If I could do anything, be it actor, knight or farmer
I would give it all away, so i could be your father.
We all have them. Or rather we have several small breaking points for varying situations and for various stages of our lives, with the ultimate breaking point being to chuck it all in and disappear off to our own private Narnia, leaving everything else behind.
From being ignored in supermarkets to having somebody you’re talking to, turn and start a new conversation with somebody else whilst you’re still talking to them, to being treated like a non-person and taken for granted, to being spoken to like you’re a 5 year old. We’ve all have had times when we’ve thought…
“Why am I putting up with this disrespect? That really is enough…”
And it doesn’t always mean losing your temper and trashing a place either. Although i find that that can tend to be my default setting. Sometimes it’s just the quiet acceptance that things have gotten to the point where they can no longer be tolerated or repaired.
I made a joke about this the other day to the LWL cast about Tiddles suddenly and for no clear reason, going into our old dressing up box and pulling out a toy machine gun that Jake bought many years ago. Tiddles kept pointing it at me and ‘shooting’ me and me being the good dad, made a big show about being shot-head back, tongue out, the whole noisy death-to then sit up and carry on with what I was doing, only for Tiddles to keep doing it and for me to keep doing the whole dramatic death scene over and over until I suddenly thought…he keeps doing it because I keep getting up. He keeps shooting me and looking at the gun, because he wants me to stay dead, not play dead!
I want to be a dad to both my boys, but it does get a little difficult when it’s clear sometimes that one of them really doesn’t want you around.
So when do I say, ‘that really is enough now…’?
I don’t know. Maybe I’ll never know. Maybe I’ll just keep plugging away oblivious to the big fuck off sign that he’s holding up, both literally and figuratively.
I would, as it says in the line at the top, give it all up just to be his father if he’d let me. But what does giving it all up mean? Do i give up everything, or do I give up trying? Do I give up trying to be his dad, and just be ‘dad’ with whatever that title means now?
Breaking points. We’ve all got them, somewhere. Anybody who says that they don’t is probably being walked over as we speak. It just feels that I seem to be reaching several all at once in all walks of life.
I don’t know…
Sing, you beautiful boy. Sing as if your life depends upon it, just sing. You seem to know 95% of the words, making up the ones your active brain cant quite make out, but that’s more than enough. I’ll help you when I can, even though you don’t actually want me to.
I’ll do it, because its a way in.
We’ve sung together before, and we’ll sing together again. I’ve sung to you and you’ve even appeared to listen – at least once or twice.
But you sing my boy.
I love to hear it. Because to hear you sing gives me a strange peace. When I’m sitting here alone sometimes, and you’re in your room and you start singing…I stop and listen. It doesn’t matter what it is, theme song, a vocalisation of a film theme, nursery rhyme, Christmas song (in April), it really doesn’t matter. You’re just there, within touching distance, and I feel I can grab you and hold you, and never let you go.
Because you’re right there in front of me…just there.
And you’re singing, my quiet Prince.
“Sing. And I’ll sing with you, my arms are open wide.”
My arms are, and will forever be open wide, waiting and hoping that one day I’ll be able to wrap them around you and have you return the hug. And all because I can hear you singing.
So you sing, my beautiful boy. Sing with a freedom that comes from your innocence. May you forever have that freedom to do exactly what you want to do.
And I’ll be right here, arms wide open, forever waiting for that day.
So sing, my Narnian Prince…
No matter what…
As anybody who follows these blogs may know, I love ‘Rocky’, the series of films starring Sylvester Stallone. Even ‘Rocky V’, which although is the weakest of the films – Stallone hates it – it does contain one of the most inspirational speeches that he has ever written. Search it out on YouTube. It’s the speech that Rocky’s trainer, Mickey gives to Rocky in a flashback, and its sad, motivational and beautiful all in the space of a few minutes.
But ‘no matter what’, is a phrase that is used a few times in the films. And it means, unsurprisingly, whatever happens. It’s a phrase that sprang to mind the other day as I contemplated the advance of time, specifically on my body.
Next month I’ll be 49. A whole year off from being 50. A third of the way through my life (if you’ve read the blogs or seen the play, you’ll know what that means). But I was wondering this as I sat thinking one morning after exercising.
How long can I carry on being his Superman? How long can i carry on being his protector, the one who saves him from danger, the one who is always there for him?
“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…”
But when do I stop or do i ever stop? Or have I already reached the point when I look at him and say, ‘I am no longer your Superman’?
See, in my mind, I’m still 25. I can still throw myself around, take punishment, get up and go again. My body however has different ideas. Don’t get me wrong, I can still throw myself around, take punishment, get up and go again, but injuries eventually begin to take their toll and age has a crafty way of reminding you that you ain’t as young as springtime no more.
