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I Cancelled Santa at Christmas

Santa List

At first, I threatened to cancel the whole of Christmas and postpone it for a while, but I didn’t think our lovely KellyBronze Turkey would stand to wait for another few days, so we went ahead and had our meal.  We did NOT have any presents for the kids to go down to on Christmas morning.

I have to admit to feeling a bit sorry for myself on Christmas Eve when there was no sign of any excitement from the kids.  As old as they are getting, they still usually track Santa through Norad, and get all excited when he gets to the UK.

This year, nothing.

Two watched a bit of TV, were really quiet and withdrawn, and went off to bed with the secret hope that perhaps mum is wrong and Santa would come in the morning.

He didn’t.

Littlest one almost swallowed these words.

“Not giving kids Christmas presents is child abuse.”

I nearly gave in, but I knew I couldn’t.

I did let them have 1 present on Christmas day after their meal.


My kids behaviour has deteriorated to the point that I was not prepared to have them get anything without earning it first.  Yes, there are special needs in the family and yes, it is tough to live with someone who has his level of brain damage and immaturity, but they do have to live in society.  Kicking and punching me or my mum just doesn’t make me feel like being Santa.

The man went out on the Thursday night before Xmas and things escalated from the moment he left.  I announced that Christmas was cancelled in frustration and from then on I knew I would have to carry it through.  If I hadn’t gone through with it, the next time I said there was to be a sanction, they’d laugh in my face.


We’re 3 days past Christmas now.

Two children have now had their big presents and one child has only had two cheapie presents as he hasn’t earned anything of value yet.  Most of his are still in a sack in the cupboard and I doubt he will ever make his big present this year.  It may never go his way.  He has targets to meet to get it and I am being really strict with it.   I value my limbs not being attacked, and the price of his Christmas presents is directly linked to how unharmed my body is.

He has to make a week without either kicking and punching me or my mum – or even trying to.   After yesterday, we’re back to Day 1 today.   He goes to respite tomorrow over New Year and Day 2 will start on the day he gets home.

For the other two kids, it’s been quite good.  Instead of an hour of excited madness and then stuffing their faces and not knowing what to play with first, there has been a steady small stream of excitement each day as they learn they’ve behaved enough to get another present from me.   They’ve had days of something to look forward to, instead of one overwhelming day.


How I’ll play it next year, I’m not sure.  If we are at the same point, the same thing will happen.   Eldest had his big present for two days and it was confiscated when he threw a strop for nothing more than being asked to do something for me.  I used to just put all presents out on the chairs, with no differential between Santa and parents.  This year has seen a massive shift in how it’s done.

Their cousin who is just 6 was absolutely horrified at Santa not stopping by our house.  Eldest sat at his window all night on Xmas Eve to see if he could see Santa dropping off presents to the other kids in our street.  He’s convinced that he saw him fly by as he saw an orange light in the sky.

He fell asleep with his head on the window sill.

It’s been a more pleasant few days than usual, despite yesterdays aggression from middler, and we’re all looking forward to a break for him in respite and us at home.

Bring on Hogmanay.


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Christmas and New Year – The Reality

 Image: Idea go /

I don’t like my life.  I am not ashamed of that, but I do appreciate it is difficult for some people to hear or identify with.    And this may be an uncomfortable post for some to read, both for those with and without children who have disabilities, but it shouldn’t be hidden away.  In the way that mothers talk about potty training, weaning and breastfeeding in mainstream conversations, so should special needs parents and carers be able to talk about their issues.

I also suspect that there are many thousands of people out there who don’t like their lives for many different reasons, whether it be work, partners, parents, money limitations etc.  There are many people who pretend that they have amazing lives, or are happy with what they have to save face with other people. 

There are others who would possibly thrive in a situation like mine, but as a general rule, us mums (and also read dads when I say mums) of behaviourally challenged and brain damaged children tend to struggle.   Especially when having to also give up good careers and decent money to struggle instead, due to difficulties getting child care.  It’s a common issue for parents and carers of many disabled children and adults across all disabilities.

