“How was your day, mum,” enquired one of DS1’s classmates as he greeted his mother in the playground after school.
That is something I’ll never hear my son say – and not just because I’m his dad, not his mum.
DS1 doesn’t do this type of chitchat. It works both ways, though. When I ask him how his day was, he is, let’s say, not very forthcoming. He was there, so therefore you must know how his day was.
And he certainly doesn’t care how your day was. He’s got enough to deal with in his own. Actually, that’s not fair. It’s not that he doesn’t care (I hope), but he doesn’t see the need for this social interaction – this interest in other people’s lives. It’s not important to him. Or it doesn’t register with him as being a polite thing to do.
Having said that, if he has been particularly enthralled by something, he can’t stop telling you about it. Even if it means cutting across you and it bears no relation to the question you may have just asked him.
Talking of conversations you don’t expect to have with your child, last week I had to battle with him about staying off school – he wanted to go and I was insistent he shouldn’t.
He’d been off school on the Tuesday with some kind of bug, but was adamant that he was going to school the following morning – it being the school trip to the pantomime.
He still appeared ill but, against my better judgment, I allowed him to go. I mean, what’s the worse that could happen? All he would be doing would be sitting in a chair laughing at a fat bloke dressed up as a woman and wondering why he couldn’t possibly see what was obviously behind him.
An hour later, the wife got a call. “Can you come and pick [DS1] up, please? He’s just been sick in the theatre foyer.”
This puking incident, though, seemed unrelated to the bug he’d had – probably more a case of lack of food, it being too hot and stuffy in the coach and general over-excitement.
DS1 was furious. “I am not sick. I’m absolutely fine,” he insisted, as the wife dragged him home.
The rules are that you can’t return to school for 48 hours after vomiting, in a vain attempt to stop the spread of sickness around the school.
“I’m not sick. I’m going to school,” DS1 insisted, even getting dressed in his uniform the next morning, determined to go.
We patiently explained that he wasn’t allowed to go back to school. That his headteacher had put her foot down, especially given that two other children had puked in the theatre and eight more had called in sick.
Sofa, not so good
Not ill enough to flop in front of the TV on his own, he insisted that I spent the day with him encamped on the sofa. Deciding he wanted to watch all the Harry Potter films back to back, he added an interesting twist. The autistic trait of everything being in order was thrown out of the window.
He grabbed some paper and ripped it into eight pieces, writing a number on each to represent each Potter film. He then put the pieces into a box, drawing them out. “Six,” he declared as he revealed the first number chosen.
He then duly fired up film number six, whichever one that is.
As that came to a close, he once more drew a number. “One,” he advised me.
We were watching Potter on shuffle.
Despite his rally (and corresponding incandescence at being kept at home) on the Thursday, Friday was a different story. He remained slumped on the sofa all day. At one point just staring at the wall for an hour.
But, obviously, he was still insistent that he was “fine”.
Saturday saw him perk up slightly. Some green shoots of recovery, perhaps. He requested food – sausage, chips and peas. He even ate some of it He’d also requested a crisp and pork pie starter, which was denied. As the wife said: “He’s obviously still poorly because he accepted the ‘no’ to the starter.”
Further evidence of his ill health materialised on the Sunday. He had a bath – yes, a bath – a hair wash, and even allowed the wife to brush his hair and administer a ‘sort of’ ear clean… without argument. And in the morning too! Unheard of scenes.
Don’t deck the halls
He was also up for helping the wife decorate the Christmas tree. But after badgering her to go and buy one, he remained rooted to the sofa and just watched her crack on with adorning it with shiny gubbins – admonishing her if she got in the way of the telly.
Later, as I sat with him on the sofa, he started to cry.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“Mum wouldn’t let me help decorate the tree,” he wailed.
My phone beeped. “What bollocks,” typed the wife, from her eavesdropping point in a neighbouring room. “More like he couldn’t be arsed to get his arse off the sofa.” She’s a one with words that one.
“I think she did – it’s just you chose not to,” I said.
“She wouldn’t let me,” he seethed.
DS1 wasn’t having any of it, taking his upsetness to new levels.
“That tree has to come down now!” he demanded.
“It is coming down now,” he railed, dragging his sorry behind off the couch (that was how determined he was), and started to remove decorations from the tree.
I leapt to my feet, wrestled the now redundant decorations from his hands and returned them to their rightful place.
The fight quickly went out of him. Again, a sure sign that he wasn’t 100 percent.
He flopped back onto the sofa, grabbed his phone and took a photo of the tree. He then proceeded to black out all the decorations on the image. Showing me the photo of a now plain tree, he declared. “That’s better.”
Defiance the modern way.
He then gesticulated at the five clockwork Santas that stood to the side of the tree.
“They’re in the wrong place,” he said, before pointing to a spot slightly to the left of where they stood. “Last year they were over there.”