“Where’s your what?” I asked.
“No, sorry, I don’t know what you’re saying,” I replied.
“Nope. Maybe you could write it down for me or draw it?”
I should point out, at this stage, that they weren’t full-on Glasgow kisses, more taps to my forehead.
I should probably also point out that he hasn’t grown two feet (in height, not two extra trotters) in the last few days – I was sitting on the bottom stair, tying my shoelaces before going to the gym.
He walked off into the lounge and grabbed a pen and paper, drew something on it and then handed it to me through his legs.
The drawing consisted of three lines at right angles to each other.
“No, I’m not sure what that is, perhaps you could write it?”
With a look of resignation at my ineptitude to decipher what, to him, was abundantly clear was accompanied by a half-growl, half sigh.
He took to the floor, shielding his work from me, before presenting me with what I hoped would be the answer.
How wrong can you be? It was a scribble.
“I can’t read that, it’s just a scribble,” I confirmed.
“It’s the letters written on top of each other, so just read the bottom one upwards.”
How stupid of me! I studied it in vain.
“Sorry, I’ve no idea,” I conceded.
On the receiving end of a look that suggested I was an imbecile, I decided to guess.
“Do you need me to find something for you?”
“Is it because I’m going out to the gym?”
“Is it that you want some food?”
Hmmm. “Can you try writing it in English with letters that I can understand?”
Some ‘writing’ ensued and a slightly screwed up piece of paper was thrown in my general direction.
More scribbles. I was none the wiser. The wife had come in by this stage to try and interpret. She was none the wiser, either. And was quickly ordered to vacate the room in an impolite manner (by DS1, not me).
I tried again. “Can you write it with letters, in the right order, that I can read?”
He did – but at a size that required a microscope to be able to read them.
“JUST TELL ME!” I yelled, in a fit of pique.
He hid under his blanket. “I’ve told you loads of times already,” he squirmed.
“Maybe, but I can’t decipher what it is you want.”
“Go away,” he yelled, pointing to the door.
“OK, I’ll go to the gym then.”
Ah, he meant the wife, who was still loitering.
“Please can you just write it in letters that I can read?”
The now very screwed up piece of paper was returned, with the word ‘lunch’ clear for everyone to see.
“But you said ‘no’, when I asked you if you wanted food before?”
“No, I didn’t, I said ‘yes’.”
It was me that felt inclined to headbutt now. Not him, obviously – however satisfying that would have been – but that proverbial brick wall.
And in case you were wondering why we hadn’t realised it was lunch he wanted earlier in the piece – for one, he’s never usually backwards in coming forwards when demanding food and, two, it was only quarter past 11 and he hadn’t long had breakfast.
A level playing field
The previous week we had gone over to my mate’s house to watch Chelsea destroy Arsenal in the Europa League final.
DS1 was eager to go, because he wanted to see the game (and we don’t have BT). Even though he’d only been to the house once before and my mate’s parents (who he had never met) were going to be there as well, he showed no signs of apprehension.
Once in the house, he loitered in a different room from everyone else for a while until he felt comfortable to be around other people. And for the first time, he really interacted and chatted with my mate’s son – FIFA 19 on the Xbox and the likely Chelsea line-up being the catalyst.
He was in his comfort zone, talking about what he knew, even shouting out to the rest of us what was happening in the e-sports arena.
Although my mate’s son had long left the Xbox to watch the build-up to the game, DS1 stayed glued to FIFA, sheepishly venturing into the lounge just in time for kick off; clearly, not wanting to be around too many people before he absolutely had to, even though at home he likes to watch the build-up. I’d saved him the seat nearest the door, so he didn’t have any distractions behind him. He could focus on everything in front of him and he had an escape route if needed.
But once the game had kicked off he lost all his inhibitions.
“You muppet,” was shouted at the screen when a chance was missed and elaborate celebrations ensued as each of Chelsea’s four magnificent goals hit the back of the net.
He was uncontrollable as the trophy was lifted into the air. His shirt came off and he whirled it around his head before lying on the floor, still shirtless, with all four of his limbs pounding the air.
This was a real step forward in the anxiety stakes.
This newfound confidence had started the previous weekend, with our annual pilgrimage to the Bearded Theory festival.
Forget the fact that “I don’t want to see any lame bands”, the thought of not going would not be contemplated. We go every year and we will continue to do so forever, he stated. And that’s that!
“I’ll probably like music when I’m a teenager,” he offered, as way of explanation.
Having his friend Joanne there and his mobile phone gave him the confidence to go off on his own to enjoy the bouncy dome, inflatable slide and whatever other rides he wanted to spend our money on.
He even went off to the toilets on his own, unprompted. Something he’d never done before. It usually requires a bit of cajoling or mopping up of seepages in the tent and the discarding of soiled pants.
He even admitted enjoying a band, who he watched from the safety of a hammock at the back of the arena while I pushed him back and forth.
When things became too much for him – whether it be noise or the crowds – he asked to go back to the tent before it became too big an issue. Before long he was centred and ready to go back out there.
This was massive. Trying to get him to have a bath when we got home, though, was a whole different story.