Missed goal

I admired this beautiful plant. Admired it as I was sat on the bench. I was actually sat on the bench to inspect my injuries. A rather too enthusiastic attempt to score a garden goal ended up with my head first in the hedge. A few cuts and scrapes but the flower took my mind off the pain. Can’t believe after all the damage, I didn’t score the goal. This was all done to the backdrop of Hawklad laughing his socks off.

Dad do you want help getting out of the hedge. Are you ok?”

Hawklad concern is better when your not wetting yourself with laughter.

It was like an albatross with too much in its belly trying to get into the air. Little legs struggling to pick up enough speed to take off. And failing spectacularly. That was too funny Dad”.

Hawklad that was a cracking goal

You missed Dad. It was all for nothing.”

Oh man. I thought I had hit the target.

You certainly hit the hedge, unfortunately the ball was less accurate. Actually it was very similar to your head. It ended up buried in the hedge. Shall I help you out Dad.

No I’m doing that by myself now.

Dad you’ve left a big hole in the hedge. Maybe it’s your new art. Body dents in the natural world.”

I could tour the world hurling myself head first into different world landmarks.

It’s a big hole you have left. Looks like a hippo has crashed through.”

Hawklad are you saying I’m as big as a hippo……

“Of course not Dad. That would be unfair on Hippos.”

Now you mention it, that is a big indent. Did I really make that.

Yep. Being a responsible parent weren’t you Dad. It’s a good job I moved out of the way as you would have hit me.”

Responsible parenting goes out of the window when your son is taller than his Dad. Look at the bruises on my shins from your kicks. All the world great footballers have to endure the dastardly attempts to stop their artistry.

“I’m only defending myself from a charging hippo. Funny I’m not seeing Messi or Neymar playing in my garden. It’s more like Gloria from Madagascar. ”

Absolutely no appreciation from my so called son.

That’s right Gloria. Now go and fetch the ball from the hedge….”

I will after Gloria sits down and inspects her injuries. Oh… Look at that flower.

Combinations

Some combinations go so well together. Blue Sky and Yorkshire. Bill and Ted. Fish and Chips. Batman and Joker. Trump and publishing tax returns. Kirk and Spock. Tom and Jerry. Cheese and Onion. Boris Johnson and Lies. Spongebob and Crabby Patties……

We do have some random conversations in the garden. Just like today. No idea why but Muppet Dad and Hawklad decided to try and randomly combine things.

What do you get when you combine a Tom Hanks movie and a US President – Forest Trump.

Much groaning – but you get the point. This went on for hours. I must admit the really funny ones unfortunately fail the good taste censor. Maybe I will do a late night version of this. But some of the cleaner ones included.

Combine a infamous US building with a famous 70s UK Comedy series – Trump Fawlty Towers

Bringing together a Marvel Character and Whale movie – IronWilly

Bring together a movie about Hobbits and a Disney movie – Return of the Lion King

Combine a British PM with a Donkey – Doris

Combine a young wizard with Toy Stories Mr Potato Head – Harry PotHead

What do you get when you combine an Arnie movie with a popular kiddies series. The Smurfinator.

Try combining a popular burger with a bit of Shakespeare – Big Macbeth

I hear you cry – Please no more…. I will be kind. But the point is that we had been having a conversation about missed opportunities. Maybe if things had been different then we could have spent this sunny day somewhere else. Somewhere different. Maybe the beach. Walking in the hills. Hawklad could have been visiting friends. Maybe a trip to a historic site. But just a few minutes later we were having fun. Fun in the garden. Making the most of what we have available to us. Sometimes the best place to have fun. To find happiness is rather close at hand.

Another week.

So that’s the first week of the next instalment of our school at home project. The first was when the whole school was doing online education. This time most of the school is back but our son is still trying to home school via online education.

So how has it gone?

I think the best word to use is Patchy. Actually two words – Very Patchy.

A few teachers are making sure that Hawklad is keeping up. They try to share as many class notes as possible. Provide structured work and will mark it. Then you get some teachers who send a few summary notes, not much but at least it gives us a feel for what our son should be looking at. Then some teachers are just dumping the whole terms class assignments across (without instructions). So for one subject that was a single 70 page document filled with questions. No idea how much and when the work is submitted. No idea the format. Poor Hawklad is convinced that he needs to complete all the booklet right now. So much stress for him. Then you get some subjects where we get absolutely nothing. And I mean nothing. In terms of pastoral care again it is nothing.

So definitely very patchy. Speaking to school I suspect that will be the case going forward. Fingers crossed that those teachers trying to support Hawklad will continue to do so. It’s good to have a few subjects where Hawklad feels like he is on top of things. Keeping up with his classmates.

At present we are working on getting through to the end of October and have another think about things. It’s a milestone to work to but it is highly likely that it won’t represent the end of the project. Hawklad is just starting on a very long road of help and counselling. Any progress is likely to be hard fought and slow. The School at a Home project will be a long one, well past the next 7 weeks.

