Keep Training Those Dragons

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Originally posted on The World of Neil:

Yesterday was end of term for Matthew and Daniel, and we had a timely treat in store for the boys. How To Train Your Dragon 2 hit the big screen this week. Matthew has been waiting for this to come out as soon as he’d seen the first instalment.

How to Train Your Dragon introduced us to Hiccup, son of Chief of Berk, Stoic. Hiccup isn’t an ordinary Viking, and can’t bring himself to kill dragons. In fact, he goes the other way and befriends a nightfury dragon, Toothless. Together, they change the course of Berk and make peace between the Vikings and the dragons.

The sequel picks up the story 5 years later and introduces a threat to Berk and the freedoms of the dragons. I’ll not give out any spoilers. But any fear of the sequel to a great introduction being a disappointment was soon dispelled. The story…

View original 200 more words

Back to Health Square One.

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I have now completed all the tests that were to discover what was wrong with me – now now, I don’t need that level of cheek!

My heart scan came back to say I had a happy healthy heart.    That’s very reassuring to know!

My colonoscopy came back to say there was nothing wrong with my lower tubes, other than the usual wear and tear that everyone gets as they get older.

My blood tests said my cholesterol was within accepted parameters. My blood sugar level was fine. I think these are the ones that annoy the doctor most as a fat person should have high cholesterol and be border line diabetic so they can preach to them about not following a healthy lifestyle, but I’m happy to report they are all fine.

The one problem seems to be that despite tasking the highest dose of iron tablets they are allowed to prescribe for the past three months, my iron levels are still ridiculously low. The GP has been wonderful and been honest that she is running out of ideas. She tested me for coeliac having read a paper saying they was a tentative link between unexplained anemia and gluten intolerance, but that came back negative. With the tests showing I had nothing bleeding in my internal tubes we were totally back to square one. There I sat having spent the past 30 year being anemic, but the one difference this time was I had a doctor who was trying to find out why and that was quite reassuring. Her conclusion is two-fold. She believes because I don’t eat much meat and rarely red meat, my diet just doesn’t contain enough iron to sustain healthy blood. She also thinks that I may just have a body that doesn’t absorb iron effectively, and therefore the little I am getting just is not being processed effectively. She went through the types of food that would be good to add to my diet, and every single one of them I was rejecting as things I didn’t like! I wasn’t being awkward just food I genuinely do not like. She said she was going to speak to somebody at the hospital about it, as it may mean I could get iron injections which would get into my system better. We will see if anything comes of that!

We then went through the list she had asked me to think about of all my unexplained symptoms to see if they could maybe throw light on what was going on with my blood.

The first one was something I had done some research on as it is something that makes people laugh when I mention it, and I wanted to see if she agreed with my findings. When I take caffeine, I don’t get a buzz, but it makes me really tired to the point of two cups of coffee have me wanting to curl up and go to sleep. I therefore try to take decaffeinated whenever possible – I have become addicted to redbush tea as it tastes so much better than traditional black tea! My research had said that this could have been connected to my anemia, and the doctor agreed. It seems that caffeine is a vasoconstictor (it shrinks your blood vessels) thereby, it increases your heart rate and blood pressure. Because my blood is lacking to start with, making it move faster, just makes me tired!
I suppose that makes sense!!!

My inability to drink still water was one that she said is far more common than people would imagine! Because I have excessive stomach acid it is affected by the water, just like throwing water on a fire, it makes the acid flare up! Now I know!!!

All the other symptoms I was describing, she agreed with me are probable age related. My Mum went through the change mid-40’s so it’s possible I’m starting that. She gave me some tablets to calm my moods, and help with my headaches. We will see if they do anything. When you just feel odd for feeling under the weather all the time, but never really ill, it is good to know you aren’t going mad!!!    I know I am already mad, you don’t need to tell me that, I should have said madder.

For now, I will have to continue taking that iron pills and wait to see if there is anything else that the GP comes up with that might explain why I am so strange! I just like being an anomalie, after all, who wants to be just like everyone else?

Horrors of Sports Day.

