You know when you buy something for your kids and then instantly regret it? Well...
The Boy has gone on holiday. Alone. For the first time in eleven years he's woken up in someone else's house without Mum or Dad being around.
He's gone up North to stay with his cousins for a few days. We drove up on Monday, then Dad stayed overnight to make sure he was settled into his routine before catching the train to Edinburgh on Tuesday morning.
There were a few tears on the journey. The internal struggle of desperately wanting to spend as much time as possible with his cousins balanced precariously with the fear of staying somewhere on your own. So, Dad decided to try and offer some reassurance to The Boy, and bought him a mobile phone. "For you to call me whenever you want, and so I can call you too...".
He did very well on the four hour drive sitting in the car, and only managed to lose it twice. "Nooooooooo! I've lost my phone!" he cried, with Dad trying to steer the car with his knees up the M6 while searching for the phone amongst the wires and electronic gadgetry that filled the rest of the dashboard (iPad to watch; iPod to listen to; Satnav to countdown the miles to his cousin's house). Charger for each. And headphones. The first time after much upheaval we found the lost phone in his pocket. The second time it was in his hand.
We arrived at his cousin's house. And after a few more tears that night, he seemed settled. He didn't want to sleep on his own, so rather than the spare room his brilliant cousin gave The Boy his own bed, and he slept on the floor on a camping mat next to him. Dad spent the rest of the evening driving his brother and sister-in-law to distraction with a far-too-long description of "things he likes" and "things he needs help with". They were very good at humouring me...
So, very early yesterday I headed up to Edinburgh, torn in two at leaving him while recognising it was a good step for both of us. Every bit of my day was measured with "The Boy will be having his breakfast now..." or "I wonder if they managed to get him to brush his teeth...". The change in routine for him, desperately missing his Dad...
I called him a couple of times on his mobile phone. Well, nine. He didn't answer, but he now had a very polite answering machine message recorded by his personal assistant, his cousin, informing me whose telephone I had reached. I sent him a few texts. Nothing. Then his Aunty called me last night. The relayed message was that he will speak tomorrow as he's busy. Turns out staying with your cousin is much better than staying with your Dad after all.
Oh, and and his mobile phone has run out of credit. It would appear that Alexander Bell got it all wrong, and the telephone isn't a device for keeping in touch with and reassuring loved ones. No, the purpose of the telephone is to repeatedly text the words "poo poo" to people sitting three feet away in the same room as you.
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.