Monday, July 04, 2011

A letter to my nephew

Dear Ben

I've looked at you and seen me. A wild, hyperactive, animalistic 5 year old version of me admittedly but you're me all the same. It's been awhile and I don't expect to ever see you again but I'm guessing nothing's changed.

I think I have dyspraxia, too. And thats why I'm writing this. As a warning. I don't have your ADHD or your autism but they can be grown out of. Your dyspraxia can last forever and it will affect you in more ways than the obvious.

The talking thing was hardest. It knocked my confidence in a big way. How can one communicate when we can't talk? When we can't get our point across? How many times have I had people looking blankly at me? I talk too fast. I mumble at the same time. The Nottingham accent doesn't help when we automatically miss out scores of letters. As soon as you can, try and lose the accent. You'll sound like you don't belong but it's better in the long run. And slow down. I talk half as fast as before. Personly I think I sound retarded and people still struggle to understand me but I think it's helped.

It's very frustrating. Especially when people don't acknowledge they haven't understood. You may as well just be talking to yourself. It might make you angry. It did me. I had to learn to be happy living inside of my own head. I spend large parts of time just with me because it's easier. I'm glad you're having speech and language therapy. I wish I'd had it.

You may find yourself being quiet and not forthcoming with conversation. Other people might get annoyed by that and think you're being rude or moody. Very few people will make the effort to understand what it's like.

Subsequently you might find it hard to make friends. Don't worry about that. Cherish the ones you have. If you don't make any make your own fun instead. What I hated most was the insinuation that having friends is the ultimate goal and you're a weirdo if you want to be alone. WTF do those people know?

How's the un-coordination? It's humiliating constantly being the last one to be picked for sport, isn't it? . Even after the fat kid that can't run and the midget with a hole in his heart. But if you can't kick straight or hit a ball with a bat what do you expect? You can practice, you can get lucky; just try your hardest and forget about other people. The hours I spent throwing a ball against the wall fantasising that someone would come past and think me good enough at catching to enter me in a competition. But I wasn't. I was shit.

I played Rugby at school simply because I was bigger than most and size helps. It's also a good way to take down the school bully.

There will be something you're good at. You just have to find it.

That lack of confidence affected me for years and still does. I hope it doesn't you. My mum, your nana, didn't help. I was constantly undermined. Your mum, if she's finally able to be honest with herself, would agree. I hope she's able to give you the support you need so you don't turn out like me because being me is hard. You don't deserve that.

The lack of concentration is hard, too. I've messed up awesome jobs because of it. I've never found a way around that. A lot of people think I'm dumb, I even have a dumb nickname, but I'm not. It's just hard to transfer what I'm thinking to paper. I think too much about other stuff when I should be here, in the moment. My handwriting suffers as a result. One, I don't have the patience but two, I also can't write fast enough.

I've just realised there's a crucial difference between me and you: you have a Dad. Currently you're living with him (I think). I hope he's there for you in ways that mine wasn't. I hope he can teach you manly stuff. I grew up amongst women and it was a long time, too long, before I realised...certain stuff. Your Dad is important. I hope he's strong enough to stand up to your mum. Unlike my Dad who didn't and doesn't to either of his wives.

I've never met your Dad although we came close once. I was wondering if he'd introduce himself but he didn't. I would've done but I wasn't sure it was him and he rarely strayed from your mum. People say he's a nice guy. I hope so. You'll need one around. I called my Dad by his first name for a long time and have reverted back to it now. Don't reject your Dad's or anyone else's help. Maybe they're actually sincere.

I won't be there to tell you any of this or to help. As your uncle I wish I was. Your mum, Clare, and I have never got on. I could list reasons why but quite honestly I'm not sure there's a definitive reason. I do know It became enjoyable to piss her off so that's what i started doing. One day I did something that was hard to take back. I shouldn't have done it. I see that now. I'm not sorry though. I meant every word. But I do regret it. I shouldn't have let your mum's text message make me so angry. I shouldn't have taken it so far. But we never had a relationship that siblings should have. There were many factors involved and no one person is to blame. I hope you have a different experience to mine. I hope your sister, Freya, is a very good friend and that you can protect her as all brothers should. You can trust your Aunt Hayley, too. She's full of good advice and, I feel, will always care without being judgemental.

I hope your mum hasn't inherited my mums parental non-instincts. Its hard for me to have perspective on that however much she and I don't get on.

There are aspects of my personality that stem from very early on. My second-earliest memory from age 3 affects me still today. I hope you get the love, hugs, encouragement and care that I never got. You'll need it not to turn out like me and no-one deserves that. I hope you find this blog in 13 years time and I hope it gives you hope. I don't know how you'll find it. Maybe someone will point it out to you. Maybe by then you'll have heard so many stories about evil, crazy Uncle Jamie that you won't want to. Maybe all memory of me will have been wiped from existence and I'm never mentioned so you won't realise there's an Uncle Jamie who wrote you a letter to find. Pity you're not on Facebook yet. I don't even know your last name but mine is Starbuck. You live in Nottingham, somewhere. And that is all I know.

Have a good life, Ben. Break out of the box they keep you sealed in. We can do so much more when we realise we're not limited by what others think of us. If you do turn out like me go travelling, get away from all the people that matter. You'll hurt them no matter what you do, despite your best intentions, and life's too short for constant feelings of remorse.

Better to break away than be broken.

Uncle Jamie Starbuck

PS I can't put here yet what I do feel like. I may write about it one day but you'll know it if you feel it.

PPS I think of you and your sister often. Don't let others tell you otherwise, or assign meaning to my actions or words. They never have nor ever will have the faintest clue for my motivations for one simple reason: they never asked. By the time they thought to I didn't feel like answering.

(I've sprinkled names and other bits of information throughout to make it easier to find on Google)

Jamie Starbuck

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