Epilepsy Awareness

Parenting A Child With Epilepsy

Parenting A Child With Epilepsy

Parenting is a difficult job – you’re never going to get it perfect. I have become accustom to that feeling. I have two children: a boy who’s 6 and a girl who’s 4. My son was diagnosed with epilepsy at 3 months old. Believe it or not that wasn’t the worst news we had got in the first few months of his life. If anything, we were expecting it! My son had a stroke at birth which caused his epilepsy and was incredibly poorly for the first few months and continues to have periods of time where he is unwell. He has right sided hemiplegia, which means he has a weakness down the right side of his body. He is an incredibly resilient child. I couldn’t be prouder, and although I wouldn’t change him for the world, because of his medical issues we do have to change the way we live our lives. A lot of the time he makes our lives richer and in other ways more of a challenge. I suppose that can be said about any child – we are constantly told that every child is different as parents when trying to raise our children. I wanted to give an honest account of what it is like to parent a child with disabilities. Particularly, on with epilepsy. This blog post is about our live, and I have also created a page for information regarding epilepsy that I have come across over the years.

So, I will start from the beginning. J was born unexpectedly double breach and gave us a particular scare when being born. To cut a long story short, there was a sign of relief when he came, seemingly okay, in to the world. Unbeknownst to us, he had had a stroke, and three days after birth we rushed him into hospital where after a couple of days we were told about the damage the stroke had caused to J brain. We were told by doctors that he would probably not be able to walk or talk as his stroke had affected the occipital parietal region of his brain (the back, left area). We were shown a diagram about where this was and given a rather dreary view of what his future could look like. It didn’t completely sink in straight away. I am glad it didn’t really as this is definitely not the case today. Although J has had trouble walking, he can, albeit he does use a wheelchair and does need constant assistance to be able to walk without falling over. He can also talk when he chooses; he can also sign to make himself known. He is our little miracle. I have never seen a more determined kid when he wants to do something. He will try and try before he asks for help.


The reason he is like he is now is down to few different people and organisations. We haven’t done it on our own, we had plenty of help along the road – we were very lucky. Jackson developed torticollis when he was a baby. We were referred very quickly to physical therapy to help him straightened up. We were given the opportunity to have multiple appointment a week and although this was a bit awkward with work we managed to do them. We had these appointment for a few years, covering both his torticollis and the weakness in his arms and legs. They gave us a routine of exercises through play that we did everyday intensely. It sounds rather dramatic and overwhelming when I describe it sometimes, but it gave me the excuse to play with my son for hours everyday whilst knowing that it was doing him a world of good. He loved the sessions most days, although he never really likes new toys and exercises at first. J takes issue with new things and always initially rebels or cowers away. It’s heartbreaking sometimes but totally worth pushing through it. He still continues to have physical and occupational therapy at his school which is great. We don’t have to go to so many appointments outside of school which means he still gets his education.


One of the major sources of help was a referral to Bobath. I can’t wax lyrical enough about them. I believe that they were a defining point in my son’s ability to walk. When we went there at 18 months old. He could not support himself, and although a lot of progress was made, he still had a lot of difficulty in using his right sided limbs. Bobath is a referral only charity run therapy centre in Whitchurch, Cardiff, which focuses on child with cerebral palsy. J has not been diagnosed with cerebral palsy but has many of the traits that comes with that diagnosis. To get the opportunity our physical therapy team and doctors had to make an application which went to a panel to decide. We were bowled over when they told us we had been accepted to a course. The course involved an initial meeting to discuss J targets for his therapy and an informal conversation about family support and routine with the family engagement officer.

Bobath Children’s Therapy Centre Wales

Bobath Children’s Therapy Centre Wales provides physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy to children all over Wales who have cerebral palsy. Bobath therapists are state-registered and work together as a team to combine these disciplines to give each child the skills to explore their world, communicate their needs, maximise their potential and so improve their quality of life.

At Bobath Children’s Therapy Centre Wales we focus on the ability and not the disability.

Our mission is ‘to improve the quality of life of children in Wales who have cerebral palsy’.

