Which way

In life you get asked so many questions. But some questions keep repeating themselves. Like the classics ‘Are we there yet?’ and ‘where’s the remote control?’.

Then there are other questions. More vexing questions. One question keeps popping up. I’ve been asked this by family members, other parents, teachers and even once a nurse. It does have a number of variants but it’s basically the same question

Will your son get better?

Will his Aspergers improve?

Will his Aspergers improve as he gets older?

I’m no clinical specialist. Just a bumbling parent. But here’s my take on the question.

Aspergers is a lifelong syndrome. It’s not going to get better. Its not going to be cured. It’s not going to disappear. What might change is that over time the individual and the family may develop strategies to help deal better with some of the situations life will throw at them. Also some of the specific symptoms may fluctuate over time. For example in a number of individuals something like repetitive hand flapping may become less prevalent with age. Also Aspergers often coexists with a number of other conditions – dyspraxia, ADHD, dyslexia…. It is possible that some of these conditions could improve with time. For example our son has with hard work started to overcome some of the issues which his dyspraxia and dyslexia had caused him in his earlier years.

So yes it is possible that improvements may occur. But here’s the thing, it’s not guaranteed. Each individual case is different, unique. Things may stay the same with age. They can also get worse with age.

So we just don’t know.

The Clinical Psychologist who did the full review of our Son was quite clear. The majority of his Aspergers related traits will stay with him over his life. However at around the teenage period changes may start to occur. It could go either way. He could become fully independent or he may regress and may need some form of life long support. She talked through a number of possible scenarios. One scenario was that some improvements would occur potentially in the areas of dyslexia and the diminishing of some of the repetitive behaviours. Another scenario painted a downturn in his existing anxieties and fears. This could occur naturally during his teenage years or could be triggered by a single significant event which effects his view of the world. Tips the balance in his risk assessments of the world. This could lead to significant mental health concerns and potentially social isolation. Where we are sat currently, we are not a million miles away from that scenario. The triggers – the death of his mum, a pandemic, his teenage years…. He is currently physically cut adrift from the world. His fears and anxieties ramped up to the rafters.

Nothing is set in stone. We just have to go with the flow and see what life brings. It could be still be a fully independent life. But it could also entail a lifelong requirement for support. In this country we don’t cater for the latter scenario. Support has to be fought and won for young children. That support is at best is patchy. During the teenage years the support tends to be reduced due to funding cut backs. By early adulthood the support has completely vanished. That’s a sobering thought for parents in this position. It really is.

Questions

A hospital visit is now an even more unpleasant experience. Masks at all times except when you were in a separate room with no other people. One temperature check. All staff with masks and gloves on at all times. The place filled with clearly very panicky people keeping their distance. The children’s ward only allowing one parent in with a child.

But here’s a thought for you.

We faced far more detailed pandemic questioning from the Boiler Repair team (over 20 questions) than we did when we had to access two separate Hospitals and a Surgical Theatre (one question) ….. I guess that’s what happens when people are confused, scared and left without clear trustworthy guidance from the Government.

Sign of the times.

Looking across the farmers fields makes life look so simple. So straightforward. Sadly that’s not the case…..

It was like the toughest questioning from an old school Doctor.

  • Is anyone in the household self isolating?
  • Is anyone in the household classed as high medical risk?
  • Have you or anyone in your house had Co-vid 19?
  • Is anyone in the house currently diagnosed with Co-vid 19?
  • Has anyone in the house got a high temperature?
  • A loss of smell or taste?
  • A sore throat?
  • A persistent cough?
  • Flu like symptoms?
  • Hay Fever like symptoms?
  • Is anyone in the household awaiting the results of a Co-vid test?
  • I know it’s a shambles but has anyone in the household been contacted by the national track and trace system?
  • Has anyone in the household travelled outside of the country over the last 14 days?
  • Has anyone in the household had contact with someone who has travelled outside of the country over the last 14 days?
  • Does anyone in the household visit high risk virus areas such as hospitals, care homes or meat processing plants?

Once I had provided a satisfactory answer to the bombardment of medical questions, the next question was

So what appears to be wrong with the boiler? Are you sure that the oil tank is not empty!

Sign of the times really….

Rain…

Rain, rain, rain.

Chucking it down.

Raining cats and dogs.

Hammering it down.

Siling down.

Bucketing down.

Teeming.

Nice weather for ducks.

I think we are moving from weather for ducks to weather for fish. It’s a good job we are on top of a little hill. Any lower down and we might be considering a life raft.

“Dad what are you doing?”

Listening to the rain.

Why?”

Because it’s almost hypnotic. It’s kinda nice.

The only reason I would listen to the rain is to workout when it’s stopped…. Dad Ive got a little question….”

