My formative years were glorious. Living in the States, adventuring with my sister while my parents chased the American Dream. I was loved and life was easy and exciting, giving me a wonderful happy childhood. Nothing ever went wrong. So as a mother all I ever wanted was to be able to give the same gift and quality of childhood to Charlie. And although I worked very hard at it, for a long time it eluded us. I felt a failure and for a while now I’ve been floundering. Feeling helpless and tiring of challenges.
Then this week on a trip to the river whilst I skimmed stones and watched them dance over the rushing water before sinking, I turned my head to see Charlie running towards me. He shouted to me “You turned me into a boy Mummy…..like Pinnochio!” And I gasped at the horror and elation of that statement. He ran, splashing through the water with Floyd, laughing at getting his new jacket wet and I saw me in him. I saw my childhood in him. The boy who says living on Earth with autism is too hard, who is surviving cancer, who has survived cancer treatment and near death is……just a boy again. He’s having adventures in his life both good and bad, he’s having exciting times, he is loved. He’s found happiness at his school, has made friends, plays with the other boys, excels and entertains at reading and making up stories, bombs at maths and at being told what to do. I tell him that the door knocker on the school door is Aslan from Narnia and that he protects all the children who go to his school and I think he believes it. It was an enormous struggle getting him into the right school but now it’s coming to the end of his first year he is settled and more complete, even if some of his jigsaw pieces might not be in the right places.
I think of all of the people who have helped to put my boy back together again. How it’s taken three years since he was diagnosed with cancer. How those three years have been full of learning how to walk again, dampening down the psychological fires that the trauma of it all set alight, of coming up with routes through life that he can navigate with his autism and creating self worth. How much effort it’s taken to build a boy. And for the first time in eight years I find I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. Back at the river he catches up to me, splashing us both, smiling and passes the baton, his awesome energy, onto me. And all of a sudden, with all of his magic, just like Aslan, he’s given me my mojo back. And my gift to him is his gift to me.