Vexing

Time passes. It keeps on passing. A wander round this small graveyard provides proof of this. Many of the once proud gravestones are now weathered beyond recognition. Time passes.

Five years ago I had just driven to the crematorium to pick up my partners ashes. They joined my mothers ashes on the sideboard. At that stage a real urge to get on with laying my those two precious spirits to the earth. Definite external pressure for this. I remember listening to one so called expert talk about it being unhealthy for society for people to linger on those who had left us. Maybe that’s the hidden message there – it might be ok for the person grieving but it’s uncomfortable for everyone else. Anyway it seemed like the right thing to do. The only thing to do.

Within weeks I had scattered mum on her family grave. I remember it so well and I have already wrote about a bizarre memory from that experience. I was alone in the graveyard. As I started to clear some earth away, to my side I noticed a little squirrel. A squirrel apparently doing the same thing on a neighbouring grave. Was it a case of burying nuts or was it a burial. It made me smile, two souls getting on with important stuff, maybe the same stuff, almost happy to have company there. Mum would have loved that sight.

Now time to get a move on laying my partner to the ground. Partly in England and partly in Switzerland. A bit of a logistical nightmare. I secured the paperwork to allow for the transport of ashes overseas. Ready to begin.

Five years later…..still waiting to begin.

Now I worry. Have I left it too late. Have I missed the window of opportunity to follow my partners wishes. Being a single parent and with son’s Aspergers, European travel is a nightmare – feeling like it gets more problematic every year. No similar excuse for the English sites. But it just didn’t feel right. Should I really put our son through more grief when he was still so young. No right or wrong answer here. We all need to do what’s best for our close ones and ourselves here. Unfortunately just like most things, just like European travel for us, it seems to get more daunting the longer it goes on.

Have I missed the best time to do it?

That feeling is making feel very anxious at present. Will we ever get round to doing what we have to do? Was life really supposed to be this vexing…..

Unpredictable

Today the weather can’t make its mind up. Every few minutes it just keeps changing. So unpredictable. I remember my Dad telling me an expression about unpredictable life. Unfortunately it’s not an expression that translates very well into the modern politically correct world. So here’s one I’ve just made up. The weather today is about as predictable as a ferret which has been let loose in a sweet shop.

Thinking about it – I could do with a sugar rush right now. Better not….

What is pretty predictable is that our little family lockdown is going to extend into 2021. I just can’t see our son making sufficient progress to even consider venturing into busy environments any time soon. We are in this for the long haul. On top of this we is the wider pandemic situation. We are seemingly entering a lengthy period of stricter social distancing rules.

We just have to be realistic. The initial aim has to be just getting son to venture out a few times to remote and quiet outside locations. If we can achieve that over the next 3 months then we are doing well.

So my mindset is now focused around the continuing physical isolation which the rest of this year will bring. But that’s a step forward. Uncertainly and just not knowing is worse for me. At least now I can start to get my head round the situation. Start to draw up plans to get keep our spirits up. Normally the dark months are punctuated with special events and family meet-ups. Not this time. So what do we do?

For son part of the strategy means spending money. Much money…. Going to try and get him the latest Xbox. His current one is well battered now. That will keep him occupied and he enjoys playing his football game. The hope is that I can encourage him to try a few new games rather than just FIFA football. The rest of the approach for him will revolve around just trying to do fun stuff. It’s still his childhood, he still has to enjoy it.

What do I do? I guess I get an old Xbox to play on…. Keep the fitness up. Certainly more reading. Get stuck into improving my spoken German (maybe buy a learning app that can double up as a homeschooling aid). The garden is long overdue a real makeover. Let’s see if I can dust down the 35 year old telescope and get out a bit more on those rare clear winter nights. Going to learn how to play the keyboard

I’ve told the story before of our son asking for a keyboard for Christmas. I did well and got a decent electronic one for next to nothing on a Black Friday sale. Unfortunately when it came to Christmas it transpired that the required keyboard was not supposed to be musical but one for his tablet. So it’s basically sat gathering dust….

Until now.

That’s a start. It’s something to work and build on. I’m no use to our son if I spiral downwards, so it’s time to GET UP and make sure I do more than just existing.

WE can do this.

Black and white

Black and white. Don’t worry this is not a post about my so called football team.

