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.

World leader

Patience. Apple Crumble will eventually be on the menu. Just need to wait.

So today the news is filled here with stories of thousands of kids getting exam grades downgraded because of a statistical algorithm. The UK Government backing the decision as the don’t want ‘kids being over promoted beyond their abilities’. The irony – coming from a Government filled with the most incompetent, over promoted, out of their depth numpties this country has ever seen. Our kids deserve better than this.

Dad how unfair is that. That year group is not allowed to sit exams. So they have to go on schoolwork and what the teacher grades the kid at. Then they randomly drop the grades because they don’t think they deserve it. It’s just not right.”

It’s not fair. Especially as they are not doing the adjustment to kids going to Private Schools.

Dad is there anything Boris and his team has actually not messed up. Pandemic, brexit, exams, sending warships after immigrants in rubber dinghies, food, trains, environment, schools, hospitals. I might even blame them for the weather.”

I can blame them for my team not winning a domestic trophy since 1955.

No that’s just cos Newcastle United are rubbish.”

Ok but I can blame them for the state of the garden and the tomato plants.

No Dad that’s down to you.”

Fair point but surely Hawklad, I can blame Boris for my burnt baking.

“No that’s the muppet baker.”

This is not going well…. I blame Boris for allowing a Sith Lord to be in charge of the country.

That’s Cummings is it not. He does look like an evil villain. It’s scary that he tells the PM what to do. I will give you that one.”

It is scary. But not as scary as the thought of Boris being PM.

Even you would make a better leader. Now that’s a thought. You could be this countries first ever tea total, vegetarian, single parent, Newcastle United supporting, useless cook, world class muppet ever to be our PM.”

That would be an honour.

Even better your place in history would be guaranteed. The worlds first world leader called Gary….”

The world needs a hero, it needs a Gary…..

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.

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”

The Irony

The old Apple Tree. Definitely enjoying the sun and the rare windless conditions. A good day for a garden meeting.

Well today didn’t go as planned.

Son was primed for his garden meet-up with his new nurse counsellor. These things don’t come easy to him. Often it’s about trying to build a bond. A bridge. Only when that link is formed can any meaningful work be commenced. He had that link with his last person, we can only hope a similar one is formed again.

So yes he was as ready as he could be. The garden was setup…..

Then the call from Nurse Reception. Unfortunately the counsellor had taken ill in the car and had turned back. Headed home. Really sorry and they will rebook the session when the counsellor is back at work.

So hope that she is alright. These things happen. But the irony.

A session to work on Hawklads Health and Pandemic related fears cancelled due to illness.

The irony has not been lost on him. Oh sorry forget, HES not supposed to get things like irony….. A Doctor once said that to him during a consultation. Hawklad fixed him with a Paddington Bear Stare and said “Are you a proper Doctor?”. The Doctor looking a bit flustered and talked about his qualifications. Hawklad them calmly said “ok a Doctor but clearly not a very good one…..”.

So we just have to wait for another appointment. Absolutely no idea when that will be. Probably after schools go back in September? That’s another potential return complication. It’s certainly added a little to his fears, now. When the meeting does happen I’m betting on Hawklad asking for the garden chairs to be further spaced apart. Thats something which won’t happen at school.

We dust ourselves off and we just have to go again. The cancellation may be for the best. Stops anything unpleasant coming into our safe area. Plus it forces me to do something rather than rely on others. Just got to up my game.

Yes another odd Monday.

Visit

By the time you read this then hopefully Hawklad with have had a garden visit from his new nurse counsellor. We got a late go ahead with lots of safety caveats. Hopefully it’s a start.

Things are not easy for him. The hand washing is escalating. He now doesn’t feel able to touch taps or surfaces. Before he uses anything like an iPad then these have to be disinfected. All bedding including pillows have to be washed on a daily basis. Currently ok in the hot weather, dread to think what it will be like trying to dry pillows in wet weather. Clothes have to be changed several times a day. And this is just living in his home and garden bubble. A very small bubble. He hasn’t physically met up with another person his age since March. Actually I’ve not met up with anyone my age in months – it’s difficult since I predate the Dinosaurs…..

