Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Excess Baggage

For anyone who has children, I’m sure you are all aware of the difficulties you have when travelling. It starts from the moment you decide to go on your first trip with your newly acquired baby.

A simple short break turns into a massive logistics exercise. What used to be a small suitcase thrown into your cavernous empty boot space becomes an exercise from the Krypton factor on how to accommodate a suitcase, travel cot, pram system and baby tool-chest full of nappy rash cream with twenty seven spare huggies (just in case you get stranded in some place that might not have a supermarket)

That’s of course before you factor in the sterilising system, complete with six bottles and enough powdered (or expressed) milk to feed sextuplets, the baby play gym and half a dozen different educational toys from the Early Learning Centre.

I’m not even going to mention how ridiculous we looked at the airport with all that in tow. In fact, every year we go away – I secretly sympathise with the ‘first timers’ knowing full well by next year they will have learned their lesson.

It’s been several years since we contended with all that, I’m glad to say. However our trips have not become any easier with an autistic son. We are the butt of many stares and ill judged, sometimes ignorant comments from our fellow travellers.

A 9 year old with the remnants of a yellow baby blanket, wearing green ear defenders, lying on the floor screaming and kicking the suitcase because he’s just decided he doesn’t want to go to Disneyland today – tends to draw some attention.

The well meaning passenger control person, making funny faces and noises that could genuinely help ‘normal’ children come out of a tantrum – just infuriating him further as they are told to **** off by said 9 year old.

The tutt, tutt brigade almost in unison. “You’d never catch my child behaving like that” as my wife gets punched in the arm.

This is just one example of a meltdown that can sometimes occur when someone with autism loses control. They are in a state of distress, they are physically unable to cope with whatever has upset them and they resort to communicating in a way that is socially unacceptable. At these times their already diminished processing and reasoning skills become diluted and they need to work through this release until their anxiety falls back to a lower level and they are able to return to a calmer state.

Afterwards, they may feel very emotional at the realisation they have behaved in an uncontrolled way. They may be embarrassed, confused and upset.

When your child is four and this happens in the supermarket, people are generally much more understanding. You’ll always get the old bat in the corner who offers advice that a good slap is what the kid needs, but on the whole people accept a younger child’s tantrum.

The only thing I wish to add is that if you see behaviour of this type in an older child or adult for that matter, it’s most likely for a reason; they probably have some condition and are unable to control themselves rather than being deliberately disruptive.(Unless they are obviously drunken rugby fans, who should of course know better)

We can all be too quick to judge, and I am guilty of that myself.

The first time parents will travel lighter next year but we will likely have the same yellow baby blanket, ear defenders and meltdown potential. I’ll understand if you don’t want to sit in the row behind us!

Actually, he’s always been great on the plane – apart from when he re-enacts crashes with the models we usually buy him from the in-flight store, but again that’s another story, ....and the old lady did recover.

If you liked this post you may like to visit Dear shopper staring at my child having a meltdown in the grocery store a post by flappiness is

Sunday, 29 January 2012

I'm Shufflin'

Ok, time to write something without the use of pictures or captions. However, this is another meme that’s floating about on many of the lovely blog pages I’ve been visiting. (Spotted on Actually Mummy)

I haven’t been tagged or anything, so I’m kind of just gatecrashing my way onto the bandwagon.

However, the idea was simply to stick your generic music player on shuffle and list the first five tracks that come up. No cheating.

Of course, I’ll have no embarrassing songs coming up on my phone (mostly because I’ve only selectively put the good ones on there in the first place, lol) Ok here goes…..

  1. Oasis – Some Might Say
  2. Elbow – Hotel Istanbul
  3. Maximo Park – Graffiti
  4. The Jam – Bitterest Pill
  5. Massive Attack – Tear Drop
There you go no probs. How cool am I?

Oasis from back in the good old days, when life was fun, hedonistic and certainly child free.

Elbow’s rare B-side off a limited edition Grounds For Divorce CD. Has to be noted as superb. Lyrics such as  “pissed I just insist that no-one cares, as love has gone and thrown me down the stairs”

Maximo Park reminds me so much of being on a school trip to France, but I think I was about 34 when it came out. One day I’ll move on from that first love. I will.

The Jam I haven’t heard for ages, forgot it was on there to be honest. Think I got into them after Paul Weller’s resurgence in the mid nineties.

Massive Attack speaks for itself. “Love, Love is a verb. Love is a doing word” If only we could remember that.

