Change

The local church pepping through the trees. There has been a church here for a 1000 years. It’s kind of a nice thought that this view might not have changed much over the years.

Somethings never change….

Dad have you been buying stuff again.”

I have son. New Christmas Tree lights. Ours are a bit old and they keep blowing. What do you think?

They are very nice. I like that they are all little houses that light up.”

They will look good on our tree. I was thinking about the tree next to the fireplace again.

Dad what’s this that came in the box with the lights?”

That’s a mini solar panel. I wonder why that’s come with the lights.

Maybe Dad it’s because these are OUTDOOR lights. Might explain why the photo on the box has these outside on a bush….”

Opps. Well we have some bushes to put these on.

Dad you are a muppet….”

Yep that never changes.

Time

I could wax lyrically about that wonderful Pink Floyd song, Time. All about how TIME can fritter away from people without them realising until it is too late.

I could talk about Dr Who. Mentioning that the first ever female Dr is also the first Yorkshire Time Lord.

But not today. We are talking about telling the time.

Hawklad has always struggled to read a clock or watch. It’s not for the want of trying. Different types of watches and clocks. Different styles. Nothing seemed to work. Analog time has just proved impossible to him. It’s taken years but he can very slowly read a digital 12 hour display. Not very accurately. He has to look at the display for many seconds before it seems to register. Even then it may need some further explanation.

It’s not just telling the time, it’s the concept of passing time. He struggles to get his head round what 20 minutes, or an hour or 3 hours actually means in practice. He was doing an assessment paper at home. I noticed that he had been on the first question for 30 minutes. When I told him that there was another 14 questions to do in the remaining time he couldn’t believe that he had spent that long on one question. To him it was just a couple of minutes. This kind of thing happens so very often.

Whether this is to do with Aspergers, or number dyslexia or just one of those things – we will never probably establish that. Just got to work round it. Find ways for Hawklad to cope with time.

Because he struggles to tell the time and then can’t comprehend how much time has passed, this stresses him out. Give him a time to work to and he starts to panic. As a result we often use something like a movie as our measure of time.

It’s bedtime at the end of this movie.

We need to get ready when this show finishes.

It will be 45 minutes when the game ends.

That’s why the TV is often on in the background. Not for entertainment, but as a timer. Where this leaves him with his pending exams and his adult life, who knows. But here’s the thing, he’s great at sticking to plans and following a series of steps in his head. If he could just get his head round time then he would be brilliant at project management.

It’s 40 minutes until he needs to start looking at his homework. Today that’s the end of Jumanji. Jumanji the Clock.

Back to normal

Do you ever have those moments in time that are just a little too busy. When lots of random events decide to bloom at exactly the same time. When life goes kinda mad. Well I’ve just had another one of those career defining epochs.

I was happily trying to cook tea. Pan boiling nicely. Grill turned on. Looking through the window at the washing gently drying on the outside clothes horse. Everything under control. Even time for a little air guitar listening to Kiss and then …..

For some reason the TV Speaker Bar kicked into life and decided to join in with the kitchen speaker and blast out Kiss. And I mean blast out. Deafening. It does have a mind of its own, definitely when it comes to Bluetooth. So I rushed to turn it off but couldn’t find the remote control (it doesn’t have any useful buttons on the speaker, apparently that is progress). Then a shout from the toilet…

Dad the toilet is blocked and flooding.

So I ditched trying to turn the music down and headed towards the toilet. The phone rang.

Can I phone you back, bit of a crisis here (having to shout above the music),

Running towards the toilet and the front doorbell rang.

Can you leave the parcel there ….. Apparently not and I had to sign for it. Definitely getting an evil look for listening to that type of music so loud.

Heading towards the toilet when the smoke alarm goes off. Run to the kitchen to find the grill was arc welding the once tasty food options. Turn off grill and throw the food embers outside. Then throw the smoke alarm out as well. That’s now happily screeching away on the lawn.

Head towards the toilet and the cat knocks the school iPad off the table. I try to catch it but fail. Check the damage. Screen looks slightly cracked.

Dad the toilet is flooded and I’m busting. Hawklad shouting over Kiss.

Head towards the kitchen sink to find the plunger only to find the pan was now boiling over and the top of the electric cooker is like a boating lake. Turn the pan off.

