Skip to content

Living with Luke 46

It’s Official!

Tiddles really doesn’t like me! How do I know it’s official? Because TCMH has finally noticed it. For a while, she’s been trying to justify his actions…

“It’s the way you speak to him…”
“It’s because he knows he can get away with it with you…”
“He does love you, he says that to me…”

And

“It’s the way you say hello to him…” (I love that one).

To show how much I listen to her, even though she thinks that I don’t, I have actually changed the way that I say hello to Tiddles. It’s not many fathers that can say they’re surprised by the results and nor can I.

No change.

If anything, it’s actually gotten worse over the past few months. I can’t explain it. It seems to be the thing now that he punches me in the stomach, or he’ll kick me, or smack me every time that he sees me and that can even be when I walk from one room to another. The other week, he punched me in the nose – no reason, he just did it. Makes your eyes water doesn’t it?

He’s nearly 16. He’s nearly as tall as me, and at his last Epilepsy assessment, he’d lost nearly a stone in weight. He looks fantastic compared to the chunky monkey he was just over a year ago. But of course with that comes the fact that we’re both getting older and in all likelihood, he will get stronger whilst I will get weaker. I’m taking all the necessary steps to be his protector for many years to come, but as anybody will tell you, it can be bloody hard sometimes to keep going and I’m wondering at times, why the effing hell do I bother?

Just who is it that I’m doing it for? And having thought about it all, I think it’s for everybody.

I want to be the cool dad to The Eldest Child, the one he won’t be embarrassed by.

I want to be the extraordinary husband to TCMH, the one who doesn’t look like the stereotypical late 40-something male.

I want to be the good brother, cousin and friend, the one who people enjoy being with.

And coupled with all of that, I want to be Tiddles’ dad. But what does that mean, exactly?

It’s all of the above, I guess. There is a train of thought that goes something like, the harder you try and pull something to you, the easier it slips away from you. Maybe I’m trying too hard with Tiddles? I’ve tried the cool route, where I’ve barely said anything to him. He actually liked that, but I couldn’t stand it. I’ve tried to break his repetitive responses by speaking differently to him, but all that did was make him more creative in his negative replies. I’ve tried many different things, but maybe I shouldn’t try anything at all?

Would that make me less of a father?

To be honest, I think that it would, because although he doesn’t enjoy my company and really doesn’t care about me being his dad, it matters to me. In my mind I need him to know that he is loved by me and that I’ll always be there to protect him, no matter what and no matter how old I get or how weak I end up. I will continue to show him, whether he likes it or not and I’ll keep showing him and telling him until that day comes when I can’t do so any more, because I’m his dad. I am always going to be there for you Tiddles.

So deal with it, son…

Love Dad.

Living with Luke 45

It’s been a while…

With everything else that has been going on with bringing ‘Living with Luke – The Play’ to life, I realised that the very thing that had brought it into existence in the first place had been hibernating. Let me remedy that.

TCMH went out the other day to help celebrate a friends birthday. (I say a friend, but Mr Freeze, as we shall henceforth know him as the temperature always seems to drop when he is in the room, makes Leonard Cohen look like a kids entertainer, but that’s just between us.) Anyhow, Tiddles was asleep when she went and so we didn’t get the usual “come back mummy!” or “You stay there!” or “go away daddy…!”

I thought no more of it, only because I had forgotten about it more than anything else.

A little while later, I could hear from upstairs,

“Where’s my mummy?”

And then later still,

“When does mummy come back?”

As I said, I had almost forgotten this, which was ironic in a way because one of the lines that I have been saying all of last week during the play, which had itself come from an earlier blog was,

“You cry when your mummy goes out but you barely acknowledge my exits. You only sit with me when you want something and never for just a cuddle…”

I suppose because I had been the one going out each night, he had gotten used to/was quite happy about me not being there. It was fine though, sort of…or it was until he came down the stairs holding TCMH’s ID badge with her picture on it, held it up to me and pointed to her face.

“When does mummy come back?” he said. I didn’t think it was a question, but it’s always difficult to tell. I laughed because of the situation but in hindsight, it was a bit sad.