But there is always hope.

We have potential access to counselling. The weather is currently grand. We have a freezer filled with ice cream and slush puppy flavoured ice pops. We have a lovely (if slightly overgrown) garden. Hawklad has his pets. I have friendships. Birds of Prey fly close to the house. Disney Plus is ace. It’s the summer football break so my team can’t get beat. We live in Yorkshire. Nobody can see me make a fool of myself doing yoga.

So yes there is always hope.

August

Heralding a wonderful summers day – NOT

It’s been one of those wonderful Yorkshire Summer Days. Damp, exceedingly windy and cold. The cold that makes your toes curl. August and we have the heating full on. Not a day for cold drinks. It’s been steaming hot tea and decaf coffee. Hawklad has been on hot milk – on repeat. That’s a great way to get some calories into him.

August also sees the ongoing trials associated with my WordPress experiment. That pesky new editor. I am trying, really trying. I hear you shout – Your just so vexing. But I am trying to like the editor. But really should it be this hard. It crashes, it messes up formats, drops links. When you do get round to publishing then posts suddenly disappear or mess up. Comments go missing. And on and on. Even this grumpy Yorkshire man is easier to like than this so called editor.

But I will keep trying to get my head round it. Just like trying to get my head round this summer. Just like I’m trying to get my head round Hawklads food intake. He’s not had his weight officially tracked and assessed by the health professionals in over 2 years now. With the current service restrictions, it’s going to be well into 2021 before that happens. On the last assessment he was right on the edge of being ‘too underweight’ for his height. I think that he’s probably dropped below that now. So following the Paediatricians instructions I’m trying to get as many calories into him as possible. That’s not easy. He has such a limited range of foods he will eat. Over the years I have slowly managed to increase these so that he has 6 different main meals which he has over the week. It’s the same meals, weak in weak out. Not much scope to vary things there. Trying to get him to eat the occasional chocolate bar or bag of crisps helps. So does milk. So a cold day and repeated hot milks is a welcome bonus.

Yes a cold summer is good sometimes.

Time to breathe

Maybe too many days we feel hemmed in. Surrounded by the same walls. Dealing with unyielding constraints. Fighting seemingly never ending battles. Difficulty trying to believe in dreams. Struggling to breathe.

Well that’s certainly me…..

The days of climbing rock faces in Scotland and the Lake District. Walking and running along wind swept beaches. Standing under the mighty Eiger and Matterhorn. Walking and touching history. These all sometimes seem such a distant memory. Things which might never happen again.

But there is always hope. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Yes it could be those four walls again but it could just be somewhere else. Somewhere we can breathe. A chance to spread our wings and soar again. That’s a lovely feeling. So I dived into my photo library and randomly picked a journey. A time when the wings were unfolded. Yes that is in the past BUT it could also be tomorrow.

Online Education

Red sky – delight or warning?

For a couple of weeks I had been thinking about doing a list of things which might help make homeschooling work. But then Robyn published her wonderful post about Successful Online Learning. Robyn said it way better than I could ever do, so I thought let’s forget about my post. But then the inner muppet took over. How about tips on making a complete dogs dinner of Online Learning. I can do that. So here goes a Muppet Guide to Homeschooling.

