Charlie and his dog Floyd share one common bond and that is that they seem to be untamable. Floyd’s speciality is knocking little children over, such is his excitement at the novelty to be near small people who want to play with him. As he makes his unrepentant leap of fur, tail and tongue I turn to the children’s’ parents and mouth the words “I’m so sorry” whilst desperately trying to call him and leash him. No matter how frequent the training it’s the same sorry scenario each time.
Similarly Charlie still pipes ups with some verbal abuse if anyone approaches him with a smile and some conversation. I watch him backing up, starting to bark his warning words and see him thinking “Anymore of this and I’m going code red”. Charlie is in his second term of school now. He loves school. That is to say he loves it all his own way. He sits in a large classroom with his assistant by himself whilst the other boys learn together in a separate classroom. He and his assistant chat, exercise, do worksheets, he types stories, they draw. This is a specialist school where the other boys have problems too. One boy, if he’s feeling a little emotional and unsettled enjoys repeating everything Charlie says perhaps as a way of taking his day out on someone else or maybe just as his way of coping. I believe Charlie does warn him but after a short while, can bear no more and if he can physically get hold of him he will hit him with his best shot. If he is unable to grasp him I believe he shouts “You need chemo, you need to die!”. Its hard not to wince at that. An ugly leftover from treatment. On the plus side one morning he put pen to paper and began writing and drawing without any assistance, making his way through forty sheets of paper that first day, complaining of cramp in his hand that evening. His teacher handed me his first attempt at the written word. With an arched eyebrow and suppressed smile I read what I’d been telling him not say for months…..”Shhh you must never say the f word”. There is was brazenly written across the page. “Its a start” I think I mumbled. It was impressive, even by a swearers’ standards. Eight years now autism has been a part of my life and I still forget how literally Charlie takes things. I said he couldn’t say it. I said nothing about the fact that he couldn’t write it. In fact for months if he’s become upset I’ve been encouraging him to draw how he feels. Now our house is full of pictures of characters frowning, crying and gunning down others. A psychologist’s dream.
Last Friday night we had poetry club. We sat in our bed and watched some of my favourite poets on You Tube. He moved to the rhythm of the words and their delivery, sat up and slouched with the timbre of the phrase. We had a fantastic conversation about the poem and what it could mean. The next day he proudly came running to show me the poem he started……
“Took a trip to Snow White’s wishing well,
Thankfully no one fell in it,
Pluto went to an Alice In Wonderland tea party,
Sad Mad Hatter is sadly not the best way for me,
And I don’t have the right answer.”
He performed it and I filmed it. Somehow he made the words more believable in his delivery. He sounded like some street poet. It is my very favourite thing to hear. This week I think he might be a poet when he’s a man. An abstract one obviously. Whatever he is, he is definitely a proper little Dadist.
It’s funny the direction your life can take at any point. As I sift through a monstrous box of Playmobil trying to find a wizard’s arm that has been requested I can’t quite believe I used to wear suits and see clients, dictate reports and letters for my secretary to send out to them. Nor can I quite believe I was once offered a job as singer in club in Marbella after my rousing rendition of Tina Turner’s ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’ drowned out the professionals performance with a microphone. And as I watch Charlie wearing not a stitch of clothing other than his Trilby and his Wellingtons doing some of his blogging on a Friday afternoon, I see out of the corner of my eye the other little beast dragging his bottom across the back garden and I wonder how it is that despite my best efforts I still have two feral, willful beings in my life and I laugh because they’re funny. And I guess you have to make peace with it and laugh about where you might have been once and wonder where on earth you might be next.