Ok, I’ll do the same again but this time off my computer media player.

  1. Eternal featuring BB Williams – I Wanna Be The Only One
  2. Madness – House of Fun
  3. Sash – Ecuador
  4. Simple Minds – Speed Your Love to Me
  5. Echo and The Bunnymen – Silver

Well at least we finished off with a classic. EATB are immense, and without doubt one of my all time favourite bands. As for the others, well I do have a voluminous amount of stuff on there, so I’m just counting myself lucky it wasn’t Bananarama, Shania Twain or James Blunt that came up. Where would my street cred have been then?

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Caption Day

A linky hosted by mammasaurus available here

Friday, 27 January 2012

Grumpy, Me ?

Another thing I’m finding as I get a little longer in the tooth is my patience, (which let’s be honest has never been my strong point), now wears thin even more quickly.

I think I am now in the official “Grumpy Old” category.

You know when you have to start ticking the box on questionnaires that is age 39 to 49? – Well that’s when it happens. Some of you may think it happens before then, but that’s just your trainee grumpy phase.

Everything annoys the shit out of me these days.

I find myself complaining to supermarket staff because there are no red Apples on the shelf at 8.00am on a Sunday morning. In restaurants, if my soup was tepid before, I would have just put up with it – now, its sent immediately back, no doubt to return at boiling point with a pissed off waiters spit in it.

I automatically assume everyone is out to rip me off, sell me something dodgy or take advantage of me in some great marketing wheeze. I guess that’s life experience for you, because it is in fact probably true.

Telesales calls or door to door salesman are my worst nightmare. I don’t mean to be rude to these people but I just can’t help myself when they always call in the middle of dinner.Their blatant stupid or untrue selling tactics also drive me bananas. I feel I have to challenge these people with some justification that “old people could be taken advantage by them” and somehow I am the defender of the gullible. Energy companies are probably the worst at the moment, closely followed by fitted kitchens or windows and doors.

This is absolutely true and no word of a lie. Some guy in his mid twenties came to my house, knocked on the door and said he was from a Window and Doors company, who were “in the area” and had put in replacement windows for some of our neighbours. I said, we don’t need new windows at the moment, they’re fine. 

To which he replied “but sir, they must be 15 years old now and they’ve stopped making parts for that type you know” I nearly wet myself laughing, apart from the fact that Windows don’t have many parts, they area also wood frames.

Have they stopped growing trees or making glass? I asked. I think he even laughed and said fair enough mate, and went skipping on to the next house.

I also seem to want to write letters of complaint to everyone from my M.P to the Chief Executive of Ford, who received a scathing two pager about the brakes on my Mondeo last year.

However, perhaps this has always been in my genes and not just age related. My mother always tells the story of when I was about thirteen and white socks were all the rage. Mine came out of the wash a bit on the grey side, and I was not happy. I asked her what washing powder she used and proceeded to write to Persil and complain that their advertising was misleading and my socks were nowhere near the dazzling white they promised.

It was only after she saw the letter, she had to admit that it was her fault for washing them in a mixed load. I’m not saying I am pedantic, but from then on I started doing my own washing. Trust no-one I tell you.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Around the world in 80 words...

Neither my favourite or least favourite destination but...
Aberdeen is cold, grey, full of granite buildings and on a wet day best described as ‘dreich’. It has decent architecture, two universities, two rivers and is thought of as affluent due to being the oil capital of Europe. It has a thriving harbour (prostitutes optional), and has traditional connections with fishing, farming, quarrying and mills. The locals “spik affa funny” (Doric) and eat lard based morning rolls called Rowies for breakfast. Alcohol consumption is compulsory.
(This is a "linky" hosted by SAHDandproud available here)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Now Showing