Dad I’m busting. The words almost lost amongst the dialled to 11 metal music.

Plunger now in hand. Front doorbell rings again. Can our postman leave a parcel for next door with me. Apparently he likes Kiss and went to see them 20 years ago.

Dad the cat is drinking the toilet water and I’m seriously busting.

Ten minutes later the toilet is working. Son isn’t busting anymore. Kiss is playing at less than 150 decibels. Soup has now replaced the wrecked food. I’ve got no idea who phoned. The smoke alarm is getting a free wash on the front lawn in a passing rain storm. As is the once almost dry washing.

Back to normal again.

Pointing

One of the advantages of exercising first thing in the morning is once I’ve finished I get a chance to enjoy the view. It always amazes me how damp our ground can get when we have had no rain for days.

Clearly it’s very easy to feel damp. The weather can cause such sudden changes. It like life and the soul.

I was putting together a post for tomorrow. A Swiss Sunday post. Looking through some photos. Then I came across one. Looks like one of those family photos. I’ve cropped this one down severely. The photo is my partner sitting next to our son on a bench.

How had I missed this photo for so many years. It’s from 2015 and our last trip to Switzerland. The last day of the trip. My partner was not very well and on a lot of medication. We didn’t know how ill she was. The doctors didn’t. Exactly one year later she was in a hospice and she was gone a few days later.

Finding this photo shook me in two ways.

Firstly this might be our very last family photo. The last photo of Hawklad with his mum. Don’t think there was another photo with my partner in. I had never thought about that . Never thought about the last photo. Well this is probably it.

Then there is one more thing about this photo. A completely forgotten memory. It’s what my partner is pointing at. I think she knew what was on the horizon. That afternoon we randomly seemed to get onto the subject of where she would like her ashes scattered. She is pointing at one of the places . A rocky outcrop overlooking a beautiful lake. It wasn’t a serious conversation. Our son helpfully suggesting some interesting places to consider. I didn’t take it seriously. We surely had many years to go. Finding this photo has really shaken me. As I say I had forgotten about the photo. I didn’t know she was actually pointing at where she wanted her ashes scattering.

I really don’t know what to say.

One thing is that it’s a beautiful location.

I wasn’t sure about posting this at all. But what did convince me was one thought. You just don’t know what is around the corner. Don’t assume you have time. If you have dreams to live, don’t wait, try to do them now.

Before

Dad do you know that you were born before the introduction of the home computer.”

Computers are overrated, not sure they will catch on.

Before the Xbox. Even before Space Invaders”

I’m still trying to clear the first wave of aliens. One day……

Mobile phones still to be stuffed in any trouser pockets in your day…”

I wasn’t trusted with pockets. Mum would sew them up.

Before microwaves made it into kitchens, your ancient Dad.”

I remember our families first microwave. It was the size of St Bernards Dog Kennel. I had to plug it in. The first thing we tried to heat was a cup of water. While I pressed the start button my mum and dad hid behind the kitchen door. They thought it was going to go up like a nuclear weapon. Clearly their youngest son was expendable….

Before the Rubik’s Cube, did you get one”

No never had one. When people started talking about getting one …. it sounded to be like a new health worry that you had to see a Doctor about. I’ve got a bad case of the Rubiks.

What was it like being a kid with no cds or DVDs

A lot cheaper for my parents.

No Star Wars.”

It was also still safe to go into the sea as well when I was a kid. No shark movies yet. Jaws was still a little goldfish. I remember kids being told to keep off the beach as soon as that movie came out. Poor Jaws would have been a giant ice cube if he had ventured anywhere near the North Sea.

Even before the Rolling Stones, weren’t you Dad….”

Watch it Hawklad, I’m not that old. Definitely before Taylor Swift was born.

Your old enough to be her Dad…”

I look old enough to be her Great Great Great Grandad…

Before The Simpson’s and Spongebob…. You look old enough to be Homers Dad”

There is a definite family resemblance. You never see Homer and Me together in the same room. Just saying.

“Dad what was it like to be around at the same time as the dinosaurs?”

It was fun. Our barbecues had to be a lot bigger. It made country walks a lot more interesting. But it wasn’t fun trying to clean Pterodactyl poo from your windscreen.

