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...
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.