Category Archives: mental health

Being Boring

What is the worst thing about your job? Is it the commute, the annoyingly loud coworker in the next cubicle, anyone from Marketing, the person who takes the last cup of coffee and doesn’t make more, the petty rules, the delay in getting replacement equipment? Well how about your coworkers, or rather, one in particular?

For me, it’s the latter. Most of the people in the department are pretty decent. I mean, there are some arseholes, skivers and generally obnoxious gits, but by and large we work well as a team and like each other. However, there is one person who until recently got under my skin like a deer tick.

Let me elaborate: We have three shifts, the first one running from 5.30 until 2 pm. This is a brutal shift at the best of times as the opener only has 30 minutes to make sure everything is ship shape before opening the department, and  I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, as I just can’t imagine having lunch at 10 am. One of our openers, the one who gets under my skin is a middle aged woman who is much, much farther along the Aspergers/Autism spectrum than me. A blind man on a speeding horse could see that, so to say that  it’s obvious is something of an understatement. Her one redeeming feature is that she is very good at her job, and I know that as the mid shift person, I will get a very, very full briefing on all the events of the day so far and numerous updates during the three and a half hours we work together, and that’s where the problems start.

She will perseverate on the smallest of details. Anything that has happened in her life is apparently worthy of relating, including her nieces and nephews not liking whatever she had prepared for dinner, the lack of a product in stock, the arrival of the next load, in fact anything that has happened to her or she has seen in the past week. It used to drive me fucking nuts until like Baldrick, I had a cunning plan.

I would simply tune her out. I will make the occasional sound of acknowledgement, but don’t engage in any meaningful way unless I have to, and I try not to have to. I know she can’t help it, in fact, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t even realise she’s doing it as she gets on with her work. Two things still get to me, no matter what I do. She will end even the most mundane of statements or observations by laughing as if she’s just delivered a razor sharp one liner. Maybe she genuinely thinks she’s being funny, but it happens pretty much every time she finishes a sentence. The other thing is her habitual attempts to upsell. If there is one thing I dislike with a passion when it comes to sales, it’s anyone who tries to upsell to me. In fact, if someone does that to me, I just leave and don’t even complete my initial purchase. I know that sounds like going too far, but I refuse to be manipulated into spending more that I have to, or buying something I hadn’t intended to at someone else’s urging, especially if that person has a vested interest in my purchase.

You see, we very often run offers and “Big Board Sales”, where various products may be offered at 60 percent of their regular price. Not just in the deli, but in every department in the store. This is a regular part of our life, and when the deli has anything either on offer, or on the Big Board we get slammed. Big Board items are advertised on standing boards both outside and immediately inside the entrances in font so large it can’t be missed. To give one recent example, we have prepackaged salami on sale, specifically 7 ounce sampler packs, which are selling well due to the number of parties taking place around Christmas.

I may be taking a bit of a leap here, but I work under the premise that all of our customers who happen to be of high school age or above are able to read at least at at high school level and possess the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves. Not so my coworker. Several times this week, as she handed a customer their order she went on to describe in great detail the salami, what the pack contained, the price and where to find it. Every time, every single time, the customer looked back without making eye contact, smiled weakly and thanked her before hurrying away as fast as possible to the furthest corner of the store. The only way I can describe it is to ask you to imagine the look on someone’s face as they are accosted on the bus by the guy across the aisle who is expounding on some bizarre conspiracy theory.

She even tried to get another of my coworkers to do the same. As he’s a sensible, well adjusted chap he demurred. She hasn’t asked me, as I’m pretty sure even she gets the fact that I will never upsell. I know all the above sounds mean, and to some extent it is. In fact, George Bernard Shaw put it perfectly when he said:

“The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity”.

The problem is that it’s the only way I can keep my sanity. I’m not mean to my coworker. It’s just that she has no conversation, no interests, no opinions on anything other than her family and work. She’s very good at her job, and within five minutes of starting my shift I know exactly what has happened, the state of our stock, anything of note, and for that I appreciate her and am most grateful. I just wish I knew of a better way to get through half a shift with her.

Suggestions on a $20 bill to Singledad Towers, please.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under employment, mental health, personal relationships, Work

Oops I Did It Again.

“Did What again?” I hear you ask. Well, fucked up big time yet again by misreading a social situation. let me start by saying that I’d hoped that this post would be titled “The Sweetest Girl”, partly because Green Gartside has one of the most wonderful voices of all time and Scritti Politti never got the acclaim and recognition they deserve. How this post ended up bearing the title of one of the crappiest songs of all time sung by one of the least talented performers of all time is a cautionary tale.

