Waiting

Apparently a heatwave is about to hit Western Europe. I’m not sure the required paperwork and clearances have been signed off for Yorkshire yet. As a result it’s gone back to cold, cloudy and very wet. Here this is called proper weather.

Anyway let’s see if the much vaunted hot stuff arrives. Knowing our luck it could be a long wait. But we are accustomed to waiting for things.

  • Snow at Christmas … 10 years
  • My so called football team winning a domestic trophy … 64 years
  • A U.K. Van Halen Tour … 35 years
  • Last Total Solar Eclipse in Yorkshire … 92 years, next U.K. one 2090

We can add to these the following waits.

  • Bereavement counselling for son … over 2 years and counting
  • Waiting to have son’s dyslexia initially assessed by an Education Psychologist … over 3 years
  • Aspergers Review and Assessment … 2 years
  • Dedicated Aspergers Therapy … 1 year
  • Anxiety Therapy … 6 months
  • Speech Therapy … 4 years
  • Paediatrician Assessment … 1 year
  • Parent Training on Autism … Never going to happen So far 5 years

You get the picture. Nothing comes easy. As a parent. As an Autism Parent. As a Aspie Parent. You have to push for the support your kid needs. Constantly chasing up contacts. Everyday seems like a new or recurring battle. Letter after letter. Chasing up phone calls. That’s something which isn’t mentioned when you start your new life journey. You sort of assume that the professional help will be there when you need it. You quickly find out that the professional help is withheld or is delivered at times to suit the system rather than the child.

What the system doesn’t seem to appreciate is that you get such a short window of time to foster real progress. As one psychologist said

Up to about 14 years is the development sweet spot. That’s when the real, long lasting progress is usually made. That’s when you have a chance to start closing the educational gap. After that it becomes increasingly difficult. If it’s left too long then its probably just about trying to stop the educational gap widening too quickly.

The frustration that causes you. It’s hard to explain that feeling. Maybe constantly walking in treacle. Every step forward is such an effort and yet you are so far away from your destination. But the fight has to be fought. As long as our son wants me to keep pushing then I will keep pushing. That’s what parents do.

Kapellbrücke

Not often am I speechless. But walking along a centuries old wooden structure trying to work out if I should look at the glorious Swiss mountains, or if I should look at the beautiful city architecture, or the beautiful alpine river, or the stunning historical artwork or just look at one of the worlds greatest bridges.

Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) is a glorious wooden bridge which runs over the river in Lucerne. The bridge was erected in 1365. It is the oldest surviving Truss Bridge in the world. In 1993 a devastating fire struck the bridge almost destroying it. Before the fire 147 of the original 17th century paintings were on display in the bridge. After the fire only 30 could be saved. But the bridge was restored to its former glory and reopened a year later.

Frustration today. I came across these photos which jogged so many wonderful memories. But I can’t find the photos of the bridge interior or the family enjoying the experience. Particularly poignant as only 2 of the party of 4 are still here today. Almost like the bridges artwork. But the search continues. Kapellbrücke should be on any bucket list of things you need to see before you …..

What is it

Million’s of years of evolution, survival of the fittest and we get to this. I’m not sure how I would describe this. Hairy, messy, scruffy, bizarre, bouffant, lazy, crazy wig, fur ball explosion.

Clearly he is taking his guard dog duties seriously. Like a coiled spring primed to leap into action.

But even when he is comatosed he makes you smile. Makes you forget how crap life is some days. And another key point. I can guarantee that when he does return to our world then his eyes will open and that tail will go into hyper action. Unconditional love – maybe just for his toy crocodile but it’s still love. But given that seriously geared up tail no wonder Muttley could fly.

So you return with the physio’s words ringing in your ear

I’m not so saying never again but just don’t expect to be running anytime soon.

That’s feels like another kick in the nether regions. Yet within a few seconds a hairy bundle of smelly dogness has managed to banish those thoughts. When you look around you can find stuff that makes you smile and makes you feel alive again. Keep looking and you just might find that Hulk Buster Suit.

Thank goodness for pets….

Soulless

That pesky grief monster sneaking up on innocent folks again. Should be a law about that. On sorry I forgot our Government ceased being a viable legislative body two years ago. Still we can look forward to Johnson or Hunt now. OMG. One is a self serving buffoon who dresses up outrageous racist comments as free direct speech. A man whose middle name should be dishonesty. The other is a man who forgot which country his wife was born in (supposed to be our Foreign Secretary) and who wilfully wrecked our NHS.

So no help coming from the Government any time soon then.

I was having a 50 minute walk – can’t believe how much I miss my runs. Tired but been worse. Then out from a side path a couple emerged. Holding hands and clearly so in love. Suddenly waves of grief and remorse smash me into the ground.

That was us a few years ago…

We should be still holding hands today…

Those days have gone…

Suddenly I feel very tired, very old and very broken.

