sherlock’s character and his abruptness with others. And it’s kinda nice that the we get a hero with autism. But people will start to think that we are all brilliant, unfeeling and very very odd. Definitely psychotic. One day we will get a character who is just in the middle.”

He is so right. It’s called a spectrum for a reason. Labels just don’t fit. The media focus on the extreme ends but hardly ever look at the middle. But that’s the media and entertainment for you. It’s like when we crashed into the world of single parenting, single father parenting. I remember having a similar conversation

Why do so many movies and TV shows depict the single dad as a suicidal drinker obsessed with dating sites and clearly unable to cope with at least one wild child who has gone bad and needs saving.

Currently sat here with a herbal tea and listening to classical music. That’s not going to make for an interesting movie. Anyway back to Sherlock. We sat enjoying the episode when two thoughts struck me.

ONE: Sherlock was one of my partners favourite TV shows. We are watching her DVDs. She should be sat next to our son enjoying the experience. Life is not fair.

TWO: Looking round at the room. It’s a mess. She would kill me.

So this morning before the dog walk into the strangely blue skied Yorkshire countryside I had a major cleanup. Even put the Sherlock DVDs neatly back in the box. Then on the walk I almost could here her voice saying ‘stop taking so many photos’ so I only took the one this morning. Rather than snap away I looked at the view, imagined a demon hound stalking Dartmoor and I wondered what a Yorkshire themed Sherlock would sound like.

Ferret of the Baskervilles

A study in rhubarb

A scandal in Barnsley

The adventure of the missing Yorkshire Pudding

The adventures of the crooked Lancashire man

The adventures of the Yorkshire Terriers Main.

As much as I love Yorkshire thank god Sherlock was based in London.

Grounded

Getting older is great for your body. I wish I could have my body from when I was 30. Hang on it was buggered then, just dislocated my shoulder playing football. I wish I had my body from when I was 25. Hang on I had just dented my rib cage playing cricket. I wish I had my body from when I was 20. Hang on I had just cracked my skull open playing rugby. I wish I had Thor’s body from before the Endgame.

Playing contact sport is basically bad for you.

Since the world changed I have focused on our son. But that is not completely sustainable. You do need to find time for yourself. If only to help manage stress levels. My anchor has been fitness and home workouts. Thirty minutes a day as a minimum. It worked until I realised I needed to stop myself becoming completely housebound. Couldn’t afford a gym so it was running. Again it worked well. But then the buggered body caught up with me again. So until a physiotherapist can have a look at me I am banned from running and weightlifting.

So the two things which have kept me sane over the last couple of years have suddenly become unavailable. Hopefully temporarily but you never know.

So I need to find something – a new anchor. But what? Climbing but that is far too risky and we are short of mountains round here. Cycling and walking would be good options but time constraints limit their appeal. Maybe not a sport then. Shockingly it might have to be a hobby.

  • Yoga – good for stress but I have the balance of a drunk three legged mountain goat
  • Dedicate time for reading – that could work, keep moaning about not reading enough
  • Write a book – possibly a cook or baking book….
  • Astronomy – time at night is a premium plus this is Yorkshire otherwise known as Cloudsville.
  • Birdwatching – another possible option and might meet others (even if they have feathers and a beak)
  • Learn another language – the nearest classes are many miles away and learning languages other than English will probably be outlawed after Brexit
  • Photography – only available camera is on my battered many years old iPhone
  • Gardening – who am I kidding, I am a plant mass murderer
  • Gaming – certainly not stress relieving
  • Painting – even messed up a paint by numbers Mona Lisa
  • Learn to play an instrument – would find a use for that keyboard I bought our son as a present, the one he asked for which apparently was supposed to be a gaming keyboard
  • Knitting – my knitting skills are only matched by my baking skills
  • Tree Shaping – we only have two small trees
  • Extreme Ironing – far too dangerous for me

So many options to ponder over. I will find a hobby. I have to if I’m going to pull this single parenting gig off. Asked our son and he helpfully suggested

Does sleeping count as a hobby”

Tell me why

In my voice – Tell me why

  • My partner was taken from us when she was so young.
  • The system continually fails our son.
  • The Government can find billions to bribe other parties to keep it in power but can’t find the money to fund education support for the kids who need it.
  • I don’t sleep anymore.
  • They say the world is getting smaller yet I feel so isolated.
  • Chocolate has so many blooming calories.
  • Hair doesn’t like growing on my head yet it sprouts like an Amazonian Forest on the back of the my hands.
  • The cat continually finds a way into the wardrobe.
  • I can’t find any socks in this house.
  • They never made a Captain Scarlet movie.

