Monthly Archives: January 2006

It never rains but….

Poor J. She’s come all this way on a mercy dash, only to be taken ill when she gets here with sickness and dia.. dia… oh, you know what you get with sickness! So not only is she not much help with the children, but she also is devastated not to be able to go in and see Dad at all.

It looks like he’ll be staying in the hospital a bit longer. They want to do a scan. Doesn’t sound good. But no good worrying until there’s something definite to worry about. At least it got me out of parents evenings this evening as I had to collect the children and will need to go a-visiting.

I love parents’ evening, actually, apart from the fact that there’s no consultation about whether it’s a convenient evening or anything, you simply have to be there and that’s it. It’s fascinating seeing the parents for the first time and finding out whether they’re like you expected. It’s a bit daunting sometimes – I always spend the day beforehand worritting about what moans and complaints they’ll make and how they’ll respond to any criticism of their child’s performance or behaviour. But they almost always turn out to be lovely. And after all, when you enjoy the teaching side of the job, it’s great to chat with the people for whom that child is the most important, especially if you’re able to reassure them of the child’s progress. I had that chance several times in the firs part of the evening… and even the Year Five parents were able to sympathise with the frustrations of teaching sixteen children to whom you give the instruction “draw four different t-shirts on your piece of paper”, only to find that they haven’t the foggiest what to do! Needless to say, the parents that you really ought to see are never the ones who come in.

Right, coat on, shoes on, and off to collect Smudgelet from pottery and go to visit Dad.

Mercy mission…

It’s been a day of mercy missions.

My boss has been great. So sympathetic and supportive and willing to give me as much time (unpaid, naturally, if it’s en masse, but time nonetheless) as I need whenever I need it.

Good job I’d talked with him at the start of lesson three as, within the hour, my mobile was ringing and I was once again on my way to the hospital. Scary for my poor sister as she was due to catch a train, having delayed her trip home by a day already. Good job my other sister was on her way.

She was coming as we’d called her in distress yesterday as Dad was so low and poorly. But she arrived to an empty house and babysitting duties.

She arrived at the hospital to find him perkier than he’s been for days, sitting up in bed and enjoying a natter and laugh and able to follow even the most complex tale she told him about a problem her husband is having with public liability insurance. Pah – it seems dreadful to say it, but I hope that while she’s here she sees dad at his worst as well as at his best! Infuriating to think it looks as though my other sister and I were exaggerating. But even my other sister said that when he’s brighter it’s hard to remember or to believe just how terribly poorly he was just an hour earlier.

They’re keeping him in overnight – it’s a problem with blood clots in the urine again that they want to make sure is stable – then he could well be home tomorrow.

Mind you, I’d have given anything to crawl in the bed alongside him.. and even more to indulge in his rather delicious-looking tea and glass of water which he was given in front of me when I’d neither eaten nor drank for hooooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrs!

Crazy, man

I won, by the way.
The game of crazy golf I had with the boys today, I won.
Mind you, it wasn’t a very challenging course, but the environment was cracking – the “lost jungle” … complete with animals, sound effects and suddenly dimming lighting!

We learned about the risks of playing on the “eat-your-money” machines. A good learning experience, I feel.

We ate extravagent chips and drank hot chocolate and watched the waves crashing on the beach as the sun went down. And best of all, a flock of pigeons doing synchronised air-dancing. Wow… enough to make the heart beat faster.

Good talking time, too. Funny how easy it is to talk honestly when you’re by the sea. There’s nowhere like it. How could I ever move away from the sea again?


(Note Bene: This rant is not in any way aimed at anyone here. It is a letting off of steam accumulated during several recent conversations)

Don’t you dare.
Don’t you dare tell me you know exactly what I’m going through. You do not know exactly what I’m going through because you are not me. Yes, you’ve lost both parents too, but it is impossible that you know what it’s like for me, you only know what it was like for you. I’ve lost one parent, and even though I’m precisely the same person involved in it, it is totally different than it was last time. My relationship with Dad is different than it was with Mum, the illness is treating them differently, my circumstances are different. So if I don’t know exactly how I feel, how on earth can you think you do?

