The coming storm

I sat looking out over the emerald lawn looking up to a sky which had turned from azure blue to a blanket of grey. The air was electric, the pressure palpable and thunder played a consistent cacophony in the distance. The storm was coming, it was only a matter of time.

The first fat droplets of rain fell, staining the sandstone patio with dark spots of moisture. The stone, hot from an afternoon baking in the sun, fought valiantly against the falling wetness but as the skies darkened inexorably the flags gave themselves up to the developing storm.

I felt the rain’s cold caress prickle the skin on my arms and legs; refreshingly cool after the heat of the afternoon. I knew I would have to retreat from the rain but for that brief moment I relished the sensations of warmth and wet, the breeze, the electrical charge in the air, soundtracked by the sound of thunder rumbling in the distance. Like a perfect storm of sensation prologuing the impending summer tempest.

Still not speaking

My brother messaged me last Friday and I have not replied. I can’t bring myself to return his pleasantries and it just feels false. I’m still struggling to reconcile his decision to abandon his child in favour of his woman. Maybe I should give him an opportunity to explain. But I feel as though it doesn’t matter what he has to say. I’m just not interested. I’ve managed years without him in my life. Do I need him in my life now?

iSlave XR

Imagine. You’re sat talking to someone, at home, work or the pub. You’re watching a movie or a TV show. You’re out for a walk or simply laid in bed. Your screen lights up or you feel the familiar vibration in your pocket. There’s a notification. Someone liked your latest Instagram post or retweeted you. Someone invited you to play Candy Crush on Facebook. A email, spam usually. Or a text from a friend or from work – non urgent; they’d have called, right?

Too often one of the above scenarios has occurred and I’ve instinctively checked my phone. 99% of the time that lit screen or vibration is an irrelevance. A ‘joke’ sent in group chat. A new follower from an account I don’t have anything in common with. Another email from Vue, eBay, Ryanair, Travelodge.

Why am I a slave to my mobile telephone? Granted, the mobile has become an essential life companion. It allows us to keep in touch with loved ones, check the news, access an almost infinite amount of information in a few clicks and capture moments in video or photo format. Want to know what the weather is like tomorrow? There’s a app for that. What’s on at the cinema? Check the app. Who won the big game? “I’ll just check.” The mobile/cell phone has many uses it is a tool for humanity to use to make life that little bit easier and pleasurable. But that’s the crux, isn’t it? It’s a tool for us to use; so why do I – and so many others – dance to it’s tune? Who determines what I do on a day to day or minute to minute basis? I do, or rather I should. Yet moments are interrupted and years of use has conditioned me/us to respond to the urgent appeals of a mobile device.

Your phone should be accessed when you need it. Your phone should not be accessing you when it needs you.

So a few days ago I turned off all notifications. Texts, gone. Whatsapp, finished. Email, ended. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, off. I left on telephone calls for emergencies. It’s liberating. I feel more in the moment and I have managed to sit through a show without the temptation of interruption. If I want to see what’s going on in the world I choose to do so rather than an inanimate object telling me it’s time to see what’s going on out there.

The end result is a boost to my mental well-being. I’m no longer drawn in to checking my social media accounts when my phone flashes. I’ve even – and this rarely happened before – forgotten where I put my phone! My screen time is down 21%. I’m using my phone less. And I haven’t missed anything. The emails still arrive. The text messages and ‘jokes’ in Whatsapp too. When someone likes my latest Facebook photo I still get to see who it was and I still get to see the comments. But I do it in my time when I want to and not at the say so of a piece of technology.

Anger management

July ended with Tom being spoken to by the early intervention team in relation to his angry outbursts. Listening to him talk frankly with the worker about anger and frustration got me thinking. I saw so many similarities between us. Did he get it from me? Am I the cause? Is it inherited?

Tom explained that his anger come from frustration and he feels like a stick of dynamite with a very short fuse. His anger results in things being broken. Phones, TVs, laptops, doors, walls. Things get punched; that’s his outlet. It was sad to listen to. Why does my child behave like this? Who is at fault here? Me, his Mam, anyone?

He talked about anger at school and stated that his outbursts do not occur in the classroom but in the schoolyard. Interestingly, his anger doesn’t manifest in my company. Tom said that this is because there is nothing which frustrates him when he is with me but I have a different theory. A theory of consequence and boundaries.

He knows that if he acts up with me he will be told off. There will be consequences for his behaviour. In a classroom of twenty-five children his behaviour is noticed more than in a schoolyard of five hundred children. He can get away with it in the schoolyard and he can, it seems, get away with it at home. He cannot escape notice in the classroom so he may get in trouble. He also gets into trouble if he plays up with me.

Which asks the question. Is this issue with him or with those who allow his behaviour. What boundaries are being set? Is he informed about what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour. As he works more with professionals to combat his anger issues perhaps these questions shall be answered.