When I was a teenager, our Capital City had such an air of mystique around it.
I’d spend Saturdays taking the coach from Berkshire suburbia with my friend to London and, as it went through Chiswick, the Hammersmith flyover and into Kensington, be convinced that I’d one day be living in Chiswick, in one of the houses with an Art Deco curved exterior. Teenage dreams eh?
We’d get off the coach at Kensington High Street and meander through Kensington market, there were always some really wonderful stalls with very vibrant stall holders – a mixture of Goth and New Romantics) and we’d take inspiration from them once home and adapt whatever we could find (black is still my staple clothes colour btw).
The Royal Garden Hotel (RGH) was somewhere we’d walk past, it seemed so glamorous with its international flags billowing in the breeze and its close proximity to Kensington Palace, I’d try and imagine what it would be like in there.
Sometimes we’d venter further into the area around Harrods and be captivated by the aura that that store gave off, before it changed ownership and lost a bit of panache.
IRA bomb scares were frequent then and with typical teenage bravado, it was a case of “won’t happen to us, let’s do it”, we kept on keeping on.
I achieved part of my dream and worked in London three separate times on my pre-children career; working in Tower Hill and Aldgate, then Fenchurch Street, then slap-bang in the City in Holborn and finally in Euston where – with a healthy T growing in my tummy – I decided I wanted to be at stay-at-home mum following his birth.
The dream versus reality commute-wish was all a bit different, leaving home in the dark and returning in the dark too, there was the choice between a (sometimes) 3 hour each way coach journey (guaranteeing a seat but exhausting) or a squeeze-you-in-tight train journey, usually without a seat, then another squishy and quite sweaty tube journey, to get to work, sit in an office without having time to appreciate the surroundings and then do it all again….and again….and again.
I never made time to visit the Tower of London whilst practically working opposite it – something I regret now, lunchtimes were spent rushing to the nearest sandwich shop and back to work.
There were always security scares, tube stations being closed or shopping areas, it was a case of finding another way back to the mainline station and getting home, only to do it all again the next day. Because you did.
The afternoon of 9/11 was a time when I just wanted to get home quickly, tall buildings had been evacuated in case and there was a sense of disbelief, a feeling of “how?” and “why?”, something that’s in the air today, why – in the name of religion or beliefs – would an individual set out deliberately to take as many lives as he could? How can that possibly be justified?
Yesterday’s atrocities won’t stop people going to our historical capital, it mustn’t. If it did, “they” would feel “they’d” claimed a victory. There is so much beauty and culture in London, so much I still want to see, from a parent and tourist’s eyes, not as a sleep-deprived commuter.
I did achieve another bit of a dream last year btw, I was at the RGH for a blogging event, the Tots 100 Mad Blog Awards, the hotel was every bit as lovely as I imagined, with staff calling me “Madam” – and not in the tone of when you’re told off and being called a Madam either.
London, I love you.
You may have seen from my Facebook feed that yesterday took a rather unexpected turn, after a phone call from D’s SN school.
The moment when your heart has an extra beat as you see the school’s number flash up on your phone is never good for nerves is it?
Poor D had collided heads with another (older, stronger pupil) in an inter-house basketball game and the school nurse was concerned about her.
So, off we dashed. Fortunately Hubbie had a day off and we could take D immediately to the nearest Urgent Care Unit as the nurse was anxious that D’s nose might be broken, she’d already checked airways but thought it needed a second opinion.
Poor D, she held it together until she saw us in school reception and then the tears came. No chance of masking any emotions for her. She was very scared as the nurse filled us in with the checks she’d made and it was a hand-clasping, Bunny cuddling, tearful 20 minute or so drive to the Unit.
The Urgent Care Unit was very impressive, we had to check in and, I guess due to the injury and chucking autism and anxieties into the mix, we were seen within 20 minutes and D’s poor swollen nose was examined.
Airways were again checked, along with the septum and – thank goodness – her nose wasn’t broken.
A cuddly rest of the day followed with D absolutely determined that she went back to school today, which she did.
An absolute Trooper isn’t she? The HT had heard all about the incident and was extremely pleased to see D back today, the other pupil was back in too.
I was relieved that she didn’t have PE today but tomorrow sees a day of activities for D including archery, something she’s again determined to be there for.
Hopefully she’ll be okay but it’s a relief that she enjoys school so much (and needs that routine) that she so wanted to be in today.
I haven’t blogged for a while because I’d be in danger of repeating myself, over and over.
Life is ticking by for T and D, we have days where it feels like we’re on that emotional rollercoaster; days where I wonder what the future holds for our very individual children and days mostly when I just want March to hurry up and be done.
In short, I’m Waiting, which is this week’s Word of the Week and could have been many before.
Waiting for an appointment at the hospital on 30th March where I’ll be x-rayed, my feet will be scrutinised and then we’ll know when foot operations two and three will take place, we’ve tentatively talked dates with the consultant but it was very much dependent on how scar tissue is looking after the first operation last October.
So, you see, we’re keeping on, keeping on, but in limbo.
I think the thing that’s frustrated me most is that I have playlists on my phone, “walking tunes” and “jogging tunes” and whenever one of them comes on, in particular “New Life” by Depeche Mode, it reminds me that I used to plough around the field near us to that or the treadmill and it just frustrates me that – for the moment – I can’t do that. Hopefully next Spring, another case of Waiting.
It’s not all bad though, some things have made me cheerful this week:
The “Whackers” as we call them. Very friendly, they were descending on D to get some bread. She found it hilarious when a male took some, put it in the water to soften/break it down and along came the female and nabbed it! Little things.