And I wondered if this is my fault somehow and not for the first time.

Doing the play in Colchester last week made me confront the words I myself had written. When I write the blogs, they are all stream of consciousness, my thoughts and feelings written down in one short space of time, with very little editing. So when I had to actually learn the words I had put down, it made me stop and think about them in a whole new light. And it was hard, because I had to re-live those feelings over and over again and I began to question why Tiddles was like this with me? What had I done that had caused him to seemingly hate his dad?

And the answer was, that I had absolutely no idea. It was a mystery then as it is now and I grope around in the dark, searching for his hand to pull me back to the light. But either I keep missing it or maybe, it’s just not there. But I have to keep searching for it, in the hope that possibly I’ll get lucky one day and find it. If I do, I’ll never let it go…

TCMH said to me the other day,

“I’m glad that you’re Tiddles’ dad. I’m glad you’re The Eldest Child’s dad too, obviously, but I am glad that you are Tiddles’ dad…”

I am not glad that I am Tiddles’ dad however. But that isn’t as harsh as it may first seem.

Because despite all the pain and the heartache and the distance between us emotionally, the shouting, the crying, the constant rejection…

I’m glad that he is my son.

Living with Luke 44

All along, right from the very start, these blogs have really been all about love.  The love that one man has for his son, his children, his family and his friends.  The love from some is not always returned, which is sad but bearable.  But the absence of love from the one person is what drives this blog.  Without that there wouldn’t be a need to journal my thoughts and fears.  

It’s also about the passage of time and the distressing way it which it slips through our fingers when we just want to hold onto it and make it last just a little bit longer. Last week, I was 21 and had the whole world in front of me.  Yesterday, I was 31 and Tiddles was born.  Today I am 46 and struggling to recover from injuries that I would’ve brushed off before.  Broken fingers, something Wristy, ankles beginning to object to years and years of kicking a ball, something Back related and a slowly receding hairline are all contributing to the general feeling of ‘why?’. 

‘Why’ am I doing this?  ‘Why’ do I even bother about it?  ‘Why’ don’t I just stop, curl up on the sofa and just leave it all alone?  Why does anybody?  Because they have to.  

In truth, I’m a lazy man.  If I can get away with not doing something then I will.  If I could look and be fit without having to work at it, then I would.  If I could earn money by doing very little, then I would.  And if I could be just a dad to Tiddles without all the pain and heartache that goes with it, then I most surely would.

Orson Welles, when asked once why he was always so busy, admitted in an interview that he was basically a lazy man.

“The basic failing of all lazy people is that they have to work TOO hard, otherwise they would never do anything at all.” he said.

I stay fit because I have to.  And I work hard at being Tiddles’ dad, because I want to. The poster for the play based on these blogs, has the line, ‘The Fight He Didn’t Want!’ Too bloody right I didn’t, but it’s a fight I’ll never back down from either.  Why? Because I’m lazy and it would be very easy to just give up, walk away and be free from all of this hassle, rejection and heartache.  But in my mind, as much as I think that he doesn’t give me a thought, I also believe that Tiddles needs me.  He needs somebody to smack, to punch, to jump on.  He needs somebody who can deal with his frustrations and his annoyance at seemingly trivial things. He also needs somebody to be there when he wants to come and visit. He knows that I’ll always be that person and will be there.

He needs me.  Because nobody else was suitable for the job.  I was picked out because I was the only suitable candidate for Tiddles.  Knowing that of course, does make me wonder why, if I was destined to be his dad, does he dislike me so much? Or am I just looking for his love where there may not be any?  A writer friend of mine who watched a rehearsal recently, pointed out in her article that if Tiddles were a normal teenager, would I get the affection I crave?  Or would the teenage Luke be as distant from me as he is now?  Nobody knows of course, it’s all speculation.  Tiddles is who he is and I as a result of that, am who I am.  

I can see him waving at me now and again from Narnia and when he drifts close enough to me, I can help him across to see me.  We hug, we play, we chase and then I turn around and he is gone again and I can see him drifting away.  But should I just give up?  

