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Friday, 1 January 2016

Little Red Fox

Jamie got hold of one of my Christmas presents today.  It was my Walnut Whip gift box which had about ten Walnut Whips in it.

You know how when a fox gets into a hen house, it (so I have been told) eats one of the hens but kills all the others?  Well, that pretty much describes what happened with Jamie and the Walnut Whips.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Christmas Special Needs

Whenever you go to the theatre, you have to be willing to suspend disbelief. Perhaps we have to believe that the action takes place in a forest because there are some trees drawn onto a sheet on the back wall, or perhaps we are asked to believe that the actor who is on stilts is actually a horse.  For a school nativity play, audiences are asked to suspend their disbelief still further – we are asked to believe that a six year old with a towel on his head is a shepherd, and that the young girl who fluffs her lines is the pregnant mother of the son of God.

For a nativity play at a special school, we are asked to suspend disbelief even further still.  We are asked not to question the fact that one of the three wise men is holding a teacher’s hand, or that one of the angels is in a wheelchair – and of course, nobody does. Nativity plays and carol concerts at these schools are even more laid-back than ordinary school nativity plays.  They are joyful things.

A few years ago, Jamie was the star of his special school's Christmas play and concert; he was dressed as Santa Claus and, at the right part of the song, had to pop out of the “chimney” and go “ho ho ho”. The following year he was “first snowflake” and had to do a dance, spinning round in circles while all the other snowflakes span away, or melted, or something, until he was the only one left.  He did very well at these roles, even staying in character when a little girl with autism ran up to him in the middle of the performance and demanded to know what the hell he was doing.  As the years went by though, as Jamie got bigger and stronger and more difficult to handle, his roles became smaller.  Last year, he did not have a part at all; he was led into the school hall by two teachers, each holding one of his hands, clearly in an effort to restrain him.  It seemed to me that they might as well have wheeled him in Hannibal Lector style, in a straight jacket and mask.  Perhaps they feared he was going to eat somebody's liver with some fava beans a nice Chianti.

Then it was pointed out to me though, that Jamie was thirteen years old, and teenagers do not usually get leading roles in nativity plays, not even in special schools.  Some adorable disabled six year old is now getting all of Jamie's parts.  Damn those adorable disabled six year olds!

The funniest thing I ever saw at a school carol concert was when one class decided to do a rendition of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” from Frozen (yes, I know it’s not a carol – and it was probably also a copyright infringement).  As a finale to the song, the children dressed one of the young boys up as a snowman, putting on him a white T-shirt, hat, scarf, and an orange cardboard cone on an elastic band as a carrot nose.  Unfortunately, the children dressing the boy decided to put the nose, scarf and hat on before the T-shirt, meaning that they had to pull the T shirt down over the other items, squashing the hat and crushing  the nose in the process.

It seemed to take forever for them to do it; after a minute or two I looked over to see if their teacher was going to intervene, but no, she appeared to be helpless with laughter.  Eventually though, long after the song had finished, they succeeded in "building" the snowman, even though the nose was a little bent and the scarf was under the T shirt.  Another teacher then bounded to the front of the stage to spin the young snowman around, revealing that the T shirt was actually on back to front, as big black buttons visible, drawn on his back.

Actually though, now that I come to think of it, that was not at Jamie’s school at all, it was my daughter Jemima’s (mainstream) school.  They do not have special needs at all there, unless you count needing to have rehearsed more as a special need.


Thanks for reading this post.  I am currently working on a follow-up to my book Don’t Let It Get You Down Syndrome, which will be a collection of stories about having children with special needs in the family at Christmas time.  If anybody reading this has any stories they would like to share with me, for possible inclusion in the book, please leave them (or a link to a blog post or similar) in the comments below.   I have not decided yet whether the book will be fiction or non-fiction, but either way, I need as many funny and/or heart warming stories as possible.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

No Post Today

I am not going to be posting anything for a while.  I am writing a book.

It turns out that writing a book is really hard.  It is much harder than reading a book.

I need go and write it now in fact.  I need to stop making excuses.  Even my deciding to to write this short post was an attempt by my subconscious to sabotage the whole project.

Got to go.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

The Prisoner

"If ever you are going to be trapped in a tiny room for hours on end, then the downstairs toilet would be the best room for it to happen in.  Unlike, say, a lift, a sauna, or a cupboard, our downstairs toilet has running water, somewhere to sit down, and most importantly, it has a toilet.  It also has a small window that you could open for fresh air, or possibly even call for help from - or at least it would have had such a thing if we had not locked it in order to stop Jamie from throwing the toilet rolls out of it."