Getting older is overrated……

Bush and Time

Every year around August I think about either digging this plant out or really cutting it back. But I always decide not to. Basically too much like hard work. So it stays and has slowly taken over a corner of the garden.

And every April I’m so thankful I left it alone as the mass of yellow is just stunning.

So yes some decisions have unintended wonderful consequences. But not all.

Putting off getting married for a few more years so we could focus on Son was done for the right reasons but then time ran out…. Time wasn’t supposed to run out.

Putting off trying for another child …… Time wasn’t supposed to run out.

Putting off going as a family to New Zealand, Canada and Chile ……. Time wasn’t supposed to run out.

Leaving for another month fixing the hand held video camera and transferring those films of our Son’s first steps to video so my partner could properly see them ……… Time wasn’t supposed to run out.

Leaving to next week (and the week after) those really important questions I always wanted to ask my mum …….. Time wasn’t supposed to run out.

I can see a bit of a theme developing here. I’ve probably filled my time with too much unimportant stuff. Spent too much time worrying and overthinking issues – many of those I could actually do nothing about. Not focused on the important stuff. Not appreciated how precious and unpredictable TIME is. I have not seized the moment.

Hopefully I have learnt this lesson but I suspect that won’t apply to chopping down the beautiful bush.

Ballet

This photo was taken just a couple of weeks ago. Seems like such a long time ago. Time has slowed down. Sorry I keep saying this BUT…… Is 2020 only 4 months old – seems like an eternity.

Finally watched Toy Story 3 last night. As the credits rolled…

Dad it’s taken 3 movies, 6 hours of viewing and 15 years before we got there. Finally it recognises it’s great to share toys. Its better to let toys go to someone who would love to play with them rather than let them gather dust on shelves and old boxes.”

To be fair to him he does donate toys to his old nursery and charity boxes. But this morning the house is like a bomb site. Toys everywhere. I’m not complaining. It’s good to have a house full of life. It really is. Kids still have a childhood to live. Adults still have a former life of fun to reconnect with.

Like most things in our Son’s life it revolves around plans and order. Being a boy that naturally excludes the important areas of clothes and bedroom draws. He seems to have a photographic memory of all his toys. They seem to come out in a strict annual rota. No toy seems to be missed out. It’s so nice to see.

Having said that. THE PAIN of standing bare foot on a piece of Lego is timeless. That’s my ballet career knackered. At University our sports coach liked to change training up. For two weeks the team did ballet classes with a lovely Spanish dancer. During the last class I split asunder my cycle shorts. The feeling was very airy but it nearly caused a diplomatic incident.

Now back to the bomb site.

Old moon

A couple of full moon photos from last week. My poor old iPhone tries it’s best.

I remember looking up at the moon. I was lying on my back on the cold patio trying to keep still and give the camera phone a chance of trying to focus. Anyway I was looking up at the moon and thinking it was stunning. I really hoped that my partner could be seeing this as well. Maybe she was? Was she seeing it from a different angle? Was she looking up at it from one of her favourite places. Was she above the clouds?

These days I frequently look at things in a different way. For a long time after my partner died I felt bad about looking at beautiful things. Sunsets, landscapes, the Sea, our Son playing. It just wasn’t right that I could and my partner was missing out. She had been cruelly denied this chance. Her time ran out.

But slowly that feeling of guilt started to ebb.

Now when I look at beautiful things, I try to look that little bit harder. Look for just a few moments longer. Truly embrace the moment. Because now I’m looking for the BOTH of us.

Back to the moon. After a few minutes I was becoming distinctly uncomfortable. My back is not designed these days for lying on a cold, hard surfaces. Then a thought. What was I thinking about. My partner was the sensible one. She would be sat inside. Occasionally shouting “that’s very nice Dear”. She would not be outside freezing her butt off. She would be warm inside with a glass of something, watching one of her favourite movies.

That’s a view she would be happy with.

Time

TIME is a funny thing. Walked past here on Friday and hardly any of the white flowers had emerged. 72 hours later after a yucky cold, dark and damp weekend – any hey presto it’s a sea of white.

