I used to love school trips. In 1983, I went on a school trip to that London. It felt like the trip of a lifetime, we were going to the National Theatre and I was finally going to see our capital city in all its glory.
Today The Boy is off on a school trip of his own. At the age of twelve, it's his very first trip alone. No risk assessments concluding that he's too dangerous to be allowed outside without a three to one staffing ratio, no compulsory parent escort. Today, he's been selected to go on an Art trip.
Selected. That's my favourite bit. He's not going just because everyone else is going so we'd better drag him along too. He's not going so someone can tick an 'inclusive' box. It's like the kid at school who always gets picked last when choosing sides for football finally gets a taste of just what it feels like to be picked first.
He's very excited. I asked him what he's going to do on the trip.
"Stuff", he replied, his new word of choice to describe everything he does. He just does "stuff". How was school? "Fine". What did you do? "Stuff". It's even accompanied with the obligatory shrug of the shoulders to suggest that the whole world is one big fun palace and the only thing standing between him and unlimited joy is the inconvenience of having to talk to me.
I like it. I like every weary glance he gives me nowadays. Every look of disdain when I have the audacity to try and make him laugh. I suppose it's in those moments that I see myself in him. They're the moments where it feels the world he inhabits away from me continues to grow. They serve as a reminder for me that I can't control every aspect of his life, and neither should I want to. And most of all, they serve as a reminder that when you're going to be thirteen on your next birthday there are lots of things you don't want your mum or dad to know about.
So there you go son, have a brilliant trip today. Behave yourself. Oh, and can I tell you something? It's a secret though, you've got to promise me you won't tell? Cross your heart? See that trip to London I went on in 1983 and told everyone I had a brilliant time? I was twelve years old. We had to turn round at Milton Keynes. Me and another lad got caught by the PE teacher flicking the Vs out of the back window of the minibus on the M1. Don't tell my mum will you? I was gutted. I didn't even get to do any stuff.
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.