Yesterday we said goodbye to The Cousin and then went to meet the Other Cousins. They're roughly the same age too. They live in a small village where everyone knows everyone.
They'd arranged to meet all their friends at the local park for the afternoon. They go on their own normally, on bikes or on scooters. They wanted The Boy to go with them. And he wanted to go too.
Playgrounds have always been horrible places to visit. Turn your back for a second and someone has been bitten or hit for being so bold as to want to use the slide when The Boy has decided that at the very top is the perfect place to just sit and reflect on the world for twenty five minutes. The Boy can't climb or jump, both of which come in handy in a playground. Add to that the other children that he wants to be friends with but can't work out how to, and they tend to be places of real frustration that bring out the worst in him.
So, of course we decided to go.
I drove them the fifty metres round the corner. And when we arrived we were greeted by the five other boys we were meeting there. The Gang. They were all in Year 6, all standing in their hoodies and skinny jeans. And to me they looked like they were all about 23 years old.
Fashion is something that has largely escaped The Boy. And me. Clothes are selected for comfort only. Not that he really 'selects' clothes, he just wants to wear the same ones. Clothing is a necessary evil, only made almost bearable by character t-shirts and Lego Star Wars underpants.
And suddenly there he was stood in the middle of all these boys with their Justin Bieber haircuts and neckerchief things. I could still make him out by his luminous socks that he always wears, poking out between the too small jogging bottoms and his black school shoes that he insisted on wearing because it isn't Saturday or Sunday. And I realised he was taller than most of them. My boy's growing up...
So, I left them to it. I sat in the car and watched from a distance, one hand on the door handle poised. My nod towards independence. And The Boy played with them for over an hour. They seemed to laugh at his jokes that make no sense. They played tag, and one of the other boys would help out when The Boy was 'It' and do the running and climbing for him. They pushed him on the swing, far higher than he'd ever let me push him, and he squealed laughing. No-one was bitten. No-one was hit. I'm sure he called someone a dickhead at least once, but the car windows were up, I couldn't hear, and let's not spoil the romantic image... Somewhere, in a village in the middle of nowhere, for an all too brief moment in time, my son belonged.
We're going clothes shopping today. Both of us. We're down with the kids.
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.