Wednesday, 29 March 2017

No longer the parent of a child

As midnight struck at the end of Tuesday, my role as parent of a child changed, for my daughter has reached her eighteenth birthday.

When my daughter was born, I fondly imagined that her birthdays would be marked by joyous gatherings and great jubilations, but such celebrations are a total anathema to her.  When she was younger, as her birthday approached, I would ask her if she would like a party, and she would decline with a look of absolute horror. If I am honest I used to think that a party would some how forge stronger relationships with her peers. The reality is because of her autism she has no need of friendships and all the demands they bring. She is far happier doing what she wants, when she wants, and not being hassled by others. Even family gatherings are complicated. She is always pleased to see her relatives, but en masse they are far too much for her.

Yesterday I asked her if she would like to go and see Beauty and the Beast.
"I would rather go and see Sing, at least THAT is a cartoon!" was her response.  Unfortunately Sing is no longer showing at our local cinema. I showed her the trailer of Beauty and the Beast, she watched with apparent interest, but declared that she still wasn't convinced that she wanted to see the film...

On the morning of her birthday she opened her presents. Her favourite was a large tome celebrating some anniversary of The Simpsons.  To celebrate her birthday we have purchased tickets to see Julius Caesar at Stratford next week,  which will be a completely new experience for her.  However, she was not really sure why she would want to go and see that....On the other hand she seemed a bit keener to go and see Beauty and the Beast today!

We arrive at the cinema and join the queue of one to buy tickets.
"And we are going to see Beauty and the Best." she reminds me.
"Great film," a dreadlocked guy behind advises her
"Oh really" she responds, looking impressed.

My daughter may have turned eighteen, but does not look it.
When it is our turn I ask for two tickets for Beauty and the Beast.
The assistant looks at me dubiously
"Two tickets?"
He looks at the KHT.
He looks at me.
"Two tickets?  You mean one and......"
He looks at the KHT "How old are you?"
The KHT NEVER voluntarily discusses her age.
Age has implications and brings expectations....
"Me? " she replies "I'm just a kid"
The cashier nods, satisfied that his suspicions are correct and she is NOT an adult, she is just a kid.
The KHT is satisfied, as despite the best intentions of her mother, no-one is seriously expecting her to be an adult.
I am satisfied as I offered to pay the full amount, but somehow saved £1.50...
The KHT LOVED the film.  Despite having real people in it, it also had a healthy dose of computer animation.

Thoughts I had whilst watching the film:-

Firstly, when the beast turned back into the prince, and turns to look lovingly at his beloved, I suddenly get a glimpse of another blonde prince and his darker haired princesss - Will and Kate? I am not a great fan of the royals, so they were not upper most in my mind, but I would be interested to know if anyone else thought that.

Secondly, parallels between Gastonand the villan of Holy Week.  Gaston - the guy who tries to get his own way, forcing events to the conclusion he wants, even betrays his friend by leaving him trapped while he goes off to be a hero (according to his own definition of the word), and tries to kill the one who is more powerful.  The Judas of the storyline, reminding us that when we are self-centred we too can be like Judas.

Afterwards I asked the KHT who was her favourite character.
Would it be beautiful Belle or the beast, I wondered?
Nope it was Chip, the teacup... (Watch the film to understand who Chip is...)
"Why Chip?"
"He is young and innocent."
The KHT did not relate to either the beautiful young girl, or prince/beast/prince, but to the character who was too young to worry about the complications of relationships between men and women, to the one who most closely matched her own character, young and innocent!

I may no longer be the parent of a child, but nothing has really changed. I am still a parent.

Thursday, 2 March 2017


"They are for a very important occasion"  the KHT advises the sales assistant.
"Ooh, are you going to a wedding?" she enquires brightly.
"No." The KHT pauses for dramatic effect, "A funeral!"

A lady the KHT knew through attending college, has sadly passed away.
"Am I the Chief Mourner?" she enquires.
"No, the family are the Chief Mourners. You are just somebody who knew her."  Yet, from our families perspective, she is the Chief Mourner, as this is also the first time that the person who has died is more familiar to her, than to us. Her preparations for attending the funeral, are taken very seriously.
"I must buy some suitable funeral clothes,"  she announces to my surprise.   Normally additional items of clothing are acquired, and worn, under great sufferance. The familiar and comfortable are greatly preferred. A pair of black trousers and a white shirt are duly selected, tried on and purchased, and will be worn with her black jacket.

A few days later and she drops hints about wearing my black boots, which I refuse. After all they can not be on both my feet and hers at the same time and are several sizes too big for her.  The KHT decides that she needs some new shoes and with great trepidation I find myself shoe shopping with my daughter. What can possibly go wrong? Experience tells me that this will not be a walkover.

A pair of slip-ons are selected. Feet are duly measured and a box containing size 3 shoes appears.
The KHT places her othopedic inserts inside her shoes, and attempts to feed her feet into the openings, in a manner that would have made the ugly sisters proud. The KHT is unfamiliar with the required technique of sliding feet into this style of shoe. The assistant produces a shoe horn. The KHT spurns this modern device, and attempts to force her feet into the shoes using all of her insubstantial weight. To the relief of the shoes she succeeds before they are entirely flattened. The assistant suggest that we move up half a size to allow for the orthopedic inserts.
"How about we forget the inserts!  commands the KHT.
The assistant returns with size 3 and a half, deftly fitting the inserts, before the KHT has chance to finish removing the offending items from the size 3 shoes. The KHT sighs and tries on size 3 and a half.
"Don't forget to allow room for your little toe which does not lie quite straight," I remind her. This may be true, but it is not appreciated.
"That. Is. Why. I. Hate Shopping. With.You!" announces the KHT.
Another battle follows between the KHT and the shoes, but this time it is less of a battle and the shoes are on.
"They are fine!" she announces, "We will have these!"  The trouble is that this would be her response  even if they didn't fit. You only get one shot at shopping with the KHT, so you hope you get it right first time.
With the shoes safely positioned on her feet she goes for a walk around the immediate area of the shop, followed by a longer tour, stopping to examine various items of footwear on the way, which gives me the opportunity to try and detect any impediment in her walking.  However many parents will have encoutered the strange walking technique accorded to unfamiliar footwear.  The suitablitity of the footwear is confirmed, then I remind her of the inevitable financial transaction required, before the shoes become hers.
"Now you need to pay."
"How much are the shoes?" she enquires of the assistant.
The assistant checks.  "£42.
A look of total horror crosses the face of the KHT.
For a moment she was tempted to say 'forget the shoes', but she wants them for the funeral.
That evening she is very keen to inform everyone of her shoe shopping exploits.
"You could always have worn brown boots," say I.