Sometimes I imagine my family is playing in some sort of absurd, chaotic theatrical production, with no direction, no format and certainly with no script...everything is improvised....Enter hubby (in huff), Exit kids (screaming wildly) etc. It must be some sort of coping mechanism that my brain has suggested in order to cope with everyday life.
So to this end I introduce our principal character players:
Me: Led a bit of a wild and unruly life until I married and had kids. I have been studying Accountancy (yawn) for what seems like a hundred years, but this is my final year. I have one more exam to pass (I hope) then I get my qualification. Because so much of my time is spent looking after Olly, I would need a very understanding employer and one that would let me work my own hours - which is not going to happen. So this type of profession will fit in to our lives because I can be my own boss. (eek)
Hubby: Works abroad - lucky bugger. There is no consistency, he is at home for a few days then jets off to some wonderfully exotic land, before returning home all tanned and relaxed. (I wonder if he does actually work or if he sits on a beach somewhere soaking up the sun, drinking tequila's and dancing with naked native girls whilst I'm running myself ragged looking after his children). Hubby has some obsessive tendencies which are exacerbated when he comes home and is tired....like constantly tapping or whistling ancient tunes from the times of Led Zeppelin - sometimes I just want to put a sock in his mouth. Other times I'll be cooking dinner and he'll tell me how to cook a potato....then he will babble on about the life cycle of a potato, the history of the potato and other what a versatile vegetable it is...for fuck's sake.
Liam(22): My little Prince and son number 1. Liam didn't do as well as he could have done at school but excelled more at college. He is a good boy and has stayed out of trouble and is doing very well at his job. He has some father issues - like most people have, but he is basically a good lad. I have a very different relationship with him than to my other children because there is only a 17 year age gap. It is more brotherly than motherly, we have been out to clubs and gone out with his friends in the past. I took him to the doctors one time and she interrupted us by saying 'could you tell me what the relationship is between you?' Liam scowled and said indignantly 'That is my mum'. I sniggered. I find that funny. Another time we went out with some of his work colleagues and one of them was particularly protective of him (her being mid-forties and probably childless) and me at the time being mid-thirties. Because I was acting like I was out with my mates, having a laugh and a drink and a good time with my son, she kept giving me this disapproving looks, as though I should be sitting there like some prim mum who has just sucked on a lemon. What she didn't know is that If you have been getting disapproving looks since you were 17 you don't give two shits what people think.
There are a few other problems with having a son that old or a mother that young and that is the girlfriends......they expect to see someone older. There own mums are about 50 or so, so I'm a bit of a surprise for them and they don't really know how to speak to you. My opening line is usually 'if you get yourself pregnant I'll have your guts for garters'. Very few have come back with a retort, in fact, very few come back at all after that comment!
One girl, who was a bit of an obsessive cleaning freak, hung around for a couple of years she was OK.......but the latest one is awful. A complete horror..............
The Girlfriend: (I shall call her Rhino). She is actually worth a complete posting on her own because of the torment she has put my family through....Rhino - looks and does exactly what is says on the tin.
Olly: (11) My little Prince No 2. Olly has Autistic Spectrum Condition, Asperger's Syndrome (high-functioning). He was diagnosed approximately two years ago. It took years of trying to get someone to diagnose him, not just to get the diagnosis, but to try and understand what was going on his mind and how he sees the world. A parent knows if there is something not quite right with their child, especially if you have had a child before and the 'brick walls' you come across is nothing short of infuriating. What this diagnosis means is that Olly has social and behavioural difficulties, he doesn't always behave or react as he should do and has difficulty with socialising. It is nothing to be scared of, although you do have to be prepared for the unexpected. They are very truthful and honest. This works in different ways. E.g. If someone irritates you, you may respond by being polite or tolerating the fool, or let the issue go, or you walk away. Well Olly doesn't. He will stand there and say 'that is the most stupidest thing I ever heard', or 'why are you saying that, that is complete rubbish'. This kind of comment can be quite refreshing however when Olly was about 2 years old and I took him swimming. There was this heavily pregnant woman in the pool (she looked like she only had a week to go) and he stood up and pointed at this poor woman and shouted 'that woman is really fat'. Utterly, utterly mortifying. Because Olly is High-functioning (this means that he is above average intelligence for his age) he seems to relate to older people better, because he can have conversations about his favourite subjects: animals, space, blue planet etc. Olly is very academic and I cant keep up with him. His thirst for knowledge is amazing. I have to do research before answering a question to make sure I have it right. (He then gets frustrated because it takes me so long to give him an answer). So we have two sides of the coin, the social and behaviour difficulties which, after attending many courses and going to our local ASC group coffee mornings I can handle, but the intelligence side I just cant do. I don't have the education. Some people wish that their kids were bright, but to be honest If they are cleverer than you, you have your work cut out.
To help Olly with his speech I enrolled him in Drama class, which he has been attending since he was 5 years old. Another thing about Olly is that he is so 'in your face' he is better on stage. He doesn't care what people think so he can make a fool of himself and enjoy himself. He really loves Drama it is a wonderful outlet for him, plus it encourages him to play other characters and so help the Autistic side where they don't understand how other people feel. Because he does not know when he's stomach is full (he would just eat and eat and eat if I let him), I got both the kids swimming, so we try to keep the weight down by pounding up and down the swimming pool three times a week.