Don’t you dare tell me I’m acting without thinking things through. How do you know how much I’ve thought about all this, in the past and now? Am I generally so impetuous that I make rash and ill-advised decisions? Do you not think me capable of making my own mind up? If I wanted your advice, I would ask for you advice. I didn’t. I told you what I had decided and why, and I don’t need you telling me why I have made the wrong decision.

Don’t you dare tell me I am neglecting my children – that the fact that I chose to have them somehow gives me a greater responsibility to them than if I’d given birth to them. Rubbish. So those who don’t choose to adopt have less responsibility to put the children first, is that it? Do you really think I haven’t done all I can to make sure this is done in the way that is least harmful to them? Do you really think my decisions are made without any reference to them, or even any discussion with them as to their thoughts? Just because I think it essential that they learn the importance of a family pulling together by asking them to understand I’m under stress and asking them to help out a bit – I know they’ve been through a lot already but that isn’t to say that the most healthy thing is to shelter them completely from my dad’s situation and leave the caring to somebody else just because it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient to us and them. Nor is it unfair to expect them to do their chores properly. And don’t you think that the main reason I’m wanting to take unpaid leave from school is to reduce my stress and give me more time with them.

Don’t you dare tell me I’m being selfish. You think I resent handing over the care of Dad to my sisters and can’t appreciate he’s their dad too? That’s not the case at all, although it’s hard to let go. I want them here to share it. I know I feel vulnerable when totally alone with Dad and I guess my sisters will too, actually. It’s fine saying that my bit can be in the afternoons when I come home from school. Do you really think I can cope with the trivia and pettiness of school when I’m under the strain of losing Dad? And coming home to caring for a few hours, even if not the hours after the Smudgelets get home, still isn’t removing much of the stress. To be off work won’t mean I won’t let my sisters take their share of the caring, it’ll mean I don’t have a breakdown and school can cope better with more notice of me being off than with my suddenly taking days or weeks here and there.

Don’t you dare tell me I am being disloyal to the school or the children I teach, or that I am ruining my career prospects. As far as career prospects are concerned, that’s my business. As far as the children I teach, do you really think it will be destroy their hopes of making progress just because I’m not there for a term, any more than if I am there but impatient and with my mind on other things? I do a good job, and yes, it’s a job that not everyone can do, but is their entire world going to come to an end? What about all those children in different schools who aren’t taught by me? They seem to manage.

And what’s more, don’t you dare tell me what I “ought” to do, what I “should” do. Offer your advice, yes. Tell me what you would think in similar circumstances, yes. Show care and concern, yes. Even point out to me things I may not have considered by asking questions like “how do you think M will feel about this?” or “where will you get the money from?” But don’t get shirty with me because my decisions aren’t what you think I should be doing. I’m a big girl now.

Decision making

An unexpected chance to spend a couple of quality hours with the Smudgelets. Hmmm..decisions, decisions. Too nice to be indoors, too cold to be out (and I still have the beginnings of a cough and cold and don’t want to give it any encouragement to develop) so I need to think about where to go and how to spend it. Something that’s a real distraction, methinks.

This chance has come from a sudden realisation. I’m not going to be able to leave Dad alone for more than half an hour or so any more. He’s too ill – mentally more than physically but that too. I have written to the chair of governors to ask for leave of absence after the holidays and my sister is going to resign from her job too so that we can share responsibility, with my other sister coming weekends to relieve us. I think it is the only way forward really. So my sister has delayed her return home until tomorrow so that I can go into work and talk to the boss. Not sure what we’ll do on Tuesday, but at least on Wednesday he’s at the hospice for the day. It’s the only way to be fair to Dad and to the Smudgelets and to save our own sanity as we’re not the sort of family who can hand over the care to a paid carer and then just go off and do our own thing.

Your ongoing support is so appreciated. Thank you so much for all the prayers and good wishes. It is a dark time, but with many bright patches which will make for good memories when it is all over.


The trip to the health farm is back on again, thanks to a wonderful friend.
Some people, when they say “tell me what I can do to help”, really mean it. These people are God’s angels for sure. The only thing that will stop me now, apart from bad traffic on the motorway, is if Dad is too ill to go to the hospice for the day on the Wednesday – but that would have stopped me anyway. As long as he’s ok, everything’s back on track.

yippeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee *little dance of joy*

Meanwhile, I think the time has come for serious decisions.