I mentioned in a reply to someone the other day, that I had enjoyed watching Shaun of The Dead (rated 15) with my twelve-year-old daughter, who has a macabre streak running through her beyond her years.
Ok, she’s not technically old enough and it was slightly irresponsible on my part (some may say), however, she is mature and able to realise that it’s just a comedy film. Albeit with some gratuitous violence towards Zombies, and extensive swearing. I’m ok with that because I know she could cope, and she has heard all the words before, although I’m not sure where (cough, cough).
Before someone calls child-line, there are of course many other films I wouldn’t dream of letting her watch, and from my own moral code are clearly unsuitable.
However the rating systems are subjective. I recall taking her to the cinema a year or two ago to see a ‘children’s’ film called The Hole, which to be honest although rated advisory 12 was far more psychologically disturbing. I even jumped a few times myself and woke up in a cold sweat that night.
Our Son just can’t cope with going to the cinema due to his condition.
He finds it overwhelming, stemming back to one trip from when he was younger where he got a big fright during one of the trailers. Since then, we haven’t been able to get him to a screening at all. Latterly we understand that this is also due to his sensitivities to sound, smell and fear of the unknown – which when entering a dark theatre gives heightened anxiety beyond what he can contend with. In all situations where he feels like this, he tends to take the ‘flight’ option and runs away from his perceived danger.
We have tried to reintroduce him gradually, wearing ear defenders and such. Once we actually had the tickets, popcorn, sweets, cola and were almost in our seat before he decided he had to leave and ran off.
So we just don’t force the issue anymore and accept that until he’s ready there’s little point in pushing a family outing to the cinema.
In the meantime, when its my turn to take our daughter, I just have to accept that for every exciting adventure film, I’ll probably have to suffer a sickly girly one the next time. Which reminds me of when I had to take her to see Twilight, ...but that’s another story.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Changed Days

I’m writing this on a Sunday evening, both children are on their computers, the wife is on Farmville and I’m typing on the laptop.

Son is up to his neck in Minecraft and daughter is chatting on Facebook. I say chatting, what I mean is using symbols and some letters in combinations of a hieroglyphic shorthand that I do not recognise and certainly will never understand.

I thought I was ok with txt speak, but this is a completely new evolution of language.

A good example that there will always be some generation gap and the kids will find a way to keep you in the dark and feel stupid.

From a slightly nostalgic point of view as a child, I seem to recall Sunday evenings in our house primarily consisted of an early bath, change into pyjamas, some tea, toast and if you were really “lucky” getting to stay up to watch Hart to Hart, Bergerac or some equally ancient TV detective series.

How the family dynamic has changed. We are all in different rooms, with our individual gadgets and these days rarely seem to sit down and watch anything together.

We do try to make a family film night on a Saturday, but even that is now becoming increasingly difficult with sleepover invites and daughter staying out later, combined with her getting to that awkward age where everything is rubbish unless it has a 15 rating.

If the rest of the world is anything like us then The Simpsons will have to change their title skit. I mean, does anyone all still sit on the sofa together?

Friday, 20 January 2012

Do you want to see some Puppies ?

I don't usually post photo's - I know I could end up falling in to the habit of not writing anything.
But, just for you....... and cause I figure it could get me more traffic, one of these will be one of ours soon !

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

i-want i-want i-want

This blog post was prompted by reading a topic on the ASD Friendly forum, and the endless hassle our son is giving us at the moment.

Many people with autistic disorder are not only pedantic, but are very literal in their thinking and interpretation is all from their own perspective. They find it near impossible to even understand that other people actually have a different perspective to theirs and assume that because they think a certain way that others do too.

If you suggest that you will be back in a minute and you're any longer, they may call you a liar and be quite viscous and non-forgiving about it too. They also have problems with generalising, where something may cost £4.98 and you say its £5, they will argue til the cows come home that it is in no way five pounds. I mean are you stupid it says £4.98 ?

However, our son also has issues with understanding the actual value of time and for example would struggle with knowing how long twenty minutes would seem. This also extends to monetary values too, he knows how much things cost to the penny, but has no concept of what that means to my wage packet.

He is very much into his i-pod, but has decided that an i-phone is now a necessity. With reasoned judgement he complains that he is the only one in the house who doesn't have a touch screen smart-phone, and this i can accept.

We have explained to him that he is after all only 9, and none of the rest of us have i-phones either but cheaper android type handsets. I have even offered to buy him a relatively low cost touch screen phone but this was rejected immediately because android phones are apparently rubbish and don't have the functionality of the i-phone 4S. He also pointed out that the white 16GB one only costs £573.65 on Amazon.

At every opportunity he recites all the features of this phone as he has researched it endlessly on youtube and Apple forums. He also takes every other moment to remind us all how unfair it is that he doesn't have one.

I have explained that the cost of this phone is too high and we simply don't have that much money. Which was quickly responded to with the riposte "but you had enough money to buy a new car, so you are lying" I have been as patient as I can, but trying to rationalise with him is not working.. I became angry and shouted at him there was no (and I may have swore) way that I was spending £600 on a phone.

To which he shouted very angrily................. its not bloody £600 its only £573.65 you idiot !

