Moving House

I’ve finally found myself a place to live away from my parent’s home. It isn’t even that I’m working away for a couple of months again, this is a legitimate, one-bedroom, top floor, on road parking, twenty minute walk from work flat. I’m due to move in two days time so this weekend has been spent buying things.

I don’t particularly like shopping and shopping when it’s busy is really difficult for me. I carry a spiked ball to help ground myself when I expect a long shop. Hitting Ikea at the start of a month probably isn’t the best idea, especially now that people feel like they have more money after Christmas. Ikea was heaving at points, understandably.

Since I’m moving after work, I’ve only got the things that I don’t need to measure up for. I know the bedroom will fit a double bed and small chest of drawers. I know that I have space for bins in the toilet and kitchen. I know that I have space for a clock somewhere and a small table in the living room. I know this, that and the other and I’ve got the basics which will last me till next weekend, when I can try to organise getting internet, some living room furniture and whatever else I missed.

Trying to decide what I’ll take with me is kind of tricky. Looking at my stuff, all I can think is “meh, who cares”. I think I’ll feel a little different when I arrive, of course. The good thing about moving from my parents’ house is that I can take my time with the move. I can take as many trips back and forth as I’d like. But, hopefully, next weekend I’ll be nearly properly moved into my own home.


London Super Comic Con

I’d never been to a comic convention and I’d always half thought I’d like to go. I was sorely disappointed.

I think it’s because the focus was on super hero comics. I don’t really enjoy that kind of thing. I like thrillers and horrors and mysteries. Sure there’s aspects of those in super hero comics and sure I like the odd super hero movie but I just don’t get them.

I went to a couple of panels, a sequencing panel, which drifted more towards getting yourself published towards the end, and a censorship panel, which seemed to be a group therapy session for writers and artists who’d had works censored. For my partners sake rather than my own we went to a panel about cosplay. My partner, I think, had been desperate to cosplay for the event and appeared to be a little upset that I’d so adamantly repeated “no”.

Honestly, I was more concerned about the cosplayers being cold than how much I got out of the experience.

I think my life revolving around young people with autism has slightly caused me to become disinterested in “geek culture”. I used to love anime and comics and manga and the idea of dressing and… and… and… but now, I like comics and games in so much as I need to know a little to get a lot out of them. It’s a good conversation starter for young people and the most important part of the convention for me was the conversation point with my students. Did I care that D. Piddy was there? No. Did I care that I could talk to my students that I’d seen someone dressed up as one of their favourite character? Yes.

I probably won’t bother going to another convention but I wouldn’t have known that without going. Thank you London Super Comic Con for proving that comic conventions are exactly what I expected.

Who gets recognition?

This is something which often gets me frustrated. A few months ago, we were asked to vote for the person we thought was most deserving of Employee of the Year.

Now obviously, there’s going to be lots of different votes for very different people. The man who won was more than deserving; he’s in our training team and, no matter how many people he meets, he always remembers a little detail about you which makes you feel special.

The school’s nominee, however, was not someone I thought deserved it.¬†Obviously, the person I voted for is the person I wanted to win. But I had a very good argument for her winning. For the sake of ease, I’ll refer to her as D.

Now D is caring, kind and compassionate in a way that I’ve never come across before. She goes the extra mile when no one else expects it. If she sees something when she’s out shopping that she thinks could be useful at school, she’ll buy it without a second thought. And, sure, she claims that money back usually, but how many other staff members do that? She listens to any rant any person has about anything, clearly worried and concerned about what ever has frustrated you. Working with D is like a sigh of relief. You know D has your back no matter whether she thinks you’re pushing too hard or not. She’ll help keep an eye on time, letting you know when break time sneaks up on you, or when the sand timer runs out and you’re still frantically getting the next step ready. She organises, she cleans, she fucking cares and it’s not often you come across something like that.

When the promotion opportunities came to light, I got lucky. I thought I was the only one who applied to my current position. It turns out that I’m wrong. D had also applied to this role and had been unsuccessful. But never once have I felt like she resented me for it. In fact, I think she was proud, pleased even that I got the role.

I have read her work before. She’s not academic and that, so far as I can see, is why I got TLP over D. She was much more deserving than me. She had the experience, the knowledge, the enthusiasm but not the skill. And that’s where I beat her. I’m good at making it sound like I know exactly what I’m talking about even when I don’t. I can give a whole two hour lesson on the¬†importance of a balanced diet when that very morning I’d breakfasted on a sharing bag of Haribo. It feels like an injustice that I got a job which D could have done just as well as me. I get all this recognition for stepping up and getting the tick boxing paper work done as well as engaging lesson plans while D gets nothing. I’m getting recognition doing my job and D… she seems to get nothing for going above and beyond.

What actually made me angry to start with is that it was my boss who got nominated instead of D, beating her by only one vote. My boss is okay at her job, good at paperwork but not the everyday tasks. She is someone who got nominated to literally do her job while someone who deserved the nomination got little more than the knowledge that some people voted for her.

This anger has convinced me of something. I can’t let that happen again. I won’t take a laid back approach when it comes to vote. I’ll actively encourage people to vote this year. On a more personal note, I have to push myself to be better than my job description. I can’t allow myself to do the bare minimum. Does D know she’s had such an impact on me? Honestly, I think she’s too modest to ever even consider it.

Mundane Life?

