It’s time to shake the very fabric of time and space with a bit of Terrible Poetry hosted by Chelsea Owens. This week the challenge is:
It’s time to shake the very fabric of time and space with a bit of Terrible Poetry hosted by Chelsea Owens. This week the challenge is:
I came from a northern working class background. A council house with an outside toilet and a dark coal bunker. Luckily the house had a big garden so Dad could grow loads of vegetables and fruit. It wasn’t until 1980 when the Council renovated the house and we got the luxury of central heating and an inside loo. We had to move out into a caravan for a few months so the house could be gutted and the roof replaced. It was bizarre looking at you house without a roof on. I will always remember sitting in the caravan playing with some lego when the little TV brought news of Lennon being shot.
The phrase my parents would always use was scrimp and scrape. They did an amazing job and Dad was always happy to talk about the hard lifestyle. Is it bad but these days that memory always reminds me of Monty Python doing the sketch about the Four Yorkshireman competing for who had the toughest childhood. We were so poor we lived in a box. Or in my case We were so poor we didn’t have a roof.
All those years later and I’m carrying on the tradition of scrimp and scraping. The return to school has brought significant additional costs to an already tight financial position. But as a good buddy said today – we make do. It does mean that you take some calculated risks. Son has an old raincoat which still just about fits him. It’s really well battered. It needs changing but I was hoping to put that off for a few months more.
Well today the calculated risk backfired. He went to pull on the old coat and the sleeve ripped apart at the seems.
Dad it’s not just Bruce Banner who can do that.
So he’s gone off today without a coat and yes it’s pouring down. Absolutely chucking it down. I feel really awful about it. Poor kid is going to be like a drowned rat. Anyway I’ve gone out and bought him a new one. Well at least he can now carry on the tradition. When he’s older he can do his own Monty Python sketch.
We were so poor I had a raincoat with only one sleeve. We couldn’t afford two sleeves.
Dad what on Earth is that.
I’m trying to make home made Hummus.
Are you sure it should be that colour.
No that was not what I was expecting.
Dad it looks like something from the X-Files.
I’d moved from trying it with some carrots to which bin it should go in. It might even need a Priest and an Exorcism before it’s safe to do that. Wonderful. Yet another culinary masterpiece.
Dad let’s take the pup to the woods. If we go now should have the place to ourselves.
So leaving the alien hummus to mutate into something with teeth we set off. The signs of autumn are now all around us. Less than 900 miles away the first winter snow has come to Italy. So that’s another summer ticked off. It also means the 30 year old boiler is being fired up for the first time in months. That process is always done on a wing and a prayer. Apparently when it goes to boiler heaven it’s going to cost a fortune. Not just the boiler but the pipes, a good part of the central heating and the oil tank will need to be changed. We couldn’t afford that when we had two incomes never mind when it’s become one (on less hours and at a much lower pay rate). I remember being told by one mum that I should just hire childcare or put son in a club so I could work full time again. Not the first idea about single parenting and Autism but to be fair her hummus will be considerably better than mine.
This might have been a good place to go on about some of the practicalities of when you go from two to one parents but not when it is so close to THE ANNIVERSARY. Anyway the old boiler has fired up. Which is a bonus. THEN….
Dad did I tell you school has changed the PE Polo Shirt from white to black. You can use the old ones for a couple of weeks then if you don’t have the new colour you will get negatives.
With the great news of yet another visit to the school uniform shop still fresh I decided to try the demon hummus. The taste sensation was somewhere between wallpaper paste and a skunks bottom. But on the bright side I might have found a home made recipe for wood putty. That might come in useful this winter.
It’s Sunday and it’s time for another dose of Switzerland. With reflection maybe this should have been moved either to Monday or Friday.
When your an Aspergers parent(s) you get used to repetition and routine. Holidays are often no different. When we were fortunate to go to Switzerland we afforded ourselves a couple of days to explore but we had to factor in certain routines.
Before we get onto some zoo animals I have had a few people ask me to publish a photo of my Clooney like looks. For the ones who have asked HERE I AM swimming…
The two zoos are so different. The one in Bern is small and always seems very quiet. So so relaxing for someone with Aspergers.
Bern Zoo doesn’t have a huge range of animals but the animals facilities are modern. You get the real impression that the animals are really well looked after here.
Very unusually part of the zoo can be accessed without having to pay. What a brilliant idea.
It also has the most wonderful little adventure park for kids. It’s one of the few which our son was comfortable playing on.
Zurich Zoo is so much larger. It has over 4000 animals.