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Yesterday was the school sports day. In the past few years for one reason or another something has happened to mean they have been memorable for us. When M was doing his first one, I was in hospital having my gall bladder removed – he still says I didn’t go and see him race! The following year the event was cancelled because of the weather. It was torrential rain for about 2 weeks, and so every date it was rescheduled for it had to be postponed again, until eventually it was scraped. Last year, it went ahead, but the weather turned and it was wrapped up quiet quickly. This year, everyone was joking as to what would happen. The weather had been pretty good. That was until the night before, when it rain SO hard all night. There was a lot of speculation as to if it would happen, until the text came from the school to say they would do it in the afternoon instead of the morning to allow the field to dry out.

D was still off school because of his ear infections – bad Mummy for thinking he was actually putting it on to get out of sports day. M was quietly confident about it being cancelled, and so was quite angry when the message came through to say it would go ahead. When I spoke to him about why he didn’t want to do it, he said that he didn’t like it when everyone laughed at him because he was no good at racing. I tried to pacify him but the memory of my sports days came flooding back.

As the fat kid, I was always the centre of ridicule and bullying. Sports day was a time for that to be taken a step further with not just the kids but the parents having a chance to laugh at me too. When you get clapped for crossing the line way behind anyone else you feel so insignificant to have the sympathy of strangers. These feeling don’t really leave you and when you get praised later in life, you wonder if it’s for real or if it is just a patronising comment. Its horrible to lose all sense of self belief because of the way sport is held up as the measure of achievement. Being great at maths or music or spellings count for nothing on the playground. You are only cool if you are part of the sporty crowd. I know as you grow older you realise being true to yourself is the most important thing but as a child, fitting in and being accepted is what is needed to build self-esteem, and geeks don’t fit that mould.

I was quite happy when competitive physical activities at schools became politically incorrect and kids were no longer made to compete against each other. It meant it did become about having fun rather than being nothing. It also meant those with aptitude could pursue their interests in extra curricular activities where they were with like-minded individuals and not those that had no interest. At the boys school the previous sports days have been great for letting all the kids do their best with nobody being singled out. It has been organised chaos where they work in groups of half a dozen kids and they take turns at whatever activity is in front of them, and when they’ve all had a go they move on to the next one. The kids were on the go constantly with little time to get cold or bored. To see 300 kids changing activities was like watching a well oiled machine. It was amazing, and all the kids came away feeling they had done their best. It was a great day.

This year though the school went for traditional races with the first three across the line getting rewarded in each race. When I saw this, I understood why M had been so upset about the ribbing he had received, I hadn’t realised the change when I had spoken to him. The school was split into three age groups. M was almost in tears as he came across the line of the running race he took part in as he was so far behind the rest of the boys. There was then lots of the kids sitting on the wet grass waiting for their next race while the other groups raced in the same discipline. Three other times M was close to tears as he lost time and again. He almost came third in the bouncy hopper racer but the kids running not bouncy got the rewards – if they have to be competitive they should have at least been made to do it properly rather than teaching them that crossing the line by any means even cheating was better than being last. In his leg of the egg and spoon race he had his egg balanced with the other hand behind his back, and was last, but kept it well-balanced, and yet other kids ran with two hands on the egg and spoon – how is this teaching them fair play?

When I picked M up after school, he has a sticker saying he had given good effort, which he had, but I just felt it was really condescending. Without prompting from me, he said the whole thing was unfair because so many of the kids weren’t doing the races properly. His sense of injustice was a very valid one. If he had to be made to do it, then everyone should have been following the rules.

When I mentioned to a couple of people how much I disapproved of this type of activity, I was told it is an important lesson to learn, to loose. I agree in life that kids have to learn that loosing is all part of it – I actually believe we learn more from not coming first than we do from winning. I do feel though that putting M into a situation that stressed him out so much was wrong. He just doesn’t comprehend how cheats get rewarded. He also doesn’t understand why because he isn’t a fast runner he should be punished by being name called and having kids laugh at him. It’s a bad place to put him in just because sports day is a traditional part of the school year. Someone else said that its only fair on kids that are good at sport that they get a day to shine. I agree they should have their moment, but not at the expense of those that just aren’t into it. Every child should be made to feel important and special in whatever they excel at, so when they have the times tables day and those that are good with their brains are given the opportunity to shine I will stop saying how much I think competitive racing in school is unfair.

