Sometimes it takes an anniversary of doing something you've done for years to remember just how far The Boy has come. This week that reminder came in the form of the Christmas Tree.
The tree used to be such an upheaval for him. And you can't blame him really... Things were going quite nicely in his world, he knew where he was with everything and then once a year Dad would insist on moving the furniture round and sticking a 7ft plastic tree with flashing lights in the middle of the lounge where the TV should be. Little wonder it was pulled down every other day.
But now we've become accustomed to it. The tree has become part of our routine like everything else. The same tree, with the same decorations, in the same place... Granted, if Dad had known the tree was meant to last ten years he might have bought one other than the Argos Value one he got at the time, but it's our tree all the same.
The Boy doesn't help with decorating the tree. Boring. I learned my lesson last year when I insisted he help and he just lined up all the same size baubles of the same colour on the same branch. Instead, he just turns up now for the big Switch On. Much like Regent Street had the Spice Girls this year to turn on their lights, in 2013 we once again had The Boy in his pants to do ours.
We even have a fairy nowadays too, sitting atop surveying the chaos below. For two years she was abandoned in the cupboard and replaced with a sellotaped-on Power Ranger. I reminded him of it the other day, and I could see on his face that look of "Let's do that again!!!". But, he let it go...
The tree is in the lounge, which has recently been christened "My Room". The Boy's bedroom next door is now apparently "His Room". Given he spends so much time in there, I asked if he'd like to get some Christmas decorations for "His Room" too. To my surprise, he said yes. So off we went to the Pound Shop.
The Pound Shop is perfect for us, not least because it's a pound shop. The Boy still hasn't fully grasped the concept of money, and although he is getting better at it he still thinks purely in terms of "how many things can I have?". And the Pound Shop is the only place where I can be sure I'm giving the right answer without bankrupting myself. Ten things. Ten things to decorate your room for Christmas.
You can imagine how tasteful the bedroom now looks. Resplendent in all its glory. It has been decorated with all the subtlety of a Royal British Legion Social Club function room. And in the middle of it all on his chest of drawers sits the elixir of life. The very reason to get up in the morning. His chocolate advent calendar. Breakfast.
Oh, and for designers of chocolate advent calendars, I've got a message for you. The Boy tells me he could do your job better than all of you. You can't even put the numbers 1 to 24 in the right order...
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.