But there’s something that keeps me going. Something that doesn’t want me to stop, to give in. And no matter what, I’m going to keep going, keep pushing, training, staying strong, just so that I can keep being there for him, and for The Eldest Child, and anybody else that needs me. That’s my ‘motivisation’, it’s what I ‘mentalize’ when I look inward and wonder why I bother carry on doing what I’m doing.
So, just how long can i carry on being his Superman? For as long as he needs me, whether he knows it or not.
And will I always be his Superman?
Yes…absolutely…cos im always gonna love you…
No matter what…
I tell Tiddles that I love him every night. Every night I tell him,
‘Goodnight, love you, sleep well, sweet dreams, see you in the morning.’
I also tell The Eldest Child the same thing and TCMH, but they can acknowledge it for what it is. A declaration, a promise, a wish.
Tiddles is a different story. When I tell him, it’s really just words to him, just noise. Something to be listened to whilst trying to watch his iPod. Something to put up with. Something else that he endures.
But, every now and then, I see it. A little flash, almost a spark of…something. It is usually in the briefest of brief glances my way, and it’s almost a struggle for him to know just what it is he’s supposed to do. You can almost see the momentary confusion on his beautiful face as he hears the words, knows that he will repeat it back, but somehow aware that there is something more there. But he’s not sure what it is. All of that in a microsecond.
And I think it’s because that just recently there has been a change in him. He’s two weeks away from his 18th birthday and it’s almost as if he is edging into another phase of his life. Unsure of these new feelings he now may be experiencing, it’s like he has taken a step back (in a good way) to think about what’s going on in his life and I seriously feel that he has suddenly become a bit more aware of his surroundings, his family and of me.
He still shouts and gets upset, he still hates it when his mum goes out…
There is definitely something going on in Narnia. I sincerely, truly hope that he can hold onto that magical state that, if we’re honest, we would all dearly live in given half a chance. But I also hope (quietly) that the bridges between our two worlds are becoming stronger?
As with everything, I can only take it a day at a time, and sometimes I don’t even have that luxury. But I’ll take what’s on offer right now, because I’m hoping that it will last. I’ll always tell him everyday that I love him, that he sleeps peacefully, that I hope his dreams will be glorious and that I’ll be there in the morning.
And maybe that message is finally getting through to my Quiet Prince.
70…70 bloody blogs…70…sorry, I’m just digesting that number. I get like this with every milestone that I reach, only because I can never accept that I’m still writing these and that they are still be read all over the world, (Bolivia, anybody?) but they are and I am. Onwards…
I wrote in my last blog, that I feel that I am a failure as a father to Tiddles. I had a number of responses to that, all of which were welcomed and accepted and whilst they didn’t change my perception of the relationship that we have – evidence of which has been painfully present in the last few weeks – it made me think about what it is that we actually DO have.
It’s hard to define what we have these days, but only because it isn’t a normal relationship. But then, what is a ‘normal’ relationship between a late 40’s father and his 17 going on 18 year old son?
If it’s anything like most stereotypical relationships, then he will be moody (check), spend a lot of time in his room (check), eat a lot (check), hardly talk to me (check), walk around with his headphones on (check) and want things bought for him (check). So, in effect, I have what could be deemed as a perfectly normal father/son relationship!
So why isn’t that enough for me? I dont know. Most dad’s would probably be happy with that, but for me, its not enough. I think i feel cheated. It’s what prompted the last blog and certainly what inspired the blogs to be written in the first place, that sense of having lost something.
And then I saw a video on the Facebook posted by a friend and featuring J K Rowling, who was talking about failure. Without failure, she would never have written some book about a child wizard or something, because she never would’ve reached the point of having nothing to lose. And whilst our situations are very different, the message is the same. I wrote last time about being a failure, at least in my eyes. BUT, I can also see that there is the possibility of success, however small those successes may be.
And I think that’s the important thing. I have many thoughts, ideas, projects that I want to pursue and try out, and I really don’t have anything to lose now, do I? I may not have the relationship that I want from Tiddles, but it is a relationship all the same. He may not like me, in fact I am convinced he doesn’t, but every now and again, there is the odd flash of what could’ve been. That bridge, however fragile, reaches across from Narnia and he dashes over, gives me the briefest of hopes, before he dashes back and collapses the bridge.
But it is a hope. And it’s something to hold onto. The flickering of a candle at the end of a long dark tunnel. It’s there, but you really have to look for it and keep it in view, or it’ll be snuffed out. So, although I feel I have failed, I also feel that there is hope. Things may never improve between us, or may never get back to what we had before, but there is that candle, right there.
And I can either stay where I am, or I can try and move towards it. It may, just may, be closer than I think. But I won’t know, if I don’t keep trying to get there. I’m going to lose sight of it now and again, but so long as I keep getting these little flashes of inspiration and hope, then I’ll have something to guide me towards my Quiet Prince.
I’ve got nothing to lose now, have I?
