Tomatoes

Sometimes it’s the little things….

I’ve just started my fifth year on my grief journey. A journey I would must definitely would rather had not started but now I’m on it, well I might as well make the best of it. And that’s what I am trying to do. For several years it was a nightmare. Just awful. But over time things have slowly moved on. Now it’s definitely good weeks and bad days.

I still get so many reminders of the process I am going through. Many of those are repeated experiences but every so often I still find new reminders.

I was checking the garden for things I could harvest for tonight’s meal and I came across these small tomatoes. Then a thought struck me. There was a time when this was not something I would do. Yes I would grow the tomato plants but that was it. My partner loved tomatoes. She would go out every day I see what could be picked and eaten right there and then. Those days have gone and now the ripe fruit sits and waits for me. That thought made me sad. But life has to go on. Hawklad would like a few fresh tomatoes on his plate. He currently doesn’t feel comfortable touching items outside so it’s down to me. Life goes on. Pick some tomatoes, think of my partner then it’s time to get on with living. Time to focus on the here and now. Find happiness in the world around me. It is most definitely there.

Bit of orange

It’s been a good year for roses here but so not for other flowers. But occasionally the colour shines out. Just as summer is closing we get a couple of late visitors. They are must welcome.

Hawklad is due another home counselling visit this week. Every two weeks is the plan. Part of a long term care strategy to see if they can help him with his anxieties and fears. An attempt to help him feel sufficiently ok to venture back into the wider world. He needs that professional support. Some things are just a bit outside of my parenting skill set.

Even with that help it’s going to be a long process. We need a fair and supportive wind to help the process along.

Like in many parts of the world pandemic numbers are rising. Unlike some parts of the world, the UK is trying to navigate these stormy waters with no effective government. They have a natural talent to make things worse, to add oil onto the fire. So it’s all a tab chaotic and shambolic. The PM sticking to his whack a mole strategy. His words not mine.

I was contacted by Hawklads care team to let me know that they will have to keep assessing if the service will be able to continue in the short term. They are receiving contradictory instructions from the top. It is likely that the home visits will have stop at some point. Probably very shortly. When they do stop then they will look into things like video appointments. Better than nothing I guess but far from ideal. Hawklad really struggles with that type of thing. The worry is that if the visits are forced to stop then they will not probably restart until after winter.

It’s just one of those things. Outside my control. Outside the care providers control. We just have to make the best of it. But it does add to the feeling that a return to school is a very long way off, if at all. It kind of feels like that our castle drawbridge is being raised again. Time to start manning the battlements. That’s a bleak thought. AND that’s why seeing a couple of small orange flowers in the garden is such a big thing for me.

Odd sandwiches

The one thing that you get used to as an Aspergers parent is routine. Lots of routine. That’s tough for parents like me as I am not really a routine person. I’m a bit more impromptu. Bit more going with the flow, see what happens person. Maybe some would call it winging it. Which is most odd. On most of the old Aspergers tests I would score very highly yet on one I was way down. Routine.

On this Hawklad is completely different to me. He needs his routine, his order, his plans. He needs to have that safety net and he needs to follow them. It’s reflected in so many things. If we are driving somewhere then we need to follow the usual route, even if that means a much longer journey. He likes to wear the same types of clothing – if he grows out of them then we need to replace with almost exact copies. He has a TV and movie schedule which he sets way in advance. We will often watch the same movie over and over again. School lessons have to follow the timetable without variation. We need to buy the same types of pens and pencils. He likes to go out in the garden and talk at the same times. He doesn’t like me to do things like change my hairstyle or try new clothes. It’s funny I’ve been wanting to shave my hair off for years but that’s just not allowed.

Break the routine and he is immediately hit with waves of self doubt and fear. Over the years we have tried to work on this. Slowly trying to introduce change. Occasionally trying to introduce unplanned but definitely fun routine changes. But it’s never really worked. Routine is just a key part of who Hawklad is.

Another area of much needed repetition is food. He has the same seven day food menu. The same foods on the same days, year after year. Trying new foods is just not something he does really. Normally ends in failure.

Dad what on Earth is that.”

It’s a sandwich.

Yes I can see the bread but it’s what is between that which is the worry.”

That will be cheese and onion crisps. It’s going to be one of the great gourmet experiences. A crisp butty. A crisp sandwich.

Really. That is just wrong on so many levels.”

It’s fantastic. Go on try it. It’s a family tradition. Your Little Nan would always be treating herself with one. But her crisp butty would be made with Ready Salted crisps.

Just No Dad.”

Ok. But if it’s not a crisp butty then what about a chip butty. A sandwich made from fried chips (fries) with heaps of tomato ketchup. Another true taste sensation.

Erm NO. You can keep that as well.”