During the summer I came into contact with someone new. Somewhat younger than me, outstandingly beautiful and very sweet and friendly with a smile that could melt through bank vaults. Over the course of several weeks she was very attentive and we had a number of interesting conversations about a number of subjects including our kids. On one evening we spent a couple of hours getting to know each other and she seemed very comfortable having me around, something I took as a good sign.

For a couple of weeks she was in Europe and had agreed to send me a postcard, and even texted me some pictures from her trip. Just to backtrack a little, a week or so prior to this she had tried to give me her phone number, but being a knucklehead I missed the (alas misinterpreted) cue and only later realised what I’d done and had to scramble frantically to find a way to give her my number. One would have thought that when a woman tries to give you her phone number for no explicitly stated reason, or under some other pretext she must be interested in pursuing some sort of relationship, or at least be open to the possibility.

I ran the details past two friends of mine, one male, one female, and both agreed that based on the evidence it would not be unreasonable to assume that the young lady in question was interested in me, so I took heart from this and waited for her return from foreign shores.

A couple of nights ago I took the opportunity to see her ( lest you get the wrong impression, this was in no way a date, but rather an opportunity to meet her).
We talked for quite a while about her trip and various subjects and as I was about to leave I said “I’d really like to take you out to dinner”. I have never seen so many conflicting emotions cross one face in so short of time as her brain tried frantically to process what I’d just said and clawed frantically at the air, Wylie Coyote style to regain the cliff edge of sanity: confusion, shock, alarm, confusion, panic, dread, confusion, realisation and a number of others.

It was then that I learned the truth. I had been led to believe that she is divorced, but although she was divorced, she is also married. Naturally this took the edge off my good mood as well as giving me the experience of being overwhelmed with a tsunami of conflicting emotions, so I suppose that made us even. The weird thing is that she then apologised for giving me the wrong impression. There was no need at all for her to apologise, as I made quite clear, explaining that I’d come to a wrong conclusion based on faulty and incomplete information. I made my apologies and left suitably chastened.

This is a situation that I have faced before but with different details. One effect of being on the Asperger’s spectrum is lacking the ability to read subtext. It now appears that I lack the ability to read text as well. You neurotypicals have it so easy and you don’t even know it. Seriously, the ability to read between the lines is something you do all day every day. Imagine how much harder that is for someone who doesn’t even realise that the lines are there in the first place!

I guess I should have known that a woman like her wouldn’t be interested is someone like me even if she was unattached. In fact I’m pretty sure that if she and I were the only human beings to survive the apocalypse she’d spend all of her time digging through the rubble searching for fresh batteries. Ah well, you live and learn, well, you live, anyway.

As I’m now single again this incident doesn’t bode well for the future. It was bad enough the last time and seeing as I’ve decided to stay this side of the water I’m looking at a much smaller pool of potential dates. Actually, it’s not so much a pool as a small puddle to be honest. One other thing to bear in mind is that unless I change my social situation completely I’m going to run into her on a regular basis. I really don’t want to do that and I hope that I won’t have to. One thing in my favour is that at no time did I actually hit on her in any way. Our conversations were always on safe topics and at no time did I make any gesture or movement that could be interpreted as threatening nor did I ever take the conversation anywhere near any mildly risque subject. Something else that may make life easier is that I apologised for my misreading of the situation and am not the sort of person who blames someone else for my ineptitude.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the first person she’s had to disabuse of his perception of the situation and with luck and some delicate footwork I may avoid any awkwardness in the future.

 

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Five Years

About two weeks ago I received a text from my “On a break” sweetie asking if we could talk. I put her off for a few days as I wasn’t really in the mood to talk to her and had already decided that we were done. I did think about sending her a text saying as much but decided not to. By this point I had already been on two dates (of which, more later), having reactivated my dating site accounts about three days after her telling me that we were on a break.

I had already bagged up all her toiletries, but left her clothes in the closet as I don’t really have a better place for them. As you can see, I’d already moved on, having realised that I  was the one making all the effort and getting very little in return. When the phone call did take place, it was all over in about two minutes. Of course, she had decided that we were done, no surprise there, and from my text agreeing to the call, she had reached the same conclusion regarding yours truly.

