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Raising little Westies, and life as parent of a special needs son
Here we are in September, in Australia that means only one thing…
well, depending on your state that one thing will be one of a few different things!
It is the finals season for the major codes of AFL and NRL. “My” team, adopted relatively late in life, is the Sydney Swans who had a pretty strong season till quite late, which means they were eligible for the finals season but have failed to qualify for a home game.
Away games are hard. Away finals, even harder.
Good luck Swans.
This weekend, also marks the presentation day for my kids junior AFL football team – the St Clair Crows. Hopefully, it will be a great day for all involved – kids and parents.
Oh My God.
So, it’s the weekend. Should be happy, right?
Happy to not be at work. But, life has it’s way of all the little details piling up when we could most do with some sort of break – this weekend being yet another example. It hasn’t taken much, just that it’s the kids first week back at school. I’m thinking that’s what has pushed Bec over the brink to coming down with some sort of lurgy and being crook as a dog.
Add to that our nine dogs, and three kids, and football…. and weight watchers… and a hubby (me) who is drive-in drive-out from work… well it’s probably incredible that she functions as well as she does.
Somewhere between last night, and right now, motivation has evaporated somewhat. I know there are things I’d love to discuss, butthey have left the premises for right now. So I’ll leave you with this final input from my youngest Westie.
The end of another week in Canberra.
It was a pretty good week, though, seeing an aunty I hadn’t seen since before I’d become a father and having a great night out on the eating tools with her.
And tonight, I’m back in my own home, with my kids chortling away at one screen or another – tv, tablet, or PC monitor.
Tomorrow will be a full day, starting with kids football, with some room for some domesticity, before heading out for an evening with friends to celebrate the birthday of both my daughter Princess P and my youngest son, BTB Fan. This will include some of the first friends that we were introduced to by our son, through his pre-school, when he came home one day with an invitation to a birthday party. For a girl we didn’t know, who our son had never mentioned – because at that stage he wasn’t saying any names at all.
And as well as the twin girls, there will be a friend from football, who BTB Fan is now happy to greet by name.
Food, children, and autism – out in public.
At this stage, our fingers are crossed.
Well it doesn’t take too much to work out i haven’t been writing much lately.
I’d like there to be at least an excuse, or even better a reason – but no, I’ll have to come clean and admit i just haven’t made writing a priority like i had planned to.
Since my last blog, i have now been to New Delhi in an effort to gain some certifications. I’ll leave myself a bit of scope to write more later – flying with Air Malasia, the confronting nature of poverty in New Delhi, and studying with Koenig Solutions.
While the Autism Marathon continues, I’m very happy to point to success – we all attended football presentation and there was nothing which happened to make that a bad idea. Regardless of my early concerns, my son is tackling reading with grate enthusiasm, and is currently loving Suess classics such as “The Diggingest Dog” and “Go, Dog, Go”. Family life presents us with the same type of challenges i recall from my own childhood, and does not seem vastly different to what I have watched my brothers going through with their own children.
So, red-faced and feeling sheepish, all I can suggest is I’ve written again today. And I’ll be aiming to do more, soon!
I am here gently touching on the edge of the blogosphere. I’m a bit comfortable surfing on the edge of the tide, while my job is in a chaotic state, but already I notice good things.
Like if you add ASD to a google search for Collingwood… you end up here! Well, within the first dozen or so links anyway. Or if not here, at Autism United! God bless JAFL, and Magpie, for the weirdity that is google pagerankings.
Which is A Good Thing®©(TM).
I’ve created a facebook page (still a WIP). And I’m trying to work out where to host imawestie.com, or imawestie.com.au, or something. I don’t know if that will end up on wordpress, or google, or… somewhere.
And other than flanno shirts, or bogan acessories… well, what’s a website like that going to be for? But not till at least August. From then on, anything goes. Kids, Bec, and work, willing.
Gently, gently I am pushing myself further out from my comfort zone. Writing more. Writing, no matter what. I guess I’ll be needing pictures, or videos, or something, next.
So Fi, Jo, and Val, and especially Nicole who dragged me into this idea. Thanks to Felicity Moore , and Sacha Molitorisz too – for getting me online, talking about being a parent, before I knew I had anything like a problem to talk about (and to Felicity, for showing me that there is content for a parents website in Australia – I just gotta do the Dads one now). Thanks. I hope this can keep moving on. I hope I keep hitting these keys and just keep writing.
You all know I define my own success. I don’t need #TIGERBLOOD to be #WINNING. So my success will be:
That looks like enough of a list for now. It might have to be bumped to its own page so I don’t lose it. But now I’ve written it, I can hold myself to it.
