Two milestones slipped past this week, and I have only just realised.
Lewis, aged ten, having finally allowed desire for sweets to overrule his fear of crossing roads alone, has made it to the local sweetshop not once, but four times in the past two or three days. The Aspergers kid who would sooner sit in front of his computer, the one who had no interest in anything at all unless it either:
A) involved soldiers, or
B) could be downloaded to his personal memory stick
has now got a feeling for independance that involves being outdoors. This is HUGE news. Right now I am sitting here on a lovely sunny day, with the front door wide open, because Lewis has taken Imogen down to the sweet shop. They've gone on their scooters, and for the first time in ten years I am a hands-free parent.
My first reaction, after breathing out and feeling strangely refreshed, was to try and count back - ten years since Lewis was born, but also as he is around a decade younger than his brother, I had a new baby to worry about last time we got to this point. In fact the last time I had no-one else to be alert for was twenty two years ago before my eldest, Alex, was born.
Admit it, thats one hell of a milestone, for me too; off the hook for ten minutes after 22 years.
The second one was Imogen, a week after turning nine years old, went out with her big sister yesterday to go shopping for her late presents. Alex knew Imi wanted the Bratz foldaway scooter (I hate Bratz, but the scooter is cool - no sign of over made up pouty tart faces on it or anything like that), so instead of buying it for her, gave her £50. The deal was that she had to spend it all on proper stuff, that day, so it wouldnt go home and disappear in drips and drabs.
My child came back with scooter, 'real jewellery' (a watch, purse and pendant set from Argos), fluffy topped pens and a lilac desk organiser, and a battery operated potter's wheel; all her own choice. Just like Lewis she has visibly been through a transition. She knows she is older, her confidence has rocketed and its a strange thing to look upon.
Lewis has only Aspergers - boring genius professor syndrome. His older brother, Andrew, also has ADHD and the big memory was how, even when Andrew was fourteen, I would have my heart in my mouth allowing him out of the front door. He would keep talking to you, peel a satsuma and cross a main road backwards, all at once. I remember getting him a youth social worker after he was excluded from seniors. One day the guy stood on my doorstep telling me Andrew really only needed more choices, that I should allow him options and practice at being responsible. Meanwhile, Andrew, bored of waiting for their day out, had nipped into the garage. All six foot of him was right behind the social worker, balancing a solid metal rake (heavy end up) on his nose, like some circus act, with both him and it swirling round at balletic but dangerously acute angles as he tried to keep the act going whilst the rake tried to succumb to gravity.
To begin, this guy was insulted and disconcerted by the way I kept glancing behind him, fear written across my face, but deciding it was simply proof of my psychotically overprotective tendencies, he ignored me and kept talking, stressing his point harder. Once he did finally look round (after I nearly grabbed him to get him out of the way) he never suggested it was my fault again.
Isn't it lovely when you wake up to realise that humiliations which were a normal part of your life have not continued, but are now safe, sanitised and repackaged as 'the past'.