And, oh my goodness, this!
Apparently one of the coaches thought she has sporting potential and we’ve sent off our details to find out more. D came home saying “I’m going to be a Paralympian” and said her teacher had told her there might be training camps – which seems a bit like building her hopes up to me, there must be loads of children who get the form.
Whatever happens, we are mega proud and again, it’s proof that she has flourished in the right educational setting for her.
Another case of waiting!
It’s always a delight for D when she comes out of school with a sticker proudly stuck on her sweatshirt, the one below is really quite wonderful and something that we’re incredibly proud of her for.
A Head Teacher’s award. Something that has been implemented with the arrival of a new HT at D’s SN school.
So, what did our girl do to merit one of these?
She helped another child in class with their Maths, which as the HT said to me was really quite lovely in itself but it also shows that she empathised and recognised that the other child was having difficulty and it also demonstrates that D understood the task sufficiently to explain to her friend what needed to be done and how.
A big step for our girl and maybe the fact she used to absolutely love Countdown, reciting the numbers on buses and houses and we’d always play “tell me the price on the shop shelf (something that got us through shopping and distracted her from sensory issues) might have played a part?
Mega proud of our D, mega.
Beware, this might turn into a rant!
I’ve been having to have monthly blood tests to check my liver function as I’m been on some totally yucky tablets for my nails. They work though but, as getting blood out of me is troublesome, it’s not been pleasant.
So, last week I went along and also asked if I could have my iron levels checked as I’d fainted two days before.
The nurse said something along the lines of “it might be your cholesterol, you have high cholestrol” which was news to me as, since my last test for that three years ago, no one had said anything. She then said “the doctor will definitely want to see you, its too high”.
So, blood eventually taken and I’ve worried ever since. Wondering why no one had said anything in the times I’d seen a doctor since, because surely that sort of thing would be flagged up, wouldn’t it, a bit like smear tests?
Fast forward a week and a telephone conversation with a doctor and my cholesterol levels are fine, still the same level as 3 years ago BUT I have a high level of good cholesterol and the doctor is perfectly happy with that.
So that explains why no one mentioned it but why did the nurse take it upon herself to take look at the figure without the other details?
And when I phoned yesterday for the results, on the blood test results line, the person manning the phone could not give me any detail, in fact she gave me a totally different numerical result to the one told by the doctor today!!!
Not wishing to moan about the wonderful service the NHS generally provides but if the nurse had read things properly, I’d have saved myself over a week of worry.
Which would have been gladly avoided cos I have plenty else I can worry my head about!!!
I’ve been blogging a while now, ooh five years I think. At times it’s useful to “blog it out”, clear out some of the thoughts that tumble around in my head.
Thoughts that have remained more or less the same since I started to blog:
Worries about the future. Five years ago, D was nearly 8, you wouldn’t have known it to look at her, the tall bundle of D-ness that she is, she doesn’t look nearly 13 now and that worries me.
I worry that whilst she’s “cushioned” by her SN school, loves participating in anything musical and she’s accepted there, it won’t always be like that.
She’s a tween with autism, soon she’ll be an autistic teen, then a young adult etc. Her autism won’t be cured (forget those quack theories that drift over the Pond from time to time) but what she will learn is coping mechanisms. Ways in which – I hope – that, if she’s out that she masks until she gets home, her sanctuary.
Because, no matter how many posts I and the many many SN bloggers write, she’ll be judged on those first impressions and if that first impression is of a meltdown or one in which she’s pacing to regulate herself, that’s how people will remember her.
It’s scary, from the outside looking in. Because someone might see a young lady who could be easily led, others might see her as someone to avoid or laugh at. I hate those thoughts, hate them.
D seems unaware when people look, something I’m glad about. I’m also relieved that, at nearly 13, she has no body issues, she’s not demanding hair straighteners or make up or daisy dukes, she’s happy in herself. Which is probably a minority thought in today’s “me, me, me” society.
She’s happy in sweatshirts and leggings and her Skechers go walk pumps, something I’m also relieved about as she’s showing no signs of my rubbish feet problems, she has wonderfully straight feet!
Is there an answer to my concerns? There are more programmes with autism mentioned (The “a” word last year and BBC Doctors are very up to speed with regular mental health stories) and I read that a supermarket will be trialing an autism-friendly hour, similarly some cinema chains have autism-friendly showings.
But how about your person in the supemarket? Someone who walks past and “tuts” at the sight of a child with headphones on, overwhelmed by the sights and sounds? In that initial split second judgement are they going to think “autism”? Probably not unless they have had family experience. Nope, they’ll either “tut” or make some comment, usually along the lines of “can’t you keep that child under control? Needs a good slap!”.
We’ve all experienced it and sometimes from unexpected quarters, having your child described as “mad” by a family member sticks with you, it can’t but not.
It can be a lonely world, SN parenting. Birthday invitations – unless from another SN parent – aren’t dolled out and that makes my heart ache. I remember when I was childminding a girl in the same class as D, the birthday child’s parents would pass out the envelopes, making it clear exactly who it was for.
I don’t ask for much – my Hubbie would raise an eyebrow at this, what with my skinny decaf mocha/crochet fixation – but would ask, from the bottom of my heart, that first impressions aren’t always the correct ones.
Get to know D and she is the loveliest sweetest girl, today – when not anxious about the scaled-down half term and routine changes – she’s been so so soppy over Valentine’s Day, eager to see the cards and gifts that her parents exchanged, cuddly, smiley happy as she wished us all (including her brother) a happy Valentine’s Day.
I wish for her – and all our SN children – a happy future, however and wherever it pans out.