Much patience is required and never losing sight that his wellbeing always comes first. Schooling comes behind that.

Fifth year

So here I go again. Starting another grief year. This will be the fifth one. Grief is not something that suddenly stops. It changes, it evolves but it doesn’t leave you. It becomes part of you. It’s part of me. It will always be part of me.

I remember back in 2016 thinking Life had made a terrible mistake. The roles should have been reversed. It should have been me that went first and my partner became the single parent. I must admit I had the same thought a few hours ago. Why her and not me. For whatever reason it just happened that way and I’ve had to get on with it. But it doesn’t stop me thinking that especially on the anniversary. These days I realise that I will never know the answer. It just happened that way. The key is make sure I’m the best parent I can be for our son. My partner would have done exactly the same thing. Being that parent will not happen if I am constantly inward looking. So let’s put that question back in its bid for another year. Let’s get on with the fifth year of grief by focusing on the here and now. Yes it’s the fifth grief year but more importantly it’s the fifth year of being a single parent. That’s got to continue to be my focus.

L

On one

You get days when you can just let the crashing waves of life wash over you. Serene in the knowledge that you are at one with the world. Accepting of the challenges and hurdles that lie ahead. Prepared to just put on the kettle, breathe, smile and then calmly deal with the issues facing you.

Then you get other days…..

Today is one of those days. I don’t like swearing. It’s not big or clever. But today

I’M SERIOUSLY PISSED OFF.

No serene model of self restraint. Much more Hulk Smash.

I was fine with the washing machine suddenly sounding like a pneumatic drill. Ok smashing another cup. Fine with the cat repeatedly missing his cat litter tray. Accepting of not feeling 100% today. But school and the education system today has got under my skin.

School have officially confirmed that they will not be able to provide any additional support if he is not able to start back at school. The online teaching system will be not available. No online lesson support. The only support will be that some basic class notes may be available after lessons on the school system. But these will be patchy and only for some lessons. This classroom notes facility has been in place for a year. In practice it’s a great idea however in practice very few teachers use the system. They stick to the white pen and marker pen approach. It was also confirmed that no dedicated teaching support would be provided. No home visits I can understand but no telephone or email support – really. The local council apparently would normally provide some support in these cases however that service has been reorganised and is not currently available. But apparently I’m supposed to ensure our son follows the curriculum so he doesn’t fall behind his class mates.

OK. So in practice I am none the wiser. Feels like we have been cast adrift but then expected to keep up with a rapidly receding school ship. It appears to me that school would be delighted to force us out and into full on homeschooling. But that’s not for me or the school to decide. That’s our Sons decision. One I will make sure he decides for himself.

So yes I am ON ONE. One step forward and then two back.

Book

It’s definitely been good weather for fungi.

The first few days in September are often a little tough for me. My mind has a habit of drifting to a hospice in 2016. It’s only natural. Going back to a time of great pain and heartache. The last days of one life – in more ways than one. I remember thinking that it was the end of a book. The author was about to write the words – THE END. It did seem that way. I might be still here but now the words had stopped. It was just nothingness going forward. I would carry on as I had to be mum and dad for our son. But my storytelling had finished.

But life does go on.

Yes I experienced pain and sorrow.

But eventually more smiles.

The story continues.

Looking back now I realise that my partners book did end. But she was still an actor in Sons book going forward. My story did continue. September 2016 only marked the ending of a chapter. A new one started immediately. My story is still being told. New characters and themes are entering the books pages. Let’s see what the next page has to show me.

End of August

The end of August. Still no clearer on the road ahead. Apart from the fact that my knees may develop frostbite if I keep wearing my shorts.

Not having a clear road ahead at the end of August is not a new experience.

August 2019 – trying to get my head around Hawklads granny’s rapidly deteriorating health. Maybe days until I’m asked to make a call on ceasing treatment. What to do. School refusing to move Hawklad up sets and no sign of additional support. What to do.

August 2018 – Almost time to switch schools. New teachers, bigger school, less flexibility, no guarantee of support. The only message – he will be in the bottom set. What to do.

August 2017 – Struggling to get any support for Hawklad. What to do. School is trying but they are so small they don’t have the resources to cope. Much needed services have been cut. My finances are a mess. I’m a mess. What to do.

August 2016 – Partner in a hospice, just waiting now. Effectively I am a single parent now. What will I do. My job that won’t fit my new life. In fact what is my new life. What happened to the old life. What will I do.

So it’s August and here we go again. Is it true homeschooling or my attempt to mirror classroom schooling until he can return. Support at best is sketchy. The pandemic has not only messed up schooling it’s doing its best to mess up my job as well. Will the job be here in a few months? What will I do.