Obviously she didn’t notice the big green car parked on the drive, as my sister was convinced there was nobody in. Key in hand, she let herself in on her way to put a load of washing in my washing machine (ha – I knew she’d forget which way the tap on the catheter bag worked!!)and said a cheery “hello” to the cat, Charlie.

She was somewhat taken aback when a voice came back “Hello, M” 😀

I think I may have to have my ceiling repaired. She certainly jumped high enough at the thought the Charlie was answering her!

(See, I’m not the only daft one in the family! 😉 )


It’s looking more and more as though the health farm is a non-starter. There’s no way I can get the boys to my sister’s before the Wednesday, and she’ll find it difficult to care for them an extra day while she’s working. There’s no way I can get to the health farm by 11am if I have to go via Wiltshire, and even if I get the boys there early, I can’t leave Dad if he’s not well enough to go to the hospice. AAAAAAGGGGGGGHH!!! I suppose lots of things go right for me in life, it’s not everything that goes wrong. I may just have to bite the bullet, lose my deposit, and resign myself to staying at my sisters with the boys until I go to the retreat.

I just so much wanted a bit of time thinking of nobody but myself, and not talking to anyone about dad, school, the boys. But it’s getting so complicated that it’s becoming a source of stress in itself.

I’ve talked to the boys today about the fact that Grandad’s needs are increasing. It’s so important to let them know that I will be honest with them and that their feelings and needs are just as important to me. I’ve asked them to be sure to tell me how they’re feeling and if there’s anything that’s important to them that I should take into account – things like being able to go to Scouts, having me there when doing homework, having time for a bedtime story etc. And we’re making sure we plan treats well ahead – things like birthday parties and the Wightmeet and trips to Stratford etc to have plenty to look forward to – thank goodness my sisters are prepared to back that up!

If I’m sleeping round there, there’ll be far less computer time and, horror of horrors…. far less chance for a bath. Quick, get those taps running, break out the bubble bath… evict the vikings. This is ME time!


Now I’ve noticed that massive cobweb, I suppose I ought to go and wipe it away.
Only trouble is, it reappears almost immediately, even when I evict the spinner.
Shame it has to be quite so noticeable.

Fingers crossed

My kitchen has been invaded by knights. Or rather, knight. Sadly Tiddles can’t find his costume, which in some ways might be a relief as I am not sure whether or not he is invited to the party, but I will certainly be getting rid of Smudgelet for the afternoon. A bit of a shock to the system, though, to realise this morning that it is 28th January today and I haven’t got another week’s grace to prepare the fancy dress costumes properly (medieval theme!) It’s a friend from Smudgelet’s swimming lesson and choir and they’re both keen to go. What’s more, I’m really keen for them to go! And what’s more, they’re both at swimming and music centre all morning. Woohoooooooo!

I’m really looking forward to the swimming lesson. I have to hang around and watch that bit, but Smudgelet is so pleased with himself that I am hoping his teacher gives him the praise that’s due. When we went swimming on Wednesday, I wasn’t able to go in the pool with him and expected him to hang around for a bit in the water, get cold, and come out to sit alongside with me. But instead my superstar decided he was going to work on his swimming. My little one, who despises hard work and who, if anyone tries to help him with his swimming, just has to be in control and do it his way (it’s one of two big indicators of Attachment Disorder in a child who shows little other sign of it), he just got on with it and worked on his breast stroke (which he hates) until he’d really got the hang of it. I was so impressed. He notched up four lengths of front crawl and back stroke too, which is pretty impressive in an eight year old who, four years ago, was terrified of the water. I remember his foster mother telling me the two thing I would find a problem were that he hated stories (pah!) and that he wouldn’t go anywhere near the swimming pool at all. So here he is with his newly acquired 50m badge, while Tiddles is delighted with his first Personal Survival certificate from lifesaving.

Best of all, when we go swimming, I get to abandon them both in the pool and go off for a cup of coff… er… I mean notch up several lengths of breaststroke myself.