We had always joked to people that if we did ever split up, there’d be a custody battle over the espresso machine, but as it turned out, she said that I could keep it. Too bloody right, I was keeping it. I know it was given to us by a friend of hers, but she’s pretty much given up drinking coffee, except for the occasional purchased breve, but she also has nowhere to put it in her kitchen as it is too tall to fit in the space between the counter and the cupboards. I told her that I had intended to keep it anyway, and she didn’t argue. She would have been a real dog in a manger to do so, and we both knew it, so it ended there.

I told the kids about it last night, and my daughter claimed that she had “Sort of seen it coming”. I’m not convinced that I believe her, but she is a very astute girl, so I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. It seems a bit weird that a five year relationship should end with such a sudden whimper, but I guess I had seen it coming too.

To be honest, not having to schlep over to Seattle every other weekend either directly from work or very early on Sunday morning has been very refreshing. I’ve enjoyed long lies in, had time to myself, done some cooking and been able to watch the Liverpool game without the need to balance a laptop on my knees and wear headphones. I know the above sounds selfish, but when you have no time to yourself, life can be a little wearing. To be honest, the first weekend I had to myself this year was in mid June when my now ex sweetie was away in Fiji and the kids were in Hawaii. Six months without a weekend to myself. Seriously, is it expecting too much to want some time in one’s own head and not have to fit housework, shopping and all the rest around other people’s schedules? I really don’t think so, at least, not for a single guy. Marriage is a full time commitment, but at least with marriage you have a partner with whom to share the load. Usually.

A lot has happened over the last five years, most of it good. We took several trips, including a week in Hawaii, I’ve learned a bit about wine, been introduced to the music of The Old 97s, seen films I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, visited new restaurants and had my horizons otherwise broadened. I’ll go into greater detail in a later post or two, but my recent dates have been quite encouraging, one of them extremely so, and that gives me some hope. I mean, I’m now five years older than I was at the start of my most recent relationship, and one does wonder about one’s shelf life, especially at my age. I will admit that I’ve lost some weight this year due largely to my decreased drinking, increased walking and improved eating habits, but still, there’s always an element of self doubt regarding one’s own attractiveness to others.

I do also wonder about my ability to maintain a long term relationship. Maybe my Aspergers and general selfishness and lack of empathy mean I’m not going to find someone with whom to live out my years, but that way madness lies, so I’m not going to think about that too much in case I go into an emotional death spiral.

I do wonder, however if she had started seeing someone else before we ended it. She took herself off for a weekend a few months ago, to “Think things over” and I did wonder then if anything was going on. She didn’t travel on her own for the first four years we were together and I admit that I examined the picture she sent me very closely for any sign of a second person, but that may just have been my natural paranoia.

I don’t have a snappy ending for this post, maybe because the end was so anti-climactic and unemotional. However, having made the decision to move on, I feel much better in and about myself. Details to follow.

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Doctor In The House.

As you will no doubt be aware, the Fucktard in Chief has been  spewing crap about the Affordable Care Act, and how he is going to replace it, and in fact, has a plan that is almost ready, (Not!). What really cracked my up was his comment about reforming healthcare – “Who knew it would be so difficult?” Well, just about anyone with a sixth grade education.  I’m covered by the ACA, and have been for a couple of years. It’s worked pretty well for me, in that my prescriptions and office visits were free. I hardly ever need to see the doctor, and the only time I’ve needed medical care in the last 12 months was last autumn when I found myself one Saturday afternoon shivering like a bowl of jelly in an earthquake and freezing under several layers with a temperature of 104.5F – the result of a bladder infection.

Alas, when it came to renewal time,  my policy was not one of the options, so I was forced to find a new one. The choices were not fantastic, and due to my straitened circumstances I was forced to pick the plan with the lowest monthly payment, there being no option that was fully funded. I signed up and waited for my card and confirmation which duly arrived in the goodness of time. So far, so good, you may say,  but hold on a minute.

I have a couple of daily medications that make it possible for me to function as a human being. Those who knew the un-medicated SingleDad will tell you that I was not a pleasant person to be around. Okay, so I’m not very pleasant to be around when properly medicated, but at least when experiencing better living through chemistry, I am someone around whom it is possible to be. I refilled my meds late last year and received a 90 day supply of each for a total cost of bubkas. Zilch. Costenlos. Free. Nice, eh? Especially as I was used to only getting a 30 day supply with  each renewal.