Of course not because, Luke Hannam, I’m too lazy to give up…

Living with Luke 43

Whenever I write these posts I always seem to have a song going round in my head that somehow links to Tiddles. At the moment, it’s ‘Feather’ by the brilliant Devin Townsend, which I used in a flipagram video a few months back – please check it out, because it is a wonderful and very beautiful song! It contains the lines,

And all I ever think about is you,
It’s only father feathers.
It’s only feathers.
They say heaven was in tune, your point of view,
I try to see your point of view

The truth is of course that although he is on my mind all the time, I don’t actually think about him all the time, because it would be impossible to and that is a horrible thing to admit, I know.

I’m not Jesus Christ, I’ve come to accept that now.

As a result, I will sometimes miss things that he does. I’m as guilty as anybody of taking what Tiddles does for granted, even when I don’t intend to. I wish that I was a 100% perfect father but I’m not, no father is or can be. But being a sado-masochistic self hater, it doesn’t stop me beating myself up – mentally, I hasten to add. I let others beat me up physically. It’s called ‘Foot-Ball’…or sometimes it’s called Living with Luke…

At our rehearsal for the play the other night, I came up with a line regarding one of the scenes, which was that “Nobody can see a shadow in the dark…” Sensing potential ridicule I shot it down with the follow-up line, “And that’s how Cod Philosophy was born…” See, I didn’t want anybody to think I was being pretentious, (‘Prententious? Moi?’) so I did what I always do and got in first to prevent being mocked for being so. I’m a master of the self-deprecating put down. I don’t let others abuse me when I am so good at going home and abusing myself…(pause for laugh).

But it’s very easy to let others see you as the victim in all of this. I’m not the victim, I’m the consequence, maybe even the cause. Tiddles’ condition is genetic, it’s got to come from somewhere. But apportioning blame is not the game here. The game is document our relationship as Father and Son, Tiddles and The Old Man, Luke and Daddy.

We seem to have reached an silent agreement with our relationship at this moment in time. He loathes the sight of me when I walk in or say anything to him, then relents and allows me to give him a cuddle. It’s almost an automatic response now, one that I am getting used to. He’s more – how can I put it? – cuddlier. He’s getting taller by the week however. My ‘little’ boy is disappearing slowly. And that is bloody sad, at least for me. I absolutely hate it, mainly because he seems to have done it all of a sudden. But then I guess it’s something all parents experience as their child gets older. It doesn’t make the sense of loss any easier though only because to me, I haven’t had the relationship others have had with their children, that my parents had with me and that I was lucky to have had with The Eldest Child.

It hurts. It hurts a lot, because the days of his childhood have disappeared.

But these days he’s more likely to sit with me and put his arm around me, or do his version of tickling, which is actually more like scratching my belly, but I laugh anyway because it’s his idea of contact. So far, that’s as far as we have got. To be honest, I really don’t know what I am expecting, I probably never will do, so I’ll just take the allowances where they come.

It’s a sad but true fact that Tiddles and I will grow old together, just from afar. Always together, but always apart.

Living with Luke 42

So…

My mum asked me a few months ago,
‘How long do you think you’ll be able to call Tiddles cute?’
I understood what she meant as he’s grown up a lot in the last year and is maybe half a foot shorter than I am. How long is it going to acceptable for him to hold my hand as we walk down the street? How long will people tolerate this jumping, shouting, loudly singing ‘man’?

To be honest, as long as it takes.

He’s 6 months from his 16th birthday and will from then on, no longer be considered a child. Not on public transport, not for lottery tickets, not even in social situations where once he would be thought of as a child. He will no longer be an teenager, but a young adult. But despite that, Tiddles is still and probably may always be, ‘childlike’. There’s no getting away from the fact that although his voice has dropped, and hair is growing in all the usual places, and he will eventually be able to stand over me, he will always be my ‘boy’. He’ll always see the world through his child’s eyes, where everything is black and white, fair or unfair, right or wrong. There will never be ‘grey’ areas for him, because it either is or it isn’t. There’s no in-between for him. I guess it’s the same with our relationship. There hasn’t been a time in the past week or so when he hasn’t shouted at me or just refused to acknowledge or even look at me when I have come home or spoken to him. I’ll smile at him, or go to cuddle him, or just kiss him – nothing. Or maybe the most grudging of returns.

