Very sad

I am not a follower of celebrities, and I am no big fan of Robin Williams films. But he sounds like a nice guy. He had a pleasant face, and was a supporter of animal charities. Yet his suicide is no more momentous or worthy of attention than all the other suicides that happen each day. But his is on the news, so it makes us think about it. I suppose that’s the one positive thing about suicide happening to a famous person.

When I read the news I imagined him in a room alone, full of despair and hopelessness, to the extent he no longer felt his life was worth living. That’s why I think suicide is so tragic. It is the end to all those feelings and thoughts a human is filled with. That someone can feel so alone, so hopeless, even though to many they seem to have a life others could only dream of.

That anyone thinks depression is something one should just get over, or pull their socks up, or pull themselves together – I think that is a tragedy. There isn’t a solution yet. There are antidepressants, but they don’t work for everyone. There is therapy, but it is expensive. And even therapy doesn’t always work. Believe it or not, some therapists place the responsibility of treatment failure on the patient, making them feel even worse.

I’m not writing because I have had some kind of epiphany. Far from it. I just wish that mental health was given as much attention as physical health. I wish there wasn’t a stigma attached to mental illness. I wish people with mental health conditions didn’t feel they had to bear the burden alone. I wish…



We just had my son’s eighth birthday. Trouble with August birthdays is so many friends are on holiday. Also, since the schools have broken up I don’t see the parents to remind them about the party. The other thing about my son is that, unlike with my daughter, I don’t know the parents of his friends. So I don’t have their contact details. Is it a boy thing? Anyway it’s the same each year. He invites lots of friends to his party before school breaks up, and most never reply to the invitation.

This time we had two of his friends from school. We also had his 6-year-old cousin with whom he gets on like a house on fire. We also had his two pre-school cousins, and of course his sister and tiny tot brother. All in all, the party was a great success. This was a huge relief. We’d had a lot of sullenness and sulky behaviour in the days leading up to it. My husband says he was exactly the same as a lad. The funny thing is his mum doesn’t remember any of it. She has an amazing characteristic that she only remembers the marvellous about her children, and forgets anything that falls short of the grade. In her this is probably a gift, but it isn’t a gift that would suit me. I like to remember it all in inglorious tecnicolour!

Anyway, the day before his birthday my son was threatening to stay in bed all day and miss his party. Fortunately he began to be swept along with the festivities. On the morning he was as busy as anything preparing party bags, blowing up balloons, and sticking party banners up.

I had to be more creative than usual when it came to party games. He’s 8 and some of his friends are 9. Some of the usual suspects seem a little immature for such aged people. But he still wanted pass the parcel, although his pals felt they were a little old for it. Unfortunately the weather had us staying in, so we played games invented by my amazing daughter and it went fine.

And we’ve got it all again soon when my daughter turns 10…

Random thoughts about tigers

OK, a bit random, but here goes…

I am very interested in animal behaviour, ecology, and that kind of thing. I sat with my daughter when she was off school a couple of years ago and we watched a series about tigers called “Tiger – Spy in the Jungle”. It was all about the life of a female tiger while she raised her three cubs. And how was it filmed? Using cameras carried by elephants, who are able (even with riders) to get relatively close to tigers without disturbing them as much as a human on foot would. So we had Tusk Cam, Trunk Cam, and also inanimate cams such as Log Cam. My daughter was highly entertained by all these cams.

According to the programme the female tiger spends two years raising each litter of cubs. It is only at age two that the cubs go off to live independently, and by that time the female is usually pregnant again.

The adult female shares her territory with a resident male. They don’t live together, and infrequently come into contact. However, they allow each other to exist, and remate together.

So how the Hell do we get that tigers are solitary animals, as so often is said? Let me summarise:
1)The adult female tiger spends almost her entire life with her offspring.
2)The adult male and female have at least a loose association, and for all we know they communicate in ways we don’t realise such as by scent or long-range sounds.
3)At most we have unsociable grumpy old man male tigers!

So maybe we ought to rethink the private lives of tigers.

Women Who are Ambivalent about Women Against Women Against Feminism

Wonderful post by The Bloggess on feminism, sharks and bees. Honestly, she says it so well!

The Bloggess

So...yeah.  Right now there’s a lot of talk about a tumblr called WomenAgainstFeminism.  It’s just pictures of some women holding up handwritten signs entitled “I don’t need feminism because...”  Some of the reasons they give for not needing feminism almost seem like a parody (“How the fuck am I suppose to open jars and lift heavy things without my husband?”) and some (“I don’t need to grow out my body hair to prove I’m equal to men”) just make me wonder where in the world they got their definition of feminism.

At first I considered starting my own “I Don’t Need _____ Because” tumblr with people holding equally baffling signs.  Signs like:



I don’t need air because LOTS OF IT…

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End of an era

It’s the end of an era. Last day of the summer term. Picked my son up from his primary school for the last time. Ever!