Thanks to my spectrummy parenting community, for giving me a direction to go in.
There’s just something about a fire. Fire brings people together, and gets to the core of being a bloke.
Over the weekend we had a pretty full day lined up – footy, too far away to get to, then another game of footy, lunch and a post-lunch get-together with some kids footy friends. The kind of day any autistic kid could be excused for not handling at all.In all, a massive first weekend for the school holidays (which have arrived just in the snotty nick of time).
That’s right, we were taking our little autsie off to a whole new place. A private house. Where there are… let’s just say more than a comfortable number of people sharing what us Westies would say was a house on the smaller side of the scale. Incredibly, the multi-generational thing just works for J & her family. I don’t know how they manage it, and truth be told I’m not too keen on experimenting to see if it would work for us! Something tells me that the house would become dramatically smaller if we were to throw an autistic 5 year old into the mix.
As luck would have it, the youngest boy there just adores Bob the Builder’s biggest ever fan. He hasn’t stopped to notice the whole autism thing, or to have to meet the gap between ignorance & intolerance – he still accepts that “people are different“. The Magpie, and Princess P, are likeable enough to fit into any gathering and showed that to be the case again.
But all parties need a theme. And this barbeque kept coming back to “the fire”.
They had, for whatever reason, done the kind of household cleanup normally reserved for an episode of Hoarders. But there was a fair bit of stuff left behind. Apparently this was reason enough for a bonfire in the back yard… no, it wasn’t that big, let’s stop at a “fire” (we did a reasonable job of restraining it to fit inside a wheelbarrow they no longer wanted).
If you think the kids were fascinated, you’re right, but UG! it was nothing on the blokes (myself included of course!). What could we chuck on there? How much better is a marshmallow once it’s been toasted – and why? Why is that wood burning so much better than this, and who on earth put those pieces on there in such a thoughtless way… they should go like THIS!
Still, something at that party must have clicked. Because our few extra kids managed to stay under the radar all night, even when they were shooting arrows at the host, or zooming around on ride-on cars which – lets face it – were never intended for a five year old. Autistic or otherwise!
Here’s hoping, there are more fireside moments in the offing.
Yesterday, again, we ventured out to the “Land of the Giants” otherwise known as “Rooty Hill” or “(the) BOP”.
We had a great day with Princess P playing in her Junior AFL game, then joining Magpie and a bunch of Auskickers for a skill training session with some help from the GWS Giants. Almost every parent there looked around at least once during the morning and said something like “it’s a waste if they leave this place unused any weekend of the year“, in no small part because it was so darn well run compared to events at random local council playing fields.
The day even started at a moderately civilised 10:00 am.
Which left plenty of room for the evil mischief genies to run riot between getting out of bed, having breakfast, and getting into the car. In fact by the time we were in the car I was starting to wonder what the devil we were leaving the house for. But the option is staying home.
It turned a bit chaotic when the kids weren’t both at the same place, back-to-back, but this meant I got to really watch how much better Princess P is now than she was last year – or even, at the start of this year. Apparently the coach noticed too, because she got a coaches award (again)! It’s great because, although her skills might not be the same as some of the boys she’s playing with, her attention to what the coach wants each player to do is fantastic, and she thinks more about her game than a lot of the boys do (who’d rather just kick the bladder right out of ball , no matter where it goes).
So there I was, with Bec having headed some other direction with Magpie (to the other field for Auskick), with BTB Fan on the side of a footy field. With no convenient play area, he did what boys do and turned some random thing into a toy.
He happened to choose “the fence” – which I’m guessing was at least 2m high. His game consisted of climbing to the top, then letting go.
So I spent the morning alternating between watching footy, and assisting someone who didn’t want assistance to not fall down a fence. Then when the Junior game finished we wandered over to the skill session, which was not so spectacular for Princess P’s age group but really good for Magpie & his team-mates. This gave BTB Fan the perfect opportunity to do something that he hardly gets any decent opportunity to do: roll down the hill.
Clearly there’s some sensory seeking going on there, and I know it was the type of thing I loved doing at that age too. So why is it so unusual and why did so many people give us strange looks that he is allowed to “play“?
For anyone not already knowing: The GWS Giants are the newest team in the AFL due to join the main competition in 2012.
In case you missed it, the Westies live in the Land of the Giants. No I don’t mean Brobdingnag, I mean we live near Blacktown Olympic Park, or Rooty Hill. Which has now taken on a new life as the home territory of a national sports team so new, it hasn’t actually had it’s maiden match yet.
We are also fully into our junior Australian Rules Football.