He does have a point with listening to the rain. That last line is his favourite saying. He is always asking questions. Dozens and dozens every hour. When he says a little question he really means one question followed quickly by a bombardment of another 30 questions. Random questions to me but completely linked to his way of thinking. Often it seems like the same question but in fact each question is subtly different. Questions followed by a chance to demonstrate his Dads rather sketchy knowledge in these areas. Then a chance for son to instruct his Dad. This happens always in the garden, every day. If it’s raining then on go the coats.

Today it was three hours of football and fantasy world related questions. Looking at player stats, team records, form, tactics and formations. Intertwined with questions about characters, storylines, plot arcs and new worlds. Yesterday it was 4 hours of questions about politics and history.

Over time the daily fact and knowledge bombardment can tire my mind. Lack of sleep doesn’t help. Two parents allowed some time to share the questioning. A time to rest the mind. But it is what it is. Constantly walking about and hot drinks keep me going. But here’s the key thing to remember. It’s an absolute privilege to be granted this time with our son. To be welcomed into his world. A beautiful world which is more pure than ours. It’s what life is all about. So yes it can sometimes feel like it’s wearing me down BUT I wouldn’t swap it for the world.

Questions

First question. How did this beautiful rose get here. It’s mysteriously appeared this year. A most welcome new guest.

It’s been a day of questions

  • French verbs – no help here sadly
  • Correct cooking time for Puff Pastry – you might as well ask Trump about humility
  • Name Four ways waves shape the coastline – I managed three
  • Oven temperature for cooking Puff Pastry – you might as well ask Johnson to name all the kids he has fathered (he won’t go there for some reason!)
  • How to calculate the area of a Trapezoid – I’m not sure looking blankly was the right answer
  • Where was my wallet – unbelievably still on the back seat of the car … probably been there since March
  • Where are the scissors – the correct answer was next to the tomato plants, outside in the garden
  • How much money is left in the bank – not enough….
  • Where are the spare batteries to fit the TV remote control – not worked that one out yet
  • Why did the bread loaf burn in the oven this morning – because I can’t cook
  • Why is my hip hurting after this mornings exercise – I am getting older and I might have also tripped over a plant pot
  • Why did the hoover stop working today – because that’s life…

Rory asked some more great questions in a recent blog. So while I’m on fire answering so many questions, well here goes….

  • How spontaneous are you? Things just seem to happen and I end of having to spontaneously put out the fires.
  • How flirtatious would you say you are? Not very. Probably been less than 10 people I have generally been flirtatious with. Not enough self confidence really. But I am pretty playful
  • How serious are you as a person? About 5% serious, 45% not serious and 50% confused.
  • Do you think the older we become certain emotions are easier to handle – say as an example “grief”. I’ve found things like failure easier to handle as I’ve aged. Grief I don’t think so. So many factors effect grief. It’s a unique journey for everyone. A journey we sadly have to make more often as we go through life. As you get older it sometimes feels like a Seance is a better way of contacting friends and family, rather than Facebook.
  • What is the most adventurous thing you have done to date? I once had a Strawberry Poptart.
  • What’s the craziest or riskiest thing you have ever done and simply got away with it or gotten caught doing it? My partner was swimming in the ocean off Australia once and apparently she had a Great White for company. Sometimes it’s good not to be able to swim. For me it was probably going to a Ronan Keating concert.
  • What do you think the future of dating is now that social distancing has become part of your life? Probably a market for giant complete body hugging condoms now. I guess the secret is to date people many miles away.
  • How different do you really think you are to the next person? Right from an early age I thought I was different. Never really built to fit in with society. The sort of person people often look at and think they are a bit weird. Best way to describe me is probably just a little bit vexing…
  • During this time of global concern how has your thinking changed regarding the planet, conservation and climate change? It’s firmed up my views. We are at real risk of screwing things up completely for future generations. Too many people are voting for self deluded cretins. This world needs real change now. What’s the words I’m looking for – a bottom up revolution.
  • What topical issue considered taboo by society are you deeply passionate about? Too many people still think it’s taboo for wonderful kids and adults, to be different. Unique. That has to stop. These great kids and adult don’t need to change. WE do.
  • What is more important and or is there a difference between friendship and companionship and if so what is the difference? A friend is someone who can spend time with me while putting up with my vexing nature. A companion is someone with the patience of a saint who can completely ignore the vexing stuff.
  • What is your passion with regards writing genres. What is your chosen genre. And what is the genre you might like to write about but lack the confidence to start? I kinda just have to start writing and let whatever pops into my head out. I’ve tried to write in a predetermined style but its never worked. Secretly I would love to write either fantasy or horror.

Torquay

My neighbours bird bath. Over the years it has become increasingly hard to fill. Thankfully the Yorkshire weather usually takes care of that.

Yesterday was a decently fun day. Any day with Pizza helps. We played football in the garden. Son fired a million questions at me. Including the following belter.

