Today, I have you all to myself.
Your sister is at nursery and Daddy’s half-term is not until next week, so we caught the bus into town and went in search of hot chocolate and adventures.
We used to do this often, when you were a baby – when you were all mine. On my day off from work I would push your buggy into town and we would share a bun on a bench, munching in good-natured silence. It has been a long time now since we had time together, just like this.
On the bus, I watch you bouncing, giddy with delight. You explain how a bus works, over and over – “The bus stops when people want to get on or off. The bus stops when people want to get on or off. Mummy, what does the bus do? Does it stop when people want to get on or off?” – and you flap in elation when I answer in the affirmative.
In shops and open spaces you trot and spin. I listen as you approach strangers and tell them, gleefully, enthusiastically, about seemingly irrelevant details. I see their strange expressions – half smiles, half confusion. I wonder, if they know – if they realise – that their lives were just touched by perfect charm, perfect wonder.
At the coffee shop, you cannot drink from your mug even with my help. I fetch you a straw and watch as you slurp, greedily. You turn to me, grinning, upper lip covered in a chocolatey moustache, wide-eyed and beautiful.
“This is the first time I have had hot chocolate!”
My boy, you are utterly delightful.
When we walk, hand-in-hand, towards the book shop, you stumble and nearly fall. I catch you, but the disruption sets you off-balance and you scream. It is not a scream of pain – you are not hurt. It is a scream for the unexpected. People turn to stare. They think it is strange that you make such a noise for such a small thing. I hold you tight, squeeze your shoulders and whisper in your ear.
“It is alright. You did not fall. I caught you. You did not fall.” and I feel you relax.
You gallop up and down the aisles in the bookshop, stopping only to choose a new book for daddy to read when he tucks you in. You get so, so close to strangers – so desperate to tell them about your book, so passionate, fixated on those microscopic details. I steer you carefully back to me, away from the invisible lines of personal space. I listen as you tell me, again and again, that daddy will read your new book before bed.
We run to get out from the rain and we eat lunch in a sandwich shop and I answer all your questions, over and over, each repetition a joy, each pattern a pleasure.
On the bus home, you are bouncing, flapping, grimacing, twisting, shaking and smiling. The bus stops when people want to get on or off.
As we pull into our street, I tell you that I have had the very best day, just with you.
“Did we have the very best day, mummy, just us? Did we have the very best day?”
And you flap in elation when I answer in the affirmative.
My son is autistic. For more posts about autism, check out our autism category.