And yet he is capable of great affection even when it may seem to the outsider that the affection is anything but. There are times when he wants to play, when he wants to grab me, throw me on the floor and be with me, even if that does involve some apparent violence. I learned a long time ago that this is our way, our bond. But there have also been times just lately when he has been happy to sit with me, to actually cuddle me and I wonder sometimes if this could be a tiny breakthrough, whatever that may be?

Or maybe he just senses that something has happened again and this is the only way he knows he can help.

We were burgled last week and lost a few items, one of which was Tiddles’ iPad. TCMH tried to explain to him that somebody had taken his iPad but it’s difficult. He dutifully repeated back everything his mother said to him and then proceeded to go and search for the missing item, getting slightly upset when he couldn’t find it. But that upset was very short lived and he hasn’t asked for it again. So, maybe it wasn’t so important after all and his ‘letting go’ of it shows a deeper understanding of what’s happened than we realise. I certainly hope so.

But it’s coincidence with the increase in attention and affection? It may be just that, a coincidence, but I’m not complaining. I’ll accept the shouting, the ignoring and everything else that he does that makes me feel unloved by him for all the cuddles and attention he gives me that make me feel like his dad, even if only for a short time.

I posted a speech from ‘Rocky Balboa’ after we were ‘bugled’ when Rocky is talking to his son (‘It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward…’) and there was a little bit on the end which I didn’t use because I wanted to use it now and change slightly for Tiddles in Narnia.

‘I’m always gonna love you no matter what. No matter what happens. You’re my son and you’re my blood. You’re the best thing in my life….
Don’t forget to visit your father.’

I’ve got you Tiddles. I’ve got you.

Living with Luke 41

So…

Following on from the last couple of blogs about Tiddles and his love or seeming lack of…this was the conversation that TCMH and I had a few days ago…be warned, it contains lyrics of an 80′s nature…

“I was talking to Michelle yesterday about Amy.” Said TCMH. “She asked Amy if she knew what love is…”

“Did she want her to show it?” Said I.

“No,” replied TCMH, “Amy said she didn’t know what love is…”

“Perhaps she knows she can show it…?”

TCMH paused and had the type of look on her face that said, We’re married…why, exactly?
“I’m just going to keep on saying it until I get a laugh…”I shrugged.
“You’ll be waiting a long time…” she murmured. The withering put down. She may not come up with relentless jokes, but TCMH does have a nice line in devestating humour. I asked her once what it was like being married to a comedy genius.

“I dunno,” she replied, “I’ll ask Billy Connolly’s wife…”

This blog has been difficult to write this week, due to my general mood which has been low. I’ve been fed-up, sad, pissed off and generally feeling a bit sorry for myself. I’ve not been myself, but then again, maybe this is what I am really like and the ‘other’ me is the fake?

However, although I often think that Tiddles doesn’t really have any thoughts for anybody else except himself, he seems to sense that something is up with ‘Goodbye Daddy’. I’ve had some unprompted cuddles and…well, that’s it really, unprompted cuddles. I’ve done my level best not to be sad or annoyed in his presence, after all, nothing that’s happening to me right now is his fault-or anybody else in the house for that matter-so I’ve been happy and jolly with him, or at least as much as he will allow me to be. He still shouts at me, like he did today. He still hides from me, like he did today. But just occasionally he slips across briefly from Narnia and makes me feel like his dad again.

And in the greater scheme of things, that is really all that I am after.