The amount of care and expertise we were shown was outstanding. It is just a shame that they can only help so many families. Wales is very lucky to have one of these centres. After the initial meeting followed 10 intensive hour long therapy sessions over a period of 20 days. The hour long trip each day was a cheap cost for what we received. Although our local therapy team were good – these are the formula one team of physical therapy. By the end of the 10 sessions J stood up and supported his weight for a few seconds and was getting so much better at using his right side. Like the local regime, we were given a comprehensive list of exercises with photos and instructions of how to focus the exercises using play. It was quite a few months after until Jackson walked a few steps, but we still believe to this day that because of those sessions and the continued regime we followed was the reason that J started to walk and get around.

When I say we were incredibly lucky to the one course, you can imagine how we felt when we received another set of 10 sessions about 16 months later. The focus this time was on using his hand and also his speech. Jackson did not speak words at the time and only made a few vowel sounds. We were given very little help from our local speech therapist who had pretty much told us to wait and that if he didn’t want to try to speak there wasn’t much they could do. The specialist at Bobath did not believe that. She identified one of the reasons why J was finding it hard. We were told that because of his poor muscle tone in his core it was affecting the muscles in his throat and tongue so he didn’t have the strength to get the words or sounds he wanted. She also introduced to sign language to assist his communication. Until then he had just used his eyes and some sounds. It did not happen overnight, but what we learned there laid the foundations of the communication we have with him today. It has made his life, and ours, so much fuller and rich with experience. It used to be so frustrating for us all, mostly J, that we couldn’t communicate the way we wanted to. He still has his moments of mutism but generally he knows how to communicate through a mixture of words, signs and expressions. He still chooses with his eyes quite a bit but he is a million miles away from where the original doctor said we might be. It is not a criticism of the doctor as he was only trying to be realistic. We know now that keeping open minded and hopeful has been a blessing to our family. We live by that mantra as we continue our lives together. Our son’s future is not confined to what we believe he can achieve, but by the endless possibilities he can strive to.

As J got closer to school age we were also given access to portage: a play based therapy to help J get ready for nursery and school. A lovely lady by the name of Maria came to our house once a week. She initially assessed his abilities and we were again given targets to try to reach each week. They would be very simple for most children of J age, but he found them challenging. Whether it be to use a different toy with his weak hand, or to try to draw a circle, they were simple tasks but took some effort by J to master them. We would work together every day in order to try and show off his achievements by the next session. He really loved these sessions and Maria had a lovely way with him which always succeeded in making him smile. It may not seem like much but these types of therapy did wonders for his confidence and self esteem – things really important for children as they grow up. It was sad to end these sessions but one positive aspect of our contact with Maria was that she got us in touch with Y bont. A special needs focused nursery.


Y bont is local nursery, which focuses on helping families with children who have special needs. It is only a small charity run nursery but it has been a wonderful place for J to attend. Initially he only went for a day a week, and then everyday as I went back to full time work in a school. He left there this year after 3 years of attending. Needless to say, he absolutely loved every minute of his days there. I know they loved him to. They were very upset when he finally left. I have to say, so was I. A few tears were shed on his last day. He just smiled and waved. He was ready to be the big boy and go to big boy school. They offer such a unique place for children like J. It was a home from home. They are a small charity which means they have to raise a lot of money to ensure they keeping providing the service they offer. I was lucky enough to help by doing an interview for Children In Need a couple of years ago. It was a great experience. I can’t find an official video on the Children In Need website, but we recorded this video on a phone. Apologies for the quality:

They really are a great team, one that I could not leave out when writing this blog. If you want to know more you can visit their site here:


Or Facebook page:


You don’t have to, but if you would like to help them out you can donate to them on this link.


J now goes to a special needs school. One that is absolutely perfect for him. He calls it his play school. He gets on the bus everyday with other children like him, all of them with a smile on their face and excited to go to school. It is a wonderful thing to see your child so excited for a day at school. My memories of going to school were far more complex. Even at J’s age.