I remember someone very clever saying that TIME operates at different rates for different people. Thinking about it – that clever person might have been Dr Who. When I was a kid I loved Dr Who. I so wanted to be a Timelord. As a prize for winning a football tournament school arranged a trip to the last day of a Dr Who exhibition. I was super excited. On the way our bus broke down. It took them hours to fix it. Finally we arrived at the exhibition only to find it had closed 5 minutes earlier. How on earth can you miss an exhibition about a time travellerjust doesn’t seem right.

TIME definitely operates at different rates for some of our son’s school teachers. Quite a few of the online classes require the student to read an article or a section of a text book. The amount of reading has definitely increased over the last few school days. The number of follow up tasks has also increased. Strangely the TIME allowed has stayed the same. Exactly where does this approach leave the dyslexic student. I know teachers are super busy but maybe one of them might have asked son how he is coping with reading the course material. They seem much quicker to spot his spelling mistakes. Much better use of TIME.

TIME is also hard to define. School have now rolled out a national learning app primarily aimed at those students who struggle with English comprehension and grammar. Interestingly an app with a rating of 1 out 5 from users (lucky to get 1 by all accounts). Son has been set a weekly app study time of 50 minutes. The teacher will be checking that each student has achieved the weekly minimum study time. Punishments for underachieving. What they don’t mention is that the app uses a lot of videos and narratives. Unfortunately these do not count against the learning time but need to be completed before you can get to the student work areas. When it crashes (and it crashes more times than me on a diet) all learning time is lost and you need to start at the beginning of the section again. So far son has been on the app for just under 3 hours. He’s watched endless boring videos and robotic narratives. He’s still to learn anything new. AND he’s only clocked 20 minutes actual study time.

Dad what is the point of this. I’m bored out of my mind. As you would say, it’s a pile of pants. It’s a complete waste of my time, your time, the teachers time and a waste of bandwidth.”

I fed this back to school with a few of my own rather barbed comments. The school’s response was well we have sent a teacher to be trained in its use, that’s valuable school TIME so we need to keep using it.

Clearly I was wasting my TIME arguing.

Memory tricks

You get sone days when running is particularly tough. Tough physically and certainly tough mentally. On those days I need to set mini goals to tick off on my run. Memory tricks to convince the body to keep going. On this route it’s to reach 9k. At 9k I get this view. Doesn’t matter how many times my little legs take me past here, this view never fails to deliver. The view is lost way too soon and it’s back on the slog again. A couple of hill climbs are fast approaching. I’m not the spring chicken I once was. Those hills hurt. Currently the only thing that works (apart from using a car) is to count. When the climb starts it’s about counting from 1 to 100. The deal is that I can only stop running up the hill at 100. So far every time I have got to 99 I have reset the count back to 1. Don’t say 100 or skip past it really quickly and I must keep going for a while longer.

These little tricks help me. Now we are searching for another one.

We all have blind spots.

One of mine was historical dates. I’m normally good with numbers. I can memorise phone numbers really well yet I just can’t remember dates. As hard as I try those dates just won’t stick.

Son has a few blind spots. He’s good with numbers but can’t get his head around decimal places. Ask him to work out 24×37 and he can do it ever so quickly. Yet ask him to add 1.3 and 3.8 and it’s impossible. Whatever we try just doesn’t work.

He can remember dates with ease yet times are a different matter. He struggles with the concept of time. He struggles to tell the time. Digital clocks are problematic while analog clocks are impossible. Everything we have tried has basically failed. So now we come to this Sunday.

It’s the Year 8 French Exam tomorrow. One of the areas which is bound to come up is telling the time in French.

Dad if I can’t tell the time in my own language what chance do I have in telling the time in something which probably isn’t even my second language.”

Everything we have tried has failed. In the end we settled on an educated guess approach.

Learn parrot fashion il est ….. heures ….

Then assuming he can’t work out the right time in English he will put the first number he sees (converted to French) after heures and the second number before. If he can only see one number then that goes before heures. That gives him a chance. Ok it doesn’t work with every time but it’s the best he can manage. He’s found his own way of trying to get through this challenge. It convinced him that if he’s sees time questions then he still has a chance. It’s worth having a go. Gives him hope and belief.

So tomorrow at the same time he is enduring his exam I will go for a run. I will suffer with him. Let’s hope both our memory tricks work.