M has asked me when he “has to go through that again”, to which I was able to reassure him it was only once a year. I am just glad D was too poorly to go as I know he would have been devastated by it all. I can only imagine I will have two “ill” children this time next year if it is this format again.

Poorly kid!

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I have had D home for the past three days. Like probably a lot of parents, I am never sure if they are actually ill or just wanting time off school. D has had a ridiculous amount of time off this academic year, with his time in hospital and general illness, when his report came out, it had all added up to 6 weeks missed. I suppose he is just lucky that he loves learning, and is a sponge for knowledge and therefore hasn’t got himself behind, and still aces in his reading and maths. I had vowed that this term was going to be different, and unless either boy was on death’s door, I would drag them into class. When D was in nursery I had been caught out a couple of times with him complaining about having a sore tummy which I ignored and then got a phone call an hour later to say he had been sick – bring on the feeling like a Mummy failure feeling! When I was at school, my Mum put us to school no matter what we said was wrong with us. I suppose this is where I learned never to complain about feeling unwell, and why sick people do annoy me to a certain degree!    I don’t want to turn into my Mother of never believing them, but I also don’t want to go soft and they then think its easy to get a day off when they feel like it.

So, back to D. On Tuesday he was complaining about a sore throat. I had a look, and there was no sign of infection. I therefore put it down to the fact that the school is in the middle of Health week – a time where they get to try out lots of different sports and fitness activities. D loves actually participating, but because of his joint problems, and his size, he isn’t always the best at it, but he always gives it his full effort. I do feel though that some people don’t get how hard it is for him, and he has had comments made about his lack of commitment to activities both by his peers and some adults that should know better. D isnt stupid. He knows he doesn’t excel in this area, and the negativity must get to him. Having said that, it rarely stops him giving it his all and having a go. He had admitted that when his teacher had said they would be trying Zumba, the thought of it had petrified him, and as much as we tried to reassure him that it wouldn’t be like the fast stuff his Dad does, he was worried. I did though wonder if something had been said to him about his lack of ability, and that was why he wanted to be off. I gave him some paracetamol – St Calpol, patron saint of coughs colds and sore throats, and put him to bed. Wednesday morning, he was still saying he didn’t feel well. Again his throat looked clear. He took some breakfast, and it did look like he was having a little difficulty swallowing, but he definitely didn’t look so unwell that he wasn’t going to school. He had other ideas. I gave him an ultimatum, and that was to get dressed or go back to bed. To my surprise, by the time M had cleaned his teeth, D was snoring his head off. To go back to bed was unusual, but to go back to sleep said maybe there was something in his complaints. He reappeared midmorning, and looked terrible – I know as a mother I shouldn’t put my kids down, but he looked pale and glassy-eyed. He flopped on the sofa and that’s where he stayed the rest of the day – again another sign he was actually poorly as D just doesn’t do sit still. Unfortunately he doesn’t quite get the idea that when you get a sore throat the best course of action is to rest it, to shut up. Shutting up has to be one of the hardest things for him – it always makes me laugh when his teacher says how quiet he is or the surprise on school chums faces when they meet the chatterbox at home. His voice was getting croakier and croakier, but he just would not stop talking.

Thursday morning I took another look at his throat as he was saying it was worse. There it was, one – yes, just one, big white spot of his left tonsil. He had tonsillitis. Now, that is something I can relate to. I kept him dosed up, and it was funny to see the medicine work, as he became quiet lively about half an hour after taking it, and gradually got slower and floppier as it wore off.

Friday, I thought some fresh air might do him good, and took him to the supermarket with me. He didn’t really have the strength for it, but the positive was that it must have been the first time I have been into the shops with him since he was a baby and he wasn’t I wanting constantly!

Today, he does look much brighter, and has gone to his dancing. I’m not sure if it’s the best thing for him, but at least there if he’s not feeling up to it, he can take it easy.

