Friday, April 4, 2014

It's no one's fault.

Autism Fact: Autism is not caused by a person's upbringing and is not the fault of the individual with the condition.

The topic the blog participants have been given this year is 'What have you learned from a child'. 

Lordy, this is a tough one. As a mother, I never stop learning from my son. It's been a privilege to watch him grow from a drooling, chubby little baby who was always fascinated with the colour supplements from the newspapers to a cheeky lounge lizard with a smart answer for everything. 

When you have a baby, no one presents with you with an instruction manual. Once you leave the maternity ward, you're on your own. You are faced with the frightening responsibility of caring for a helpless infant. You soon learn that babies become slippery little buggers when you put them in a bath, that little boys will do a pretty decent impression of the Trevi Fountain when you take their nappies (diapers) off , that they often prefer home-made baby food to the goo that comes in jars. 

As they grow older, you learn from their silences. Silence in the playroom probably means that you're going to walk in and find it looks like an explosion in a Lego factory, with a few plastic dinosaurs thrown in for good measure. Silence after a day at school can often mean something more sinister, like a bullying incident, or a ticking-off from a much-loved teacher. 

When you drop a dramatic change into a child's life, you learn that they have a resilience beyond their years. Our son spent 8 years of his childhood in the USA. When he was eleven we had to up sticks and return to the UK. It's a big thing for anyone, but for a child who's spent his life in one education system, it's a daunting prospect. I was terrified when he started his first day at a British school, afraid that he'd be lost in the different curriculum, much like I had felt all at sea when we first returned to this country. I needn't had worried. He made friends (more than he'd ever made in Arizona), settled into the new curriculum, and even managed to keep his grades as high as they were in his previous school. 

We've thrown a lot of stuff at our son, not by choice, but by circumstance and he never ceases to amaze me with his resilience, his good nature, his thoughtfulness. He's no saint, mind. He has teenage strops, he's a bit on the lazy side and he is perhaps a little too fond of some awful cartoons, but if I can deal with life's pitfalls and traps the way he has, so far, I'll be happy. 

So I guess this post is a bit of a love letter to my son. His name means 'gift from God' and, although I'm not a religious person, I am reminded every day that he is a gift for which I'll be forever grateful.

Now for the plug. My latest release is Tournament of Shadows, an historical novel set in Central Asia and Russia in the 19th century. 

Don't forget to check out all of the amazing blog posts. You can find the master list here.