I spent the other day at The Boy's school. They're building a sensory garden, and wanted some volunteers to help with digging. Given that they cope with The Boy and his outbursts each day, I felt I owed them something back. Although I have a feeling that twenty years of manual labour in a chain-gang will never repay that debt completely.
It was a brilliant day. The sun shone, and according to the scales I lost 1.5lbs. Victory. The best bit was meeting some of the other children at the school though. I've talked before about how daunting the idea of the future can be, and how difficult it is to predict what shape it will take. It's probably that unpredictability that makes it so scary. But on Thursday I was afforded a glimpse into how things might be. And it gave me real hope.
All the children came to join us at some point. Even The Boy managed to hold a rake for an impressive 74 seconds. But it was the older pupils, the teenagers, who stuck around the most. Some chatted, others didn't. But just being in their company was a privilege. Some were keen to help, others could see no point whatsoever in digging over a bit of land for someone else.
One pupil had the sharpest sense of humour, and a brilliant, natural comic timing that made me green with envy. Another remembered how there used to be a building on the land we were digging and whenever we came across a brick it was because the "knocker-downers" hadn't done a very good job. And another became mad at me for raking the soil in the wrong direction to what he was doing.
I learnt that one boy is teaching himself Mandarin and German as he likes the abruptness of the words; I learnt that I really should be able to name at least one World War II weapon, especially the basic assault rifle used by the American forces; and I learnt that being pointed at and being called 'a Man' over and over isn't rude, it's exactly what I am.
But the biggest lesson that day came in dealing with my own fear of the future. It's just that. MY fear. It's nothing to do with The Boy. Much like his peers, he'll find his own level eventually. He's going to be alright. He'll never be a gardener, that was very clear. But he will be alright.
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.