So, I have given you a little history about J’s short life so far. A lot more has happened than this but I would need to write a book to go through it all. The one thing I haven’t mentioned yet in much detail is epilepsy. It took a few visits and conversations for J to get diagnosed with epilepsy. We noticed J had a continuous twitch in his right arm which would last for periods of 10-20 mins to sometimes over an hour. This would happen throughout the day. Although we were told to watch out for epileptic fits, we didn’t really think this was the sign. We expected the full on seizures where the whole body violently jerks – we did not know that these twitches were fits in themselves. To be honest, the doctors we saw in hospital didn’t seem to think he was having fits either. However, after a few visits and conversations we got to have a specialist come to see J, who at first sight, said yes he is having seizures! It was a very casual expression for him, but for us it was a pivotal moment in the rest of our sons and our lives.

We still have a long way to go, and we have a lot happening over the next twelve months. J has been referred to Great Ormond Street hospital for surgical assessment. He may have brain surgery or he may . It is not something we are looking forward to, but we have some amazing support around us, plus he is a little superstar and takes everything in his stride. I suppose the best thing to say is wait and see. Parenting a child with epilepsy has its worries and we all go through our trials and tribulations about what’s best for our children, however we feel completely blessed to be able to live the life that we do. It is rich and fulfilling, with so many amazing memories made already. It has taught us not to take for granted the milestones that others might. The first step our son took wasn’t just a milestone – it was a miracle that we were told wouldn’t happen. The first time he used a cup to drink bowled us away. These events are seared deep into our hearts and minds. We are constantly reminded of how resilient children are and how determined they can be to overcome adversity. Whenever I am going through hardship or challenges of any sort I remind myself of this and it helps me to push through and try to overcome them.

Daddies Space

The Digital Daddy Club

The Digital Daddy Clubimage

The Digital Daddy Club has opened and is available for all daddies who are looking to up skill and either change to the direction of their career, change jobs to fix that work life balance, get back into work, or you’re just looking for that change. Go to our facebook page and join the group.

I have worked for Daddyjobs.co.uk since the start of September. I am a stay at home dad of two children, and that is a demanding job in itself, but that isn’t the whole of my life. It is just one aspect that enriches the life that I live. I truly believe that the role of ‘Dad’ has changed since my father and grandfather and so on.In fact according to an article in the Guardian there are indications that there are as many as 10 times more stay-at-home dads in the UK than there were a decade ago. This figure is not completely fact – it is an estimation from research completed by the Office for National Statistics. Accurate or not, it still shows that we are a growing breed.

The long established view of the stay-at-home mum is shifting to a more shared approach which has seen more dads reduce the hours of their work in order to share or take some of the responsibility of looking after our children. Hand on heart, I am proud to be part of this growing community of fathers. It is not all sweetness and roses, sometimes as we all know, being a parent can be a difficult job, and whether you’re a stay-at-home dad or mum, isolation, frustration and loneliness can be difficult to manage. That’s even forgetting the other mum/dad jobs we have looking after the house. It’s like running a mini multinational sometimes…I do have a penchant for the melodramatic occasionally.


Some of the facts..


It is not all gloom and doom though – us dads are supposedly a happy bunch. 75% of us feel lucky to able to look after the children. The study behind the Guardian article also revealed a number of emotive responses from role-reversing parents:

Of women who are the main breadwinner:

  • Four in 10 (37%) feel guilty going out to work and leaving their children
  • One in seven (15%) say they occasionally resent their partner because they have to go out to work
  • Although fewer than one in 10 (9%) say they’d actually want to swap places with their partner to be the stay-at-home parent.

Whereas men who are the stay-at-home parents say:

  • Three quarters (75%) feel lucky to be spending time with their children
  • Around a third (29%) find looking after children more rewarding than going out to work
  • Although one in 10 (10%) say looking after children makes them feel “less of a man”
  • And one in five (17%) wish they earned more so they could go out to work while their partner cared for the children.

Interestingly, I agree! I am lucky to be a stay at home dad. However, figures can also be misleading and not give the real picture. That’s another reason why we have started this. Whether you’re male or female; mum or dad, you own your own story and life – it is unique to you and as individual as your fingerprint. One of the things I have learnt since becoming a dad, a blogger, a work from homer….a grown up! Is that it is important to share knowledge and experience with people in similar situations; to find different ways of tackling situations and ideas. A lot of mums (not all) are good at this, it is one of the crucial skills that I think women are better at than men – communication. It enables them to communicate their emotions, troubles and share knowledge easily. I see it at the school gate: groups of mums gossiping away everything that is going on in their lives. It is not all gossiping though. They are sharing their stories and ideas about their kids, reaffirming their own thoughts and fears about what they’re doing. It may seem trivial, but it really is ‘good to talk’. It’s not all men though.