About two weeks ago I walked up to the clinic to update my details and was told that as my doctor was not part of the network, he was not a preferred provider, so although I could see him, it would cost me more than seeing an in-network doctor. Ugh. The thing is, I like my doctor. He’s a thoroughly nice chap,  knows his stuff and is always willing to hear me out, respond to questions and provide useful advice, so I saw no need to go physician hunting after having him as my M.D. for  over a decade. I also asked the receptionist to pass on the message that I needed a refill on my meds, and she duly made a note and a few days later I received an automated message from the pharmacy informing me that my refills were ready for pickup.

I walked up there a couple of days later, and  was told by the 12 year old assistant that with my insurance, the cost for a 30 day supply of both meds was $64. Let me repeat that: $64 WITH MY INSURANCE. I would say that this put me in a bind, but that would be a complete and utter lie, as due to my finances, $64 a month is well beyond my means, so I told her I couldn’t afford them and left. Well, that’s not entirely the truth. You see, I could have afforded them had I selected one of the following options:

  1. Not pay my electricity bill
  2. Not pay my phone bill
  3. Not pay my internet bill
  4. Not buy any food for the kids.

I already don’t  buy food for myself except for essentials, so that last one isn’t me being mean. Which option would you have chosen? Please send your answer with an explanation not exceeding 100 words on the back of a $20 bill to…No, hang on, better make that the back of a blank cheque.

So, I’m fucked. And when I say fucked, I mean fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked. I do have a small secret stash, the result of having to stockpile a couple of years ago in anticipation of my ex cutting me from her insurance, but that won’t last forever. Thankfully, one of my meds is in traditional pill form, so I have been able to split them, allowing me to take half a pill every other day. “Yikes”, I hear you say, but seeing as I started out on 1/3 of my current dose,  and the effect was like flicking a switch, and the pills are extended release, I should be fine for a while. My other medication is in capsule form, so I will leave them until the pills run out and then take one every other day. On this schedule I reckon I have enough to last a couple of  months, although I have some trepidation about lowering my dose to essentially 1/8 of my required regime.

It’s not a pretty thought, but I have to make them last as long as possible. I did have an online interview last week, but seeing as I was told they would be making a decision some time early this week and I have yet to hear from them, I can pretty much guarantee that they won’t be offering me the job, but that’s a subject for a different pity party.

It will be interesting, in a morbid sort of way, to see which runs out first – the money or the meds. To be honest, I’m trying very hard not to think about it, for obvious reasons, but as you can imagine, both subjects are looming large, no matter what I do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?

I’m now entering what Sir Alex Ferguson, one time manager of Manchester United Football Club once famously described as “Squeaky bum time”. You see, ever since early February, when my hours were cut in half, I’ve been living on borrowed financial time. When working 40 hours a week I was earning enough to cover my bills and leave a bit over, sometimes, at the end of the month. Not so now. I did a quick calculation and as things stand at present, I will have to move out at the end of April.

I’m applying for jobs like crazy to no avail, I’ve sold my wedding and eternity rings, cashed in all my change and cut my spending to a bare minimum. I’m living off what I have in the fridge and pantry and with the exception of essentials, only  buy food for the kids. All this is not really going to help, but what are my options? I will have to find some way of paying for a storage unit and keeping gas in the car, but how long can I keep that up? My job contract runs through August, but if I’m living in the car – which is a very real possibility – how long can I keep it? If I lose the job, the situation becomes exponentially worse, and I don’t see someone like me lasting long on the streets.

I’m 52 and in fairly reasonable health, but without my meds, I’m sure to go into a tailspin. Those of you who knew me at school will attest to the fact that the un-medicated NWSD is not the kind of person who can cope, even when well fed and housed.To make matters worse, it means that I will lose contact with the kids. I can’t spend time with them if all I have is the car and nowhere to take them. I won’t have access to laundry or washing facilities, and having worked downtown, I know how quickly people deteriorate without access to basic services.

Unless I can find a job by the end of March, I am royally fucked. Seriously, this is an existential crisis that shows no sign of resolving itself in any kind of positive way. I don’t have a social network on which I can fall back, and I’m by no means certain that my sweetie will be willing to take me in until I can get a decent paying job and get a place of my own again. I would hope that she would, but if she took me in and I didn’t find a job before the money ran out, there’s no way she could support both of us on her wages.

Just writing this is making me depressed, so I am going to sign off now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m Coming Out.

“Ah, so that explains a lot” I hear you say. I know a couple of you were curious about the pink shirts. But before I go for the big reveal  (ooh! errr…) I need to backtrack a bit and start with a few questions.