All a bit perplexing but that is August for me. Should be used to it by now. And that is a source of comfort. September will arrive and life keeps moving. The road ahead might still be confusing but it is heading somewhere.

Seems like a lifetime

I accidentally stumbled across a social media post from a parent from Hawklads school. It contained a photo of a trip to the beach whichsome of the families had made last week. Clearly having great fun. It will do the kids so much good to start living again.

I was so happy for the kids and happy for the parents. They are really nice people. They deserve fun.

But the post brought a touch of sadness. Wouldn’t it have been lovely if Hawklad had been there. To be with kids his age. Enjoying himself. Enjoying being a teenager.

Actually it would have been good for me as well. The last time we went to the beach with other families was 2015. I’ve kind of forgotten what the feeling must be like. You get use to the isolated life style. It becomes all consuming. It becomes who you are. Back in 2015 I remember turning up. Watching Hawklad play with the other kids. The parents had a barbecue. We played games and sand cricket. Built sandcastles. We talked, laughed. We hugged.

But that was then. It’s 2020 now. Different world. It was a different world even before a pandemic. The last time I actually hugged someone was at my partners funeral. That’s virtually 4 years ago. It’s 5 years since we went to a meet-up with other families.

It seems like a lifetime ago.

Tomatoes

It’s taken long enough but at last some tomatoes. For some reason they are about a month later this year. Blame it on 2020. But at least it’s a start.

This morning I had two firsts. To start with, I managed to do a weights move for the first time ever. Instead of using two hands to pick up the laden weights bar and push it over my head, I did it one handed. It’s not clever and a little reckless, but it’s certainly cool when you do it. Never been able to do that before.

Then I finally managed to correctly transition some yoga moves. Normally when the video instructor says carefully transition – that involves me falling on my face, crashing into a wall and swearing lots. Today I was almost ballerina like. A ballerina with hairy legs…

It gives you a lift when you finally achieve something. We all need that from time to time.

I was going through Hawklads school notes today. He’s made great progress, certainly in the time he’s been school working from home. But what concerned me was the lack of progress I was making with the school authorities. It’s been 18 months since I made any headway with them. Just seem to be stuck. Can’t get any more support for him. Can’t get the school to try new teaching approaches with him. Can’t get the regional education authorities to send in a dyslexia expert. Can’t get the authorities to show a little flexibility with his education funding. Basically it’s the set teaching programme, with any additional financial support he’s been awarded just been used to fund general teaching support budgets for all the kids. The so called special funding basically buys a kid with additional educational needs a place at a school. The Government is quick to point the finger at families getting additional schooling funds

– we are taking money off other kids,

– it’s the gravy train,

– waste of tax payers money,

– it’s wasted funding.

Yet what the Government never seems to mention is that the families never see that money. We can’t control it. It is basically recycled into general school budgets. So the kids who need it actually don’t get any direct benefit from it. Sometimes the fundings only purpose seems to be to just shift the blame for school failings away from the authorities and on to a minority of families.

So yes some education progress is needed. Either that or for Hawklad to elect to be educated from home. But progress would be nice.

Not what I expected

Not what I expected. I was sure this was a yellow rose last year!

It’s definitely red.

I was reading an article about the main things that have surprised people about the Pandemic and it’s impact on lifestyles. The author went for 5 things – Boredom of not physically meeting people, missing going to Pubs, Parties and Restaurants, missing playing Golf with friends, how hard mask wearing is and how much she misses going on holiday.

Ok let’s have a stab at this. What are the five things which has surprised me about the Pandemic. What was I not expecting.

  • The impact that just not being able to buy just a few of the useful foodstuffs can have on mine and Hawklads life,
  • How quickly you can settle in to new ways,
  • How much money you save if you avoid going to shops,
  • The way days and weeks can just merge into each other if you take out things like the school run and most shopping trips,
  • Just how difficult it is sometimes balance homeschooling, with work, domestic duties and things like running.

I guess a fundamental difference between me and the author is circumstances. She and her husband both work. They have one kid of a similar age to Hawklad but that child seems to spend a lot of the time with friends and doing group activities like sport. They use babysitters to allow for frequent social activities for her and hubby. So yes the Pandemic will have a major impact on her family’s social life. I can so understand why she would list those five things.

My life is currently different. I am a single parent to a kid with Aspergers. Even before the Pandemic I was partly cut off from society. Enforced isolation due to parental requirements. Many other people are in a similar position due to a range of circumstances. So if anything the Pandemic hasn’t really changed that much in terms of social contact for me. Yes it might have tightened things up a little further. But fundamentally there has been few radical changes. If anything it feels like for a few months some other people life’s have become a little more like my normal routine. Maybe it’s provided a glimpse for some people into what daily life actual feels like for many people out their. A daily life which existed before the pandemic.

I quite like this five unexpected things idea. Might see what if throws up in terms of things like grief and Aspergers.