I certainly don’t dislike ALL of my life, but there are huge portions that are difficult to live with at any given time.  I don’t feel sorry for myself though, even though I find it difficult at times, so I guess that is the difference between coping and not coping, but at times I will have a vulnerable moment and the cracks will show. 

Back to Christmas.  It’s true wherever we go, that people who ask us if we had a good Christmas, or New Year (or holiday for that matter), are not really asking us how it went.    There are the exceptions, such as close friends or family who are part of your daily / weekly / yearly cycle of discussion and sharing of life.  I am not talking about those people.  I am talking about the people who you stop and speak to on the dog walk, on the shopping trip, on the school run, neighbours, and acquaintances that make up the most of our daily lives.

We all know how it goes.  We walk past someone, we may nod and say hello, or if we have time, we’ll stop and pass some time with a sentence or few of how life is going, what the children have been up to, holiday plans etc etc.  Some of you may even join the coffee mornings or lunch time get togethers that playgroup, ante natal class,  and creche mums often begin.

I didn’t belong to any of those groups for long.  I have a special needs child with behavioural problems.  None of those groups in my area liked the children who don’t behave in the manner that they deem “appropriate”.   That left me and many others without the usual toddler groups moving on to playgroups, and school, that begins to create those wonderful friendships that can last for a lifetime.  My boys won’t ever have those friendships as they have a special needs brother with behavioural problems.   Other parents don’t want their children to learn “inappropriate” behaviour.”

I have changed that for me.  We now belong to and help run a club that accepts special needs children and their brothers and sisters together.  It is also an excuse for mums and dads to make new friendships, and be able to talk about the issues that we can’t talk about with the people in our everyday lives. 

This group has been my saving grace.  When the going is tough and I am being punched and sworn at, or kicks are being aimed at my head by a child who has lost control of the functions of his brain.   When the meltdown has lasted most of the day without a break, and the other children who cannot cope with it are also starting to play up as they are getting no attention due to the fact that son no1 is taking up all my time, I can think of the release I can have by telling someone who actually understands what has gone on and how that makes me feel inside, truthfully.

People who do not live like this have no idea what is happening in homes up and down the country.  These sheltered people, for whom a toddler tantrum, some tweenage backchat, or a teenage outburst are the worst that they have ever come across.     An adult abusing another adult would lead to many interventions being offered, with safehouses, and assistance to leave an abusive partner.  For mums, there is nothing.

My child is not yet old enough to cause significant damage, as I still have a weight advantage over him, I can still stop him.  I see many women with children bigger than mine who have no way of stopping the carnage that they live within, no matter how many behavioural therapists are thrown at them.  These children do not respond to sticker charts, sweetie rewards, or monetary bribing.  Their brains tell them that they are the centre of the world, and  just want their own way and will do whatever it takes to get it.  Anyone standing in their way better watch out.  These are not the spoiled chldren of the world, but simply the ones not coping with the world around them.  Some will work it out and settle, others never will.

I am not yet sure of what the future holds for me as a mother and my son as a child.  He may continue to attack me when I am no longer able to stop him.  I cannot think about that yet, and I am fighting for his place in our social system to try and ensure the help is there when it is needed, but with the cuts to services of vulnerable people, I don’t hold out much hope of how it may end up, and how we, as a family may end up.  Again I can’t think about that yet, it is too far ahead for me.

I don’t see why so many of us living like this (and there ARE MANY MANY) should have to keep so quiet about it all, but we do.  En masse, we shut it away and answer something like “fine” to all of those other people in our lives.  It always makes me smile to know that we use the word fine as F = Fxxxed Up.  I = Insecure.  N  = Neurotic.  E = Emotional.  It sums it all up perfectly and people smile and nod sagely as we turn the conversation to them as a means of moving it off of having to talk about our own circumstances.

 For one year, maybe we should all try the truth.   When we are asked if we had a lovely christmas and new year, people all expect the answer to be fine, nice, quiet, busy, lots of fun etc etc, but I wonder what they would say faced with a simple “no”.  I may try that this year and see how many people I can make uncomfortable.

What prompted this blog post I hear people asking.    Well, I asked some special needs mums how their christmasses went yesterday, and the answers were completely different from the usual.    Here are some of them.