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Never Ending Story

Having recently thought about some literary classics from the past, I realised that other than Holidays According to Humphrey I haven't actually read a book since last July.

I have a half read Stuart MacBride novel, which has been sitting around for the last six months gathering dust and either it's just not grabbed me or the ongoing chaos in my household means getting a moment to myself is as likely as being run over by a bus.

At Christmas I received two books, both of which are by writers I like (Peter James and Mark Billingham), and at this rate should keep me going until about the middle of 2013. In fact possibly longer given my impending share of dog-parenting duties scheduled to commence early February.

Maybe I just need to improve my time management skills, or alternatively go hide in the shed for a while. That's if I could get in the shed of course, because its full of half empty paint cans, garden furniture, bikes, scooters, a pair of skis from the mid 90's and all the cardboard boxes from xmas - which I should have taken to the recycling depot last Saturday, (ok, and the Saturday before too).

That's another job to add to this week's ever growing list of to-dos. No rest for the wicked, or husbands who neglect their chores it would seem.

Maybe I need to change my mantra - Why do today what you can put off tomorrow?

Saturday, 14 January 2012

My Three Books

My Three Books is a ‘linky’ hosted by A mummy too

When I was a child, I used to read an incredible amount – something I’m pleased to see replicated by my daughter at the moment who seems to finish books in a matter of hours sometimes. Mind you, they all tend to be about Vampires / Werewolves and other tweenage stuff…. (It will never catch on)

Topically, due to the film’s release this year – I’m actually going to pick The Hobbit as my favourite childhood book. It is a far easier read than The Lord of The Rings for kids and Tolkien used to drive my imagination wild, trying to dream up and picture his world of fantasy, landscapes and creatures.

As an adult, I haven’t read that much to be honest. Mostly, two or three paperbacks a year when lying sunbathing on holiday (that was of course before having kids, I mean when do we get enough peace to finish a book these days?)

I do love the psycho crime stuff that Mark Billingham writes, however I’m going to pick a book I discovered a few years ago, following our son’s diagnosis of ASD. It’s called The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night-time and it’s very well written by Mark Haddon who captures the autistic perspective brilliantly in a thoroughly entertaining read.

There are many children’s books I have read over and over, and in some cases, over again with our kids. My son’s autistic traits of sameness and repetitive nature ensures there is no escape from certain books he latches on to and it wouldn’t be the first time we have read the same book for ten days in a row.

Again, I’m going to choose something else though. A book that I read to both our children more than any other, and although this was extremely repetitive, it reminds me of their time as toddlers. It is of course The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and I’m sure you have all read it a million times too ;-)

Friday, 13 January 2012


The wife's new car arrived yesterday and like any bloke I couldn't wait to grab the keys and give it the once over.

Its a nice looking silver Fiesta and I was pleasantly surprised by the look of it and all the gizmo's it has compared to the previous 8 year old one. In fact it's almost as well specced as my Mondeo. Alloys, Bluetooth, USB, reasonable boot space......Don't worry, I'm not going all Jeremy Clarkson on you - this isn't a car review blog.

Anyway, I jumped in the car and took it for a thrash around drive and was amazed by the green arrow that kept popping up every time I squirted the accelerator. In fact, at first, I though it was so great i tried to get it to light up more and more. I was having a great time, the car was roaring around like a little rocket.

It was only after about ten minutes that the penny finally dropped...........the green arrow is there to remind you to change up a gear in some environmental push to save your fuel bill. This clearly has its merits, but it did kind of make me think that these things need to be explained properly in order for them to be effective - especially to those of the male gender who tend not to bother reading instructions !

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Walkies !

Well, it’s a day closer to Friday, which is about as exciting as this week is likely to get.
I used to live for the weekend when I was young and couldn’t wait to go out, however now I just look forward to the extra hour in bed and getting to slob around as much as I can get away with.
Alas, my master plan is probably already thwarted by my other half’s planning, which will undoubtedly involve being ‘persuaded’ to start building the fenced off area already earmarked for the puppy-run.
Yes, apparently we are going to be the happy parents of a golden Labrador in a few weeks time. Well, one of us will be and it’s not me!
There has been some embattled negotiation going on over the last few months where my wife has been highlighting the benefits a dog will bring to our family, while ignoring all the problems that I bring to her attention, such as;
Walking it, training it, paying for it, insuring it, clearing up after it, kennelling it and fixing it when it goes wrong. Not to mention any chewing of my shoes, sofa, table legs or anything else that dog’s are notorious for.
Only the other week, someone at work announced that their dog had chewed through their plasterboard. I mean a soggy shoe I could perhaps live with – but having to get the builders in I can do without.
I say ‘negotiation’ loosely of course because there is actually none. She wants a dog and she is getting a dog no matter what I say. So there. End of. She will pay for it, she will walk it, she will take it to the vet and she doesn’t need miserable old me to put a dampener on it.
....Just wait until its 8.25am and she is trying to get two reluctant children ready for school, the puppy has sh*t everywhere, my daughter is asking for her hair to be blow-dried, my son is having a meltdown because he can’t find his iPod charger and the cat is chasing the dog round the house......It will happen.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Metrosexual or the Only Gay in the Village?

