Dads

That’s what my old Dad would have called a proper apple. Misshapen, blotchy and seriously tart. But with a lot of sugar it will make a grand apple crumble (crisp).

Actually that could be me. Misshapen, blotchy and seriously tart. I do like sugar as well. Actually that was definitely my Dad. Round here a better way of saying that is – he was well weathered. Another phrase is – he definitely had a well lived in face and body. He left this world when I was at university. So our son never got to meet him. In fact he never got to meet his other granddad. Which is sad.

Hawklad has asked about where their ashes are scattered. Unfortunately the answer is rather unclear. With my dad we just don’t know. How bad does that sound. Mum decided against getting the ashes back. They were scattered by the crematorium but we can’t remember where. We are not even sure that they were scattered there. It was one question we never got round to asking mum.

With my partners dad it’s equally hazy. He was scattered on a Swiss mountain top. The people who took them there have left this world now. The only person with a clue is me. The person with a capacity to forget important stuff and remember the useless stuff. I call it – Selective Total Recall. My partner wanted part of her ashes scattered on that mountain as well. One day she briefly described the exact location. I didn’t write it down as why would I need that any time soon…… So I’m a little unsure of the mountain and even less sure of the location on that mountain. Apart from its by a bench with some stones to one side. The ashes are where those stones are. Hardly GPS accuracy. At the moment it’s not really an issue. Travelling to Europe at present is not very likely for our family. But one day it will be.

Today Hawklad mentioned the need to get on with the ashes when he is ok in the world again. The pressure just ramped up a bit. I’ve started studying the names of Swiss mountains. Narrowing the potential choices down. If only I had wrote the instructions down. Still there’s a different way to look at things.

Dad we might have messed up the scattering of the ashes in Britain by then. The secret is for us to do that before I get to the age of 18. Then I can officially blame you as the legally responsible parent and adult. No pressure on me then….”

3am

Last night I was tired. Unusually tired for me. But it was one of those pesky tired setups. During the evening I could feel myself nodding off. Plenty of those ‘just starting to drift off while sat on the settee – then suddenly woken by those cataclysmic sudden neck snapping forward’ moments. This went on all evening until it was bed time. But then I just wasn’t tired. Pigging fiddlesticks……

Finally sleep came but all too soon…..

DAD, DAAAAAADDDD!

What’s up son.

Dad I’ve forgotten, sorry we’ve forgotten the art assignment.”

Ooh yeh, that one that isn’t due in until the 12th.

That’s the one, But ITS THE 12th.”

Oh big pants. Can you do it as soon as you get up?

No it’s due at the start of the first lesson.”

***********

I could see by the look in his eyes that until it was done, sleep would be impossible. So a few minutes later I was in the kitchen making hot drinks. Years ago a late night session would have had a very different meaning to tonight’s version. 3am and rocking out to Japanese Art.

Basically I sat there looking vacant, occasionally nodding (in a of course I knew that kinda way) and asking Google such questions as ‘what on earth does wabi and sabi mean’. It took an hour before Hawklad had convinced himself that he had done enough. The school panic in his world was over. His completed presentation was significantly more robust than his Dads initial suggestive assignment text

Japanese Art is cool but Godzilla is real cool. Now it’s time for bed….

Hawklad got to bed and immediately fell asleep. I guess at about 4.30am I found some sleep. I woke up a couple of hours later with one overriding thought. How can you write two pages on Japanese Art and not mention Godzilla‘s Atomic Breath just once. What has become of Art.

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.

Strain

After 36 hours the rain finally stopped. How long before the broadband dries out enough to start working again? My poor mobile and it’s dodgy 4G signal are having to try and take up the strain. It’s struggling.

Strain is a quite a good word for the day.

I was trying to do my Sunday morning yoga. My online yoga expert Adriene is always very calm but even she sounds strained when she keeps freezing due to signal problems. Yoga is definitely not without stress when I keep having to try and reload the app as it’s crashed. It’s also a strain when you try to keep balanced when a dog is trying to lick my face and the big boy cat is trying to use the yoga mat as a scratching toy. Yoga is supposed to be a good fit with life. It does feel that way. Today trying to hold a position which is supposed to be good for me. Actually the longer it goes on it feels less good and more a strain.

