Watching New Skills Emerge Through Chess

I have never understood the game of chess and thought it was really complicated. Of course, it can be – going up to the international level. But you don’t have to be at that level to play the game.

Obviously, everyone has to start somewhere.

Today my son was at a playdate and the four-year-old he was playing with suggested they play chess. Now we had not introduced the game to Johnathan. But he plays on an equal basis with my husband on a number of different Wii games and when we play snakes and ladders with him, he is never given any chance to not play properly.

Learning to Play Chess

Anyway, they wanted to play in the sitting room with us. My friend positioned herself so that she could help Johnathan who didn’t even know what each piece stood for or the moves they could make. She also said it would be amusing to hear her 4-year-old teach someone else as she had no idea if he could do it or not!

The four-year-old actually did a comparatively great job of explaining it to my son. To my surprise, the beginning level wasn’t as bad as I remembered. And I understood the basics of how the game was played as explained by her son.

My friend Becky was not needed as much as we had thought. Even though Johnathan is intelligent, he has never attempted anything like this. I had no idea if he would manage to or not.

To my surprise, within a very few minutes, he had actually learnt all the pieces and their moves.

Long before the game was over, he was already talking about strategy and plotting how he was going to win!

To me, this was quite amazing that he managed so well. I managed to get the moves in my head. But as far as strategy went, other than the initial move in front of me, planning long-range ones expended more thought than I was ready to use this morning.

The wonderful thing was that I discovered the versatility of my son’s brain. And just how quickly he can learn things and develop strategies that leave me gasping. I had no idea how he was going to cope but he did better even than my expectations.

I learnt that a game I had closed my mind to for many years, could be played at a basic level which I understood.

Yes, there are international players, but in the beginning, you don’t need to make it complicated. Even a four-year-old can not only comprehend it but explain it to another child.

So next time you close your mind to something because you think it too complicated, take a second look and see if it really is. This can happen in so many areas but you can understand the basics at least even if not the more complex things. And in case you were wondering, Johnathan actually managed to bring the game to a draw.



Sports Day & Johnathan’s Surprise

I love the beautiful little things that can happen sometimes in life, even when they are unexpected. They make your day and bring some light to your life. The beauty of these beautiful little things is that you never know when they are going to appear. When it was coming up to the Sports Day and the teachers started talking about it, Johnathan spoke to Kevin and I and announced in a VERY determined voice that he was NOT going to partake in this event.

He was so insistent and upset that I spoke to the teacher about it. We decided between us that the aim was just going to be getting Johnathan outside at least. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. There was only one time before he had been upset like that and refused to even leave the house to go on the trip that was planned with the nursery.

So previous experience of him being like this was not positive.

Anyway, we got to the day and I was rather dreading it. Johnathan’s father and I deliberately did not mention the fact that it was sports day and got him ready for school and out the door with ease, but it still didn’t reassure me.

I didn’t know if he would refuse to even go outside or not.
And I certainly had no expectation of him taking part.

Came time for Johnathan to come and Kevin went to get him and he walks in with a first sticker on him as though it were nothing. I asked him what it was for and he said flippantly “Oh just the egg and spoon race which I won today.” He said he didn’t win the other three races.

I was astonished!

My son had entered races that he was so adamant he wasn’t going to! And he had even won one! The surprise about this was that he wears insoles because he is so clumsy and has perception problems.

So Mummy and Daddy really started praising him for taking part and his only gripe was there weren’t more races! Talk about the opposite thing happening. I hadn’t prepared for it at all! In fact, nothing in his past had ever pointed to him even making the attempt to do it.

I hadn’t gone to Sports Day because I hadn’t known how he would behave if he saw me and if that would make him want to leave. He even asked me why I hadn’t been there to see him win. Um, yeah. Seriously?! How do you go from that to this in a few hours? It made me think about races and, actually life.

Because life is a race or a journey as well.

Sometimes people sign up for walks or runs that they are in no way fit for. They have to take the time to train and prepare for it before it happens. And them talking to Johnathan about the races and the race day and how it would all work, I believe was what was needed for him to agree to take part in the event.

We come to life or work and sometimes we think we are not prepared for it. Probably at the time, that’s ok. If you need to get ready for life or the race, and need to then get the resources after, that’s alright. Don’t feel that everything has to be in place the very first time you hear about something, want to do it, or others expect you to be able to.

Take your time and get it right.


Being a Team: Our Marriage Philosophy

People often ask Kevin and me how we cope as a married couple. Well, there are a couple of things that I would like you to recognise to start with.

Disability doesn’t make it impossible for you to live a married life. In fact, from a very young age, I had realised that I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with a fully able person. So if I was going to marry it would be to a disabled person.