I’ve not been particularly good at writing on this blog. My previous blog felt more exciting. I was writing about what I’d do in the future. Every week, something meaningful happened, making me want to scribble a few hopeful lines before moving on to another meaningful experience.

Becoming a TLP is a path I wouldn’t have considered even about seven months ago, but here I am, heading in the direction that I’d like to. The problem for me is that life has become samey. I can tell you where I’ll be at any given time, I can tell you what I’ll be doing at most periods of time. There’s the general unpredictable nature of my work but that also seems samey. The same kid is likely to kick off, the same kid is likely to pee on something, the same kid is going to refuse all day and so on and so on.

I know I shouldn’t complain about it. I have an okay job with a lot of potential for growth, I have a reasonable salary and I’m gaining the skills to become a qualified teacher. I have, so far, done better than a lot of my classmates from school, college and university, so why do I keep having this sense of dissatisfaction?

I’m good at what I do. I get told often enough that I have some kind of intuition which most people have to learn over years and years of working with SEN. Just the other day, a student who notoriously hates everything and everyone told me that I was his second favourite teacher. I got a new student laughing with me which he’d only done when he peed on something he shouldn’t. My students are ploughing through all the work I set them, regardless of the difficulty of it.

These are all good things. I’m proud of my achievements but at this moment in time, I don’t think any of it is noteworthy.

Your Child is My Child

This is a tough one and it’s something I’d never considered before. One of the parent’s I work with said it casually, a comment thrown into what had only been intended as a chat. We were talking about how frustrated she felt when other people acted as though they knew her daughter better than herself. This child is completely cared for by her mum, a small baby trapped in a pre-teen body, so in this case, mum probably does know best. She was saying that, in a selfish way, she was pleased when her daughter displayed challenging behaviour with other people because it reassured her. That’s when she said it. “It’s like she isn’t just my child. I want to shout ‘she’s mine’ but so many people help care for her, I feel like I have to share her.” I didn’t know what to say.

I’m probably guilty of one of those who think they know best. My skill set is enormously different to hers. For a start, I have a degree in English with History while she has a PHD in the sciences. I use makaton and PECS systems on a daily basis. I am specifically trained to handle aggressive behaviour. I have to keep up to date with Doctor Who, various animes and mangas, nursery rhymes, Disney, kid’s television shows and god only knows what else. My entire life revolves around autistic children, so on paper, yes, I do know more than my unsettled parent.

The major difference is that I see her daughter for just a handful of hours each week. Maybe I’ll spend twenty four hours with her within an entire month. Yes, she might do things differently with me to her mum, but her mum is the one who is there all the time.

What I took away from this is that while I am a vital part of each child’s upbringing, I need to be more aware of every other part of their life. I’m a big believer in a village upbringing a child but it isn’t the entire village’s responsibility and it isn’t my responsibility to take the parents’ role. Yes, each of those children are mine, but they aren’t all mine. I’m like an aunt to nearly a hundred kids, playing carer, teacher, mentor, counsellor and friend depending on what they need. I can never know them as well as well as I think I do and that is incredibly important for me to remember.

Mini Icelandic Adventure

I figured that since I had a spare grand or so and a wee bit of free time, that the days before Christmas should be spent in an expensive foreign country rather than preparing anything for Christmas day. I chose Iceland.

There isn’t a time difference between the UK and Iceland and, luckily for me, it’s only a two hour flight. I don’t handle journeys very well so I probably didn’t appreciate the trip as much as I’d have liked. The anti-sickness tablets I took weren’t ideal since they made me so drowsy but I’d rather be tired than throwing up!

We stayed in Reykjavik in a surprisingly fancy hotel near the centre. The centre was excitingly Christmasy. The days didn’t start till 10am due to the dark mornings and, the first time we ventured out into the city, everything was coated in a light dusting of snow and small lights glimmered in every tree. It was a strangely magical place, with the pre-dawn silence, the snow and the yellowish Christmas lights.

We visited a historic church, saw their pony’s unique gaits, marvelled at the geysers and waterfall, and stared at the mountain ranges. There was too much snow to see the Northern Lights and the whales didn’t want to play but it was still one of the most amazing, breathtaking experiences of my life.


Untimely Deaths

So I’ve been silent for quite a while now and I guess there’s no real reason for it. Either way I actually have an excuse for last weekend.

On 30th November, I got a phone call from my mum around mid-morning. Mum doesn’t call me for any reason usually. When my dad broke his wrist and my nan went into hospital, I got a short text along the lines of “at hospital, X ok”. So the fact she called me meant something big was going down.

It turned out that it was my horse. My beautiful, but pretty old and smelly, horse had got cast during the night and now my mum suspected that he had colic (which is basically the same as in babies). I managed to get off work around midday and rushed over to see him. It was a stressful and long afternoon and evening, ultimately ending with us having to reluctantly take him to the veterinary hospital and leave him there over night.

I can’t vouch for the rest of my family but I didn’t really sleep that night. When we got a phone call at about 4:30 in the morning, I genuinely don’t think I’ve ever got out bed faster.

That call was Lenny’s end in a way. He hadn’t improved during the night as had been hoped. He’d steadily become more distressed throughout the night and, since we’d already agreed that it wasn’t fair on any of us to have him go through an operation, a final decision had to be made. We didn’t have to say anything. With tear filled eyes we barely had to nod at one another.

We live too far away for us to get there in time and, in a selfish way, I regret not staying by his side all night.