Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Menace's birthday, oh and the run!

No amount of obsessive weather watching made any difference, it hissed it down all day!

The week before I worked myself up into a crescendo of stress. I didn't even realise it until it was too late. Unfortunately the timing was awful, my busiest time of year, and I really wanted the event to go well. In a strange way I was more concerned about it than I was with the funeral! Kevin had told me what he wanted at the funeral, but I had nothing but my own wits to get me through this, and also I had to run a race, and mark an awful lot of exam papers. So I did what anyone in my situation would do - I baked 40 brownies and two birthday cakes, and invited three children over for a sleepover! Of course, that had to be the antidote!

It wasn't! (strange that) I also found myself in a strange emotional state. I really wanted to do Kevin proud, but I was also angry and having to live with this constant dilemma of his memory. Wanting to do right and not knowing if you can, and also being angry and having to do it all alone is a strange state to be in.

So I just got stressy, faffed alot and watched the dog misbehave (my barometer of how I am feeling). I know where all this bad feeling came from, Kevin was the one who was good at birthdays, and I knew that I had to step up to the mark and take another role that I didn't really want to! And just when I had so many other things to do too. I hated writing the card - love mummy (no daddy, that's it).

The run was hard, they have changed the course since I last did it, and it is very "undulating" especially in the second half! As I ran it I thought of Kevin, made piece with my bad feeling of the week. Parts of the route were runs we had done together and I felt he was there with me, I also ran in his Beating Bowel Cancer vest.

As ever I was ambitious in my timings having suggested to The White Lion that we would start the barbecue at 1.30, this did mean that there was no time for relaxing, it was staight home for a shower and then off again. Despite the awful weather we all had a good day, I cried a few times, I hope poeple forgave me and I really feel that we did Kevin proud. We raised over £8000 for Beating Bowel Cancer, thanks to all who suppported, ran, sponsored etc.

I managed to sell the T-shirts (to recoup my cost and add to the charity pot). I was worried I would forever be wearing T-shirts of Kevin! I thought I may be like Miss Havisham from Great Expectations. The team had been sort of viral, it grew and grew as we got nearer the day, so I had ordered them not entirely sure who wanted them, but thankfully people were happy to have them.

And even better, The Menace had a great birthday, he enjoyed the fun run with his friends and teachers, and then playing in the marquee at the White Lion with all the kids. He was so tired when we left, he didn't put up a fight at all, and I was so concerned I nearly left the dog! So thats another first done, next one is father's day!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

St Albans Half Marathon

This weekend it is St Albans half marathon, 7 years ago Kevin missed it because The Menace was born on the Saturday night! He had persuaded a group of people from the pub to run, then he conveniently missed it! This Sunday it is the Half Marathon and also The Menace's birthday its one of those firsts!

So a group of us are running it in memory of Kevin. I am quite humbled and gobsmacked (not a word I usually use) by the support of friends and also the money we have raised for Beating Bowel Cancer. I have got T-shirts for running from the charity, some are also walking and many of The Menace's friends are running the fun run with him. We are doing a charity event at the White Lion afterwards, with a raffle and kids activities and I have many T-shirts printed with Kevin's picture on. I am sure he would be delighted to think of himself as a fashion item! I wanted to use the picture of him wearing his "let's F*** Cancer", but somehow it seemed inappropriate for The Menace and his friends to wear that, so I opted for a tamer one!

I have now started to obsessively watch the weather forecast, I feel somehow responsible for it! I really just want the day to go well, partly to say thank you to all the support that has been offered, the team has been viral, it has grown, sponsorship has far exceeded my expectations - and also to help The Menace enjoy his birthday. He loves his new T-shirt, it has already been into school and come home thankfully. I have already had to wash it!

I suspect this will be a difficult day for him, but I hope that seeing everyone there to support his dad's charity will help him through. His teacher is running the fun run with him (as a friend) lots of people will be there to help him.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Becoming Pack Leader

After the trip to Yorkshire I came home and looked up the dog trainer, who I encountered one day in the park. It was a particularly bad day, the dog was annoying me, and I randomly picked on this man to tell him I didn't know what to do with my dog. He had given me a card and I had left it lying around the house somewhere.

However I was aware that I needed to do something with the dog. It turns out that they pick up on your stress and take over as "pack leader" if they feel you are not up to the job. All of the hound's bad behaviour was related to my stress levels, and the more nervous I became with him the more badly behaved he was going to be. (In fairness to him, he was trying to be helpful, only in a human world, a dog's idea of helpful isn't that helpful)

Steve Lawrence (the dog trainer) came to the house and did an assessment. Annoyingly, all the things that the dog does with me, he did not even attempt in front of him. Steve put socks out (the dog nicks them off the washing line), the dog left them, he played fetch with Steve quite happily, with me he runs off with the ball! When Steve went to leave, the dog didn't attempt to bolt from the house like he normally does! It appears that in the dog's eyes, I do not have leadership qualities. (His name is Steve Lawrence, you can e mail him at, if you have a dog behavioural issue, I would highly recommend him!)

So I have been asserting myself as pack leader again! It is not as easy as when Steve did it, I am breaking three years of bad habits.(It has also occured to me that really I am being trained, not the dog!) The dog trainer has now been round three times and there is a definite improvement, but I fear that there is a long way to go! I now have to structure his walks and bond with him, just leaving him to his own devices and walking is not enough, but it will be worth it in the long run.

It did occur to me that I also needed to reign in The Menace, he was starting to feel that he was in charge! A house run by a six year old is havoc, so I have also been using the "calm assertive" technique on him. I managed to get him back in his own bed, not calling out all the time and generally sleeping better, helped by the fact that I used just after his bedtime to do "playing with the dog in the garden/ bonding".

They say you can learn leadership behaviours! I am doing my best! I was starting to feel in control of my life again, it was all going swimmingly, then we hit the end of May/ June! The busiest time for me (workwise), and also the time The Menace started to show his distress. Half term seems to have brought on a level of distress that wasn't obvious before. I think that this is partly to do with time (apparently it is not unusual for it to take a few months for children to show any signs of upset) and partly to do with it being the "second" holiday without him. In a way the "seconds" are worse than the "firsts". One expects the "firsts" to be hard, but the "seconds" give things a sense of permanancy that wasn't so real before.

I have contacted Grove House (the cancer hospice) to get some help for him, but I am still being "calm assertive". The dog training has been good for me in many ways, I am finding my walks with the dog more relaxing, and it has made me think about how I behave, and how I appear to be in control. Certainly The Menace doesn't like it when I am upset, it appears neither does the dog! Hopefully time and lots of "calm assertive" behaviour from me will lead to a better household!