Ok Hawklad what about a fish finger sandwich. Fantastic.

Not happening. That’s a tradition which is not passing down the gene line anymore. It ends with you.”

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.

Combinations

Some combinations go so well together. Blue Sky and Yorkshire. Bill and Ted. Fish and Chips. Batman and Joker. Trump and publishing tax returns. Kirk and Spock. Tom and Jerry. Cheese and Onion. Boris Johnson and Lies. Spongebob and Crabby Patties……

We do have some random conversations in the garden. Just like today. No idea why but Muppet Dad and Hawklad decided to try and randomly combine things.

What do you get when you combine a Tom Hanks movie and a US President – Forest Trump.

Much groaning – but you get the point. This went on for hours. I must admit the really funny ones unfortunately fail the good taste censor. Maybe I will do a late night version of this. But some of the cleaner ones included.

Combine a infamous US building with a famous 70s UK Comedy series – Trump Fawlty Towers

Bringing together a Marvel Character and Whale movie – IronWilly

Bring together a movie about Hobbits and a Disney movie – Return of the Lion King

Combine a British PM with a Donkey – Doris

Combine a young wizard with Toy Stories Mr Potato Head – Harry PotHead

What do you get when you combine an Arnie movie with a popular kiddies series. The Smurfinator.

Try combining a popular burger with a bit of Shakespeare – Big Macbeth

I hear you cry – Please no more…. I will be kind. But the point is that we had been having a conversation about missed opportunities. Maybe if things had been different then we could have spent this sunny day somewhere else. Somewhere different. Maybe the beach. Walking in the hills. Hawklad could have been visiting friends. Maybe a trip to a historic site. But just a few minutes later we were having fun. Fun in the garden. Making the most of what we have available to us. Sometimes the best place to have fun. To find happiness is rather close at hand.

The boys have lost things

This is the kind of house that just seems to encourage losing things. Lots of things. Which is remarkable when you consider it’s smallish bungalow. Including the garage and the loft, we only have 8 locations for stuff to mysteriously disappear. But it does. All the time.

The house is the home just to boys these days. That includes the pets. So we can definitely say that THE BOYS HAVE LOST THINGS.

Already today we couldn’t find

  • Hawklads FIFA 20 games disk,
  • The new pack of Weetabix,
  • My bank card to pay for something online,
  • My car key,
  • One of my socks – followed instantly by shouting at the dog,
  • A black pen. Can find loads of other colours but not a black pen which Hawklad needs to do a little homework,
  • My new pack of tea,
  • The laptop – how can you lose a laptop….
  • A pair of scissors,
  • My fitness band,
  • The WiFi passkey,
  • The new pack of batteries I bought on Thursday,
  • My mobile,
  • The book I’ve been trying to read for a couple of months now, frustratingly I only have 4 pages to go. It went missing while I was reading in bed. It has been lost for weeks. Ransacked the bedroom today, still no sign. It’s a rubbish crime story but I just want to find out who did it…..

That’s a typical day here. Boys will be boys….

But at least we found time to talk today. We ended up talking about our lockdown and the stuff that we miss. The things we have lost in our own little worlds. For me it was being around people.

Running in the countryside and walking in the mountains.

Going to see my team get beat. Spending time with the friend I meet up with.

We both agreed on missing concerts.

We also both agreed on missing going to Switzerland.

Hawklad talked about not going to zoos and falconries as much. Not being able to have a takeout or pop in for a real ice cream. Not being able to meet up with some of his friends. Missing out on not visiting the seaside.

Not going to wrestling shows.

And not being able to visit historical sites.

There was more but you get the point. Lockdown does have an impact on all our worlds. It means making sacrifices. But we do that all the time. The worry is that too many kids are losing out of key parts of their childhood. It’s about making the best of what we do have. Still trying to make memories. Remembering to keep living.

Working hard on harvesting

Apparently we are enjoying the last few days of summer weather. It’s kinda sunny and kinda warm – if you ignore the cold wind. The forecasters are warning that soon the weather will be most definitely very different. Very cold, wet, grim and grey. As a result the farmers around here are desperately trying to get on with stuff. Even working when it’s dark.

It’s also time to start harvesting our own little garden crop. Today it’s a few apples, onions, carrots, tomatoes and potatoes. Some have done better than others……

Can anyone speak carrot. What’s the carrot for ‘you do know this is Yorkshire and you are about to be given a right weather spanking. You don’t have months of sunny growing weather left, you have no more than 3 days. So get a move on….’

Why is it so simple to grow weeds yet those so called easy grow carrots prove so pesky. It’s as if the carrots pop out of the seeds, feel the Yorkshire soil and go ‘YOU HAVE GOT TO BE JOKING’.

