It’s been hot.. very hot.. unseasonably hot.. for England. After all it is July and this is meant to be a British summer. With the mercury rising to 30˚C+ I cajoled the Daddy into putting the paddling pool up.
An hour later and oblivious to the small stream developing in our lawn the Daddy indicated the now obvious; that the ten year old paddling pool had seen better days and that it was indeed destined for ‘Paddling Pool Heaven’.
It’s at these moments that ‘The Look’ is passed between us – The look reserved for our oldest son. This look was the mutual realisation that preventative pro-active action would be required to stop a melt-down of nuclear reactor proportions.
So google was quickly spun into action and a replacement was located. All will be well we sighed as the Argos reservation number beeped through on my phone.
After school, and the usual trauma that is pick-up time, we set off to the out of town Argos and happily collected the new pool.. Everything cool, only the usual niggles and gripes from two young boys.
Dare I… dare I.. Oh yes we’ll just pop into the supermarket – still no trauma.
All is good with the world the radio is singing out Fleetwood Mac, the birds are darting in and out of the hedgerows. Maybe I should have seen it as a sign.. but oh no.. I was blissfully unaware of the mortification ahead.
“Boys I just need to go to one more place before home… everyone OK with that?” Two sweet little boys chimed “Yes Mummy!”.. Again the signs were all there.. the calm before the storm. But still I drove on… After all I only needed to pick-up some vouchers from a local hotel for the teachers end of year gifts.
Arriving at the hotel’s brand new shining sign, glinting it’s gold lettering in the sun.. should have given me a rather large indication that this was not the place to chance “Going it alone”. The long windy driveway.. there should have been a siren going off in my head by now… But no, Fleetwood Mac belted out ‘Everywhere’ and the birds still swooped and flew happily around the hedgerows, and I still blissfully unaware continued on.
It was only as the manor house arose in it’s perfect splendour at the top of the hill, did I begin to realise my mistake. No.1 son asked “Ooh Mum, are we having dinner here?” No. 2 son asked “Ooh Mum, can we play in the gardens”.
So with an all too brief preemptive lecture, holding both sons hands we walked from our car to the grand entrance of the hotel. Admiring my surrounding I said a silent prayer that I could slip in, pay for the vouchers and depart without incident.
As the opulence of the place took my breath away, the fluttering of trepidation rose in my throat as I finally asked the question – why are you risking it? The boys dressed in the grubbiness that is their school uniforms after a day of craft and playing in sandpits, were the polar opposite of the hotels very chic and clean look.
I was immediately greeted with a ‘How can I help you?’ from a smartly dressed bar tender. Spotting his scruffy converse, I relaxed a little, explained why I was there and was directed to the adjoining room. The boys, fascinated by the antlers on the wall and the open fire made their way back into the entrance bar. I looked on silently urging the ladies behind the desk to hurry the hell up.
No. 1 son declared that he was thirsty, having already clocked the price of cocktails at near on £10 a pop and a lager at £5 a pint, it was clear that I was not going to entertain the prospect of watering the boys here… In addition it would prolong the visit, increasing the risk of meltdown and breakages.
And finally, apart from No. 1 son unfurling the neatly rolled menus.. we left with the vouchers and without incident.
My guard down and the trepidation back in its box we made our way sunnily back to the car.. I even took some shots of the view. My mistake.. eye off the ball. No. 2 son is still on course, bobbing along under his sun hat towards the car… when No. 1 son makes a break for it…
…Having been in this situation a million times before, I know that there is no point making a run for him. He will twist and turn, dart and dive like a professional footballer, and evade me every time.
No. 1 son has come to rest on a swing seat.. he has in fact decided to plonk his little bottom next to a lady and her daughter, who are sat… not swinging under the tree. No.1 son decides that swinging is the order of the day and with two feet dug into the ground begins to push the swing chair back and forth…
Mortified I look for the best route to him, he had simply darted over the rope fence like a gazelle, I now lifted it up and very inelegantly climbed underneath.
With twenty or so pairs of eyes on me, supping their £10 cocktails and £5 pints, I prayed that I wasn’t about to provide the entertainment. I stalked my son, like a hunter and reached him with a metre left to spare – praying that a rugby tackle wouldn’t be necessary!
And so the brief but painful mortification happened. I reached out and just managed to grab No. 1 son, and smile politely at the lady who to her credit had not passed comment and was simply looking bemused beneath her designer sunglasses.
No.1 son at the top of his voice blew a large raspberry that sounded very much like somebody breaking wind.. before shouting “Get away Fatty”.. time stood still… His voice echoed round the ancient walls of the manor house and the surrounding hills.
Mortified (I am carrying a bit extra… So don’t really need it shouting about).. I then proceeded to excuse my son to the lady..”I’m really sorry.. but there is a reason..” She was gracious and understanding and dreadfully polite… at least she wasn’t rude.. my mortification would have been wholly completed then.
And so behind my sunglasses the hot salty tears began to fall.. and my rosy cheeks glowed in the sun from the burning embarrassment I felt.
Getting to the car No.1 son asks “Why are you crying Mum?” Before No. 2 son appears covered in black oily dirt from the wheels of the car.. What can I do? – Wet wipes out, and No.2 son cleaned up they get strapped in to the car. I finally answer No. 1 son “I am crying because you said a mean thing to me – words can sometimes hurt as much as hitting someone”… “I’m sorry Mum, it was an accident… I didn’t mean to”.
Why was I crying?
- I was crying because I was ashamed
- I was crying because I felt shame that I was ashamed
- I was crying because I never know how to explain
- I was crying because I always feel I have to explain
- I was crying for the what if’s
- I was crying because I’m a Mummy
And lastly I was crying because this is Autism and we live it everyday.