I have failed a lot of people in my 48 years. Everybody has in one way or another, of course, but some people also have a million pounds. It’s just the ‘way it is’…
Of course, when you measure your ‘failure’ against other people’s, you inevitably come out ahead of some and behind with others.
And of course there are different levels of failure. I once failed to look both ways at a Zebra crossing and was run over by a zebra, so in essence I failed with that joke. So failure, in its objective term, is relative.
So I have failed as Tiddles’ dad.
I’m not the father that I wanted to be to him. I wanted to be so much more. I realise that I’m echoing both our play, ‘Living with Luke’ and ‘Doctor Who’ here but again, that’s the way it is.
I’ve failed him.
It can be argued that I haven’t failed him in that I’m still around for him, but what does that mean to him?
It means absolutely nothing. He doesn’t ever think,
“I wonder if dad would like to do this with me one day/go to that place/watch this thing…”
His thought process where I am concerned goes something like,
“What does he want? He’s in my way. I don’t want to say anything to him. Go away, go away. What’s he saying? What’s he saying? He’s in my way. He’s talking to me. I’ll hit him…”
I’m writing this in the morning, having endured another poor nights sleep, but before we went to bed last night he punched me in the stomach both on his way to the bathroom and coming out of it.
I’m not the dad I wanted to be to him. I’m a very poor copy of somebody else. A scary dad. A dad who is tolerated and dealt with, with as little contact as possible.
I’m not Luke’s dad, I’m Tiddles dad.
I’m the dad who’s not actually a dad, more of an interference. Like a mote in your eye, floating around your vision. It’s always there, but it’s annoying.
And that’s me.
So I’ve failed as a dad. His dad. And it’s not something I can fix with hard work and a positive mental attitude, because the damage is done. It really is set in stone.
But, even though I know this can never be fixed, I keep going. I’ve given up on so many things in my life that I’ve deemed to be failures, because it was the easy thing to do. But this…I just can’t let this one go.
I’m tired, fed up, currently demotivated by a series of things, so this would be very easy to pass off as another tick in the Hannam loss box.
But I just can’t. It’s a one way street, certainly. But I really don’t want to miss a thing.
So there you have it. My failure as a father to my son, Luke. And how I’m trying to be a father to Tiddles.
Isn’t it weird Tiddles, this life?
This week, I’m going to the wedding of Shane (who plays the Ref and other roles in Living with Luke – The Play) and his lovely lady Jazz. I wish them nothing but happiness and joy and all that they wish for. It took me back, Tiddles, to when your mum, TCMH and I were married, nearly 23 years ago BC (before children). We had big dreams. TCMH was going to be a jobbing singer and I was going to be a working actor. Nothing huge, just regular work that would keep us comfortable. I’d decided not to pursue my budding wrestling career to follow the acting dream. I toyed with writing when The Eldest Child came along. Children’s stories mainly. Nothing came of it. We moved into our present house, and then you came along and everything changed. I had an idea for a pirate story about brothers but that never came to anything either. The dreams of becoming an actor faded as bills needed paying and regular work hooked it’s soul-destroying, depressive claws into me.
Then the hammer blow. And suddenly, I’m the father of an Autistic boy.
The years pass and I write a book about a comedy pirate. I start wrestling again part time and I meet Paul Tyrrell – wrestling legend. After a couple of years though, I stop wrestling again for various reasons. I’m noticing that you are starting to be a little less tolerant of me, to the point where you are hitting me for whatever reason. It’s fine. I tell everyone it’s ok.
But it’s not ok. It’s tearing me apart inside.
And then the second hammer falls. And now you’re an autistic boy with epilepsy. The hitting increases, as does the rejections. It’s fine, I tell everyone. It’s ok.
But it’s not fine, it’s not ok. My boy, my beautiful little baby, doesn’t want me in his life.
So I start writing about it. All of it. All the stuff that was inside is now coming out. Some good, some bad. Funny-yes, but also some very sad, heartbreaking memories that has me blinking away tears as I write it down.
And then people started reading it. And more people and more in different countries. And then through Shane, Paul Davies comes along and wants to make a play about it? And then I meet Ben, who turns out to be a brilliant StageSon, and then we need a wrestler and Paul Tyrrell re-enters and becomes The Autistic Shadow. And I meet Liz and Neville and Anna Kennedy. And I write a book about you and I. And suddenly, this weekend, I’m going to the wedding of The Ref and his lady.
And all because, Tiddles, you were autistic. I would never have met these people were it not for you. The opportunities to reach so many people, touched in whatever way by the Autistic spectrum have all been because of you. It sounds odd to thank you for it, because I want to be your dad. I want to be the father to you that you deserve, and not the father that you continue to endure and tolerate. But without you, and all the heartbreak that your condition has caused me, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
I’m right where life needs me to be, my beautiful, wonderful, distant son.
Love Dad X