When he was two he used to toddle in to the playground with me to drop his sister off. She was four, and had just started in Reception. I recall one day in winter there was a sheet of black ice across the playground. I slipped on it and fell on my toddler’s head. There was much crying, but fortunately he was OK, as was I.

My little boy started nursery at that school at three, and went into reception aged four. He will soon be eight, so the association with the school has been almost six years. Such a huge amount of one’s childhood.

In December I took my daughter out of school to home educate as the school didn’t suit her. It is impossible to hammer a beautiful star into a square-shaped hole without battering and breaking the star. I want my little star to be able to grow and thrive and remain a star, unbroken. My son later made the decision that he would also like to be home-educated. So we’ll give it a try.

That’s why it seems the end of an era. It has been a long and lovely association with the school. Many of the staff have done their best to be as helpful and supportive as they could be. I felt emotional today as I knew it was our last day and we will not be returning in September. I had to write a card and buy them a huge tin of Quality Street.

Mysteries of Autism

I have a child with autism. It is a mild form of autism, but even so I found it necessary to remove her from school and home educate her. Academically, she was doing very well at school. However, emotionally she was really struggling. It wasn’t just emotionally either. However, I didn’t realise a lot of the problems at the time. I just knew that she was crying a lot, intolerant of her brother, very distressed. She used to begin worrying about Monday morning on Friday evening!

I have no doubt I did the right thing taking her out of school. She is a much happier person. She is also much more confident and (unexpectedly) far more sociable. However, now that I spend more time with her I am becoming more aware of the issues she has to contend with that are perhaps different to what most people experience. She is telling me things and also I am learning from other experts.

She is sensitive to sound. In a classroom of 30, the children may be split into groups to discuss a subject. Thirty people speaking at a normal volume in a room makes for a general background hubbub of sound. Most people seem able to automatically filter this background noise and focus on the discussion in their group. My child can’t easily filter the relevant sound from the non-relevant. In addition, the general hubbub gives her a headache as she finds it loud. Places with echo, such as sports halls, have the same effect.

She also hates being crowded, so I have to chose activities carefully. I once took her to some stables for an educational session on horses and how to keep them. She told me that although she would have enjoyed learning about grooming the ponies, she was quite distressed at being in the stable with six other kids. I realised on the horse occasion that she is also very sensitive to smell!

She seems to be in constant pain. She always has tummy aches, and frequently headaches. Her limbs often ache too. I have recently learnt more about hyper- and hyposensitivity. She can be hypERsensitive about her skin. A light touch such as a tap on the arm to get her attention can cause her pain. This may also mean that loose-fitting clothes that brush her skin unpredicatably may also cause her pain. What about her bed clothes? Would she be better with a weighted blanket that provides steady pressure? Apparently for hypersensitive people a steady deep pressure can be relaxing.

I went to the Autism Show a few weeks ago and came back with a bag full of goodies. There was a head massager that resembles a whisk. It provides a light pressure around the head that my husband and I found unexpectedly pleasurable and relaxing. She reported it as “weird”. Obviously not one for her. However, the massage frog (vibrating round feet) was more the ticket, and she found it relaxing. I’ve seen her holding it against her tummy. The big squashy spikey latex ball she said was very comforting to hug. That comment made me feel warm and fuzzy.

I am now on the internet looking to order some ear protectors. We’ll see how that helps with the sound. It’s awkward as my sound-sensitive daughter has an extremely loud brother! He literally gives her a headache. If the ear protectors can help with that then they’ll be worth their weight in gold.

So I will keep going, exploring her world and seeking to understand the world as she sees, hears, smells and feels it. She is a wonderful being, full of imagination and special insights. She’s worth every minute.

Toddler blues

What’s on my mind today is my toddler, and how demanding he is. He is two years old, and a very loveable little chap. He wants me to be his best friend in all things. I must submit to being led by the finger to get him a drink, something to eat, sit on the sofa with him, read a book, watch him climb up and down steps repeatedly, play little plastic soldiers with him… The list is endless.

This is all very charming, but sometimes I plan other things. Today I thought we’d have a home day as we’ve been out a lot. I thought I’d have lots of time to complete some “admin”. You know, birthday thank you letters from April, order a replacement borrowed book he tore, etc.

But it’s such a struggle to get any or all these tasks done! After a few minutes he’s at my knee with a complaint that his little men are stuck in his car and I must help him get them out. A quick open the door and shake the car is all it takes, and the men fall out. (The men are tiny plastic wheels from another car, or sometimes tiny blobs of rock-hard playdough, or maybe coins.) It only takes a moment to help him, but it’s constant interruptions to my flow. Then I’m left wondering at the end of the day: What did I do all day? Where’s the day gone?

Now he is asleep, and I have actually managed to put him down on the sofa without him fully waking up. But in a little while I have to take my daughter out and collect my son from school.

I actually love having a toddler. They’re at such a wonderful age, full of learning new things and enthusiasm. Going Nee-Nar as an ambulance passes seems such an amazing achievement. He is learning new words every day, and managing to make himself understood with his own special brand of rugrat speak. I know that all too soon he won’t need me so much. It all passes so quickly.