When you’ve forgotten the password to update your own website you know it’s been far too long… I read an article the other day that said we should stop saying ‘sorry’, and replace it with the words ‘thank you’ and we’ll feel much better about ourselves. ‘Thank you for waiting forever until I suddenly decide to randomly write something else’ doesn’t quite seem to cut it, so we’ll settle on a big fat sorry on this occasion.
Those who have been around here for a while won't be surprised to hear the delay in writing was largely down to me, and my worries having (finally) put the book out there. I’m sure most authors look forward to publication day, but for me it loomed on the horizon like Armageddon. Not sure why – my own insecurities, the worries that it might not be the right thing for a parent to do, all that kind of stuff.
Well, Armageddon didn’t quite happen. The day passed as quietly as any other, and so has every day since. People have written lovely things about the book, and I’m delighted it has touched so many. I’m slowly getting round to replying to all the messages, but there’s also other emotions involved when I read through the emails – a quiet rage that things haven’t changed, that so many families are still waiting for diagnosis; or the right school; or the elusive CAMHS appointment; or all the rest of it. Then you turn on the TV and there’s the Dispatches programme of hideous institutional abuse or some posh woman banging on about paying disabled people less than the minimum wage. Much like our own families, where you hope we learn lessons from the generation before, so I had hoped change might come along quicker than it actually is. One day…
My biggest fear was, as always, for The Boy, and how he’d feel about putting our story out there. I mentioned on a Facebook post how he came with me to the publishers to collect our first copy. He kept taking copies into school with him for weeks afterwards, and is prouder of OUR book than I could have ever hoped. We pop into WHSmiths or Waterstones when we’re out and about and see if we can find it on the shelves. He has his favourite parts – the ending, or the page that mentions his cousins and friends. I can tell the copies at home he’s delicately flicked through by the broken spine and finger-marked cover.
I've mentioned before how different 'The Boy' from the book seems to the near-fifteen year old I now share my life with. Then suddenly that little boy will appear again, like Monday morning on the drive to school when we were trying to decide what voices different Pokémon characters might have and he giggled and laughed and once again he could have been in his car seat, driving to nursery all those years ago.
I thought I’d share with you one little update with his permission. A couple of months ago he discovered a girl at school who he liked, but there was one major stumbling block - he didn’t know how to talk to her. Each night I’d make suggestions, but the next day he’d come home, not having found the words. Eventually, we came up with a plan.
He’d go to school with a packet of four Oreo biscuits (well, ‘Neo’ – the Lidl equivalent. Still classy). The plan was to wait until morning break then go up to her and ask her if she’d like a biscuit.
It was foolproof. For three days running he left for school, fake Oreos in hand. Each day I sat at home, contemplating whether to ring Moss Bross to hire a dress suit for the big day. Eventually at the end of the week I couldn't wait any longer and asked him how it was going.
“What?”, he said.
“The biscuits! Have you been speaking to her?”
"Nah", he replied.
He laughed and shrugged his shoulders, “I couldn't help it. I just kept eating them”.
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.