This zoo seems to focus on trying to give the animals the closest natural habit possible. The animals are being moved from cages to spaces. The elephants have a huge new indoor shelter and a purpose developed habitat outside.
It has a massive indoor tropical rain forest where you can walk about and also climb into the trees. The animals are free to roam in the trees and undergrowth. Maybe it’s coming from Yorkshire but I came out looking like I had just run several marathons.
Zoos can often leave you cold. Feeling sorry for the animals. You don’t get that feeling at these two zoos. This is how zoos should be.
The animals in Switzerland were so good for our son I will certainly revisit this again on this blog.
And finally if one image from all the zoo trips always brings a smile – it’s the one below. First of all I didn’t realise Giant Tortoises could move so quick. It certainly surprised our 6 year old.
Mum what are they doing?
“Ask your Dad”
No idea son. Maybe it’s some form of wrestling….
We were in the hunt for a distraction. Why? A grisly return to school providing a harsh reminder of how badly the system lets down kids who do not fit the expected mould. The anniversary of losing my soulmate and our sons beloved mum steaming toward us. So distraction needed.
After much searching we found the only option we could find which was affordable and which was just about in the required timeframe.
Off we went to see a Rugby Union match. England playing Italy.
Normally these internationals are played hundreds of miles away in London, are heavily oversubscribed and are far too expensive. But they decided to play this last warmup game before the World Cup in North. The game was just a few days from the anniversary. It had the added advantage that some of the tickets were heavily discounted as the seats were high up in the stadium amongst the clouds.
So it ticked a lot of boxes. Just two problems. It was a night game and our son is not too confident outside in the dark. The other problem is it was going to be a 50000 crowd – that’s a lot for a kid with Aspergers.
The night actually went quite well. The outside stadium entertainment and fan park was too much for son. Just a sea of humanity. Too many people moving in all directions. No pattern. So we quickly got to the seats. Once he was sat down and the world started to become ordered again he began to enjoy the experience. Interestingly he quickly switched allegiances to the Italian Team. He put it down to a combination of them playing in blue and “coming from York we were part of the Roman Empire”. Have to say it’s gone downhill for us since the Romans left. We did play the Monty Python game of what have the Romans ever done for us game. Lots.
The walk back to the car had to be handled carefully as a busy city at night can be so daunting. At least the walk across the bridge made him forget the anxieties.
So today our spirits have been lifted by the distraction. I think we are in a better place to face the anniversary. And I’ve got my first Christmas idea for our son – an Italian Rugby Shirt.
We are fast approaching the anniversary of losing our Son’s mum and my soulmate. Over the next 3 years we have managed to turn things like birthdays and holidays into celebrations. Yes some tears but more smiles. However this is the one anniversary which remains persistently grim. We’ve tried cards, flowers, local trips to her favourite places, eating her favourite food, looking at photos, letting off a balloon with a message on. Nothing has worked for us in shifting a day of tears and loss into one of celebratory hope.
Call me cynical but I guessed that the anniversary would also coincide with a car crash of a school return. Sadly right. So let’s try something else. A big distraction. Take our minds off the anniversary. So this year we tried to find something like a really loud concert or something similar to do on the dreaded day. But no luck – we couldn’t find anything on the day. We found something on the day before but we just couldn’t afford it. A similar story on other adjacent days…..
So the next best option is tonight. Yes it’s not perfect timing (bit early) but it’s the closest thing to the day that we can afford. The crowd might prove a problem with our son but he wants to give it a go. Fingers crossed that it works out for our son and it gives us a bit of distraction to that rapidly approaching day.
At lunchtime the phone rang. Oh pants it school. What’s happened now? Bizarrely at the other end was a very official sounding Son
“Who am I speaking to”
Son, it’s me.
“Can you confirm that I am speaking to Mr XXXX XXXXXXXX”
Yes son, it’s me.
“Can you confirm that that is you.”
Yes this is your useless Dad.
I am going to ask you a question to confirm this. What did I have for breakfast”
Son you would be brilliant working in a call centre. You had 2 slices of toast, a waffle, raspberries and blueberries. Washed down with an orange juice.
“What colour plate did I use”
White and blue. (In the background I could hear the school teacher saying – come on lad it’s your dad)
“What colour cup”
“Ok Dad the whole school has to spend an extra hour in school tonight to help set up the classes. Unbelievable. I am going to speak to my lawyer about this outrage. Bus will be late. Goodbye”
The battle recommences.
