Last night all the worries and traumas of the last couple of weeks melted away. Last night... Doctor Who returned.
Given it was the 50th anniversary, it was being shown simultaneously at the cinema, and I'd taken a gamble a few weeks ago and booked seats. 3-D. Near the back. The Boy hates 3-D. And sitting near the back. But this was the Doctor. Normal rules don't apply...
Trips out so rarely cause The Boy excitement. He will enjoy himself while he's there, but often the change in routine and anxiety means it can be a battle to get him out of the house in the first place. The neighbours must think I'm dragging him off to the orphanage by the noises and protests he makes, rather than the family trip swimming or to the park.
But yesterday from the minute he woke up he asked, "how much longer?". At 5pm he had his shoes on. By 5.30pm he'd even brushed his teeth. We left the house with him leading the way, rather than dragging his feet at the back. This was a trip like no other.
In the car on the way there, I was allowed the stereo on. And even the heater. The adrenaline and excitement surging through his body meant that he was suddenly able to cope with things that he couldn't normally. He even told me that he doesn't like going in a car at night because it's dark where your feet are but tonight it doesn't matter as he's going to see Doctor Who...
We arrived at the cinema fashionably early. We'd had to park quite far away, I suggested we use the wheelchair. He gave me a look as if to say, 'How do you expect me to save Gallifrey in a bloody wheelchair?'. So we walked instead. Well, I walked. He practically skipped.
We collected our tickets. I asked him if he wanted popcorn. Once again, I got the look... There would be no food or drink. How can you eat and drink and concentrate at the same time? Fine by me. Cheap date...
Then I saw the queue. My heart sank. It had all gone so well up to this point. I warned The Boy it could be a long wait. "Doesn't matter", he said. For twenty minutes he queued. At one point we were stood next to a poster advertising the film itself. He turned to me, his face about to explode. "I can't stand near that", he said, "I just want to touch it. It's too exciting!!!".
Finally they let us through. I went to walk towards the lifts as we always do but The Boy dragged me back. "Let's go with everyone else", he said.
"Are you sure?". He nodded, beaming away. So last night, in amongst a sea of bow-ties, fezzes and Doctor Who scarves, a boy and his dad rode the escalator.
We took our seats, The Boy on the aisle with no-one next to him. His 3-D glasses that he hates wearing were on ten minutes early. The theme music started and he began singing away. "Woooh-ooooh", he wailed. "Shush!!!!", I said, laughing. "I just can't help it!!", he replied.
I'm not sure what happened for the rest of the film. The Boy was lost in it all. And sitting next to him, behind the dark glasses, Dad was doing some time-travelling of his own. Stifling silent tears. The last ninety minutes, that would have seemed so insignificant to so many, had been the closest we'd ever come to discovering just what life might have been if only...
The film ended. Exhausted, The Boy slumped back in his chair, silent.
"Come on kiddo", I said, helping him on with his coat, "time to go home... Let's go and get the lift."
Thank you all so much for your goodwill messages for The Boy. He's getting back to his old self, although a bout of illness has slowed things down a bit. He'll get there very soon I'm sure. You'll know when it happens, because it will be precisely the point that I start moaning again. At least our saviour Doctor Who returns on Saturday, I have high hopes...
Because he's been home he had to come with me to the supermarket this week. He'd have been happy for us both to starve for the week but things reached crisis point when there was no cucumber left for Sky and Fluffy (have I misspelt it all this time and is her correct name Skye? I've no idea...).
It turns out keeping guinea pigs is a whole lot of fun. Especially when you don't have to do anything. The Boy's involvement so far has been being handed a guinea pig to sit on his lap and watch The Rugrats on television with. The cleaning, feeding, watering... that's down to me. Apart from giving them the aforementioned cucumber, because that's what they're eating on the front cover of the unopened 'Caring for Your Guinea Pig' book I got him. Oh, and constantly talking to them when Dad has left the room. He's very much in charge of pastoral care. I'm just the cleaner.
So, the Great Cucumber Famine found us both in Sainsburys on a Monday morning. Because he wasn't feeling well, I said we could use the wheelchair, something we try and reserve for longer distances. It was a revelation. The supermarket has always been a place of huge anxiety for him, and given recent events I wanted him to try and relax as much as possible. And on Monday morning I made a brilliant discovery. If you take a child in a wheelchair into a supermarket, you can get away with anything...
