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Single autistic mother of three awesome autistic kids. These are my anonymous ramblings about life, love, parenting and the rest – emptying my head of the weird, the wonderful and the mundane. Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Of the summer holidays, train tracks and hands off parenting

So, in the midst of all the Crush 2.0 saga apparently we're more than two weeks into the summer holidays - who knew? I feel like I've been floating on another planet for the last month and since I'm not showing any signs of coming down any time soon the children are adjusting to my somewhat lacklustre parenting skills.

Last week, fortunately, DS1 had a break from 'vacant mummy' as he was with his dad for 4 nights, which is the longest he's ever been away. They went on holiday and he had a really good time - even though it was longer than he'd ever been before, it seems it made more sense to him because it wasn't just being away for the sake of being away from us, there was a reason to go. He hasn't stopped talking about it since we got back - he saw steam trains and went to adventure parks and went to the beach - all good healthy stuff.

He was definitely the lucky one - firstly, because he actually had a parent engaging with him on a regular basis for the purposes other than just talking about Crush 2.0, and secondly because he missed the opening round of DS2s ascent into good solid 2 year old behaviour. This involved DS2 spending most of the day saying 'I don't want this' and 'I don't like that' - and then having a full blown tantrum if I didn't follow close behind him when we went to another room/up the stairs. Seriously, if I dare to walk in front, beside or any other place, full on melt down ensues. He is still a delightful kid and it is hard to resist him because when he asks for something he never ever says 'I want', he always says 'Shall we...' which is just tooo cute!! I have to admit though for those four days, he did spend a hell of a lot of time in front of Thomas on the TV while I arsed about on FB and twitter,  pretended to do work, and held imaginary conversations with Crush 2.0 in my head.

We both survived though and Crush 2.0 was a good distraction for me from DS1 being away for so long, which I think would've been pretty painful had I not had something else to concentrate on. I didn't miss him half as much as I could've done. 
DS1 arriving home on Friday at least gave DS2 some quality attention from somewhere and there has been less telly watching and much more train track building since his return. We have got into a nice routine of DS2 poking me awake at about 6.30 until I agree to give him the Thomas App on the phone. Eventually I'll haul myself out of bed and make the strongest cup of tea I can and ignore the pleas of 'Thomas on the television' - at least until the 7.35am episode on Milkshake. Sometime after that DS1 will eventually show his face and the train track building can begin in earnest. Then I can settle down to playing Crush 2.0s CD loudly and musing on/over-analysing my last conversation with him.

Fortunately the kids are pretty happy as long as they have trains in some form or another. God bless Thomas the Tank Engine and all who sail in him.

I have decided to not give myself a hard time about my hands off parenting because I have decided I deserve the break (*dons judge-proof jacket*)!! For the last 6 years I have been a pretty full on, hands on mum with no real thought for myself and I genuinely don't think it's going to kill either of them if I leave them to the own devices so long as I make sure they're fed and clothed and don't smell too bad, right?? Hell, it might even do them good. They have the basics and they have each other to play with, and I reckon that's probably okay. I have even been known to join in with jigsaw puzzles and train track building occasionally, so perhaps I am not an entirely useless mother.

Not entirely useless, no, but a little bit useless, as Crush 2.0 is still taking up my entire daily brain space. However it has now reached the stage where, quite frankly if he's not interested, I don't know what the fuck he's doing. Here is the latest:

Last Wednesday he invited me and only a handful of other people to take part in this festival thing he's organising. To be honest, I expect the other people on there - who have all been playing the guitar much longer and better than me - are probably thinking (as I am) 'why her?' - or maybe they're all thinking, 'There's only one reason she's on there'. I don't care, I know he does like my music, even if I don't play brilliantly, and more importantly he wants me there, so I'm there. I am now in the gang! (A gang which includes Crush the 1st, who, now I don't fancy him anymore, I actually have quite a laugh with.. but I digress) He also gave out his number in the invite, which is a dangerous one to have in my phone should I ever get drunk/overtired, still, have so far managed to restrain myself.
After said invite there followed the now usual FB banter between us for a couple of days - basically I post something that I know he won't be able to resist commenting on and away we go - I have got very good at fishing for him this way!
Then, as luck would have it, he was playing a gig about 5 minutes down the road from my parents on Sunday, so guess which lucky children had a day out at the grandparents? It was a lunchtime gig but I ended up being there for about three hours, chatting to him between his sets. We had a great time - another of his friends turned up who I get on with, which I think was probably a good thing as it might have been a bit too intense if it was just the two of us, but I still got to know him better and find out even more that we had in common. Sometimes it's very strange because it's like talking to another me, we have such similar likes and views - which sounds a bit lame but I can't really say anymore without getting into identifying information! Its good to meet someone like that though, because I never really have. I like that he takes a real interest in what I do too, and understands it and is really supportive - not just in a tokenistic way but making suggestions and offering ideas that are genuinely interesting and helpful.
I didn't think I'd hear from him for a while after that but then he was on FB the same time I was yesterday so I sent him a message to ask for advice on something and we ended up on FB chat talking for about an hour. Same again today - so we have moved on from just commenting on walls and now these are private chats!! We're just talking about music and people and art and what we read and the things we're into, that kind of thing. Plus he was warning me off one of the guys at the gig he said might want to befriend me on Facebook - he does seem to notice other men being interested in me a lot more than I do!! And, he's stopped signing off our chats with a smiley face and has been putting a kiss instead - got 3 at the end of today's chat!! (It doesn't take much to make me happy does it??!)

So you see my point, no guy does all of that unless they're really interested, right? My friend asked her male friend his take on it, and his comment was: 'Oh yes, he's got it bad!' If he's not right, I think it will be finally time for me to give up any hope of understanding men in this lifetime.

I'll see him on Thursday so I'll let you know the latest developments. For now, it's all looking very good, for me anyway. The kids too seem quite content with their somewhat spaced out mummy - I may not be very attentive but I'm smiling all the time and I think that's good enough for them.

So how are you coping with the holidays? Are you leaving the kids to sort themselves out or are you rushing around on day trips to keep them entertained? Would love to hear.... 


  1. ooo I am excited on your behalf about Crush 2.0.

    As for the holidays - my mum always quotes the benefits of Frank Furudi (??) and his theory of the benefits of benign neglect. I don't remember my mum/dad having a huge amount of one on one interraction with me - but we had a lot of freedom to play out in that hazy romantic version of the past that we might have. My kids get to watch TV first thing while I work - that can sometimes be from 6.30 till about 9, but then it goes off and stays off (although we have done a bit of Olympics before bed time). I feel bad about how long they watch it for in the mornings, but it's just how it is and they're not watching anything really evil (although sometimes I wonder about CITV).

    I do a few trips out (although nothing too high octane - it's all so expensive) - and bits where i do stuff with them at home, interspersed with boring - 'find something to do on your own/together but without me' bits, although in fairness mine are a little older than yours (8 & 6) and can play together quite nicely. It is good for kids to be bored - and i'm not just saying that to ease my own conscience - if they are constantly being stimulated by another person, or the TV, they don't have time to explore their imaginations and to learn to rely on their own resources.

    You are doing good, ma'am.

  2. Thank you - and the Crush 2.0 thing is definitely kind of exciting!!
    I feel bad about how much the kids watch TV but although DS1 would play happily all day, DS2 gets really tired after a while and that's when he asks for the TV - and if I've got something else I need to be getting on with, it's just not worth having that battle! He won't nap so it's kind of his rest time, which I guess is not necessarily a bad thing.
    I do agree though, boredom is definitely a good thing for kids - and I love the 'benign neglect' approach, definitely what I'm going for at the moment!