With how many people from high school do you still have contact? University? Previous jobs? How many of your current coworkers do you regard as friends? IE with how many do you socialise outside work? How many neighbours do you know on a close basis and regard as friends?

If the answer to all of those questions is “None”, then welcome to my world. You see, I have this innate ability to bore the shit out of people, especially when talking about something that interests me. I have this incredible ability to antagonise people and turn them against me, to alienate them and say exactly the wrong thing ( usually what I happen to be thinking) at exactly the wrong time. I hate being in large, noisy crowds of strangers and really don’t like revealing personal information about myself and especially my kids. I keep myself to myself around people I don’t know and generally act with diffidence and an air of suspicion around strangers.

I’ve always been like that, I was always a loner as a child, and never part of any group or inclusive crowd at school, and that’s one of the reasons I’ve always done my best to avoid social situations. I go to my local pub, where I’m a member of an exclusive  group, but even with other members there, or on a crowded night I’m the one person sitting silently and reading “The Economist”. I can share a table and not say a word to the other people. How does that strike you?

Fast Forward to my second year at business school. Due to a freak confluence of events, I was able to attend one of the social evenings ( I know what I said, by my ex hated the school and everyone associated with it so attending was a major “Fuck you!” in her direction).  I was standing near the bar, minding my own business and not talking to anyone (no surprise there) when someone walked up  behind me and asked me “Are you ########?” I was, so replied in the affirmative to a not especially tall, strikingly attractive blonde woman who  introduced herself as the person who regularly sat behind me in Accounting class.  I had no idea who she was and indeed had no idea she and I had even been in the same room. She explained that she’d wanted to meet me after asking around and gleaning some information from people who knew me. She refused to give any names, but I had a pretty good idea.

We got talking, and I have to admit it was the most enjoyable conversation I’d had in a long time, as my companion was ( and indeed still is) an incredibly vivacious and forthright spirit who simply crackles with energy. After a while, she hit me with what I can only describe as the greatest pickup line in the history of humanity. Don’t get ahead of yourself: at the time she was engaged, and now is married. Even if she’d been single, I was still married, nevertheless, it was a question that made her one of my all time favourite people. She looked me in the eyes and at point blank range asked “Do you have Asperger’s Syndrome?”

Holy shit! And this barely half an hour after speaking to me for the first time. I pondered for a few seconds before replying. “I think so”.  You see, I  have an online friend who once sent me a link on an online diagnostic Asperger’s test, and I came up as on the spectrum, not enough to make me an internet billionaire, or even a slaughterhouse designer, but on the scale for sure.

Fast forward again to my best friend’s wedding (see “I Knew The Bride…). There were plenty of people from school there, and both my sweetie and I expected plenty of opportunities to socialise and catch up with people. Oh boy, where we wrong. Let me give you two examples. We ran into some people in the lobby and the subject of Chichen Itza came up. We mentioned that we’d booked a trip for the Friday with a company that only does small groups, and the response was that they were planning to visit the site as well. Our trip consisted of us and four Germans, and who should we bump into at Chichen Itza, but the four people we’d talked to just a couple of days previously. we said some quick hellos and then didn’t see them again. One of our group celebrated his 30th birthday on the last night, and we were informed of this, but guess what? We heard no more, not even a quick “Hey, we’re off to such and such a bar, why don’t you join us?”  In fact, during our entire stay, despite everyone knowing which room we were in, not one person included us in any event or gathering. In fact, apart from the bride and groom, no one even gave us the courtesy of a full conversation. See what I mean?

I will admit that the wedding reception may have contributed to this, but not to anything before: you see, we were at the table from hell – I wouldn’t have chosen to be at that table had my life depended on it. One couple I don’t talk to because of their bizarre opposition to having medical professionals present at a birth, one woman I thoroughly dislike ( entitled, spoiled princess), one woman who treats me with contempt and one couple who are pretty decent, but totally silent for most of the time.  It was a big, noisy crowd with a lot of strangers, so I wasn’t at my best, and I will admit to having drunk just a little too much. One guy, a posh Londoner really got on my nerves and I got into a bit of a spat with him, but wtf? Apparently the anti modern medicine said “Nice to see you” when he arrived, but damned if I heard it. I spent most of the evening trying to work out why he shook my hand.