I do wonder if part of his illness was psychosomatic. I am not saying he hasn’t been unwell, as the infection in his throat said he was, but as a worrier I think sometimes it manifests itself in a physical form. D has always carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. I have often said he was born middle-aged, but now I am middle aged, I think he was born a grumpy old man! He has spent the last month or so worrying himself about the transition into P3. We have had many sleepless nights with him having nightmares as he couldn’t bare the thought of leaving his beloved teacher. When he found out he was going to be having her again next year, the worry was gone. He had a void in his worry core. What to fill it with? I know, I’ll be poorly for a bit until I fill it with something else. Yesterday, he found out a boy he has had problems with in the past would be in his class, and instantly his “what if” button goes into full use. He has a new worry so its time to start feeling better. I am only sumizing this to be the case, but it does seem possible.

For now though, we will keep supporting him, either through reassurance, or medicine if needed. I cant see D loosing his insecurities anytime soon but he has a very good support network of friends and a teacher he adores. What more does he need?

New Teachers Alert!

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Yesterday was one of the most important days of the school year in any childs life. It was the day of great unsettling. The day they found out who their teacher would be for the coming year.

This is the first year we hadn’t been told who M would be getting at our meeting with the head, prior to the kids being given the letters to come home, and therefore it was probably more stressful than usual for me!

To be honest, it wasn’t until stood in the playground at home time yesterday that we were even aware that it was the day! The first child that came out of the door, ran up to her mother and shouted “I have Mrs Whoever next year”. D’s best friends Mum and I just looked at each other and almost in unison said “Please God don’t let them have split our up!”. The bond between D and his best friend is a love and respect that only two close friends have. They can play together for hours, and still find more stuff to talk about. I am dreading them getting mobile phones as, although we only live 200 yards apart, they will be texting each other constantly! Having said that, they adore each other, but don’t live in each others pockets. They no longer sit together in class, but for D, he needs to know the familiar is close at hand, and his constant is this child. When they came out, they were both beaming. They were staying together and better still they were keeping the same teacher! I couldn’t have been happier for them. D totally worships his teacher – as every child should at this age, and I think she gets him. She has talked about never seeing the other side of him, but has seen signs that he is getting stressed and has been able to distract him to bring him back down before it kicks of – while I often say, I would love the school to see his alternate personality, I think the fallout would totally crush him.   She has totally engaged with him as she is also a proud member of the society of Geeks, with her love of Star Wars and Doctor Who. A teacher that can use the things the kids love to make them passionate about learning should be on the pedestal the kids put her. I am so happy for them to be keeping her. As a parent, I am also confident she will push him to keep him engaged – previously he has complained of being bored because he wasn’t being mentally challenged, and it has been addressed, rather than us being accused of being pushy parents which has happened with other teachers!   I am confident we have now seen the end of his nightmares and sleepless nights while he frets about moving on.   Well, we’ve postponed it for another year anyway.

M then appeared with his piece of paper. I asked him who he had, and he gave me a name I didn’t know. I immediately went into panic mode as there had been talk of a probationer, and I wasn’t sure how he would cope with someone who may not have the experience to deal with his complex needs. I was premature though in this thought as he says she is the teacher in the adjacent classroom to where he is now. I asked if having her was a good thing, to which he replied, “Yeah, she’s nice!” Now, that really is a ringing endorsement from him. He didn’t know who else was going to be in his class, but he did know 2 kids that had caused him a little agro weren’t. Another relieve for us! We then found out that H, the girl we walk to school with was going into his class. I am really pleased, as I know she will look out for him. She is a good friend to both the boys, even if they don’t really get it. When D was being bullied in P1, she got a group of her  girl friends to give him high fives every time they saw him – it might not have seemed much, but for him, it boasted his self-esteem, as he knew these girls were looking out for him – what bully could stand up to a large group of girls? Also a girl that he has known literally all of his life – she is 1 day older than him, will stay in his class. She has been a rock to him this year, and he probably has relied on her too much as someone to fill in the gaps when he hasn’t understood an instruction! I know the present teacher has a lot of input into the class composition for next year and it is good to see his in class support network is still there – I just hope the parents of these kids don’t feel their kids are being used!!!!! This morning I spoke with his present teacher and she said he will spend time with his new teacher before the end of term, so they get to know each other. I think this is really important for M to feel she is someone to trust and not just accept. She will have her woke cut out to be allowed into his inner circle but if she is half the teacher his present one is, she will do it and then some.    It will be sad to say goodbye to his present teacher as she has really turned him around, from a child that was being failed by the system to a boy who is engaged and wanting to learn – sometimes!

