Thursday, 19 December 2013

What's Figgy Pudding Anyway?

 So here we have my ultra-talented son Alec in his starring role as Joseph. Anyone who wants to argue against him being ultra-talented needs to consider the following facts:

1)    He can eat five ice-cubes at once without wincing

2)    Can twiddle absolutely anything including a DS case that should by rights be un-twiddlable

3)    Is able to elicit sympathy from the most hard-hearted of souls with the merest flip of the lip

4)    Has turned me into a mind-reader without me even trying

These are traits that he shares with other autistic kids. So if you’ve not been showing off about this sort of stuff, you need to ask yourself some serious questions.

Alec is always included in his special school plays along with the rest of the pupils and it’s annually amusing to see the sheer wave of indifference that floats off him for the entire length of the show. Lights, action, music, audience…all of this is as about as welcome to him as a sprout after Boxing Day.

As mentioned before, he has turned me into a mind reader. So much so, that I’d swear he walks around with a thought bubble over his head, because I can read it even from our hidden vantage point in the back row, carefully chosen so that he doesn’t spot us and get even more distracted than he already is by the tea towel sitting on his head, with ear defenders securing them in place. And if you think this is a little out of tune with the times, consider that Joseph was a carpenter and probably endured a fair share of noise pollution from all that sawing.

Reading Alec’s bubble at this very moment, it appears to be sending many messages. The first, most pressing, is ‘Why have they put this cloth on my head?’ The second is ‘If I time it just right I can duck out to the toilet just before I’m due to hit the dizzy heights of stardom, which I firmly don’t want’ (this wasn’t strictly mind-reading, but experienced guesswork from what’s happened on two earlier performances). The third is ‘How long before I get a mince pie?’ Alec’s thoughts usually drift to food eventually.

Before we know it, he is roaming around on the hobby horse that represents a donkey and being gently steered away from the audience. He’s had a good look at the ‘baby Jesus’ and poked at its eyes a bit. Then he’s sat bemused but willing whilst the kings sidle up but fail to offer him any stuff to twiddle.

As applause surrounds the cast and his dad and I proudly congratulate him (he can’t hear because of the ear defenders and the tea towel) I’m wondering how much of this is actually meaningful to Alec.

Especially as he’s Jewish.

But that’s not to say it shouldn’t happen at all, because I remember well the first heart-swelling moment when I saw him take to the stage and thought ‘Our little dude is in a school play!’

Each child in Alec’s school has been through such a personal journey, full of frights for both themselves and their families, experiencing hopes and limitations – boosting one whilst trying to break down the other. This generally happens throughout the year, every year – and you never quite get used to the fact that your offspring comes with an inbuilt battle.

For one hour – and I’ll admit that at times that hour seems more like two – all of these children are doing the same as others throughout the land; getting through a seasonal production in a somewhat ramshackle way, and taking a bow at the end.

Whether they understand it or not, it’s beautiful to watch. Especially for the parents. It'll be an unconventional Christmas to many of us, but that doesn't mean that it won't still be filled with happiness and shared delight.

Happy holidays, readers!