As I said, we are a growing breed. Like any new adventurers striding into the unknown, we take a few stumbles and go in a couple of wildly fun ‘scenic routes’. We are quick learners and problem solvers. We can be pragmatic and goal driven. These are all skills that we can use in the stay-at-home dad role. I’ve seen so many great dad blogs out there that give great advice and give honest and open stories about being the main caregiver, and what the highs and lows of that life can be. Being a stay-at-home dad does not have to mean you’re less of a man. It means we need to change the perception of what being a man means.

When the job don’t fit…

One of the reasons I am a stay at home dad is because the job I was in no longer fitted around the term time hours. It is hard finding a job as a dad that has to look after the kids. When mums have said that looking after the kids was a full time job. They weren’t kidding. I think we knew that already to be honest. Most dads aren’t knuckle dragging troglodytes, in fact most of us knew the lengths to which our mothers went to look after us. It is why we are perfectly capable of doing this job, and why more and more of us are doing it. Like many mums before us, being the stay-at-home dad doesn’t confine us to a life of nappies, cleaning and food. It is important that we look after our own health and mental well being. I went through a period of adjustment the first time I did the stay-at-home dad job with my son and daughter. It took me nine months…and then I went back to work. Doing the stay-at-home job again is much better this time. I know more about what to expect and what to avoid. I now keep myself busy by blogging and working from home; keeping healthy and exercising, and making sure I keep the social life going. It is a juggling act which can be a bit heavy at times, but it is not unmanageable – it just takes a little effort …but for a big pay off.


The Digital Daddy Club is a community connected via the Daddyjobs.co.uk website that we want dads to join because we know it important to connect and share experiences.

We want to make that work/life balance right for parents. Dads and mums deserve to be able to work together and have opportunities that fit around their life, and not have to fit their life around their work.

We want to give you the space to share experiences and advice, not just around jobs, but around every aspect of your lives. As much as you want to. Our ambition is to make it easier for parents to live a full life without having to sacrifice the important parts.

We will give opportunities for flexible/part time/ work from home jobs; training options and CV consultation, but most importantly the feeling of being able to control your life. Yes, queue inspirational music to that last sentence, but we really mean it.

The whole reason we started our sites and digital parent clubs is to try to change the landscape for parents who find it difficult to keep up with demands of modern day life. It shouldn’t be a case of if you can beat them join them. It should be if you can’t beat them, change their viewpoint, change the arena, change their minds.

Join the club…

Please visit the facebook page, twitter or our daddyjobs community. We’d love to hear from you, read your blogs and hear your stories.

If you’re a mum and you’re reading this, we haven’t forgotten about the mums. You can connect with our mums on our facebook page, twitter and www.mummyjobs.co.uk

Stay At Home Dads. Why is it such a big deal? — DADiator

Social attitudes change with each generation. Women voting? Sure, why not. Gay marriage? Heck yes. Equal pay for men and women? Um, er…maybe we’re not quite there yet. One social trend which still has a long way to go in terms of acceptance by society is the role of the father being the stay at […]

via Stay At Home Dads. Why is it such a big deal? — DADiator

A really well written and thoughtful blog. Couldn’t not reblog this. It hit the nail on the head of what my thoughts are at the moment.


Disability Hate Crime


My son is disabled. It is just a fact of life. He had a stroke and although this is awful, we don’t let it determine the way we live our lives. Of course there is an impact, but we don’t let it control our life, in fact I think it has enriched our lives in a lot of ways. We have experienced so many beautiful events and people that I feel have blessed us in so many unique ways. There are moments in life that are a bit harder, I am not going to lie. Whether it is having to find somewhere clean to change your disabled child when most places don’t have adequate facilities, or having to deal with people staring or making really cruel comments. Although I don’t like to focus on the negativity, I feel it is important to discuss some of the things that make it harder as well as the aspects that make it all worthwhile.

