Today we went to the cafe to meet a friend and get an ice-cream. It was nice to get out of the house for a few hours.
Having been away, it seems strange each time I look at The Boy. It seems like he's grown so much. His face, his profile, his definition... it's all changing. Those teenage years seem to be advancing far quicker than I ever thought they would. And in so many ways he needs his Dad less than he ever has these days, and while I celebrate each and every independent step he makes, there's a tiny part of me that feels ever so slightly redundant with it. That's the lot of parents the world over I suppose, and once again I remind myself I'm blessed that he continues to thrive as much as he has.
There are lucid conversations nowadays too. Conversations where it even seems as if Mr Autism has packed his unwelcome bags and buggered off for a few moments. And so this morning we drove to the cafe, sweltering in the heat but not allowed the air-conditioning on because of the noise it makes, and not allowed to open the windows as they might damage the cobweb that had formed overnight around the wing mirror.
"That's where the hospital is where you were born", I said, pointing to a side road.
"Can we go there?", The Boy said excitedly.
"Of course we can!", I replied, thrilled that I'd been offered an all-too-rare ticket into his world, and fully aware that it could expire at any time. A quick u-turn, and we drove past the hospital. I showed The Boy where Dad parked the car that day eleven years ago. I showed him the doors his Mum shuffled through. I showed him where we moved the car when Mum and Dad carried him out of the hospital into the outside world for the first time and then spent 55 minutes checking the car seat was attached correctly. I told him how Dad drove home slower than a slow thing just to be on the safe side. He listened. He looked at me, nodding away, and he listened, taking in this place where the most precious person who ever existed took his first breath.
"What was the first thing you said to me when I was born?", he asked.
"I said 'Hello, beautiful boy'".
"Aaaaah....", he smiled. "What did I say back?..."
And with that, the moment was gone. Without warning, Mr Autism had climbed back into the car, bringing all his unwelcome baggage with him. Dad tried to carry on the conversation, but it was no more. The Boy's mind had drifted off. To where, who knows. The cobweb on the wing mirror became the focus once again...
We arrived at the cafe, and The Boy chose his favourite, a chocolate ice-cream. And just as I thought he was growing up too quickly, he proceeded to miss his mouth, drop it everywhere and rub it round his face, just as he always has.
When he'd finally finished, he held out his hands, looked at me and grinned. Dad smiled back. He knew what to do. He took out a tissue, wet the corner and gently wiped his son's face clean.
Just as he always has.
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.