In our son’s voice – Tell me why

  • My mum had to die.
  • Both my grannies had to die.
  • My hamster had to die.
  • My girl cat who was like a sister to me had to die.
  • I can’t read.
  • Some people think I am stupid just because I am autistic and dyslexic.
  • Shops have to be so busy.
  • Hazard is leaving Chelsea.
  • Do people have to kiss in films.
  • Marvel Movies are way better than DC Movies.
  • Most kids don’t like rock music.
  • Broccoli wasn’t deemed an inedible plant.
  • My Dad can’t cook.
  • In our dogs voice – Tell me why
    • I get shouted at for pinching socks.
      I get shouted at for digging holes.
      I get shouted at for eating garden tools.
      I get shouted at for eating garden furniture,
      I get shouted at for digging up plants.
      I get shouted at for burying stuff like socks.
      I get shouted at for pulling bits of the apple tree off.
      I get shouted at for escaping.
      I get shouted at for climbing in the hedge.
      I get shouted at for eating cat poo, cow poo, sheep poo.
      I get shouted at for pinching food.
      My best friend isn’t with us anymore. I know I am a dog but she was a really cool cat.

    In our boy cats voice – Tell me why

    • My sister isn’t with us anymore.

    • My best friend, the really lovely woman has gone. I miss siting on her lap.
    • I get shouted at for missing the cat litter by several feet.
    • I get really shouted at for missing the litter by so many feet I hit the wall.
    • I get shouted at for sitting in front of the TV when a movie is on.
    • I get shouted at for sneaking into the wardrobe and getting white hairs on all the black clothes.
    • I get shouted at for falling in hot plates of food.
    • I get shouted at for always tripping people up.
    • I get shouted at for sleeping on the laptop.
    • I get shouted at for sleeping on the toaster.

    In our gerbils voice – Tell me why

    • We don’t live in a toilet roll factory.

    In the Deep Dark Woods

    A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood.

    Our son adored the Gruffalo story. I think our son had all of Julia Donaldson books. We loved reading them to him, that’s what parenting should be about. Not the anxieties, the stress, the frustration, the heartbreak.

    Walking through this deep dark wood took us back to that golden age. Fairytales and colouring books. Toy cars and Teddy Bears. Dragons and magic. Thomas the Tank Engine, Dora the Explorer and Iggle Piggle. When we were a team of 3. Golden Years.

    But time marches on…

    Son gets older. Fairytales replaced with Manga. Colouring books replaced with an iPad. Toy cars replaced with FIFA 19. Teddy Bears assigned to the shelves. Dragons upgraded to Transformers. Magic being drummed out of him by school. Thomas, Dora and Iggle now Assembled into Thor, Black Widow and Ironman. A team of three assigned to memories. The Golden Years now the Anxiety Times.

    We walk further into the deep dark wood. Let’s hope it’s magic returns and takes us to a different world. One where anxiety is vanquished, dreams flourish and life is enriching.

    The mouse found a nut and the nut was good.

    Tree or not to be

    So did we spend the day under a tree or was son sat at his school desk?

    NEITHER…..

    After much soul searching and reality checking son went out at 8am to catch the school bus. He was certainly tired. With the school worries he hardly slept at all. Again not a great way to start an enriching learning day.

    After drinking two of the darkest, meanest and strongest coffees ever conjured up I was almost ready to roll. A quick hoover and set a washing load off. This week our possessed washing machine is only washing on the delicates setting. The delicate setting and arc welded grass stains are not a great combo. Anyway its time to pile into work and immediately…. the phone rings …. school.

    Your son has had a little accident in his first lesson. We have ice packed his thumb and wrist but it’s badly swollen. Can you come and pick him up. Probably need to take him to the hospital.

    It never ends. It really never ends.

    An hour later we are sat in the hospital. Given the amount of broken bodies and unhappy souls in the waiting room it appears the Hulk has paid a visit to our local town this morning – and clearly he was in a mood to smash. Yesterday’s dream of spending the day under a tree transpired to be 4 hours in a clearly overstretched hospital.

    Now we are home with hopefully no bones broken this time but with ligament damage to his hand. Hopefully it’s just a few weeks of painkillers and ice packs. At last we have a use for that packet of frozen French Beans.

    So we start again. A painful hand. Worries of tomorrow’s potential school day already kicking in. Need to revise for an end of year test.