Amber(10): My little Princess. It was so nice to have my little girl after two boys, but now I'm not so sure - maybe three boys would have been better. She has a very strong personality, rather like my Mother-in-law. Boss, organise everyone and boss. Every thing used to be pink; pink clothes, pink walls, pink toys, pretty shoes, hairbrushes, clean and tidy room. Better than the boys rooms; stinky socks, dirty underpants strewn all over the floor and the bedrooms smelling like someone had set off a stink bomb. But lately it's started to change. I cannot see the bedroom carpet, clothes strewn all over the place and not pretty pink clothes anymore its almost like Grunge clothing. Hair not brushed or washed for weeks - and the Attitude! What is with the Attitude? It appears that my beautiful princess is in the process of morphing into some dreadful grunge teenager. It rears its defiant head every so often then it goes away and my princess is back, giving me cuddles and helping me and being so wonderful. Until the next time. Mmm, it is worrying. Amber is a bit of prima donna. Because Olly needs attention, Amber seeks attention. This is OK. I can handle this. But she did have a spate of running away from school and no-one could find her. We almost called the police one time, Hubby searched the streets for her, then the school phoned and said they had found her in the toilets. I think we have to watch this space with this one. She does enjoy dance and singing. In fact she sings all the time, everywhere. It is lovely, but it drives Olly up the wall.
Mother: My mother. Divorced from my father about 10 years now and has an 'on-off' boyfriend called Fred, who apparently appears to be frightened of commitment even though they have been together for years. My mother and I also have a very 'on-off' relationship. I find her irritating, non-committal and a non-babysitter/helper or anything to do with my kids kind of person. A very 'Sixties' chick in the way of controversial and unconventional thought processes, not in the stoned hippy, freedom of love way. Mind you a joint or two might have chilled her out bit. She will often call worrying about some tiny worm hill that she has made into a massive mountain. The best thing about Mother is that if you get into an argument with anyone or have a row with someone, have her on your side. She can be quite scary, unpredictable and always wins in an argument. She should have been a lawyer for the prosecution.
Father: My lovely dad. A kind, generous and loving man. You could write a book on his life it has been so interesting - he was an poor immigrant child from the East-End of London who never knew his father. He was and still is very clever, and so managed to turn his life around to become a successful business man. However, his fall from grace has been less dignified. In fact in is a downright disgrace what has happened to him. He lives in a home about a 2 hour drive from Brighton and needs care 24 hours a day. But I ring him regularly and try to see him when I can. The home keep me informed of things that he needs, or his behaviour etc. I keep in touch with the social workers and solicitors and generally overview everything so if anyone has a problem they call me and we sort it out. It can be very upsetting sometimes, and it can be extremely stressful, but if I don't deal with it, no-one else will. I take my kids to visit him but I think they just see a wild-eyed Rasputin type character whose very eccentric and possibly a bit scary-looking, but I don't care about that, he was a good father and so I will try to be a good responsible daughter. Growing up brings maturity and with this brings acceptance in things that are impossible to change, so I am just happy to have my dad.....just as he is.
My Sister Jay: My sister lives in the Netherlands with her Dutch boyfriend 'Idle Van Couch' and her son Storm. She works her 'butt' off to support her family and although Idle is a few years younger than her, he still seems to have the mental capacity of an irresponsible 22 year old idiot. He wants the luxuries of life (T-shirts for 50 quid and trainers that cost 150 quid) but seems to have no inclination or monetary capacity to pay for these expensive items. He recently told her to quit her job, (she flies so it takes her away from the home a few days a week), because he could not cope with her being away so often. He found it a strain looking after their son, even though his mother always appears to be at their house when Jay is away. She called me to ask for advice. I'm afraid I could offer none. Nor could I offer compassion, sympathy or empathy. Nothing at all. Hubby does the same job, and I was left with two little babies (one had ASC, unbeknown to us at the time) and a teenager. I had no help from my mother, in fact, no help from anyone except Liam. Idle has one tiny 3 year old boy who is a dream. I've looked after Storm and took him around the shops, he did not scream, throw tantrums, spit at people, steal sweets, get his fingers caught anywhere, attack other children, squeal as though I was pinching him.......this child is a marvel. He should not be called Storm, he should be called Heaven, because that is how this child behaves. Heavenly. Idle will just have to get on with it like the rest of us.
Lou: Lou is my best friend, she lives in 'The Bush' and thrives on gossip. She still keeps in contact with all our friends from when we lived, worked and more importantly played hard in our more energetic and carefree youthful days. I have been friends with her since school and she like another sister to me. She has two kids, Faith (13) and Santino (10). Lou is going through a particularly nasty separation from Pig-Dog Man, who despite leading a double life for last 18 years is intent on screwing her out of every penny she is entitled to, despite what the law says. At last, Lou has found a wonderful man. An appropriate word for this wonderful man is 'Dandy' because he is one.
So these are the principal Players in my life and I love them very much - warts and all. (except Rhino, she is just plain warts.)