I got inspired to write this post by a new report on the BBC this morning – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41600137. It’s titled ‘ Disabled children hate crime reports increasing’ and it details how children (yes children!) faced with prejudiced and despicable acts of hate. I would like to say that this is not common, and in my experience it is not. This article focuses on one family who has a 23 month old daughter who ‘has hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, which causes her head to swell. It means at one point Lydia’s head was double its natural size. She also has cerebral palsy and is fed through a tube.’. Before we had J I would have thought it impossible that anyone could victimise a baby – a vulnerable, innocent child who can’t defend themselves. It is unconscionable to think any human being can do this, yet it happens more often than you think. The article states:


Overall the number of disability hate crimes increased by 101%, from 1,531 in 2014-15, to 3,079 in 2016-17.

3079 cases of disability hate crime is one year! This is a shocking statistic for most, however I don’t find it surprising. Why? Because we have experienced it ourselves on a number of occasions. It may not be as bad as some, but it can still hurt.

When our son was born it was the most amazing event of our lives. He was diagnosed with having had a stroke a few days after birth and with epilepsy a few months later. It was a traumatic time in our lives, but we have a great life. It is full of love, fun and laughter the majority of time. He has overcome so many obstacles so far. We were told he wouldn’t walk, or talk, or do very much at all. He does have trouble walking so he uses a wheelchair when he can’t walk. He does have trouble with his communication and he is hard to understand. He has gone through long periods of selective mutism which impacts on his education. He has uncontrolled epilepsy which means he will need surgery at some point soon. Do you know what though, he still smiles through it all. He plays with his sister all the time, he makes our family so rich with love and experiences, I could only hope every family has a son as wonderful and as strong and determined as him. You can tell – I am quite taken with him. Just like any father would be. I would honestly give my life for him. If I could have had the stroke instead, I would have. My wife says the same. We can’t change that, and we wouldn’t change him for the world. Yes, we would like him to have it easier, but that’s life. You can’t change it. However, I think we need to educate people better about disability and difference. Hate crimes are avoidable through education. I don’t just mean at school either. We are educated every day – by our experiences; our interactions with different people, cultures and communities; by our parents and family, even by the people who we don’t get on with. We all need to learn acceptance of difference and disability. It’s easy for me to say I know, but it is our unique differences that make us interesting and worthwhile.

I was going to write this post a while ago but didn’t get round to it until reading that article today. It reminded me of a situation I dealt with last week whilst visiting our local Tesco Cafe. My son was getting over a ten day illness and my mother and I decided it would be nice to get J out for a well deserved treat. It was also one for myself as I was a dishevelled, knackered, exhausted mess after a very long few days. Tesco cafe isn’t the most glamourous of treats, but it is one J is familiar with and enjoys. He doesn’t always like new places and we wanted him to feel comfortable. We are used to people staring. Seeing a child in a wheelchair isn’t uncommon but people tend to stare anyway. That’s not what bothers me. It is the looks of fear and occasional disgust. I just don’t get it. Unfortunately, many people can’t hide the feeling from their faces. For example, I know when I am on the wrong side of my wife – her face says it all, even if her words don’t. I imagine I am the same. Well, on this Tesco visit we had the usual stares. It was busy though and the cafe was rammed. So much so we had to try to squeeze through spaces to get J’s wheelchair to our seats. This is where we encountered the looks of disgust. Maybe, this was just out of inconvenience as we had to ask them to get past. Don’t get me wrong, most people are willing to move and are helpful, but there are enough people out there where this is not the case. Just one person can make you feel annoyed unfortunately. It’s not fair as it is not our, or his fault. We also had two young women come to sit behind us, J was sitting in his wheelchair, and that he was a bit messy because he was eating and this can be a little bit of a challenge for him – especially to stay relatively clean. Needless to say, they didn’t like this and made the most awful look at J and his wheelchair, mumbled a few comments under their breath and then decided to move to the other side of the cafe. I mean the other side as well. They couldn’t have moved further away. It upset my mother and I was annoyed, but I thought it better not to react. We have had this experience numerous times and I always find it a really strange event. I think it is ignorance and a lack of understanding. Most people who get to know my son find him to be awesome. I mean awesome! He is a little shy when he meets someone new but when he eventually comes round he is always smiling.