” Nightmare”
” Could have been better”
” x chased his brother with a knife, it was awful”
” I’m glad it’s over, getting through the day was a drama”

And you know what, few of them would have wished it any other way.    There are some people who say they would not change their children and that they are special the way they are, but each and every day, at some point in the day, I wish that my child could live a life like other children.   That is not being disloyal, that is wanting the best for him. 

Getting back to my life, the things that I don’t like about  my life, fortunately they are also the things that have caused what I do like  about my life.  

  1. I have three fabulous boys to tuck into their beds at night (ok they are getting too big to tuck in, but you know what I mean).
  2. I have a circle of around 10 amazing real life friends that I would never have met if it was not for my sons disability.  My pre child friends all disappeared with the advent of challenging behaviour from no 1 son.
  3. I have to force myself to be more confident and authoritative to get what I want for his health and education.
  4. Twitter and my computer is wonderful.

It’s no secret that I do like twitter.   Strangely enough, on twitter, I have also found people who understand.  Some are at the beginning of this journey, and some are at the other end, but the majority are telling the truth of how it is when they are asked.  That is a good thing.  The responses are also encouraging from the people who have “listened” into the conversations, or are joining them directly.  That is another good thing.   I have rarely felt uncomfortable on twitter talking about it.  Maybe the twitter world people are more open minded, thats also a good thing, and it’s a VERY good thing for distraction for mums and keeps us in touch with the real world that exists outside our cocoons.  This is an AMAZINGLY good thing as the isolation from other mums increases more as our behaviourally challenged children get older.

As a group, I can safely say on behalf of some of my real life friends and I, that we are not keen on being called saints, or wonderful people, or any other kind of platitude that can be used when well meaning people have no idea what to say.   We do understand why people say it, as the subject makes them uncomfortable, or they secretly think they would be able to handle it better, or they think we are exaggerating.  We are not saints, wonderful, or anything else, we just simply don’t have a choice in it, and are responsible for little lives.

It would be so refreshing for someone in real life to ask how it is, or just simply say “how do you cope?” or “is there anything I can do to help?”   Usually the first thing that comes into the mind is the most appropriate thing to say, unless you are going to complain about the behaviour you have just witnessed, and then suggest a solution – because then you may find yourself on the receiving end of a choice comment or two. 

For me, thankfully Christmas is over.  The Christmas holidays last too long as it is difficult to live a strictly regimented life at home, and supervise children every waking hour, as well as do housework and make meals.  Roll on New Year.    Hogmanay I prefer to Christmas.  No present dramas, no fighting over who got what, and the end of the dark, cold, miserable school holidays in sight. 

I love my kids, and I would fight to the death for them, but oh how I love school days…..”>

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“Shhhhh fir Santa” Christmas Doric Poem

It’ll seen be time fir christmas
Time fir abody tae say
Hud yer weesht, it’s gettin late
Shut them peepers at end o the day

But, seen as yer ma’s heids hits e hay
Ye teeter oot o yer covers an mair
Yer lugs wirk sae hard, they shiver
An hush as ye go, near tae at door

Creepin doon yon steps fair sleekit
Teetin roun an roun, yer een openin wi frite
Shhhhhh em bells tinkle an jinngle
Ye look thru windae panes, an clap yer haun tae yer muth

A sleigh skiffs by, unner yer nose
Wi a flash fae rudolph, winkin is een
Shh lik a moose, scurry an shimmer
Up tae yer bed, afore santa slips doon yer lum

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“Snow” Christmas Doric Poem

Wi thon muckle flurries, ah watch oot ma windae
Yon white draps, wi wee crystals aboot em
An ah dream o yon year, fan ah wis a quine
A lass wi a bin liner, slidin doon nigg bay slopes

We’d nowt on oor hauns, and sookit feet
The caul nivver entered intae oor heids
Thinkin back now, ah canna believe it
Ah feel the caul, jist thinkin aboot it

Ah’m stannin back, an love far ah am
Ahin me, is a fire, glowin n burnin
An the morra winna stap me, ah’m gaun oot wi the bairns
Fir an efterneen o sledgin, trussed up lik a chook

Ah’ll hae ma gloves, an ma hat oan ma heid
An them leggins wi paddin, thit keep oot the weet
Dinna forget thon bitts, wi paddin an fleecin
As ah’ll skite doon at mound, laffin and jokin

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Run up to Christmas

It’s getting closer and closer to Christmas. 