Marriage is a very important part of life and both Kevin and I took the sacrament of marriage very seriously. This is not something to be taken lightly. When you say the wedding vows some of the words you promise each other are “in sickness and in health” and we meant the vows when we said them.

I suppose in one sense, there was a difference to being fully fit and able to do anything and everything because we were already disabled.

Actually, when we first met we spent time describing our conditions and how they might/would impact our lives. We also discussed with each other what they could mean if we ever wanted to have a friendship. Yes, it does impact the two of us and our lives together. We didn’t stop talking about it through the days that followed.

In fact, the good thing is that we have never really stopped talking about it.

Being A Team

We wake up with different problems because of the conditions we have and we never know exactly what the other one can do until they have moved around a bit. However, now that we have been married ten years we now (generally) recognise when the other one is feeling more tired or sorer and you help them. It creates a different atmosphere in the house when we help each other. We also try to look at things in a positive light because when you’re ill if you’re thinking negatively, the pain becomes that much more intense.

I think also, it makes life easier because Kevin and I work together as a team. Generally speaking, what one can do, the other generally can’t or finds it difficult to do. Sometimes we actually do jobs together. There are some things neither of us can do and then we have to ask friends or carers to help us in those situations.

Supporting Each Other Through Loss

Just like anyone else, we care about the six pregnancy losses we have had. Both of us have discovered that on days I am struggling with the loss and suffering Kevin is having a good day about it and he encourages me and vice versa. Yes, losing that many babies is a hell I would never want to put people through but we get through everything together and that is the key.

We also are Catholics and although we don’t always get to Mass, we do rely on God. and I feel that we have got through our pregnancy losses difficulties and kept our relationship together not only because we trust God but we are honest and truthful with each other. We discuss whatever issues are there in our family life and come to solutions as a team. And it’s amazing what we can actually accomplish.

Obviously, we have difficulties that you most likely don’t have. But, let me tell you, it makes no difference. Like you, there are issues that come up that need to be solved. Sometimes we actually come up with some creative solutions to problems that we know we are going to face.

Facing life together is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

I have a partner who shares my life and I have learnt the delight of this.

We didn’t know if we could even have children when we married and looked at fostering and adoption. I wanted to stay home and look after the family rather than going out to work. I want people/children to know there is a life after abuse and you can find happiness again. Every day, I/we look for the silver lining in the cloud that surrounds me/us. There is always something to be grateful for.


Meeting Your In-Laws

As you are probably aware, meeting the prospective in-laws is quite a daunting prospect. And you never know if you will get on with them or not. Also if you will have any shared interests or not. It is great to think that everything will be ok, but as you know, that can often be unrealistic because you are meeting new people with no concept of what to expect.

Adjusting to My New Life

Because I had left my old life behind me when I moved up to Scotland, I decided to get my name changed legally. So they weren’t even sure what name to call me by! They had the name I had chosen for the site on which I met Kevin, my old name and now my new name. How confused they must have felt. Honestly, I don’t envy them at all. When your child (even if they are an adult) meets someone they might be interested in marrying, you worry. And when that child is disabled, the fear is greatly magnified.

Having only been in Scotland for less than six months I still wasn’t very sure of myself at the time. When I moved I discovered that I couldn’t remember my past. My previous life was just a blank. It was something that happened, but what it was I literally had no idea. This seemed really strange to me, but I just added it to the things I didn’t understand from the past and tried to move on.

My Buffer with My In-Laws

So here we were meeting with all of us being uncertain and fearful except my husband. He was relaxed and totally prepared to deal with anything that came up between his parents and I. At one point my future father-in-law said that he had ordered the pork with the messages. I sat there completely mystified as to haw a telephone message had combined with pork.

Kevin saw that I was confused and explained to me that messages was shopping. Oh! Now that made sense. There have been so many words that I have encountered here in Scotland and have confused me, because they mean something completely different to what I have known all my life.

I noticed that my mother-in-law was quite shaky as she handed out what she called “white meat” sandwiches. She didn’t know what to call me and wasn’t sure how to take me. I must admit, I probably was not what she wanted for her son. They had brought him up and cared for him and suddenly he wanted to bring another person into their lives that he might even marry.

Then & Now

It has taken me many years to understand my in-laws. I am not naturally a patient person, but I am interested in other people. Now my mother-in-law and I get on pretty well. She has an understanding of crafts that I have no concept of and we now get on pretty well and talk to each other via imessage almost every day now.

From fear and trepidation on each side to a pretty good relationship with my mother-in-law has been a great transformation. It can be made possible that you can build a good relationship with your mother-in-law. So don’t look at relationships as being impossible to do, try and find and create them with people who have some different interests to yours as well as some similar ones. You will learn new things and some things will really surprise you.