It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this.

An hour later I’m back at work but basically I’m going through the motions. My heart is trapped in a different year. It’s unlikely that it will be released. I feel soulless, yes that’s the word, SOULLESS. Just an empty shell. Just focus on that one job – give our son the best childhood possible. That gives me a purpose. Something to keep me going.

Grounded

Getting older is great for your body. I wish I could have my body from when I was 30. Hang on it was buggered then, just dislocated my shoulder playing football. I wish I had my body from when I was 25. Hang on I had just dented my rib cage playing cricket. I wish I had my body from when I was 20. Hang on I had just cracked my skull open playing rugby. I wish I had Thor’s body from before the Endgame.

Playing contact sport is basically bad for you.

Since the world changed I have focused on our son. But that is not completely sustainable. You do need to find time for yourself. If only to help manage stress levels. My anchor has been fitness and home workouts. Thirty minutes a day as a minimum. It worked until I realised I needed to stop myself becoming completely housebound. Couldn’t afford a gym so it was running. Again it worked well. But then the buggered body caught up with me again. So until a physiotherapist can have a look at me I am banned from running and weightlifting.

So the two things which have kept me sane over the last couple of years have suddenly become unavailable. Hopefully temporarily but you never know.

So I need to find something – a new anchor. But what? Climbing but that is far too risky and we are short of mountains round here. Cycling and walking would be good options but time constraints limit their appeal. Maybe not a sport then. Shockingly it might have to be a hobby.

  • Yoga – good for stress but I have the balance of a drunk three legged mountain goat
  • Dedicate time for reading – that could work, keep moaning about not reading enough
  • Write a book – possibly a cook or baking book….
  • Astronomy – time at night is a premium plus this is Yorkshire otherwise known as Cloudsville.
  • Birdwatching – another possible option and might meet others (even if they have feathers and a beak)
  • Learn another language – the nearest classes are many miles away and learning languages other than English will probably be outlawed after Brexit
  • Photography – only available camera is on my battered many years old iPhone
  • Gardening – who am I kidding, I am a plant mass murderer
  • Gaming – certainly not stress relieving
  • Painting – even messed up a paint by numbers Mona Lisa
  • Learn to play an instrument – would find a use for that keyboard I bought our son as a present, the one he asked for which apparently was supposed to be a gaming keyboard
  • Knitting – my knitting skills are only matched by my baking skills
  • Tree Shaping – we only have two small trees
  • Extreme Ironing – far too dangerous for me

So many options to ponder over. I will find a hobby. I have to if I’m going to pull this single parenting gig off. Asked our son and he helpfully suggested

Does sleeping count as a hobby”

Exploding kettle

You know it’s going to be a long day when you wake up as a zombie. You stumble into the kitchen. You switch on the kettle. Then you get a bright flash and a deafening bang. The kettle joins the long line of broken appliances. A nice cup of cold water doesn’t quite cure zombieism as well as a dark brooding cup of coffee sludge. So we struggle on in a permanent haze.

Simple work tasks suddenly became modern day Rubik cube tortures.

Attaching a new belt to the hoover – a five minute job usually turned out to be as difficult as splitting an atom.

Trying to organise a few appointments for our son – might as well have been trying to schedule the next Guns and Roses World Tour.

Trying to activate my new Bank Card over the phone was equivalent of trying to authenticate nuclear launch codes.

A simple freeze wrap food parcel took on the same properties as Adamantium. My lunch wasn’t going to get consumed today.

Unbelievably the sun made an appearance for two hours this afternoon. Just enough time to take the dog for a reasonably dry walk and cut the the grass. Only just enough time. Sat looking at a unresponsive lawnmower for thirty minutes. The last ten of those minutes involved a carefully selected fault finding approach involving a hammer and my boot. Eventually the penny dropped and I realised that it would actually help if I inserted the 36v battery into the cordless mower. As I get older I become more like Daddy Pig from Peppa Pig. Luckily I just about finished the lawn before the weather closed in. The next rain event has now arrived. Looking at the forecast the next lawn cutting window is probably well into 2020.

So today was a bit of a write off. Strangely microwaved coffee doesn’t seem to taste so good. Boiling water on the oven just takes too long – sorry mum and dad. So tomorrow will start with another cup of cold water. Then it’s an urgent trip to the shops for a non exploding kettle.

Fathers Day

It was Fathers Day in the UK yesterday. Even in Yorkshire. Let’s give a shout out to the Dads. Yes we are in most cases crap at multitasking, dammed annoying, often in the way but we are sometimes useful….. In my case I am still waiting.