It’s a time of dread during the lead in time, and all the energy spent on planning and organising is immense.  We are all expected to be organised with presents and cards, and children’s nativities, plays and parties. 

I have studiously filled in the diary each time my children brought home some new note from school telling us what the next activity is.  In one weekend this month, we have three childrens parties to fit in at opposite ends of the town, and they are not parties that we can miss.  One is a birthday party for one of my sons, and the other two are for clubs that they attend during the year.  That is bad planning.

My children are at two different schools and that brings another new challenge.  Both schools are staging nativities at the same time, so I need to cut me in half for that event, or face child wrath if someone does not appear for them.  Half a frazzled mum is better than none, and the costumes have to be in by Monday  (note to self to get them ready before Sunday night).

I know I will make myself ill in the next three weeks planning and organising what is expected, and I will drop one of the balls jugging in the air somewhere, but I will not regret a single moment of it. 

Waking up on Christmas morning and seeing three happy faces, opening up presents, enjoying the moment and staying at home to enjoy their presents makes it all worth while. 

We decided long ago that we would stay at home on Christmas Day.  If anyone wants to join us, they are free to do so, but we will not accept anyone else’s invitation to go to theirs.   (If Take That send us free tickets to watch a charity concert on Christmas Day, I might just be persuaded to review that statement)

How many other people find Christmas as stressful as I do is something that freqently crosses my mind.   Maybe this year I will find out on twitter.

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Christmas is coming – Here we gooooooooo snow.

It’s here.  The first flush of snow.  Nothing signals the coming of Christmas quite like the first real snowfall.   This is nothing like the snow of two weeks ago that was a light dusting on the ground overnight, which was then to disappear by 10am

Today has been rip roaring lovely white snow with big flakes.  The kind of snow that is pretty to watch, and children just love to play in.  We do lots of sledging in the snow when it comes, so today is not the best day for it to happen. 

It’s a school day, and as all the children come out of school, there will be snowballs a plenty, whizzing by parents heads as they wait for their own little cherubs to come out of school.

For my own boys, It will mean that by the time they reach me, they will be soaked through to the skin.  I have two very hyperactive boys to pick up, and they will use the slope to get out of the school playground instead of the path that winds to the top (as boys do).  They will both slip many times on the way up the slope, and end up on hands and knees in the slushy snow (which by this time will be mixed in with the mud slurry that used to once be a grassy slope).

They will of course, have their jackets stuffed into their schoolbags, which will be bursting at the zips to stay closed, and their hats will be at the bottom of their bags, along with the half open, and spilling trail of a bottles of water that they are required to take to school every day, but which get used at playtimes as water pistols, or mud dubs makers.  They will, however, have managed to fish out their gloves from the other eclectic mix festering at the bottom of their schoolbags so that they can throw snowballs.

When we get home, there will be a quick change out of soaking school clothes into fresh play clothes, which will also be soaking wet half an hour later by the time son number three arrives home, and then they’ll want to go out again.  They have perfectly good salopettes in the cupboard, but think it’s not cool to wear them unless they are sledging.   More wet clothes.

There has been just enough snow for their Costco bodyboard sledges to go bombing down the big hill at the back of the house, but sadly, mum here does not have the time to take them until Friday after school.  This will be a huge #mumfail, but I’ve got the carrots out and ready for them to make this years first snowman.

And I will be the one out there throwing snowballs at my little cherubs while they roll the snow to make that snowman, before I need to get changed and go to a parent council meeting at the school.  Cue more changes of clothes.

TIme for my washing machine to really see what it is made of this year.  It’s a new one, but can it cope with a scottish winter??

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Tech Decks and Flick Trix

It’s that time of year again when shops are starting to take away all the year long staple items on their shelves,and replacing them with glittery, twinkling and shiny temptations for Christmas.