In the past, I’ve not been adverse to a bit of preening. In my teenage years I probably spent longer getting ready to go out than my wife does now.

These days I just don’t have the time and generally it’s a litte touch of gel, a quick brush of the hair and a squirt of Dolce & Gabbana. Ok, Ok occasionally a touch of moisturiser and I did once have a tube of that ‘lightening’ cream that goes under your eyes but don’t tell anyone.

I like a good soak in the bath too, and last night was ‘delighted’ to find the residue from my daughters sparkly, glittery bath bomb left me coated in little flecks of gold glitter.

This morning I had to use my wife’s deodorant as I had run out, and for some inadvertent reason randomly wore a pink tie with my crisp white shirt. Nothing wrong with that, I’m quite comfortable wearing pink. Indeed, I have a pink polo shirt, t-shirt and work shirt in the wardrobe.

It was only later I realised that not only do I now smell of a non-masculine fragrance, I’m wearing pink and also still have flecks of sparkle in my hair and on my face that hadn’t came off in the shower this morning. All that was missing was some fake tan and I think I would have passed for a slim Dale Winton.

Note to self. Even with limited time, consider your appearance carefully.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Now I have a follower – this one is for you!

Kind of like at a concert where the singer picks out something mushy and offers it as a dedication to the lady in the front row. Actually, it’s probably more like when a comedian butters up someone in the front row before making them wish they’d taken a seat in the upper stalls.
I mean, can you imagine choosing a front row seat at a Frankie Boyle gig?
Anyway, I’m only joking....I appreciate the interest (please don’t cancel – lol)
However, the rest of my public should note this is a one off. There will be no more personal notes of gratitude to any subsequent followers – either that or more likely, there will be no more followers to offer notes of personal gratitude to!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Creatures of Habit

Have ordered a new car for the Mrs as the old one is nearly past its sell by date.

So this will be our fifth silver car in a row, that will be the fifth Ford too…… I’m beginning to think we are turning into creatures of habit or stuck in some obsessive trait.

Perhaps an illustration that relatively ‘normal’ behaviour is not a million miles away from OCD, and also some of our son’s behaviours with regard to cars!

He had a few typically autistic traits and used to line all his toy cars up or park them all at exactly the same angles, or sort them in to the same colours and his bedroom floor would look like a giant supermarket car park.

He was also fascinated by car marques and honestly at the age of four could practically remember every vehicle just by recognising the badge.

That year we were on holiday in Gran Canaria, where 90% of the taxis are Mercedes. We were staying a little away from the centre and took taxis every evening to go and have dinner in the town. By the second week every taxi had been a Merc until one night a Toyota or something similar turned up.

He point blank refused to get in the car because it wasn’t a ‘taxi’ – despite the fact it had taxi written all over it. A minor meltdown ensued but we did eventually persuade him to get in the car.

It all clicked into place a few months later, when visiting one of our relatives who was proudly showing off a shiny new Mercedes he had just bought.

With impeccable timing, our son put him firmly in his place by shouting  “Hooray, Uncle Mike – you’ve bought a new Taxi”

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Wishful Thinking

Day one back at the office, I can tell it’s going to be a long month already. Still it’s good to get back to the old routine.
Hang on, maybe this should be a new routine for a new year ! – On the other hand what can I change?
Get up at some ungodly hour, shower half asleep, creep around in the dark getting dressed so not to disturb anyone, grab a yoghurt and half a bowl of cereal, get stuck in traffic jam for thirty minutes, arrive at the office bright and early, head past the coffee station, open email, ignore e-mail, slog out the morning, grab lunch, slog out the afternoon, get stuck in traffic jam for forty-five minutes, arrive home......and repeat for three months until Easter holidays.....or lottery win.
Now, that would be the start of a new routine !