There is a positive to this story though.A big positive. I think it happened for a reason as well. I am a great believer in that. We met a lovely lady whose name evades me as I am writing this. She sat behind us and she gave us and J a nice big, welcoming smile as she came to sit down. Without warning she said ‘Hi’. Wow just wow, a stranger who is willing to say hi and smile! It came as a jolt. So often nowadays we live our lives without really impacting each other. I love saying good morning to people in the street and smiling – it is a great way to spread a bit of happiness, although it is sparsely reciprocated. She then asked if she could say hello to J. I couldn’t help but say yes. She came over and sat on a chair in front of J and told us to ignore the stares and spoke directly to J. The worried look on his face soon evaporated and a smile lit up his face. If I could have given her the Nobel peace prize there and then, I would have. What a wonderful lady! It is moments and encounters like these that give me hope. After a little conversation we learned that she had a son, older than J, who had autism, and that she loved speaking to children who were like him. In that moment she gave me hope that people are inherently good, and that experience teaches us to be kind to each other. She left us much happier than when we had sat down. The treat that we had was not the cakes or coffee that we had consumed, it was the chance encounter we had had with a like minded human being. I wish this sort of experience on everyone. It has stuck with me since it happened. It will definitely be something I will try to reproduce for someone else. It made our day!

The article also shone light on more vocal encounters, with people making direct comments either face to face or online. This is less common in my experience but still happens. I experienced it when my son was a lot younger and I was also with my daughter. It was an older lady in a supermarket. I know, I am there a lot – I could pitch a tent there, it would be easier and save petrol! An older lady came up to us and spoke to our 18 month old daughter. She said she was lovely and beautiful. What a lovely thing to say, I agree. However, when discussion turned to J, her face changed to horror. I was surprised, he looks like any normal child, if you didn’t know he had a stroke and was not in a wheelchair you wouldn’t guess that he was different in anyway. His wheelchair was obviously the problem as she decided to say ‘he’s not right is he!’, the disgust on her face was ‘HD’. I was in shock, I did not know how to respond to be honest. This sweet, little old lady had just sucker punched me. She carried on after that as well. She even followed us round the shop further clarifying how wrong he was!!! I had to tell her to go away. I honestly couldn’t believe it. People were looking on, not saying anything though, but looking on, interested in our exchange. This woman really opened my eyes to how some people can be unnecessarily cruel. My son was coming up three so hopefully he won’t remember it. I will, forever. I do forgive her ignorance, but I cannot forget how hurtful her comments were. I have told people about this situation and always get the same reaction of horror and disbelief. I could let these type of occurrences change the way we live our life, yet I will never let that happen. I know most people are kind, generous and accepting. I want to teach my kids that. We just need to educate and change the attitudes of people that have not yet learnt the nuances of accepting difference.

The latter part of the article states something really troubling:

Amanda Batten of the Disabled Children’s Partnership said the findings echo a new survey it carried out of nearly 2,700 parents of disabled children which revealed hate crime and abuse was commonplace.

“Families often feel like they can’t go into busy public spaces or post images onto social media for fear of being publicly shamed or having to be submitted to people telling them that their child must lack quality of life because of their disability.

“The idea that so many parents and children with a disability are facing such a lack of support and outright abuse from the general public is truly heart breaking.”

Not one person or family should feel that they can’t go into busy public spaces, or post pictures of their loved ones on social media. I write my blog as a way of keeping myself busy and productive whilst being a stay at home dad. There’s no agenda for me. I just wanted to write. I find it fun. However, with this topic I hope that it opens the eyes and the hearts of someone who finds it hard to accept difference. Having worked in a school for five years helping to educate teenagers, I have learnt that you have to open an honest conversation to really engage people about changing attitudes and preconceptions. I would be happy if only one person read this and that helped them understand. The next time you see a person who is different try to make a positive impact. If you stare, why not make it a positive experience for them – smile, start a conversation, say a simple hello. It makes a difference, trust me.

I am happy to say there is a campaign launched under the hashtag #secretlivesofus by the Disabled Children’s Partnership which aims to challenge and break the barriers that disabled children and their families face. You can sign up here http://bit.ly/2t590Yw if you want. You can follow them on twitter as well https://twitter.com/DCPcampaign .

