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
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...)
"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.