So if the carrots play ball then we are moving into a spell of living off stews, soups and apple crumble. I can happily live with that. I’m always thankful for whatever the garden yields. It does have to contend with the muppet gardener and Captain Chaos.

So yes it’s that time of year. The weather starts to break OR in our case, break even more. It starts to get colder and darker. For many it can be a tough change. Heralding a long period of what feels like ever increasing claustrophobic imprisonment. Me included. That’s where friendships, happy things and dreams are so important. They can help soften the sadness, even lift us into a better place. So for me it’s time to increasingly focus on those things. I can’t do anything about the weather but I can do influence the truly important stuff. Soon the autumn colours will become spectacular. The important stuff can lift the soul. Yes the following months can be bleak BUT they can also yield so much beauty and wonderful moments as well

Now it’s time to give those carrots a good talking to.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it’s must be time for our weekly trip to beautiful Switzerland. A country which we haven’t been able to visit in a few years but which still holds a special place in our hearts.

Someone asked why we love this country so much. Well the first thing is that is has so many links to our Hawklad. His mum’s family have had links to the country for nearly 80 years now. That’s so important to our son.

Another reason is how the Swiss villages just look so perfect in the alpine landscape.

Another reason is the country’s beautiful lakes. They have a magical quality.

Another reason is those walks through the wooded mountain valleys. They are simply breathtaking.

We hardly get much snow these days where we live. The excitement of coming to land where the snow is always there. Even in summer.

The mountains are nothing short of epic.

Finally its not a bad place for an 8 year old to have breakfast.

Pointing

One of the advantages of exercising first thing in the morning is once I’ve finished I get a chance to enjoy the view. It always amazes me how damp our ground can get when we have had no rain for days.

Clearly it’s very easy to feel damp. The weather can cause such sudden changes. It like life and the soul.

I was putting together a post for tomorrow. A Swiss Sunday post. Looking through some photos. Then I came across one. Looks like one of those family photos. I’ve cropped this one down severely. The photo is my partner sitting next to our son on a bench.

How had I missed this photo for so many years. It’s from 2015 and our last trip to Switzerland. The last day of the trip. My partner was not very well and on a lot of medication. We didn’t know how ill she was. The doctors didn’t. Exactly one year later she was in a hospice and she was gone a few days later.

Finding this photo shook me in two ways.

Firstly this might be our very last family photo. The last photo of Hawklad with his mum. Don’t think there was another photo with my partner in. I had never thought about that . Never thought about the last photo. Well this is probably it.

Then there is one more thing about this photo. A completely forgotten memory. It’s what my partner is pointing at. I think she knew what was on the horizon. That afternoon we randomly seemed to get onto the subject of where she would like her ashes scattered. She is pointing at one of the places . A rocky outcrop overlooking a beautiful lake. It wasn’t a serious conversation. Our son helpfully suggesting some interesting places to consider. I didn’t take it seriously. We surely had many years to go. Finding this photo has really shaken me. As I say I had forgotten about the photo. I didn’t know she was actually pointing at where she wanted her ashes scattering.

I really don’t know what to say.

One thing is that it’s a beautiful location.

I wasn’t sure about posting this at all. But what did convince me was one thought. You just don’t know what is around the corner. Don’t assume you have time. If you have dreams to live, don’t wait, try to do them now.

Another week.

So that’s the first week of the next instalment of our school at home project. The first was when the whole school was doing online education. This time most of the school is back but our son is still trying to home school via online education.

So how has it gone?

I think the best word to use is Patchy. Actually two words – Very Patchy.

A few teachers are making sure that Hawklad is keeping up. They try to share as many class notes as possible. Provide structured work and will mark it. Then you get some teachers who send a few summary notes, not much but at least it gives us a feel for what our son should be looking at. Then some teachers are just dumping the whole terms class assignments across (without instructions). So for one subject that was a single 70 page document filled with questions. No idea how much and when the work is submitted. No idea the format. Poor Hawklad is convinced that he needs to complete all the booklet right now. So much stress for him. Then you get some subjects where we get absolutely nothing. And I mean nothing. In terms of pastoral care again it is nothing.

So definitely very patchy. Speaking to school I suspect that will be the case going forward. Fingers crossed that those teachers trying to support Hawklad will continue to do so. It’s good to have a few subjects where Hawklad feels like he is on top of things. Keeping up with his classmates.

At present we are working on getting through to the end of October and have another think about things. It’s a milestone to work to but it is highly likely that it won’t represent the end of the project. Hawklad is just starting on a very long road of help and counselling. Any progress is likely to be hard fought and slow. The School at a Home project will be a long one, well past the next 7 weeks.

Much patience is required and never losing sight that his wellbeing always comes first. Schooling comes behind that.