It’s a sad fact that men in general are thought of as a bit of a joke these days. We’re vilified in the media and told as a gender to ‘man up’, to stop being pathetic, weak, less manly, whatever that means. A cold is brushed off as ‘Man-Flu’, the inference being that men can never be as sick as women and that we as fathers, can never have the same emotional attachment to our children that mothers do. So what do we do? We plough on, burying our feelings, our fears, not wanting the ridicule of society pointing it’s collective finger at us and telling us to ‘man up!’ and we try to become the very thing that everybody is telling us we should be, only to be told that we are NOW being ‘a bloke’, a lout, thuggish, unfeeling and worse, uncaring. We’re fighting a battle that was lost years ago. And we try desperately to express ourselves and vent our frustrations in other ways. Like this blog…

I realised today that has been about a year since I started writing ‘Living with Luke’. It was a way of putting down on paper exactly what I had been burying for the last 12/13 years, my feelings, my fears. Has writing them changed my relationship with Tiddles for the better? No. If anything it has only served to highlight just how far he has drifted away from me and continues to do so.

I wrote in my first blog how it was like somebody had broken in during the night and replaced Luke with Tiddles, an almost exact replica of my son and how I have silently grieved for the boy that might’ve been. This past year has shown me that I miss him more and more everyday. I’m not the man I was. I’ll always be his father, but I may never really be his dad. That’s my penance for whatever hurt I have caused the universe. But I’ll man-up and just do the best I can for my beautiful boy and try not to show any weakness to him, no matter how much it hurts to have him reject me.

I heard a song the other day that I loved but hadn’t heard for years. I fell in love with the video and the song become a big favourite of TCMH and I. Upon hearing the song again, it’s another song that couldve been written about Tiddles, as it contains the lyrics,

If this world is wearing thin,
And you’re thinking of escape,
I’ll go anywhere with you,
Just wrap me up in chains.
But if you try to go alone,
Don’t think I’ll understand.

Stay with me.

Heartbreaking stuff, especially more so later when Siobhan Fahey sings,

You better hope and pray,
That you make it safe,
Back to your own world.
You better hope and pray,
That you wake one day,
Back in your own world…

If only…

Living with Luke 40

So…

Readers of these blogs are well aware of my trouble dealing with Tiddles the Silverback when I come into the room or indeed home as he appears to loathe the very sight of me.  As an experiment last week, TCMH suggested that instead of saying hello or indeed anything to him when I sees him, to instead just ignore him and wait for him to come to me. Her reasoning being that if you try and get a cat to sit with you, the cat will do the complete opposite and wander away.  So, this week I’ve tried exactly that and it has been a success, in that he has totally ignored me, hasn’t said a word to me and generally has had a lovely time…

Today is my birthday and I am 46. Handsome, witty, charming, athletic are all words. Now I reckon by my calculations that I have 104 years left, give or take a year. But what if I didn’t? What if I had just a year or even just a day left with Tiddles? And naturally that got me thinking…

Tiddles…Would you miss me if I wasn’t here?

Would you miss me if I wasn’t here?
Would your days still play out the same way?
Would you still do all the things that we used to do?
Would you miss me if I wasn’t here?

Would you miss me if I wasn’t here, my son?
The question’s rhetorical, I know you won’t talk,
For you, It’s not worth answering,
So the point is moot.
But would you miss me if I wasn’t here, my son?

Would you miss me if I wasn’t here?
Would you miss all the chasing, the carrying, the trips?
Would you miss all my kisses, having someone to hit?
Spending hours in the water on cold summer days,
Would you miss me if I wasn’t here?

Would you miss me if I wasn’t here?
I’ve raged at a god that doesn’t exist,
I’ve shouted and cried and shaken my fists,
But you’re still my son, and one that i’d miss,
But would YOU miss me if I wasn’t here?

Would you miss me if I wasn’t here?
You hide when I walk in, you won’t say hello,
You often act as if you would rather it be,
Just you. And mummy. And your ipod. And cake.
Would you miss me if I wasn’t here?

Would you miss me if I wasn’t here?
My heart it breaks daily, just like in the books,
But there’s no Happy Ever After, believe me I’ve looked,
But maybe one day, my son, you’ll return to me…

So, Luke Hannam…

Would you miss me, if I wasn’t here?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 597 other followers