Name 10 best things about Torquay”

We had been watching John Cleese in old episodes of Fawlty Towers. It’s set there.

“Son your going to annoyingly tell me that you know 10 such facts”

Actually 17 facts Dad”

I whispered a silent bugger under my breathe.

We then tried to watch the new Joker movie. I was watching it thinking the acting is brilliant but I’m not enjoying this in the slightest bit. Then son broke my thought pattern.

Dad I’m really not in the mood for this. I enjoy a good bit of Joker but this isn’t a Joker movie. It’s a movie about how a country fails to deal with mental health and how people look down on others who are different. I don’t like the way the film is doing it. Let’s watch it another day.”

So ten minutes later we had the new Shaun The Sheep movie on. That there is a movie.

But I understand what our son was talking about. Not the right time or mood for this Joker movie. There is too much going on in the world. It is also Mother’s Day in the UK. That’s one of THOSE days…. I must admit the social distancing has severely restricted our visits to the shops. That means less chance to walk past all the cards, flowers and potential gifts. Dealing with it for just one day is better than having it rammed down our throats for weeks on end.

I must admit this one has been less painful than the other ones we have endured. We have wished our lost mums a happy day. In my partners case we have kissed the ashes. Then so far we have gotten on with the job of making the most of today. My heart does go out to many mums today. Because of the restrictions and other factors outside of their control, they may not see kids and grandchildren today (or for many days to come). I really hope a way is found for a connection to be made. A text, a video call, a card, a cute photo, a virtual hug or a telephone call saying ‘I LOVE YOU’.

Stay safe and to all mums out there. Sending you a big hug. Thank you for being super heroes.

Don’t mess with the Squirrel

Let’s get the rant quickly out of the way. The UK’s School Minister has opened his mouth again. Remember him. The chap who wants to test kids from the age of 4. The chap who described kids taking time off for bereavement as – an extended holiday. The chap who introduced changes to the teaching of English which severely disadvantaged dyslexic kids – against the advice of health professionals and dyslexia groups. The chap who on several interviews refused to answer any of the questions he was expecting kids to answer. Well now he has told schools and parents what to do in terms of the Coronavirus. Even if the school gets a suspected case then parents should send their kids to school as normal. Schools should remain open. This contrasted with the Chief Medical Officer who yesterday was talking about the potential of closing schools for two months if the virus started to spread in the UK. Well the Schools Minister can take a running jump. He is the last person I would trust my child’s wellbeing with. If it comes to this decision then I will make the call not this over promoted pompous twat. Rant over….

I’ve just been bullied by a squirrel…..

I went out to feed the wildlife in the garden. The usual collection of birds and a squirrel waited not so patiently to be fed. I had a couple of uneaten pancakes to add to the usual menu. As I kneeled down to tear the pancakes up into little pieces the squirrel moved in. He grabbed both pancakes out of my grasp. He wasn’t waiting or sharing these goodies. I did try to have words with the bushy tailed one. But clearly somebody wasn’t listening today. At least somebody likes my pancakes.

Why

School is back on Thursday. Deep Joy. So we have completed the dreaded school bag and uniform audit. Pigging hell. I blame it on this Pokemon.

Please tell me why

  • The school bag seems to have developed zipillitis. Every single zip has either jammed half open or have decided to become stunt lemmings and dropped off onto the floor,
  • We don’t have any black or blue pens but we helpfully have a shipping container full of yellow and red ones. Particularly helpful as only teachers are allowed to use red and yellow ink seems to be as fashionable as German Sausages at 10 Downing Street drinks party these days,
  • Why is every single pencil snapped at the same time as our 38 pencil sharpeners have eloped with coloured crayons,
  • Why is the only useable pencil case PINK with Peppa Pig on it,
  • All the rulers and set squares and protractors are missing or appear to have been sat on by an African Elephant,
  • Why has the French Dictionary (which we had to buy even though its never likely to be used) clearly gone for a swim in the Mediterranean Sea and decided not to dry itself properly,
  • Every single eraser has got as much rubber left on them as I have hair left on my scalp,
  • Why has the never need batteries calculator run out of power. Who thought it would be a good idea to use light as an energy source in Yorkshire,
  • No black socks at all – all buried in the garden by helpful dog,
  • His school blazer has developed more holes in the sleeves than my empty bank account,
  • Blue shirts now so badly worn that he might as well just wear a see through bag,
  • All Trousers 3 inches too short with more patches than on my 30 year bike tyres,
  • The school tie which was blue but now seems to be more Tomato Ketchup colour,
  • Finally the all important school shoes. Still just about black but unfortunately with two holes in the soles so large that they must have got in the way of an Alaskan Oil Drilling operation.

Don’t you just love school……

Deadly Question Time

So she is leaving before the job is done. Tears for her own job but not for 72 people who died in London on the 14th June 2017. Says it all. Time for the next numpty.

