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Living with Luke 53

December 19, 2014

Perceptions and realities…

We all like to think that we are a tolerant bunch. Good Samaritans who would stop and help somebody in need, or not judge somebody just by what we see. That we’d get to know the real person before making our minds up. Kind, thoughtful, caring…all that other stuff.

The reality of course is that we’re not and we do. It’s human nature. The sad fact is that we have lots of thoughts flashing through our heads in a second of all the possible scenarios of what could happen. I’m as guilty of this as the next man/woman/child/traveller. It’s not that we don’t want to help, it’s more the fear of the unknown-what could happen to us? If they’re bleeding, might we catch something? Might they get violent? Are they armed? Are they drunk?

What almost never crosses our minds until possibly the last microsecond is that maybe there are mental health issues at the root of their behaviour.

Whatever the reasons, self preservation takes hold and we would rather steer clear, shake our heads in disbelief, or worse, mock them for their behaviour and let’s be honest we’ve all done that in our younger years, because to our youthful eyes, it’s funny to see a tramp shouting at pigeons or an old lady who moves slowly and talks in a rasping voice.

We don’t appreciate that the tramp may be a paranoid schizophrenic who has slipped through the net because of his circumstances or that the old lady could have chronic arthritis and throat cancer.

Who knows? I certainly didn’t and still don’t, because we all know you can’t judge a book by its cover…unless it’s ‘Judging a book by it’s cover’ by Judge Bookcover and then you probably can…

When Tiddles was younger, I used to walk along the street holding his hand. We thought nothing of it, because it was something we did to keep him safe. Now he’s 16, and I’m still walking along the streets holding his hand, or have him link his arm in mine. I still think nothing of it, because I’m still keeping him safe on the roads. He’s getting taller, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he ends up dwarfing me eventually.

But what do other people see?

Tiddles doesn’t look autistic, whatever that means. There are times when he will suddenly shout out loud in crowded places, usually scaring a few old ladies…(‘shhh Luke, not so loud…I’m terribly sorry’) or he’ll jump and flick his feet, Riverdance stylee, but nobody looking at him for the first time would say, ‘ah, autistic…’

But they would possibly shy away from him for fear of the unknown. Which, as we have already said, is a natural human reaction. Sadly.

But do people see a dad walking along the road with his son? Or do they see a middle aged man walking arm in arm with a teenage boy? Same thing, different perceptions.

Tiddles walks with me because he has been conditioned to do so. It’s something he does, because it’s something he has always done. Given the choice, however, he probably wouldn’t. If we ever go out as a family, either with or without The Eldest Child, Tiddles always has to be reassured that TCMH is coming with us. She sometimes doesn’t come out straightaway, for whatever reason and so Tiddles is always vocal in making sure that it’s not just me taking him out. And he casts the occassional glance over his shoulder to see if she is indeed coming too. He doesn’t understand the concept of lying, but he does know that if you say you are going to do something then you are going to do it. So if Mummy is coming with us, you had better be damn sure that she is going to do just that, or else…

It’s difficult to define the relationship that we have. We’re not friends, not in the traditional sense that some parents are lucky enough to have with their children, and that I have with The Eldest Child. We’re just…together, I suppose, but not. We have the same surname and we share the same spaces, but we don’t have the same rules as to who we are. He’s Luke, that’s Jake, there’s Mummy and I’m ‘Go away’.

The pain of losing somebody close to you is something that takes many people a long time to get over and come to terms with. But they do, because they have the memories of that person, which are probably all of the good times whilst tending to gloss over the bad.

But how about losing that person whilst they are still here? Tiddles’ attitude towards me has not improved in the last 20-odd months and as I have stated previously if anything it has gotten worse. I don’t like it. I hate it, but I can do nothing about it, except go on being there for him, holding his hand and keeping him safe. But I have lost him to Narnia.

And eventually one day, I’m not going to be here. It’s a sad fact, but a fact all the same. Will he miss me? No, probably not. But that’s strangely ok. He won’t have to deal with that loss, and in a perverse way, that makes me happy that our relationship is at that stage. He won’t mourn, or cry, or be sad. And that is good.

I can see now, that like many of my friends from whom have drifted from my life, I have served a role. I was the one who swam with him, picked him up when he was tired, pushed his bike uphill when he was still on it. Maybe, possibly I was once an important part of Tiddles life. I don’t know. Now I can see that I’m not.

Perceptions and realities.

I’m still his father of course, that will never change, but am I his dad? Only Tiddles could tell you that.

But I’m not the centre of his universe any more.

Perhaps I never was…


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