“He has finished his sentences and his times table practice,” read a text from the wife. “The bad news is his sentence for [the word] guarantee: ‘There is no guarantee that Dad is sober’.”

Now, this was fairly accurate, seeing as I was at the football – and a good use of the word, it has to be said.

That night (a Sunday), though, he woke me up at 3am to tell me he had been sick. Always a joy, cleaning up vom in the middle of the night.

“It could be anxiety that is causing this, you know,” I said to the wife.

And, for once, she agreed with me.

“It may be an opportunity,” I said, “to say it’s the mess in his room causing germs and we should clear it up.”

Although he was fine when he woke up, the rules are you don’t go to school the day after being sick – a rule he knows only too well.

And the wife was lumbered with a non-sick child having a day off for being sick. During the course of the day, however, she managed to make a pact with him.

He concurred with her that it probably wasn’t a bug and that it was a mixture of anxiety and an unhealthy lifestyle that had caused him to vomit.

“So, we have agreed,” said the wife, somewhat over-optimistically, “that he will start eating properly and doing some exercise.”
She added: “But he genuinely doesn’t know what is making him anxious, maybe the school play but he doesn’t really know.”
“Or secondary school,” I suggested.
“In which case we need a solution. We can’t go on like this for two years.”

That is as damn sure as mustard. (Is that a genuine saying? I’ve always said it for some reason.)

Later, she messaged: “He has now decided to go outside and play football (exercise, you see) and is wearing three pairs of trousers. One in the standard format, and one pair on each arm.”

Later, I enquired as to how the new regime was going. “Has he gone for a run and eaten some veg?”
“Yes, he played football, did some jogging on the spot and he’s taken a bite out of the cucumber stick.”

She then sent me a daily plan they had constructed – a sort of contract, if you will, whereby he would eat five a day, do some exercise, wash regularly, and so on.

Needless to say, he has degenerated back – denying all knowledge of this plan to me.

The tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth

With all this anxiety in the air, I was really looking forward to our trip to the dentist.

Especially as were seeing a different dentist to normal. I’d prepared him, but he was naturally apprehensive.

I told him the new man was the boss, so maybe he would have better people skills than our usual operative.

The new man was indeed much more user-friendly. He tried to engage DS1 in conversation to put him at ease, not knowing that this probably increased his anxiety. But, to be fair, he was warm and kind, and DS1 even responded.

He managed to coax the boy onto the dentist’s chair with relative ease and was allowed access to his mouth without complaint; he even managed to get the high-powered toothbrush in there to clear away the build-up of plaque.

The downside, and I knew this was coming, was that he will need braces.

I chatted with the dentist afterwards and explained DS1 had autism. The dentist actually made a note of it on his records, something our usual one had never taken into account.

The dentist was impressed with how well the boy had done, considering, and he said when the time came for braces (he needs to wait for a couple more teeth to put in an appearance first) he’d recommend a really good braces specialist – the one that had fitted his son’s, who is also autistic.

The pennies were slotting into place.

He then booked DS1 in for a check-up in three months’ time. “It will help him get more used to coming,” he said, and insisted the appointment was with him rather than our contracted dentist.

It just shows how important relationships are for DS1 – that he actually came out of there relatively happy.

I even managed to sell the three-month appointment to him, saying that we needed to check on whether his yet-to-show-themselves incisors had put in an appearance.

But when we got home, he burst into tears. “It’s not fair,” he wailed.

The fact he had to have braces had really upset him. How they will gain access to his mouth to put them in, well we’ll have to cross that bridge.

I reassured him that plenty of people have braces – even Mum did.

He knew this, but this worry was not what we needed right now. I feared the worse for the rest of the day.

But apart from a couple of minor wails about the braces, he was fine.

Was this a sign that he was coming out the other side?

Soap head

Maybe. Then again, maybe not.

A few days later he came home from school, with his forehead covered in white soap.

Nana and Grandpa had had the pleasure of picking him up and, on enquiring as to why his forehead was coated in white, he explained that he had banged his head the night before and that Dad had covered it in cream.

Needless to say, I have no recollection of doing this, and when I challenged him on it he fell to the floor in hysterics.

Where does he get these ‘ideas’ from?

Eventually, we coaxed the real reason out of him.

He had been playing football in the playground at lunchtime and had run into/been accidentally pushed into the goalpost, resulting in an almighty bruise.

Scared that his teacher(s) would question him about it, he rushed off to the toilet to cover the purple lump in soap, so they wouldn’t see it.

“And they weren’t curious as to why your head was covered in soap?” I asked.

I never did find out the answer to that one.

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