Strain….. Trying to be ahead of the curve and get Hawklads Christmas presents sorted early. This year will not allow me the fun of Christmas shopping in the local city so its online only. I worked hard to come up with 6 ideas. Unfortunately 5 of those are already out of stock. Maybe others are further ahead of the curve than I am … Shopping strain.

Strain…..Not being able to find my bank card to pay for the one Christmas item… Bank card strain.

Strain….. Finally finding the bank card but then nit being able to find my glasses to read card numbers… Eye Strain.

Strain….. That’s now three weeks without any feedback on work Hawklad has submitted. Is it even been looked at?

Dad what we should do is for one subject not submit any work, rather we should send them a few screenshots of FIFA20. See what happens!!!!”

I’m so tempted to let him go ahead with his experiment. Maybe this week. It’s frustrating as it does look like it’s school at home for at least the next 3 months. Clearly unless the school is forced to shut and go full online tuition then things aren’t going to improve. This is it. It’s something but far from perfect. Will keep pushing school but I have a sinking feeling…. School strain.

Strain….. Trying to clean the kitchen and bathroom floors……. Knee strain.

Strain….. Trying to wash the house windows…….. Elbow strain.

Finally the thought of trying to get these words uploaded via the mobile. Not being able to easily read the posts I want to read. WP strain.

So yes definitely Sunday Strains.

Questions

This is a little tree which is close to our house. It sits at the side of the farmers field which backs onto our garden. It’s close by as a couple of my garden football shots have nearly hit it….. In the years that we have lived here it has never grown. It just seems to lean over a little further each year. I know how it feels…..

So many questions today. So many school work queries.

Dad what are your thoughts on Gladstone‘s and Disraeli‘s political reforming achievements. They didn’t go far enough and do you think their colonial record negated what good they did do?”

“Dad what do you know about DNA structure and it’s impact on identical and fraternal twins?”

“Dad how would you write the mass of the earth in standard notation?”

“Dad in Animal Farm what does the character Moses represent and his relationship to Soviet history?”

Dad have you ever studied John Agard’s poem FLAGS. Is it about the dangers of patriotism?”

Dad I can’t get my head round French Verb Conjugation. Can you explain it to me?

As any self respecting parent would do I looked suitably vacant and thought wishfully back to the questions about which was my favourite Tellytubby. I was good at those questions.

Colour

It might be autumn. It might feel like autumn. But some bright colours are hanging on there, even if they are getting a bit isolated.

Dad why have you got shorts on.”

Because I feel like having them on

But Dad it’s freezing.”

It’s good for the constitution.

Well it’s not good for my eyes. It’s so uncool.”

Hawklad you have no taste.

Well Dad don’t come running to me when you get Frostbite. Time to cover your legs up.”

*********

I have to admit it was a tad bracing on the legs. That cold that when I tried to have a hot bath to warm up, my legs immediately sucked all the heat out of the water. Sat in luke warm water after just few seconds is no fun.

I understand that Hawklads primary concern with shorts is not for my wellbeing. He doesn’t like wearing shorts. He doesn’t like the feel of fresh air on his legs. He doesn’t like the thought of people looking at his legs. He is not keen on others wearing them as well, certainly when they are near him. He has been this way from about the age of 5. He has not worn them in all that time. It’s even on his medical record and the doctors have wrote to school to tell them to make the necessary adjustments to their sports uniform policy.

I like to exercise in shorts but quite quickly after I have finished you will hear the following words echo across the house – ‘is it about time you cover your legs up…”. It’s another little element of our Aspergers house.

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

Clouds

To us a sky filled with dragons.

To us the second cloud photo has a ancient mythical warrior sky surfing. That’s what we think anyway. Even can see his shoes.

Clouding dreaming is such a great game. Well it is until someone starts to cheat.

Hawklad can you see the Transformer surfboarding.

Oh yeh. You can see his feet as well. Actual it’s more like a warrior from say Ninjago or Power Rangers.”