There is so many grey areas in my life. So much appears to be unclear, uncertain, ambiguous. But there is black and white. No ambiguity about being a widow. Well actually that’s not strictly truein the eyes of the government I am not actually defined as a widow – well like on everything else, they can stuff off.

Another black and white issue in my life is being a single parent. No getting around that. Currently it’s me and no one else. I am the parent, the legal guardian, the teacher, the school liaison officer, the cook, the chef (OMG), the snack maker, the cleaner, the money earner, the making ends meeter, the worker, the gardener, the shopper, the clothes mender, the thing finder, the voice of reason (ha,ha,ha), the trip planner, the censor, the nurse, the pharmacist, the shoulder to cry on, the person to shout at, the present buyer, the diplomat, the planner (wow), the fixer, the Aspergers expert (🙀🤯), the dyslexia specialist, the Xbox fixer, the person who punches the WiFi router, the telephone receptionist, the purse keeper (the Accountant is really the last person who should be trusted with this), the entertainment organiser, the dishwasher, the relationship counsellor, the tidy upper, the you got enough layers on voice, the worrier, the hairdresser and the kick them out of bed bad guy.

I hear people frequently talk about single parents as like a curse of society – Enjoying the easy life – Sponging off the state – Non stop trips clothes shopping, coffee shops, gyms and nights out. I’m sorry they have no idea. It’s hard work, never ending, full time commitment. It’s incredibly isolating. It grinds you down.

BUT ultimately it’s one of the most rewarding thing you can ever do. It’s so worth the sacrifices.

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

Red

A trip out to the village post box feels like a real adventure. The stuff you can find even on a two minute walk. Definitely saviour those moments.

Today provided a longer trip out. This time a trip pharmacy to pick up a prescription. It felt odd driving in the local town. Actually it just felt odd driving. I admit that I needed to work out which of the 3 peddles was the clutch – how bad is that. Clearly cars are more than just point and go. In the town definitely more signs of the impact of the pandemic. Some places have closed down. Controlled entry queues outside the stores. 2m spacing tape on the pavements. Definitely more masks on view. In the pharmacy Perspex screens and staff dressed like they are about to perform surgery on the customers. Missing items on the prescription, some medicines are just not available. Sign of the times.

School emailed all the parents to let them know that the school has had its first confirmed coronavirus case. It’s stays open and carries on. Will be such a worry for everyone there. Sadly it won’t be the last one. It certainly doesn’t do anything to change the narrative for our son. He’s schooling at home. He’s schooling at home for the foreseeable future.

We carry on.

Insignificant

It’s a big sky. Its easy to feel very small and insignificant stood under it.

There are so many times when parenting is the best gig on the planet. Then there are other times…

I was trying to convince our son that he had washed his hands enough. He had been at the soap and water for nearly five minutes. Everything I said didn’t seem to have any impact. Finally he decided that was enough. He asked if the towel was clean and had it been washed that day. I assured him that was the case. He left the bathroom and I looked at his hands. His very red and sore skin. That’s what happens when you wash as often as he does. We are using skin friendly soap. I water it down further. But his hands are still red. I encourage him to use his skin care lotion. But his hands are still sore.

These are the times I feel inadequate as a parent. Missing the support of another person. Someone to share the load. Definitely running out of things to try. Actually ran out of things to try. His health professionals try to help but they see this intrinsically linked to the pandemic. Get the pandemic under control and we can start to bring his hand washing under control – hopefully. But that doesn’t make me feel any better as a parent. Feels like I had one job and I dropped the ball on it.

So I’m stood under that big sky. Feeling insignificant. Time to breathe. Reset and go again. Yes significant but definitely not beaten yet.

A window

A brief window to step outside and breath. Otherwise it’s been horrible. Many of the places around us have closed due to bad weather. Must admit education feels that way a bit currently.

UK School doesn’t really work for those with additional educational needs. The traditional classroom setup brings much stress. School at home brings a little respite.

So that’s two weeks ticked off from the next stage of the school at home approach.

I was asked why I didn’t call it homeschooling. Basically we are still trying to follow what the school is teaching. Not setting our own learning agenda. Having to do this just in case our son decides to return to school when he is able to. So it’s not the freedom of homeschooling, it’s basically school but at home.