So the hope of a new schooling approach didn’t last very long. Basically 6 hours. Son’s been kept down in the bottom set while a number of other kids got moved up. Some of the kids went up in all subjects, others went up in one or two subjects. No explanation from school just the Form Tutor handing out paper timetables with the sets on. His last Form Tutor (who has unfortunately left) confirmed his test and class performance merited moving up sets – at the very least in his three best subjects. We have kids with lower grades in higher sets than our son. Sadly the assumption has to be that he’s been kept down due to his dyslexia. The galling thing is that in today’s bottom set lessons he received again absolutely no help with his reading. So he’s marked down for dyslexia but then doesn’t receive any assistance. Setup to fail.
If that wasn’t enough his new Form Tutor and most of his new subject teachers appear to be the strictest in the school. So much for making learning fun. Plus the teachers he really connected with have either left or have been removed from his teaching programme.
If we are looking for an upside the best it gets is
“Well Dad at least I didn’t get a negative on the first day”
Nothing like positive reinforcement to encourage a bit of educational development….
Across all the lands how many other kids are being subjected to this crap. Too many. I heard a news item about another school where a 11 year old girl who had been excluded from class because her trousers did not quite cover her ankles.
After all these years how can we still get education so very wrong. Probably the same reason that with all the gifted and genuinely dedicated people we have in this country we end up being led by someone as awful as Boris Johnson.
It’s Terrible Poetry time thanks to Chelsea Owen. This week we need to remember the following school rules
Is it really back to school
In that uniform so uncool
Do I have to Combe my hair
I’m not allowed to rock in my chair
Come again, I have to get up at Half past Six
Then get on the school bus with the other lunatics
Have to eat a healthy school lunch
And in the class I’m not allowed to munch
I have to learn my nine times tables
And I need to write my name on all the coat labels
I’m not allowed to pick my nose
While having to write boring prose
Not allowed to play games of my mobile phone
And if the teacher shouts I’m not allowed to moan
Must not run and play along the school corridors
And no pulling funny faces at the other choristers
When I ask a question I must raise my hand
Even when in Latin it’s impossible to understand
I have to fully button up my school shirt
Always keep the blazer on to hide all the dirt
Not supposed to throw objects at the head-boy
Be nice to your classmates and certainly don’t annoy
On no grounds can I fight or swear
Don’t attack the other kids with the set square
Need to pick my feet up so no scrapping only the floorboards
And certainly I’m not supposed to do rude doodles on the blackboards
I HATE SCHOOL……
So it’s about to start again. SCHOOL. The anxieties are building. The sleepless nights. The upset stomach. The worries. And that’s just me.
For our son it’s worse. Far worse. He is already stressed out. Anxious about the return to that alien world. An institution which could not have been designed in a more anti-autistic way if they had honestly tried. A system which is designed for kids with dyslexia to automatically fail. An underfunded service which is not fit for purpose.
So he will get on the bus at 8am tomorrow with hope. Hope that school has changed. It now positively promotes uniqueness and individuality. Kids with specific learning obstacles are giving tailored support to help them fly. In fact all kids are given a tailored education not just the privileged few. The 1950s school infrastructure has been replaced with modern, bright and welcoming learning facilities. The strict rule structure has been relaxed. Kids are allowed to be kids for at least part of the day. Good dedicated professionals are supported and properly rewarded.
But in reality we understand what our son will face again tomorrow. A broken system where the bonkers government sees stricter rules for kids as the answer to everything. Stricter rules for kids and teachers yet wants less rules for those trying to make a profit out of our kids education. Yes an education but not the one we want for our kids.
The summer holidays were great but the fight for many parents starts again.
Autumn is coming I can feel it.
That anniversary is coming I can feel it.
Coming up to three years on the grief train.
The world flies past the window with no slowing down.
Unclear where I am heading or the purpose of the journey .
Captive Passenger on this locomotive with absolutely no sign of a conductor.
Who would have thought that after 3 years I would still feel so completely confused . Don’t get me wrong I am so lucky. I have a purpose to focus on. Give son the best childhood he can possibly have under the circumstances. Be there for him when he needs me for as long as that may be. My life is completely focused on our son.
I realise that as son becomes increasingly independent (that has to be the goal) then I will need to start finding my own life again. My own self purpose. Will need the pesky grief train to stop at a new destination. But here is the conundrum. I’m driving the train, I’m the passenger, I’m the conductor. It’s down to me. I have to want that new destination to arrive and then I need to open the train door – and then decide to leave the train.
I’m using up valuable air. I owe it to the world to start living again. Eventually.