This, she told me later, was what Meg was thinking when, as you have probably guessed, Jamie trapped her in the downstairs toilet.  She had popped in for a few seconds to powder her nose, when the door closed behind her, and she heard a loud crash from outside.  Jamie had pulled the radiator off the wall, and it had fallen in front of the toilet door.

I imagine that many of you reading this have never seen a radiator that has been pulled from a wall.  I had not, until recently.  I would have thought that the act of pulling it from the wall would also have broken the pipes attached to it, leading to water gushing everywhere and a massive plumber's bill, but no.  Somehow, the pipes at the bottom of the radiator remained intact, and the whole thing swiveled away from the wall and landed in front of the toilet door.  Being a heavy radiator, and still being attached to the wall via the pipes, it would not move at all, and the door could not be opened more than a centimetre or two.  Perhaps it would have been possible to force the door open, but that would certainly have broken the pipes, and probably the door too.

So Meg was trapped.

Jamie, on the other hand, had the freedom of the house. He finally had the freedom to do whatever he wanted. He could eat all the chocolate in the sweet drawer, shred every piece of paper in the office, microwave the guinea pigs .... or he could just hunt around for where Meg had hidden the house keys, unlock the door, and go exploring around the neighbourhood.

How long would Meg be trapped for?  Well, I work in an office 30 minutes drive away, so if she could have called me at work, I could have been home in half an hour.  However, her mobile phone was on the kitchen windowsill, not in her pocket.  My working day was 9am to 5pm.  Unfortunatley it was only 10:15am, so it was over 7 hours before I would due to return.  Fortunately though, it was actually a Saturday, and I was not at work at all, I was upstairs, wondering what the crash was.  When I heard "Steve!  I'm trapped in the toilet!" shouted a few seconds later, I thought I had better go and investigate.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Crack problem

We had forgotten to give Jamie a travel sickness pill.  Normally, we can drive at least 45 minutes without any risk of car sickness, and sometimes an hour.  This journey, according to the Satnav, was 52 minutes.  Trying to drive all the way without stopping would be a gamble.

We were twenty minutes into the journey when Meg said "Open Jamie's window just a tiny bit, and give him some fresh air."

Doing this would also be a risk.  We both knew that Jamie likes nothing better than livening up a car journey by throwing things out of the window - his shoes, his socks, my sunglasses, the Satnav - whatever he can reach really.  This is why we always have the car windows shut and the child locks on.

"Just a tiny bit then." I said. "Hold his hands while I do it - if I open it too far, you know what will happen."

So Meg held his hands, and I lightly flicked the relevant button.  I need not have worried about opening it too far. I judged it right first time, and the window opened by about a centimetre. Meg released Jamie's hands, and relaxed. There was no way that anything he could reach was going to fit through that tiny crack.

Or so we thought.  Jamie sat and studied the situation for a while.  He made no attempt to grab anything and force it through, but he scanned round the car with his eyes, mentally calculating whether anything was going to fit.  In an attempt to stay one step ahead, Meg moved everything that was less than five centimetres thick to the other side of the vehicle.

So we continued on our journey for about another minute or two.  All of a sudden I heard Meg shouting behind me.

"No Jamie!  Stop that!  Aaaargh! You naughty boy!  That was brand new!"

Startled, I looked in the rear view mirror.  I saw Jamie looking back at me.  There was something different about him.  Wasn't he wearing a baseball cap a few minutes ago?

Yes, even though a baseball cap looks as though it is as big as your head, the truth is that you can feed the peak of the cap through a very small opening, as Jamie knew instinctively you could, and had proved.  I would have thought that main body of the cap would have got stuck, but no, it did not.  Perhaps the wind took it and sucked it through.  It was all over in a second.
"Sorry."  said Jamie.  But I don't think he was.
I got the hat back eventually.  We were on a busy A road, and I had to drive on a few hundred yards before finding somewhere I could stop the car, then run back down the road.  There was no footpath, so I was dodging speeding cars and lorries, to rescue the cap that was sat in the middle of the road, on a white line.  It was good exercise for me, and the way I see it, the fact that I could have been run over and killed, just makes life seem all the sweeter.

That's not really true, I just like to end on a positive note.

Oh, and one other positive note - the unscheduled stop broke up the journey, and Jamie did not get travel sickness after all.  Hmmm ... I wonder if that was his plan all along?