So in two weeks we have kind of found a way of trying to keep up with the class. Covering the same subjects. In some lessons we are getting all of the material which is being used in class. In some we are getting some of the material and we are trying to fill in the gaps as best we can. In a few subjects we are basically getting nothing so we are just winging those – maybe we are following the class, maybe we are heading in completely the wrong direction.

He is getting virtually no pastoral care from school. Absolutely zero feedback on work submitted, not sure some of the teachers are even reading it yet. A couple of the teachers do occasionally send a message asking if he is ok with the work set. That’s it really. On a Thursday all the pupils have to select an option for an additional lesson. It’s supposed to cover non curriculum activities. It’s about learning new skills and building confidence. It could be a gaming option, archeology, performing arts, sports, astronomy. He hasn’t been included in this programme – says it all really.

In my mind I have already settled on the best way forward. It’s for our son to leave school and opt for full on homeschooling. But it’s his call. It’s his future. So when the time is right then he can make a decision. But I have to say school are not bending over backwards to sell themselves.

L

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….

Missed goal

I admired this beautiful plant. Admired it as I was sat on the bench. I was actually sat on the bench to inspect my injuries. A rather too enthusiastic attempt to score a garden goal ended up with my head first in the hedge. A few cuts and scrapes but the flower took my mind off the pain. Can’t believe after all the damage, I didn’t score the goal. This was all done to the backdrop of Hawklad laughing his socks off.

Dad do you want help getting out of the hedge. Are you ok?”

Hawklad concern is better when your not wetting yourself with laughter.

It was like an albatross with too much in its belly trying to get into the air. Little legs struggling to pick up enough speed to take off. And failing spectacularly. That was too funny Dad”.

Hawklad that was a cracking goal

You missed Dad. It was all for nothing.”

Oh man. I thought I had hit the target.

You certainly hit the hedge, unfortunately the ball was less accurate. Actually it was very similar to your head. It ended up buried in the hedge. Shall I help you out Dad.

No I’m doing that by myself now.

Dad you’ve left a big hole in the hedge. Maybe it’s your new art. Body dents in the natural world.”

I could tour the world hurling myself head first into different world landmarks.

It’s a big hole you have left. Looks like a hippo has crashed through.”

Hawklad are you saying I’m as big as a hippo……

“Of course not Dad. That would be unfair on Hippos.”

Now you mention it, that is a big indent. Did I really make that.

Yep. Being a responsible parent weren’t you Dad. It’s a good job I moved out of the way as you would have hit me.”

Responsible parenting goes out of the window when your son is taller than his Dad. Look at the bruises on my shins from your kicks. All the world great footballers have to endure the dastardly attempts to stop their artistry.

“I’m only defending myself from a charging hippo. Funny I’m not seeing Messi or Neymar playing in my garden. It’s more like Gloria from Madagascar. ”

Absolutely no appreciation from my so called son.

That’s right Gloria. Now go and fetch the ball from the hedge….”

I will after Gloria sits down and inspects her injuries. Oh… Look at that flower.

The shape of bread to come

See the sun does shine in Yorkshire – occasionally.

How can baking be so hard. Everything seemed to be going so well and then you end up with very odd shape bread. One day, one day.

Maybe I can blame these baking woes on a lack of sleep. At least it ended up tasting ok. So it’s kind of a result.

I was sat drinking my herbal tea and having my misshapen bread with some hummus. Really, is this what life has become….. sudden urge for proper coffee and a sausage roll. But that is life currently for me. I might wish for something else but circumstances dictate otherwise. Wow that feeling could cover so many things. But at that precise moment my eyes wandered to a book on the table. A book about Ski Jumping. One small dream is remembered.

I have always wanted to go to and see just one Ski Jumping competition. Have never got round to doing that. Circumstances have repeatedly prevented that. Now as a single parent with a son who struggles to get to the front gate of the house, those circumstances seem to be even more insurmountable. Another winter will pass. It’s definitely not happening this season. Maybe not for a number of years.

Yes it’s a little deflating but don’t get me wrong. That dream hasn’t died. It’s still there. Still cherished. The future still offers hope. Just have to deal with the here and now. In all likelihood autumn and winter will see no real change in our circumstances. The next 6 months will be largely restricted to our house and garden. Very few social encounters. Single parenting day in day out. More days of dodgy bread and hummus lunches. But it is what it is. Will just deal with that. But I won’t forget those special dreams. That what keeps me going.