We started off with a duel with the cucumbers in the fruit and veg section. The Boy was on good form, and he would have beaten me had it not been for the cauliflower shield I grabbed at the last minute. Warrior Dad lived to fight another day... Next we made a train with me-pushing-The-Boy-pushing-the-trolley, and alright I should have slowed down on the corner by the sausage rolls, but in my defence I didn't think he'd just let go of the trolley... I kept asking him to pass me things I knew he couldn't reach as I'd fastened his seatbelt and normally that would have caused him so much frustration but on Monday the planets had mysteriously aligned and he just found it hilarious. No more anxiety.
Then eventually we got to the freezer section, The Boy's least favourite part of the supermarket. The humming noise of the freezers, the change in temperature, he hates this section. The perfect place to re-enact a scene from Chariots of Fire. We lined up by the pizzas, Dad with his trolley, The Boy with his wheelchair. The first to find the fish fingers would be the winner. Engines revving. Three-two-one..... GO. The Boy wheeled himself faster than any Paralympic athlete, I'm bloody sure he took the first corner on two wheels. Turning round, checking I wasn't gaining on him, screaming with delight. Alright, Dad played a bit dirty by the potato croquettes, and when the trolley clashed with the wheelchair if you looked closely there were definitely sparks coming off the wheels just like in the movie, but The Boy still pipped it. Victorious, he held his box of fish fingers above his head. Then when all the adrenaline wore off, it was as if he suddenly remembered he was autistic again. "Freezing, freezing, freezing", he repeated rapidly as he threw his prize catch back into the cabinet. Race over.
The very best bit about taking a child in a wheelchair to Sainsburys though? When you go to pay, just take your trolley into the 'Basket Only' queue. I promise you, no-one will say a word...
Not much of an update this week I'm afraid... The Boy had some sad news on Monday that has upset him greatly, and as a result I'd rather not share it here, other than let you know why there have been no posts. I am sure he will bounce back soon, and I hope you understand fully.
In brighter news, I was checking the internet history on the computer the other day, and someone has been googling the phrase "father crismas fon number". I can only think that it must have been Sky or Fluffy...
Back soon x
I succumbed to the pressure. Having been away, and seen once more how well The Boy interacts with animals, I decided the time had come to get our own again. I'd still love a dog, and I know that would be his favourite thing in the world, but the timing isn't right at the moment. So I thought we'd settle on the next best thing. We'd get a pair of guinea pigs.
So, on Monday's INSET Day we went off to the pet shop to pick them. Two trips - one to buy the world's biggest cage, and then another to collect the guinea pigs themselves. I told The Boy he could choose them. He was beside himself with excitement.
It was one of those days where everything went right for him. As we walked into the pet shop the parrot that has always ignored his pleas to speak squawked back a great big "HELLO!" when The Boy greeted him. The Boy grinned from ear to ear and strolled on by to the rodent section with a swagger Doctor Dolittle would have been proud of. Today was a good day.
There were six guinea pigs to choose from. The Boy knelt down to speak to them, gentle whispers as he held out his hand. The encounter coming far more easily to him than any playground interaction. Four of the guinea pigs were very friendly and came up to his hand. The other two were terrified, and ran for the cover of their house, shivering in fear. And maybe I'm reading too much into it, but it was as if The Boy saw something of himself in those two. Because they were the two he picked. A pair of girls.
In the car on the way home he sat with the cardboard box on his lap, gently reassuring his new friends after every speed bump. I said he'd have to think of names for them. "I already know their names in my head", he said.
"What are they called?", I asked, half dreading the response.
"Sky and Fluffy."
"They're brilliant names! Where did you get them from?"
"I was watching a Minecraft video on YouTube and he kept saying those words over and over and they just got stuck in my head".
Welcome to your new home Sky and Fluffy. We hope you'll be very happy here. And you should both be very grateful that we bought you on Monday. Because if The Boy had been watching the video on YouTube I caught him watching this morning, you'd both have been called something far more inappropriate...
This blog is about bringing up The Boy. He's 12 years old and autistic. It's written by The Dad. It's my words, my view. Other people will think differently and have different opinions. Good.