My Summer As A Stay At Home Dad

My Summer As A ‘Stay At Home Dad’ – Blog 003

It’s been awhile since I wrote my first two blogs. A couple of months. It’s not that I have been lazy – just too busy. The summer was a crazy mess of holidays and keeping the kids entertained. I have got to say it was the best summer yet. We had two holidays. Yes, I feel very blessed to say that we had two holidays. One was an ill-fated, rained out caravan holiday and the other was a 30 degree stunner in Crete. It was brilliant!!!

I ‘accidentally’ bid on a caravan holiday in a charity auction back last year. It was our first caravan holiday, and probably our last. The location was spectacular and the caravan wasn’t too bad. It’s just that caravanning is just not for us. It rained for 90% of the time and the kids couldn’t cope with being stuck in a tin can. Needless to say, we won’t be doing that again anytime soon. Unless nostalgia bites and we think it will be okay next time. I think my main issue is that I am a little bit larger and a little bit taller than most people than caravan. My feet hung about two feet off the end of the bed, meaning that I didn’t get hardly any sleep. For some strange reason the lack of year round heating in the tin can meant that there was a slight dampness in the air, resulting in my asthma playing up and me feeling like I was breathing through a damp cloth for three days. Fun! Looking on the bright side, we now know not to do that again. To be totally honest, we were grateful that we had this holiday and that the money we paid went to a really worthy charity who helped us for many years with our son, and we know that if we more caravan goers we would have enjoyed it far more as the setting was brilliant and it was a good caravan that had been donated by a very kind and generous family. My hat goes off to them. 

Thankfully, we had booked a week away in Crete, Greece. This is our last holiday away for a while. Due to giving up the day job, money is going to be a little more sparse than in previous years, so our usual week away in the ‘Med’ is going to be more of pipe dream for a little while. This holiday was our last big getaway before our son goes through his assessment for a pot

ential brain surgery. A lot was riding on this one. It didn’t disappoint. It was honestly amazing. The weather was perfect, the food was unbelievable, and more importantly, the memories we created as a family were unforgettable. My two children finally got over their fear of the swimming pool and I enjoyed

dunking them in the water more than what’s acceptable. Payback at last! Without giving you every last detail, it was absolutely incredible.

Not one to have a moan, I must talk about one aspect of the holiday that was gobsmackingly awful. Gatwick was awful on the way back. Their special assistance service resulted in me having to carry my heavy, sleeping, nearly 6 year old son from the plane to passport control and on to baggage in order to collect his wheelchair, which coincidentally came through last. To use a ‘Welshism’ – I was tamping. We have flown to several airports and never had a problem. When flying back to Cardiff from Spain last year the service we had was excellent. We were even allowed to meet the pilots and my son got to sit in the Pilot’s chair while we waited for our escort through to baggage collection. The wheelchair was delivered to the plane so I didn’t have to carry my son and our every need was taken care of. It could not be faulted. We thought thought that the Uk’s No 1 airport would give us something similar. It clearly fell well beneath expectations. Needless to say we shall avoid Gatwick when travelling abroad again.

I have to say that being a stay at home dad this summer has been amazing. It’s gone far too quick and I was ready for the children to go back to school – basically so I can get some energy back. I am pretty sure that this year’s summer will be one I will remember clearly and will be one of the best. If not, I have some great summers to come.

The Elephant In The Room

I sat down on Wednesday last week thinking about what to write for this week’s blog post. I have been working on writing some of the recipes I promised some friends I would write down, but was a bit ‘stumped’ on which thing I should write about first.

As any great man would do, I asked someone else…Twitter. Thankfully @MuddlyMum came up with the suggestion:


I loved this idea – but what to write? I often try to come up with ideas when walking my two dogs. One, the older one, is a labrador called Ollie and the other munchkin is a Bullpei called Lola. They are mental just like my kids. Taking them for a walk provides me with a time when I have no distraction and I have spent many a dark night plodding the pathways around my hometown of Bridgend pondering the day’s events, even the odd existential crisis or two. Taking the dogs on a walk resulted in leaving my iPad unattended for an hour, in which my lovely kids (I am not sure which one) decided to post this blog unfinished. I still managed to get two likes – maybe people thought I was being ironic in some way, or they wanted to make me feel good. Either way, I laughed a little and thought I may as well get to writing that at some point.

