Another one of those dark days. But at least it’s not like yesterday…
It’s definitely one of those days that it’s difficult to work out how far we have got through this week. Think it’s Thursday. Possibly.
I was outside this morning trying to do my yoga session. I’m sure the yoga vibes lose a bit of meaning across the miles. I follow someone who leads yoga instruction from Austin, Texas. Often she is on a mat outside in the blazing sun. Meanwhile I load up the video desperately trying to keep the iPad dry in the driving rain. The yoga mat is covered in puddles. Any exposed skin is risking frostbite and I’m thinking that two wooly hats was definitely not enough. Don’t you just love Yorkshire. Inside is not a viable option as I can see a dog and cat looking through the window, just waiting to excitedly pounce.
We were outside last night having a late night chat. It was dark, cold, windy and damp.
“Dad why on earth do we live here?”
Absolutely no idea son. I was thinking exactly the same thing.
“We could be sat outside somewhere with T-shirt’s on. We could even be in The Alps walking about in beautiful snow.”
Meanwhile Hawklad we are grimly walking around trying to keep warm while wearing 9 million layers. The waterproofing on our coats has long since been jet blasted off.
“Dad we sound like a right couple of misery heads…..”
I think it’s a Yorkshire thing. That’s why Wallace and Gromit always sound so depressed and seek solace in Wensleydale Cheese.
“DadNASA are about to make a big announcement about the Moon. Wouldn’t it be funny if Wallace and Gromit were right and the Moon was made of Wensleydale or Stilton cheese.”
Maybe they have found intelligent life there. That would confirm its alien not human…… No one intelligent would choose to live in this weather.
“Dad well it’s better than living on the moon. I hear the atmosphere is quite bad there!”
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….”
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…..
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 Artand not mention Godzilla‘s Atomic Breathjust once. What has become of Art.
I was asked about if our son was any closer returning to school. This is his fourth week at home since the school returned full time. Well two things from today really paint the picture.
First an email from school advising that the school had now had its second confirmed case. This time a member of staff. Apparently the confirmed cases so far are not considered to be linked. A small number of individuals have been asked to isolate for 14 days and the school remains fully open.
The second was a conversation with our son. His words need no more elaboration.
“Dad Igo into meltdown if the bedroom window is open. In fact I can’t even touch the window handle to close it. I just can’t go back. Can’t go back for some time to come.”
And there is our answer in a nutshell. At present government ministers are telling parents to ensure there kids go to school as it’s perfectly safe and is in fact our civic duty. To not do now apparently makes you a bad parent, someone who is not acting responsibly. Must get those words on a T-shirt.
I will continue to act irresponsibly and avoid doing my civic duty. Our son will return to school when he is ready to do so, when it is safe and when he is comfortable doing that. Until then – Viva La Revolution…..
The farm cows are good at making paths. They are pretty straight as well. Wonder if they fancy making me a path as well….
What type of path do I want. I could set my sights really low. Ask the cows to do a path in another direction across that field. Ideally on the usual dog walking route across the overgrown and perpetually damp grass. Maybe I could set my sights a bit higher. A nice short paved path across our lawn to the Apple tree. But I could go really high and ask the clever cows to chart me a life path for the next few years. It would be nice to have a sense of direction for a change.
A nice thought but actually the signposts are already there. Signposts showing the way forward. Just have to keep reminding myself to open my eyes and look for them.
Over the last few weeks I have been looking at what jobs are available for me. Need a job that fits round Hawklad and his needs. So ideally one which is largely home based with minimal travel requirements. With the current and likely homeschooling requirements I need one which is part time with quite a lot of flexibility. Actually a zero hours based contract makes sense. A job which I can do already as I don’t have the time or probably the energy to retrain. One which pays enough to at least cover the bills.
So I’m not asking for much.
As hard as I’ve looked no suitable job popped onto my laptop screen. Actually nothing even remotely suitable appeared. Then I opened my eyes and the penny dropped. I ditched my professional career as it didn’t fit around my new life. Then I was lucky in that I found one which did. The new job just about ticked all the boxes. That’s my current job. Even one of the owners kids are friends with Hawklad. They went to his school. That makes things so much easier.
YES I have an ideal job already. Ok – It’s not ideal in 2020 as its public event based. Public Events and a Pandemic are not particularly that compatible. So the work has had to be largely mothballed until life starts to return to normal. Probably a new normal. So that’s no work for me until that new normal emerges. Hopefully that will start to happen after we get through the winter. Yes that’s no money for a few months but we can batten down the hatches and get through on savings. The worry is that too many in a similar position but are not that fortunate with savings. We are even more fortunate as the lack of work means I can focus a bit more on the homeschooling needs.
So I’ve seen the signpost to a path. Get through the next few months and then hopefully restart the ideal job. My job. I did that all by myself and didn’t need the cows to show me the way. But I still wouldn’t mind that paved path to the Apple tree though. That grass does get a bit muddy.
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 Farmwhat does the character Moses represent and his relationship toSoviet 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.
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.
It’s a big sky. Its easy to feel very small and insignificant stood under it.
There are so many times when parenting is the best gig on the planet. Then there are other times…
I was trying to convince our son that he had washed his hands enough. He had been at the soap and water for nearly five minutes. Everything I said didn’t seem to have any impact. Finally he decided that was enough. He asked if the towel was clean and had it been washed that day. I assured him that was the case. He left the bathroom and I looked at his hands. His very red and sore skin. That’s what happens when you wash as often as he does. We are using skin friendly soap. I water it down further. But his hands are still red. I encourage him to use his skin care lotion. But his hands are still sore.
These are the times I feel inadequate as a parent. Missing the support of another person. Someone to share the load. Definitely running out of things to try. Actually ran out of things to try. His health professionals try to help but they see this intrinsically linked to the pandemic. Get the pandemic under control and we can start to bring his hand washing under control – hopefully. But that doesn’t make me feel any better as a parent. Feels like I had one job and I dropped the ball on it.
So I’m stood under that big sky. Feeling insignificant. Time to breathe. Reset and go again. Yes significant but definitely not beaten yet.
A brief window to step outside and breath. Otherwise it’s been horrible. Many of the places around us have closed due to bad weather. Must admit education feels that way a bit currently.
UK School doesn’t really work for those with additional educational needs. The traditional classroom setup brings much stress. School at home brings a little respite.
So that’s two weeks ticked off from the next stage of the school at home approach.
I was asked why I didn’t call it homeschooling. Basically we are still trying to follow what the school is teaching. Not setting our own learning agenda. Having to do this just in case our son decides to return to school when he is able to. So it’s not the freedom of homeschooling, it’s basically school but at home.
So in two weeks we have kind of found a way of trying to keep up with the class. Covering the same subjects. In some lessons we are getting all of the material which is being used in class. In some we are getting some of the material and we are trying to fill in the gaps as best we can. In a few subjects we are basically getting nothing so we are just winging those – maybe we are following the class, maybe we are heading in completely the wrong direction.
He is getting virtually no pastoral care from school. Absolutely zero feedback on work submitted, not sure some of the teachers are even reading it yet. A couple of the teachers do occasionally send a message asking if he is ok with the work set. That’s it really. On a Thursday all the pupils have to select an option for an additional lesson. It’s supposed to cover non curriculum activities. It’s about learning new skills and building confidence. It could be a gaming option, archeology, performing arts, sports, astronomy. He hasn’t been included in this programme – says it all really.
In my mind I have already settled on the best way forward. It’s for our son to leave school and opt for full on homeschooling. But it’s his call. It’s his future. So when the time is right then he can make a decision. But I have to say school are not bending over backwards to sell themselves.
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.