This week we have been told that as our club is wonderful, we will get to play at the Giant’s home training ground – both the under 8’s which Magpie plays in, and the under 10’s which Princess P plays in. This will be followed by a bit of a fan-session with the players. Hopefully this will include Israel Folau but only time will tell.
I say that because he has probably had a fair bit to do with quite a few of our teams players having any interest at all in Aussie Rules instead of Rugby League or Rugby Union.
As luck would have it, the same day we also have a birthday party to attend. It’s at exactly the kind of place spectrummy parents love to loathe… an indoor cafe play-centre. At least everything is padded, but it’s also contained noise. Contained excitement. All one room.
But, the birthday boy loves Magpie, and Princess P, and his brother loves BTB Fan to bits. So it should be a good day.
For the first time this season we were able to play both Princess P, AND Magpie, in their own age groups! At the same field! The way things have been this year it was a bit of a minor miracle.
Looking at our fixtures list, I don’t know if it happens again before July! But Magpie will “play up” with his sister I guess?
Putting the fantastic football displayed by the under 8’s and under 10’s though, one other thing today provided was a great opportunity for interaction with some kids that BTB Fan sees irregularly. And for his Dad to reach out and try to expand that circle of aquaintances, hoping that the more people he meets the more friends he might make.
Sure, he kept things in his comfort zone by staying in & around the playground the whole day, but more and more instead of just playing there while other kids are playing there too, he is actually seeking his playmates out to join in with their game, or wanting them to join in with his. He is – well “happily” is too strong a word – lets settle with “mildly imatiently” waiting his turn to be next on the flying fox, the monkey bars, or whatever else is on offer (and while he’s at it he’s putting kids twice his age to shame in his antics on those things).
We throw him in there “boots and all”, to sink or swim, but yeah we are close at hand so if he does sink… well, he won’t be drowning.
Who knows, one or more of these kids might be dragging him onto a footy field this time next year?
I’d best talk about the footy a little bit. Princess P did herself, her family and her team proud, pulling on the other teams colours to pad out thier numbers. I think we ended up with a full complement, twelve-a-side under 10’s running the football quite well. It was great to see how far the teamwork, and individual skills have come since the start of the season, six or eight weeks ago now.
And again the under 8’s… Magpie put the skills he has picked up playing in his big sisters team to good use. And his mate M picked up player of the week, which is a pretty cool deal in itself!
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe“. Abraham Lincoln … or “It’s all in the planning”
Here at Westie Central, life can be a bit of a whirlwind. Yesterday was a fine example of this, with me going to work, the three kids having school, Bec off to visit a friend who has had a suprise childbirth (more later), then footy practice. In two different places? Who comes up with these ideas!
We worked out a plan: Dinner was on before I got home. She really is a wonder-mum! I was late, oops, but off we went. Me with the two boys: Magpie, the middle child, and his younger spectrummy brother got dropped off at the first field while Mum & Princess P went to the other field (too far to walk!) for her age group (yes, Princess P plays footy… Auskick is at playafl.com).
It was a great practice session for the boys though: our new home ground has just had lights installed, and to celebrate, the under 8’s had a special training session with the under 16’s, and at the end of it the under 8’s got their Auskick kit bags – not a bad backpack, football, and a few other bits and bobs.
Hmm, but what’s a spectrummy 5 year old to do while his brother practices footy?
Luckily a team-mates mum and little brother were also in the sidelines. Quite a bit younger then BTB Fan, but just the right stage to talk at much the same level and to happily chase each other around the swings, on the monkey bars, and RUN! Thanks J, it was a great way to spend training.
At the end of that though we settled down in the stands to watch the last bit of training. A cup of tea helped keep my little boy sitting in the stands (damn it was cold, and drinking tea is perectly normal for a 5 year old isn’t it?), as did the good old Nintendo DS.
One uncertain moment in the clubhouse, again sorted with the DS. Uh, how hard are we allowed to lean on those things? Anyhoo, his mate was also playing games on an iPhone so…
However. At the end of the night there was a scare. People going everywhere and “someone” thought that the pitch dark night after 7pm was a great time to wander off to climb trees. Thanks again to J, because, while I went running to the playground… J tracked my boy down.
It took about 3 seconds. Seriously, between me knowing where my son was – and not – was 3 seconds. So glad he was found within a minute, because well… finding a 5 year-old in the mainly dark around a footy field would not have been a good way to spend a night.
After which we set off for “somewhere” to meet up with Mum. Walking, in the dark (hey, it’s an adventure walking in the dark with your dad isn’t it? And if dad’s right there, you’re ALLOWED to climb the trees)!
Someone tell me again, where was the “planning” in all this?