I first thought I’d write about my experiences of being on an Elephant sanctuary in Goa. That was an amazing experience by the way, but I came to the conclusion that story would be worth a separate post when I’ve dug out the old photos for proof I actually did go. To be honest, it’s an age ago since that happened and I thought I had better figure out what I could remember before I tackled that trip down nostalgia lane. In the end, I came to the conclusion that I would write about the English proverb: The Elephant In the Room.

We have all been in that situation, whereby the whole room want to talk about something or someone but can’t seem to get it out of our brains, and subsequently our mouths. I can be like that sometimes, although apparently I can be a bit more outspoken on times, which inevitably leads to awkward silences and gasps. I tend to keep it at bay more often that not. In my youth I always got into trouble at work for opening my mouth when I shouldn’t and have since then become more accustomed to observing the elephant than trying to tackling the beast head-on. It’s worked out well as I don’t offend people as often anymore. I must be growing up…or something like that. I kind of hope I go the other way as I get older and come full circle. A right of passage into becoming a grumpy old git.

Anyway, I will get to the point. As a parent of a disabled child, and one who is often ill and has many challenges to face, I often get asked when meeting new people, what’s wrong with him? Or what’s his disability? The git in me, that comes out every now and then, is often tempted to say there’s nothing wrong with him! He is perfect in every way. It’s the truth. Well mostly, except for when he constantly ignores me or when he wants the third or fourth Babybel. To get back to the point, I can often see the difficulty in this situation and the embarrassment of the person asking. It’s not their fault. It’s human nature – you can see a child/person is a little bit different and you’re intrigued to find out about their story and what is their life is like. It is no different to asking a personal question to any other family or person. What makes this situation so awkward? Why do some people not ask, when you can see it is what is on their mind? I have come to the conclusion that most people are genuinely interested and I always honestly answer and tell them all they need to know. The people who can’t bring themselves to ask, or ask it in curiously awkward manner are trying not to offend. Isn’t that amazing! Genuinely, I love this: a person, that doesn’t know you, wanting to make sure that you are happy and not insulted unintentionally. We need to acknowledge the situation, put people at ease and thank them for the question. I like to initiate the conversation, to help them out a bit. I like to focus on all the amazing things my son has done. How his resilience and determination shines through. It is an inspiration to myself, my family and friends and the people he meets. I will also talk about his sister and how amazing she is with him. I like to be positive and see the good in people. Cynicism is a cruel position to view the world from. It is a poison that is all-encompassing once it takes hold, and trying not to sound to cliché – the world is a better place half full of optimists, than a world half full of pessimists.

There are so many situations that the elephant in the room gets in the way of good friendships and relationships. I had a member of staff that was a muslim in a previous job. I found it fascinating as a catholic: I had gone to catholic school; been to a catholic church for many years, but did not have much knowledge about other faiths. I find that in today’s world climate and with attitudes towards religion, people can be frightened to ask about other beliefs and cultures. I don’t really care for prejudice. Unfortunately it happens, in mind my due to this elephant in the room problem. I asked him what his religion was about and how he practised his faith. I am glad I asked! We had a much better and more open work relationship because of it. It was interesting to find the similarities and differences of his world compared to mine. I think we become richer people when we open ourselves to different communities, different ideas and faiths, and fundamentally more understanding of the complexities of world around us.

Most recently, that elephant has visited me when explaining my decision to become a stay at home dad. It is an odd conversation. The look on people’s faces when I say I am not working when I leave my current job. I am going to be a stay at home dad…there’s an awkward silence that follows. I reassure them. It is a decision that felt natural to me, but apparently is quite uncommon. Only 250 welsh dads took the option in a recent report. Yep, only 250!!! I will become part of a  special club of lunatics, or visionaries….time will tell.

I will leave that there for the time being as I think I have tackled the elephant challenge in my own way. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments. If you’re feeling generous hit the share button and follow me for more ‘dog walk’ inspired postings.