This year though, one of the hardest toys to find locally are the Tech Deck and Flick Trix finger trick skateboards and bikes.  In case you have not come across these little gadgets, they are found in the hands of many a grubby 6 – 12 year old boy in our area.


September and October brings a totally different perspective on these little toys from one year ago.  Last Christmas, a generous Santa Clause brought a big box with some generic finger skateboards and a huge ramp to our house.  This box was used for all of 10 minutes and relegated to the back of the toy cupboard.  Fast forward six months and the ramp and boards were being pulled out of the cupboard and fought over by two of my minis’.   The change was brought about by the onset of the new boy craze around town.

The generic finger skateboards were not good enough though, and pester power started.  If they are not the “real” Tech Decks, then seemingly no-one will talk to them.  A birthday or two came and went and some “real” Tech Decks arrived in the house, courtesy of, along with a couple of ramps by someone called Ryan Sheckler from

The two trickster skateboarders started to practice in earnest, and with miniature screwdrivers at the ready had boards with orange, white, black and yellow wheels, so that they would be good enough to swap at school.   The old Top Gear card craze of early summer was well and truly over.

I thought that I was safe, skateboards in place, ramps in place, different colour wheels in place, and lots of skateboard swapping going on in schools and playgrounds nearby.

The peaceful life was not to be.   September 2010 saw an interest in something that is a miniature BMX bike.  Small comments began to be dropped about how fantastic they were.  On the way out of school, many children were trying their hardest to get someone with a shiny new Flick Trix BMX bike to swap for their “best” Tech Deck.  The smart children of the Flick Trix brigade held onto their prizes and slowly, very slowly, the pester power began again.

With no birthdays between September and Christmas to be able to have one of these beauties for themselves, and being from a family that does not just buy everything that kiddies demand, I was struggling to find a way to end the misery of my children by not being with the “in crowd”.

A flash of inspiration hit me and, and suddenly my boys had a new bedtime routine, with deadlines to achieve.  Once they reached 10 nights of perfect behaviour in the evening going to bed, and keeping their rooms tidy – one of these bikes would be theirs.   It took 15 nights for the deadline to be achieved and the day of reckoning finally came yesterday.  After dropping boys off at school, off to  I go.   Disaster struck as there were none of the £4.95 boards in stock, and they didn’t know when the next delivery would be in.  Also on the shelves were two bike shop packs at three times the price.  In these packs was a selection of different accessories to add to the BMX, and a box to hold all the small parts.    There were only two of these beauties left on the shelf, and after wrestling with my conscience, I decided to buy them.

On emerging from school, the first question that greeted me was a cry for the BMX with moving parts, working wheels and pedals, and I was really pleased to be able to say that I had one each for them.  The look on their faces was priceless, as I had warned them that I might not actually manage to get my hands on them and that they might have to be ordered.

Fast forward 28 hours and these bikes have not been out of their hands.  I have been pestered and pestered and pestered again to help with changing over pedals, bike seat, wheels, grips, pegs and helping with nuts and bolts.  The enjoyment out of this little toy is immense.

When I first bought the skateboards, I baulked at the price of them, and of the ramps to go with them.  On reflection over the last few months, I can honestly say that they have been excellent value for money.  The amount of hours spent with these toys, fiddling with screwdrivers, concentrating, improving dexterity and the sheer benefits of the power of negotiation in the playground between children of all ages is astounding.

The bikes may only have been in the house for 28 hours, but already the signs of being an enhanced version of the Tech Decks is emerging.   Both toys are on the table, the Tech Decks are still being used on the ramps along with the bikes.   Both the Tech Decks and Flick Trix feel quite substantial for such little things and seem to take quite a bit of punishment.  They are certainly breakable with quite a bit of force, but they do give the feeling of quality when you hold them.

The bikes have taken their place in our household as staple favourites, along with the skateboards and the Xbox.  What will come along between now and Christmas I have no idea, but there are rumblings of a special edition gold Flick Trix, and I am now scouring the internet trying to come across this elusive beast for Christmas day.

Am I mad?  Probably, but I have to admit, I have had many an enjoyable hour with my boys using these toys as they sometimes struggle with the tiny pieces, so it has been a “win win” situation and amoung our “best buys” of  the year.

What are your “best buys?”