So Sunday’s Dad List in this case was

  • Make breakfast – burnt and milk out of date
  • Housework – managed to get the sofa throw stuck in the hoover and snapped the last hoover belt
  • Clothes washing – washing machine stuck on the 10 minute pre wash cycle so not exactly clean so needed to run the cycle 5 times
  • Make lunch – criminally couldn’t get the Yorkshire Puddings to rise
  • Take dog for walk – dog rolled in sheep poo so he stinks
  • Bath dog – then spend an hour trying to dry out the house after the dog started shaking himself down. Aquaman has nothing on him.
  • Pack School Bag – went without incident but will only find its success when he gets back home
  • Time for some me time – made a coffee to sit outside as it’s unbelievably stopped raining, but find a large bird has crapped over the garden chair. Clean chair then find it’s started to rain again. Cold coffee looking out at a monsoon.
  • Change bedding – ok apart from a brutal wrestling match with duvet cover
  • Cook Tea – salad is pretty much Dad proof
  • Wash up – managed to smash one cup
  • Iron school uniform – find that I forgot about the wash in the washing machine. So set off a quick Tumble Dryer run
  • Revise for school end of year tests – another opportunity to show the processing power differences between a young vibrant mind and a knackered old one
  • Run bath – find someone forgot to wash the towels
  • Iron school uniform – presentable but managed to burn my hand
  • Lock doors – not easy when you can’t find the keys
  • Catch up on Work – not easy when laptop decides it needs yet another update
  • Go to bed – can’t sleep

That’s a pretty typical Sunday. So yes Dads can be crap but we also can be busy. Ok that in my case is busy being crap – but it’s still busy. As it’s Fathers Day I will give myself a pat on the back for that. I survived another day.

Crop Circles

You can’t beat a good crop circle. Such intricate geometric patterns. These aliens are clearly very artistic with boundless amounts of patience. It’s kinda reassuring to know that the earth is clearly the preferred canvas of choice for alien art.

Unfortunately something is a clearly amiss with the Yorkshire Crop Circles.

Have the aliens that visit Yorkshire been indulging in too much Newcastle Nuclear Brown Ale or Black Sheep Holy Grail Ale.

Or are the Yorkshire Aliens the Galaxy’s avant-garde pioneers. No intricate geometric patterns here. Or maybe it’s the weather. You can imagine an alien more at home in fertile hospitable climes saying something like this as he is starting his Yorkshire Crop Circle in the pouring rain

Bugger this for a lark let’s get it done as quick as possible then we are out of here”

When I told this story to our son he just looked at me with that look… thought for a few seconds then said.

Dad why on earth would an alien fly all those billions of light years to do a bit of art then fly back again. You need to look for the rational explanation. Clearly we have some mighty big field mice these days”

Clearly the all too common stereotype that autistic people do not have a sense of humour is clearly true which thus means we need a much bigger cat….

Muttley

Before our son was born we loved to visit the Loire Valley in central France. A lovely part of the world. Hot (but not too hot), fabulous wine, fine food, fascinating history and many glorious chateaux. Plus the French Grand Prix at Magny Cours was close enough to justify a visit – managed to convince her just once….

Usually we would drive from a Yorkshire. Only way we could get the shed load of wines back. Partner didn’t like driving in France. It’s not easy as we drive on the other side of the road…. So partner would navigate and I would drive. A perfect combination except for one small detail.

I struggle with LEFTS and RIGHTS….

My partner got seriously cheesed off with repeated “I said the LEFT turn, why have you gone right”.

So we devised the perfect solution. We would put my toy Muttley on the left side of the dashboard and on the other side we put a toy Bagpuss. Then instead of saying ‘turn left’ my partner would simple say “turn to Muttley”. Absolutely foul proof, it was even me proof. You don’t get that sort of quality motoring advice from The Grand Tour and Top Gear…..

Thanks Muttley and Bagpuss. You saved our relationship.

What do you see

What do you see?

Well Dad I see a fox on a motorbike crashing into an alien while being chased by seahorses.”

That’s better than my Lego Ninjago Ghost Warriors playing cricket….

Lying on the ground seeing what pictures the clouds can paint. It was always a favourite of mine as a kid and it’s the same with our son. I’m pleased he still enjoys the game. It’s good to exercise the imagination every so often. The best thing it’s free. Unfortunately in Yorkshire it’s often just a plain grey sheet we can see.

In Nursery and Primary school they did provide the kids with a platform to dream and play. To let their minds fly. Secondary school is different. Suddenly it’s all change. No play, no freedom, no room to imagine. The lucky few if they can act or sing or dance or play an instrument can get into the school performing scene. For the rest it’s just facts and rules for them. 100% focused on exams at 16. Nothing else matters.

Is that really in the best interests of our kids. Or is it just about feeding the system. Justifying the Government Target Policy. I think we know the answer to this.

So back to the clouds. What do we see now. That big cloud looks like a hippo at a watering hole.

“I’m just seeing something big. Something very big. I’m seeing my dads belly. That will block the sun out for days…”