****************

You do get asked some questions in life. Some you can answer, some you can’t and some which you can’t quite comprehend. In 2016 the world changed for us. Over 6 weeks our young son experienced two much death for someone so young. I got plunged into single parenting – a role I was completely unprepared for and at a time when I was close to breaking. Since those fateful 6 weeks we have been asked so many questions about bereavement, single parenting and the future. Here are some of the left field ones.

“What’s it like not to have a mum” – a classmate asked that 4 days after he lost his mum

Have you thought about hiring a full time nanny” – a Parent

Do you think he is too young to properly grieve” – a Parent

Have you thought about a dating agency ” – a neighbour 2 weeks after the funeral

Luckily he is autistic so he won’t feel as much” – a Parent.

“I’m sorry for your loss but can you start back at work tomorrow as your project needs to stay on track” – a Senior Manager one week after the funeral

Now your a single parent what are you going to do with your new found free time” – a Dad in the school playground

Dads don’t cook so do you get lots of takeouts” – a classmate with a Dad who spends most of his time in the pub and playing golf

“Surely your career is the most important thing to you” – a Senior Manager after I quit to be there for our son

“Can’t your son just go to stay with someone during the week so you can do this role. Have you got family who could look after him” – same Senior Manager

“We are reading a book in lesson next week which has a boy who has just lost his mum. You don’t have any objections do you” a teacher

“You must think yourself quite lucky. You have closure. When my wife left me I didn’t get closure” – a Dad in the school playground

Have you phoned the Samaritans.” – a mum. I only asked if she had any idea why my bread wasn’t rising evenly.

****************

This time can we get a Leader how is up to the job. No numpties should be allowed to apply – that includes you Boris.

Question Fun – Adventuring

The Wonderful Rory (A Guy Called Bloke) came up with a question challenge about Adventuring. As my adventure days are on hold answering Rory’s question will be as close as I get to adventure for a while. So here goes.

What are five [in your eyes only] top quality Adventure films?
Touching the Void, North Face – German film and it’s grim, Eiger Sanction, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Alvin and the Chipmunks – Chipwrecked…….

What would be your ideal Adventure [not holiday – Adventure]

Climb Everest

If you were planning your Adventure of a Lifetime which is the best season for you to go?
Cold and Snow – called Summer in Yorkshire

What kind of activities do you enjoy doing and what would you never do?

Definitely Climbing never Caving

If you could live anywhere in the world for a year out of the answers below, where would you choose?

In a Castle

Under the Sea

In a Forest

In a Dungeon

On an Alien Planet

On the side of an Active Volcano

In a Castle haunted with nice ghosts. If I could get an Ironman suit then it would be an Alien Planet.

What are three great adventure quotes?

“Climbing up a mountain beats staying at home peeing on your rhubarb” – Bizarrely I came up with that one while climbing in Lake District.

“I look at climbing not so much as standing on the top as seeing the other side. There are always other horizons in front of you, other horizons to go beyond and that’s what I like about climbing.” – Chris Bonington

“Because it’s there” – George Mallory

America is named after?

Was it named after the America’s Cup? Or after Captain America.

Who reached North America first out of the following people’s?
Spanish, British, Vikings, Portuguese

I thought Donald Trump said it was him.

What was Christopher Columbus’s aim of  his second voyage to the New world?
Clearly it was to find somewhere unpopulated to discover and claim. Because you can’t discover and claim a land if somebody is already living there.

What happened to the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan?

I think it was knocked down to build a big wall. Apparently that part of the world needs one.

What was the most exciting Adventure you have ever been on?

Trying to pick up a Christmas Food order from M&S on Christmas Eve

Where in the world have you had the most fun exploring as an adult?

Lake District Fells

When in Rome, one does as the Roman’s do, however When on a Sandy Beach,  one does ……….. ?
Pick up the discarded plastic bottles.

Whilst out and about exploring on an adventure, what is the most scariest thing that has happened to you?

My climbing partner started playing U2 on his Walkman while we were halfway up a rock face.

Of the following choices which would you prefer to explore?
A sunken city 

A lost city 

A forgotten city

An uninhabited island

An uninhabited island

Would you rather swim with sharks or dolphins?

Can’t swim so sharks (get the agony over with quicker)

What’s the worst piece of travel advice you have ever received?

You look like you know what your doing. You can navigate.

What’s the best piece of travel advice you have ever received?

Don’t get lost

What is on the top of your bucket list?

My bucket list is probably binned now. My efforts will go to letting son achieve his.

Best musical track you can think of for each of the following: explortation, adventuring or travelling?

Iffy Pop – Lust for life

How many countries [or States/Counties] have you visited – please list.

France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Netherlands, South Africa, Congo

Three items you simply could not travel without?

Camera, Sunglasses, A Whip