That’s right. Maybe even a mythical warrior.

Not really Dad. More like the Silver Surfer.”

Ok very Silver Surfer like with just a little bit of ancient mythical warrior added.

Whatever Dad. Oh look there’s a cloud that looks like a giant Pineapple with a little bit of ancient mythical warrior added.”

Where?

Oh Dad. There’s a cloud that looks exactly like a Football Stadium with a little bit of added ancient mythical warrior added.”

Where are you looking?

Dad look at that fantastic cloud. It looks like a giant Christmas Tree with an ancient mythical warrior sat on top.”

Where are you looking son?

That’s the best one yet. That cloud looks like a massive castle with a moat surrounding it with a load of ancient mythical warrior manning the battlements.”

Your winding me up now aren’t you Hawklad?

Never. Would I ever do that to you Dad …..”

Yes you would.

Pain

There is a physical pain associated with parenting that is off the chart. Excluding childbirth which thankfully I will never have to experience. Standing bare foot on a piece of lego. A weaponised toy. In the garden there is something that comes close to lego. It’s this lovely little thing. A tree which overlooks our garden and likes to drop these little bombs onto the lawn. Accidentally pick one up – agony. Kneel on one – agony. Get one attached to the top of your training shoe – beyond agony. Horse Chestnuts hurt….

Dad I keep hearing that as you get older your body starts to hurt. Is that true. You should know as you are so very old…..”

Yes eventually the body does hurt. Playing contact sport or falling off cliffs doesn’t help. You can do stuff about the pain – mostly. But you do get to a stage when you realise that I’ve used this body up, so can I have a new one.

So when did your body start hurting?”

Everyone is different. At school one of my friends had a Chopper Bike. It had upright handles and a gear stick brilliantly placed right in front of your undercarriage. Chris had a big crash and encountered the pointy gear stick at a frightening rate of knots. His hurting most definitely started when he was 10. It ended his choir signing days. I think my body pain started after I was 30. Playing contact sport on a Saturday and not being able to move on Sunday.

Is that when Dad decided he wasn’t young anymore?”

Yes it was. I suddenly released that being a goalkeeper hurt. I stopped bouncing off the floor so well. There is a brilliant comic from Scotland called Billy Connelly. He says that you know that you are not young anymore when your can’t bend over without making a noise, usually a groan.

I can confirm that. I groaned 193 times during today’s yoga workout.

And it rains

And still it rains.

And rains.

And rains.

And rains…

It’s refusing to stop. At least I won’t need to water the tomatoes until say 2023. There is a joke here about it always rains on a bank holiday weekend. Guess what this weekend is….

Dad sometimes having social and virus phobias is a good thing. Little chance of me asking to go to the beach or a fun park today. It saves you getting drenched.”

That’s true Hawklad. Always something to be thankful for.

Apart from supporting your football team. Wow that’s grim.”

We all can’t support teams that win anything. Newcastle United’s job is to give all the other teams a good laugh. At least we have a good shirt. Can’t go wrong with black and white stripes.

The shirt never changes Dad. It’s boring. You look like a walking barcode.”

It does change. Sometimes it’s black and white stripes. Then sometimes it’s white and black stripes.

You do pick your teams. What happened when you started supporting that German Team”

They got relegated.

Then you followed that Swiss Team, what happened.”

Erm they got relegated.

Bit of a pattern developing here Dad. Oh do you remember you owe me a forfeit for losing the last challenge.”

How could I forget.

Wasn’t it to sit outside in the pouring rain with no shirt on”.

I believe it was to sit outside when it was warm.

Dad WHAT was it.”

To sit outside in the pouring rain with no shirt on.

Now would be an ideal time. But as I am kind I will grant you something. You can wear your barcode footy shirt.”

I’d rather not. Given how rubbish my team is, that shirt will just disintegrate in the rain.

**********

So yes I sat outside in the pouring rain. With a cup of tea and yes my football shirt. The tea was warming, my shirt didn’t fall to bits and I thought about some happy things. Yes definitely always something to be thankful for.