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Raising little Westies, and life as parent of a special needs son
Sport is a great metaphor for life, just as war is. My wife already discussed life through the lense of war, so I’ll think about sports on the day of the Grand Final for the Australian Football League.
What did the Swans and their opposition the Hawks teach us this year during the Grand Final?
Well done to the Swans. Keep chipping away, you might share some success like they just did.
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.
Here we are in August and the mighty St Clair Crows under 10s have one round left. Since commencing our involvement with the Junior AFL, this has been our most arms-length season to date.
About this time last year, I was all but announced as a coach for 2012, when it beck clear that something unusual was going in at work. So it turned out that this year, whole Bec took on the task of getting kids to training mid week, I pretty much took on game-day and to no small extent, laundering of the guernseys (although that has been shared with Bec or the kids to some extent).
Football this year has been a massive undertaking. And that is without getting along to any pro games at all in the inaugural season of the GWS.
But it has been hugely worth it.
The kids football team has been a social link to the community I take myself away from, yet my wife and kids live in day in, day out. I have started to form a few fantastic friendships there, with the ring-in watergirl being at the top of the list.
They have managed to throw us Westies in a spin a few times, with their confused rosters, and giving me jobs to do when I should be spending every single moment watching and interacting with my little BTB Fan. But it’s been great and I’ll probably miss it.
About three weeks after I catch up on my sleep in weekends!
Today, things fell into place a bit.
My wife is still unwell, and she had weight watchers this morning (I hear the result was a good one). To make the weekend a bit different, our kids football game has been scheduled for Sunday instead of Saturday, so I had been wondering what would be happening this weekend. But then my parents – who live several hundred kilometers away – told me the other night that they would be in Sydney this weekend.
No matter what I did though, they wouldn’t give me enough detail to actually make any plans.
Then last night while I was driving home my mum rang me and asked what we could all do if they were in Sydney today.
They are driving a brand new Winnebago, which they picked up two weeks ago in Melbourne. So arranging a place to meet them isn’t as straightforward as it could be. Especially given their fantastic knowledge of Sydney and Sydney roads.
Well, after having driven past it too many times, I’d been thinking about dropping into the Western Sydney Parklands – specifically, the Plough and Harrows section (given that the parklands go from Liverpool to Castle Hill).
Turns out, it was a great idea.
The parkland, features some fantastic free electric barbeques, well defined roads which are accessible but not too close to the barbeque and eating areas, great cycleways and walking tracks. These tracks seem to have quite a few drinking fountains, which include bubblers at the top, taps a bit lower, and all the runnoff ends up flowing through a dog water trough at the bottom – which is on a hinge, so if you have your dog with you, you can easily tip out the water that might not be fresh, and replace it.
After meeting my parents there, we had a barbeque , and later my kids had a play while I chatted a bit more with my parents. My kids had an absolute ball on the flying fox, while the boys and I also made good use of some of those bike tracks. Eventually, we headed home. We’re currently planning for my parents to catch my eldest two kids playing Australian Rules football for the St Clair Crows tomorrow, at the home ground in St Clair.
The afternoon was a not-quite-flurry of activity, with my current travelling to work in Canberra there is not a lot of down time in Westy Central.
Then dinner, with my wife “throwing together” a lazy three seperate meals in one night – which around here is “almost normal”, one weightwatchers friendly meal, three mainstream meals, and one spectrummy friendly meal most easily described as “colourless food in isolated piles” such as boiled rice, grilled chicken, and plain pasta seperately on a plate.
A pretty big day, all told, really.
Especially it turns out, for an eight-year-old boy, who happens to have Autism.
One little part of the day that is supposed to just work like clockwork is bedtime.
No matter what happens in the day, you can rely on what happens at night.
Bathtime, dinner time, “yoghurt time?”, brush your teeth, go to bed. Repeat this more frequently the more tired and frustrated you feel, it will do wonders for the emotions of anyone around you (or not).
Somewhere between “brush your teeth” and “go to bed”, there is supposed to be a “horsey ride“.
Except tonight, the shitstorm got real, and I outright ordered all three children to bed. They were ready, they were just all orbitting some other planet.
So today, instead of having a wonderful end to the day with Magpie reading to his brother Bob the Builder Fan, we finished with a meltdown by the youngest Westie, alone in his bed, cying about the horsey ride he never got to give his brother.
We now have this under control, and he seems to be settled in to go peacefully to sleep. We are blessed there, really.
In a homage to Wordless Wednesday, I’ve decided to take to a Silent Sunday theme for a couple of weeks, because Sundays typically are far from my day-of-rest.
Here’s the week that was, according to ImaWestie on Instagram (er, Webstagram).
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.
It has come to my attention that I have been neglecting things around here. My side of course is that I have had a hectic year – it’s quite difficult for me to comprehend that one year ago I was working in state government helping in a mid-level role, on an information technology project, helping the agency get ready to be swallowed by some other organisation. That role had me living in my home in Western Sydney, commuting by bicycle and suburban train each day for about two hours, seeing my kids every day. At the same time I was extremely involved in assisting my Autistic son as he was half way through his first year in school, and quite involved in my daughter and her Australian Rules Football team the St Clair Crows.
With very little notice, I was made a hard-to-refuse offer with a dollar value attached to finish my public service career and “move on with my life.”
And a chapter of my life – working in the Sydney CBD – closed after about ten short months.
This turn of events had quite a dramatic effect on my life, and in all the noise, my regular blogging went by the wayside. It has been missed, only somewhat compensated by tweeting and Facebook. I have had some fantastic experiences, along with some pretty low points – being “between work” for the longest time in my life.
But that’s behind me now, as I have been back at work since late March. Yet some four months later, still only very infrequent blog-writing – marked mostly by ANZAC Day!
Yesterday, another milestone event happened, when Autism United was closed. I discussed this with a guy I’m very happy to have met since coming to Canberra, and he’s suggested a challenge for me.
Without giving away the target – because I’d rather not reach the target then stop! – it’s a very typical “article a day” challenge. I’m happy I had that chat, and I will endeavor to reach the target he set. But for now, let’s just finish with… Challenge accepted.
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.