At some point, the speeches began, and that’s where I lost it. The father of the bride, a thoroughly lovely man, spoke about his daughter, and how much she meant to him.  This got me thinking (never a good idea) about my own daughter and if I’ll live long enough to see her wedding day ( see “My Death”). I came over all maudlin and remained at the table drinking as everyone else moved towards the dance floor as the Mariachi band arrived. I drifted over to the back of the crowd out of boredom and couldn’t help  myself from bursting into a few rounds of “Sing when you’re winning,you only sing when you’re winning” when the band struck up “Quantanamera”. You can take the boy out of the football ground, but you can’t take the football ground out of the boy.

By the time they were done, my sweetie was not in the best of moods, as you can imagine. I assumed we were staying, but she pointed out that it would just be dancing from then on, and I hate dancing. I can’t dance. In fact, I’ve seen people on fire move better than me, or as I prefer to say “Charlie don’t surf”. I collapsed into bed, a drunken mess, and that’s all she wrote.

I won’t even go in to how I ruined our close friend’s Shivaree  when I ran out of steam and went to take a nap, blocking access to the bathroom by locking the bedroom door – I’ll save that for another post.

Come Thanksgiving, and things were not much better. We watched “I Heart Huckabees”, one of my sweetie’s favourite films, but I just didn’t get it and kept waiting for the plot to start. My advice: don’t, because it doesn’t. We had a bit of an argument about it and I turned in, again, slightly tired and emotional. The next day at breakfast she said “I think you have Asperger’s Syndrome” to which I replied, “Yeah, I know I do”.

New readers start here. So this is my question: Wtf do I do? Do I embrace it and damn the torpedoes? Do I hide it and pretend to give a shit or to be enjoying myself?  I  don’t see how therapy would help, but what would? Seriously, how do I avoid being even more  isolated than I am already? How do I tell  the people I know – they sure as heck don’t read this blog!

Write your answers on the back of a bottle of 26 year old single malt whisky and send it to ……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Death.

Lest you all start popping champagne corks and bursting into spontaneous renditions of “Happy Days Are Here Again”, let me assure you that I am in excellent health. Having turned 50 I recently underwent a  couple of medical tests and whilst they were both positive in their findings, they resulted in me spending more time than usual contemplating my mortality. Most people my age have college age kids, and most people with kids the ages of mine are a good ten to fifteen years younger than me, so this leaves me in a sort of generational netherworld.

I’m being purely selfish here, in that I often wonder if I will live long enough to see my grandchildren. Yes, I know how petty that sounds, but I see how much my dad enjoys spending time with my kids, and my mother just adored my daughter so it makes me jealous to some extent. My son is twelve and if things pan out as I hope, he will go on to get some sort of engineering PhD after graduation. He may well have to invent the particular branch of engineering in question, so at best, it may be 20 years before he starts a family. My daughter is only 9, so twenty years doesn’t seem unreasonable for her either, seeing as she is as needle-sharp as her brother. I hope that I will be a hale and hearty seventy year old, but one never knows what will happen. There is an old joke that goes: “How do you make God laugh? – tell him your plans”.

Whilst unpacking in my new home ( see “Space Oddity” – coming soon) I found a couple of old photographs: one was of my son when he was not yet two years old, the other of him and his sister taken a little over a year later. Not to get maudlin, but both pictures showed two adorable, sweet, happy and contented children and I couldn’t help but think about their development over the intervening years and how much wonder, joy, satisfaction and pride I’ve enjoyed in seeing them flourish. That sweet little round cheeked boy has now turned into a sensitive, intelligent, handsome young man and his sister is an insightful thinker, artist, soccer player and equestrian who is, I am sure, bound for greatness in at least one of those fields.

It breaks my spirit to think that I may not live long enough to see my putative grandchildren reach the age my children are at now. I’m pretty sure I won’t be around for their college graduations unless medical science makes some significant advances in the next two decades. Grandchildren are the payback generation, in that we put in immense amounts of physical, emotional and financial resources to ensure that our kids have as fulfilling a childhood as possible in the knowledge that when they themselves become parents we can sit back, reminisce about the early years and dote on our grandchildren who will never know what it was like to be a parent at the start of the century.

I think also that grandchildren are the ultimate validation of our parenting skills in that they are proof that we raised well rounded human beings who were fully aware of, and integrated into the world so that they had the skills to raise children who would be better human beings than their parents, as their parents were compared to their own parents. I know I should be living in the moment and enjoying seeing my kids turn into young adults, and I do, but there is part of my brain that just can’t let go of the thought of all that I will be missing.

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