  • Don’t bother checking the unused school bags which have been sat next to the front door since March. There is absolutely no chance that half eaten sandwiches and bananas might be still squashed in there. Even less chance that damp PE kit might still be festering under the mouldy school lunch.
  • Make sure you buy new and expensive school uniform items a week before schools shutdown for a pandemic. Absolutely no possibility that your kid will shoot up several sizes in those few months.
  • When the PE teacher asks for the parent to also take part in home games lessons, you have only one sensible response. Absolutely, it will be fun to show off to your child that you are still a sporting Super Being. There is no conceivable risk that you will pull every single muscle in your body and that you will be completely humiliated by your beloved offspring.
  • The Xbox is a perfectly acceptable online educational tool.
  • When you hear the words SCIENCE LESSON and MOLECULAR STRUCTURES in the same sentence then immediately pretend to be on a works call for the next two hours. The same principle also applies to the words MATHEMATICS and CALCULUS.
  • On a similar theme the words RELATIONSHIP And SEX EDUCATION should immediately bring the response – “go and speak to the other parent”. If that is not practical then it is perfectly acceptable to run outside and spend the next hour cutting the grass in the pouring rain.
  • Letting your child watch wrestling videos during a Citizenship Lesson is perfectly in line with governments curriculum.
  • It is perfectly acceptable to attach a profanity to any reference to DRAMA lessons.
  • A can of Pepsi, bag of crisps and a chocolate bar represents a balanced school lunch.
  • When homeschooling first starts you have this real commitment to fully focus on your child’s education. To sit with them. To be that one on one teacher. That feeling lasts for at most a couple of hours. You start to waiver with frequent trips to the kitchen for a hot drink and a biscuit. Next you sit next your child but secretly try to look at your emails and news feeds. It finally breaks down as your openly start playing Crossy Roads.
  • You don’t need to worry about charging the school iPad up. Your diligent child will always do that…..
  • It doesn’t make you a bad parent when you tell your child to ignore the instructions of the French Teacher and to use the Google Translation App.
  • Never get drawn into debates on History. You have zero chance of winning those – you haven’t read a history text in decades and watching the Ozzy Osbournes history tv show does not count as an Academic Qualification. Best approach is to just smile and nod.
  • For absolutely any Geography question your only responses should be – ‘The Himalayas’, ‘The Nile’, ‘Coastal Erosion’ or ‘Go and watch the Discovery Channel’.
  • When you restock on pens from Amazon never buy the cheap multipacks. You will never use the Red and Green ones.
  • For Food Technology it is perfectly acceptable to let your child watch any Gordon Ramsey Show.
  • Try to avoid saying things like ‘In my day’, ‘That’s not what I was taught’, ‘The Dinosaurs were not extinct yet when I was in school’. These all may give the false appearance that you are in fact an old fossil.
  • When your child has to do an art project never say ‘what is it supposed to be’ when you see the completed work for the first time. That’s not cool parenting at all. Much better to say ‘that’s nice’ or ‘that’s better than an Andy Warhol masterpiece’.
  • You might think you are an expert in computing. This might be backed up with academic qualifications. But never ever get involved in anything to do with technology. Trust me, let your child deal with the computer stuff. In fact let your child sort out your mobile at the same time.

There you go. Don’t follow any of my tips and you might make homeschooling work for you. Even better go and read a post like Robyn’s, she knows what she’s talking about….

Remember homeschooling can be FUN.

Reality

Late last night I was watching the news channel and a government expert was being interviewed about people struggling to leave the house since lockdown was eased. We will ignore the fact that the easing has been halted and areas are starting to fall back under emergency regulations. The experts take was that it was perfectly safe for everyone to go about their normal business. People should get out, go to the park or better to a restaurant. Those struggling should be brave and get out. Those still struggling to get out should arrange to see a health professional. This Government had put in support to facilitate this.

Ok…..

We’ve been lucky. We might get to see a nurse this month but we’ve had to fight tooth and nail for that. Because of cutbacks son has not been seen by a Paediatrician in well over 2 years now… 6 of his 7 support services have been removed. But again we are lucky. Far too many don’t get any support at all.

It’s 3am and I heard our son call. He had gone to the bathroom and because he had gone barefoot he desperately needed to wash his feet. So just before the morning bird chorus started I was running the bath so he could ease his anxieties. He is currently not able to touch taps. Towels can only be used once before they are washed. His bedding has to be washed daily. He has to wash his hands every few minutes. He can’t even touch is own shoes and clothes with his hands. Tell me how he is supposed to be brave and just get outside. The government just has not got the slightest idea of the problems facing so many in our communities. The health professionals just don’t have the resources to cope. It’s taken a pandemic to expose the true folly of focusing cutbacks on mental health and support services. When will our leaders wake up to the reality of life for so many households in our countries.