I had two very happy boys with the prospect of moving to the next stages of their educational life. A happy child makes for a happy Mummy. Not all the kids have been so fortunate. One of D’s  inner circle is being moved to the other P2 class – one of only 2 boys not staying with the present teacher. He is heart-broken, and was sobbing his heart out as he came out yesterday and was all of the way home. It must be devastating for him. D was totally confused, knowing how happy he was, but seeing his friend in this state. He kept putting his arm around him, and wanting to do or say something but not knowing what to do. This boys pain has taken the edge of D’s happiness.     Telling them they will still play together and walk to school together was just not helping a child who had his legs taken from under him.

The end of the year is fast approaching, and I can only hope that jumping this first hurdle so successfully moves us a little easier into the new academic year.    I am staying hopeful for now!

Bonding through the World Cup.

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I doubt anyone has failed to notice the Fifa world Cup is now in full swing. It seems like it has been going on for ages already, with the weeks of build up. This household is a split household because of it. That isn’t because we support different teams – after all Scotland didn’t qualify this time around, and while many say England will be home before the postcards, at least they went to send them!, no, we are split into people that want to support and those that don’t.

When I met Hubby, I knew I was way down the pecking order, behind, mostly the Mighty Red Machine, but to be honest, any football that happens to be there. I knew this, and accepted it – doesn’t mean I have to like it, but it does mean I have to accept it! I therefore understand that when the World Cup comes around, the telly is on footie at every hour, and anyone or anything that tries to disturb him during this time will be severely reprimanded. With the competition taking place in Brazil, it does mean the games are of an evening, and into the early hours so daytimes are disrupted. I think at the last tournament, the boys were too young to really understand how it consumes their father, but this year is different.

D is into the football. I think initially he wanted to follow it to get some quality time with his Dad, but as time went on he actually began to understand it, and now happily spends his Saturday afternoons at Pittodrie. It is their thing, and it has bought them really close. It is lovely to see.

M on the other hand, doesn’t get football, and wants nothing to do with it. He knows he has to be and Aberdeen and Liverpool supporter, but that is about as far as his knowledge of the games goes. If he’s not interested, there is no point forcing him, just because most boys his ages are into it. He isn’t most boys, he is an individual and as such its great he doesn’t feel he has to pretend to like something just for the sake of it.    At a recent meeting at the school, it was asked if M was into the football cards a lot of the boys collect as it may be something to help him interact with his peers on a social level.   We said he wasn’t, and his teacher was happy to talk down the suggestion, knowing it wouldn’t be for him.

Over the weekend, D was happy to sit and watch the early games with his Dad. M was asked if he wanted to sit with them, even if it was to play on his tablet while he did. He declined, and asked if he could come upstairs with me and we could watch a movie. I was happy with that plan, especially if it meant I didn’t have to watch the games!

When it is just me and M, he is like a different boy. It is as if he looses inhibition, and isn’t trying to be what other people want him to be. He will have laughs and jokes – he has a wicked sense of humour that I wish he would let more people see. He even does snuggles and kisses. These are things that he wouldn’t dream of doing when there is anyone else about, even his Dad. I love to see this side of my baby, as it is reassuring to see that the barriers he erects around himself to stave off other people, and the negativity he encounters because he doesn’t always conform,  hasn’t jaded the person inside. He is still capable of being loving and caring. I am sure having this time is good for him as it is the ultimate down time when he isn’t trying to fit in, he is just being honest with himself. This little boy is adorable, and I wish more people could see him like this, as it might make them realise how difficult getting through each day is for him. Trying to conform to rules that your brain can not always process must be the hardest thing in the world, so to just let go, and play silly beggars, and laugh like it is the only thing you are capable of, is nothing short of a minor miracle. I hope the world around him doesn’t start to eat away at this beautiful core he has, as to lose that would be a lose to all the people he does let see just a glimpse of his inner workings.

I have the football to thank for allowing me and M to reconnect on this level. It is lovely to have moments like we have been having.

In the mean time, how many more days  have I got to be putting stickers in this Panini album?