The Boy has been off school again for a few days. I'll leave it to you to fill in the blanks as to the reasons why... So, instead he's been "helping" me with some tasks. He's had an insight into just how exotic life is in those magical hours between 9 and 3.30 each day. Yesterday... I took him to the tip.
The Boy has wanted to go to the tip for some time. The tip, Disneyland Paris and New York have been part of his destination wish-list for quite a while - I was happy to oblige on at least one of them. Now I know some of you might be thinking I'm some sort of a cheapskate for choosing the tip, but please wait a moment before you judge me. This was no ordinary trip to the tip. I hired a van.
They say in London you're never more than six feet away from a rat. Or a Zipvan. These are vans dotted around the place to help you transport items that won't fit in the boot of a Toyota Aygo - so pretty much anything from the size of a thermos flask up. After booking online you open the van with a card reader on the windscreen, and the key is in the glove box. All automated, no people involved in the process at all. For The Boy, the perfect transaction.
So, we got our van, and we loaded it up with rubbish. Well, I say we... The Boy went into his bedroom with his bin bag, and announced he was going to empty his 'toy chest'. Don't go all romantic on me imagining this large, antique walnut box next to the rocking horse in the corner of the bedroom filled with wooden toys handed down from generation to generation. Think more of a nine quid box from IKEA filled with dried up Play-Doh and crappy bits of moulded plastic in every colour and shape known to man.
The crashing noise that came from his bedroom told me that he'd just tipped said box upside down to begin his big sort out. Then it started. "This is my first ever toy I got from a Happy Meal!" he beamed, holding up a spaceship thing, "I'd better keep that". "This is my favourite toy for the bath!", was the next one, wondering where the naked Action Man had got to, chosen primarily as a bath toy for its ability to make the biggest splash. "I'd better keep that". "Scooby Doo!!! I wondered where my Freddy had gone. I'd better keep that..."
"I'd better keep that"... The only thing that made it into the bin bag yesterday was a piece of bright yellow plastic piping - a corner piece from an old marble run game. I should probably have insisted he throw a bit more out, but I could see on his face just what all this stuff meant to him. To the untrained eye it was just a pile of old junk, but In that mish-mash of everything, he saw order. Each plastic toy wasn't just a memory, it almost seemed like an anchor, something to keep him secure. Safe.
So I loaded up the van with the rest of the stuff, every now and then The Boy looking up from his ipad giving me a very useful commentary as I carried it down the three flights of stairs. "That looks heavy". "Yes mate, it is..."
We climbed into the van and put the windows right down, put on The Boy's song of choice (Ed Sheeran - Lego House for the uninitiated) and drove to the tip singing away at the top of our voices. Dad even rested his elbow out of the window. And if I'd had a Yorkie bar I would have taken a big bite out of it and then thrown it down on the dashboard in a manly fashion. A father and his son, just trucking. In a Zipvan.
After a bit of an argument with the man as to whether you can bring a van into the tip or not, we started to unload. The Boy loved it. So sensitive to noise, unless he's the one creating it then it doesn't matter one bit. He loved throwing rubbish into the containers to hear the noise as it landed and smashed the things below. The most satisfying noise it would appear is a microwave landing on a television. And then as we unloaded the last bin bag, it split open. I can't really complain, I got them from the pound shop, the fact that they managed to be both black and transparent was a bit of a give away... Out fell a load of old papers that Dad had been trying to sneak into the General Household Waste section without the man seeing. And in amongst them was a piece of bright yellow plastic piping that fell to the floor.
The Boy looked up at me, a big grin spreading across his face like he couldn't believe his luck. He bent down to pick it up.
"I'd better keep that", he said.
"Yes son, you better had..."
This one isn’t so much a blog post really, it’s more an announcement following some comments from a few sharp-eyed readers on the previous post!
It's time to come clean... there’s another reason why things have been quieter on the blog front over recent months, and why there aren’t as many shows coming up… Just before the summer I started discussions with a publisher about writing a book.
After a couple of months of sleepless nights trying to decide if it was the right decision and how to go about it, I’m pleased to tell you that it’s happening. I’m going to be an author, mum! And without giving too much away, your grandson is too!
So, some sharp-eyed readers spotted the book in the pre-sale section of Waterstones and Amazon– I genuinely didn’t know it was there and it terrified the life out of me, not least because I haven’t even finished it yet… All I can tell you at the moment is that it will be called ‘My Son’s Not Rainman’, it will be the story of our life. I’ve signed a deal with a publisher, I have a deadline, and I’m trying to be grown up and not do all my homework on the evening before I have to hand it in.
This bit is going to sound flippant and I really don’t want it to. None of this would have happened without each and every one of you reading the blog. Publishing deals are notoriously difficult to come by at the moment, I know that, and without having so many people following our story, the book wouldn’t be happening. I’ve mentioned before the struggle I’ve had in terms of sharing our story and infringing on The Boy’s privacy, but I maintain that our lives are infinitely better as a result of doing so. We have both made friendships through this blog, and The Boy has been met with more compassion and understanding than he’s been shown at any point in his life. Every message, comment, facebook like – it’s just another reminder of what an incredible boy I have, and what a lucky father I am.
So, some of you may well be asking what happens with the blog? Will it be disappearing behind a paywall at some point in the future? No, it won’t. This blog will remain free to access for as long as people keep coming here to read it and for as long as The Boy is comfortable with that. I’m happy to keep writing, however it does feel the time to stop is probably next year when he turns thirteen. He’s a teenager then, it’s no longer my story to tell, it’s his. Maybe in the future he’ll come back and tell his own story (he won’t!), but that will be his choice.
I normally just write the blog at home, but I decided that now I’m going to be a proper author and all that I’ve got to step it up a gear. So, I’ve come away on my own to write for a couple of days. I had a vision of Agatha Christie sitting in a small bar of a secluded inn on a deserted sea front, the log fire her only companion with a hot toddy on the table next to her writing pad, endless thoughts and ideas effortlessly spilling out onto the page…
And so I find myself in a Wetherspoons in Norfolk on a Sunday morning with the rest of life’s winners, on my fourth pen from the pack of fifteen from Poundland with the lights of the fruit machine dancing across the sticky table. It is 9.52am and I have been asked if I smoke four times, three of them by the same man. But the big question is this… Did Agatha go for the plain burger to go with her pint of Fosters, or did she spend an extra £1.29 for the cheese and bacon? Some things we’ll never know…
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.