    Yet son secretly hoping swelling IS TOO BAD for school tomorrow. Dreamy thoughts about that tree. Bugger the revision let him watch Marvel.

    If we had only just opted to sit under the tree this morning….

    Dilemmas

    The world is full of dilemmas and seemingly perplexing questions.

    • Sleep on your back or front
    • Tea or Coffee
    • Is Trump a criminal or political hero
    • To help the injured bird or leave it for the hungry predator
    • Football or Soccer
    • Is Brexit a good thing or stupid
    • Sunsets or Sunrises
    • Tomato Ketchup or Mayonnaise on Fries
    • Captain America or Ironman
    • Toblerone – best chocolate ever or a chocolate designed to do damage to the top of your mouth on every painful bite
    • Are we better people when at war or at peace
    • Is Boris Johnson a political genius and loveable rogue or is he a monumental bellend
    • Batman or Superman
    • Cats or Dogs
    • Yorkshire or Lancashire
    • Marmite on toast or put the marmite in the bin

    At the moment we are wrestling with our own dilemmas. Ones only we can figure out but currently with no clear answer.

    School is clearly not working for our son and yet homeschooling will significantly increase the risk of further social isolation. Both options have advantages but many pitfalls. Yesterday it was school, today it feels like homeschooling, tomorrow no idea.

    The longer he stays in school the risk increases of him being lost in the system. Not given the chance to find his true talents and skills. Forced into a model which is not designed for him.

    We could move to a better schooling area but financially that’s not really practicable. The close support open to us is limited. In fact it seems to diminish every time we look. My family is geographically spread and not near. The potential wider support infrastructure is very limited in our area. So again do we move but we can’t afford to.

    With the help of the internet I could deliver a viable and tailored teaching programme. And yet, and yet. I would have to commit fully to providing the education and with just one variable income that would be financial madness. The bills only just get paid now.

    And one final irony. Why do the most important dilemmas occur in life when you are at your most tired. Drained. Almost beyond rational thought. But at 2.31am I do have just enough processing power available to answer one question – that in fact Boris Johnson is a monumental bellend….Let’s see if I can answer some more dilemmas now.

    Slinky Toy Woes

    Putting my sisters house warming present in a large tub was a great idea. 17 years of pink flowers without fail. I only wished that some of my other decisions were as astute as this one. My parenting years have seen some monumentally bad decisions. Here are some notable examples

    • The night after his mum died I thought he needed cheering up so we watched a family movie. One which to me looked quite funny. Unfortunately the one I picked started off with the mum dying within the first 10 minutes. Great selection.
    • Two days later we watched an animal cartoon and guess what – one of the parents died again. Fantastic.
    • Son wanted his hair coloured for a school play. I bought the required hair red dye. Unfortunately I never read the instructions and rather than ‘use sparingly’ I used the full tin. Took weeks to get his hair back to something like the correct colour.
    • Before his first day at school I bought the required school uniform. Unfortunately rather than picking up 3 pairs of trousers I might have picked up 3 girls school skirts.
    • Son wanted a Christmas themed jumper for a Woolies party at school. I thought I had bought a Transformers Christmas sweater. It ended up being a pink Princess one. For some reason son refused to wear it.
    • One I’ve already mentioned on the blog. Took son to see Captain Marvel. I ended up getting our son into the wrong screen showing a 3D version of Dumbo.
    • On our sons birth certificate I misspelt his middle name so had to have it changed later.
    • On our pups second night with us I let him sleep on our sons bed – as the first night had gone so well. I woke to find the duvet completely shredded.
    • I painted our sons bedroom in the green colour he had always asked for. It was a lovely job. When son looked at the finished makeover his response was

    Dad I wanted blue”

    • I might have let son watch a few minutes of DeadPool. In my defence I thought it was going to be just like Spiderman and didn’t bother checking the movie rating. I think he learned quite a few new or interesting words in those few minutes.
    • I bought him a manga movie that he wanted for his birthday. Unfortunately I messed up and he had to watch the Japanese language version.
    • At his schools end of year party I volunteered to cook the pizzas in the school kitchen. I got distracted and burnt all of them to crisp and set off the school fire alarms.
    • I bought our son a slinky toy for a Christmas present. I remember the fun I had as a kid watching the toy happily works it’s way done the stairs.

    Dad is this a slinky toy.”

    Sure is son. Hours of fun. Clever Santa.

    Dad shouldn’t Santa know that we live in a bungalow so we don’t have any stairs.”

    I’m sure we all have had these moments. So what are some of your classics?