Living with Luke 24
Earlier this week, Tiddles came up to me and simply said,
“Camping trip?” I replied. Tiddles nodded his head in a manner that suggested he had been watching too many Fireman Sam DVD’s. “Where?”
“Daddy and Luke camping.”
“Ok, shall we camp in the garden?”
“Ok, we’ll camp in the garden on Friday, shall we? Friday?” More nodding. “Good, go and write it on your calender then and we’ll do it Friday.” And with that off he wombled.
I checked later, but he hadn’t written it down. Ah well, I thought, he’ll probably forget about it. And to be honest, the thought of spending a cold September night in the garden didn’t exactly bring to mind Glastonbury.
I went to meet TCMH and Tiddles on Friday afternoon after work, to take Tiddles for his weekly singing of the end theme from ‘Stingray’ – or swimming as most other people would call it. I parked the car and walked up to meet the pair of them.
“The tent’s up.” said TCMH with a slight smile.
“Ohhh,” I said. “I thought he had forgotten about it…”
“He reminded me when he got up this morning.” replied TCMH.
“Oh. Good. Oh well, I know how i’m going to be spending my Friday night then…” Not watching Jools Holland, or that episode of Peppa Pig where Miss Rabbit hurts her ankle. Ah well.
After swimming and after his dinner, Tiddles was like a gorilla on a hot tin roof. He couldn’t wait to get out into the tent. So at about half past eight, we walked the five feet from the back door to the tent and went in. The air bed that TCMH had inflated was already in there, so I laid out the sleeping bags and we got in. It wasn’t a cold night luckily, but it still felt warm inside our beds. Tiddles was very excited, so much so that he was asleep by about half past nine, which was a feat in itself as 11 o’clock is usually the earliest he drops off.
When I woke up at 3am, I was aware that the air bed under me wasn’t quite as firm as it had started out. A fact underlined by the way that Tiddles appeared to be higher than me due to my weight pushing the remaining air his way. When I woke again at 5am, there wasn’t any air in the bed to be pushed anywhere. Effectively I was sleeping on the grass in the garden and there was nothing romantic about it as my back and my neck kept reminding me.
So…That was Friday.
Earlier in the week, Tiddles had also asked to go on a train to Lon-don. Hamleys toy shop specifically. I love Lon-don, and thought we could do the Hamleys thing, then pop along to Waterstone’s in Piccadilly, maybe grab a bit of sushi, walk round Covent Garden, and then back home. Lovely.
However, due to weekend engineering works on the Central line tube network, what should have been a simple and relaxing trip turned into a bit of a nightmare, bearing in mind that we live about an hour from Central Lon-don by Underground rail. Following a tube journey, a replacement bus service, a Docklands Light Railway trip, another tube, we finally got to Hamleys. Straight up to the Hornby train section, and Tiddles picked out the coach that he wanted. We had come all this way and so I bought it for him.
“Where shall we go now?” I asked.
“Home.” Came the reply, and off he went back towards the station. After the journey getting there, I had fallen out of love for Lon-don, and realising how long it was going to take to get back, I didn’t disagree. And so after a tube journey, and overland train trip, some walking, another bus trip to fetch the car, we arrived home 6 and a quarter hours after we had gone out.
Time spent in Lon-don? 15 minutes.
So I guess the moral(s) of the story is, never underestimate the focus an autistic child can have if he wants something.
Also, never underestimate the memory of an autistic child. They remember more than you think.
But also never underestimate what a father, ANY father, will do for their children, whether they are special needs or not.