“This was the best Birthday ever!”…

were the words my autistic youngest son “Gubby” said, right before going to bed last night. If he only knew how happy it made me to hear those words, because the planning has gone on for weeks. Like my husband coming home one day from work asking me, “What are you doing on the 3rd September at 10:30?”. – Well, I should be sitting in the car driving off to church, if everyone get out of the house when they ought to. “How would you like to take ‘Gubby’ to the cinema then?”. To be honest, I thought he had completely lost his marbles at this point. Go to the cinema when we are supposed to be in Church? But then he explained. A couple of years ago, this supermarket chain launched a new club for children, called the paprika club. You get a little magazine. Sometimes there are little competitions in the supermarket. But most of all, it has been started to get children to eat more fruit and vegetables. Every day, there is a little testing bowl in the supermarket where the children can take an offered fruit, for free!

When “Big Hero 6” came out in the cinema, or was about to, the local supermarket’s paprika club, hired the entire cinema one day, and let all members go and see the film for free! We all went! Since our boys have autism and one of them also ADHD, we were allowed to have two adults going with, instead of one. And when E. arrived to tell us that her classmates had stood her up, not wanting to do their assignment that day, the staff told her to stay and see the film. They treated us all to popcorn, juice and the children got candy bags. This year, they decided to charge 40 :- for each person, but that is nothing to the regular price for a cinema ticket! T. said something about 150:-? Anyway, the day the paprika club had decided to rent the cinema to show “Cars 3” was the 3rd September at 10:30. We thought about it for two weeks, not feeling too comfortable going on a Sunday, but then we realized that it would make “Gubby” sooooooo happy! We decided to keep it an utmost secret though.

Yesterday morning, he woke up at 07:30 and asked me “Where are my gifts?”. I had to explain that he had to get them that afternoon, since I had not got one of them wrapped yet and everybody else was asleep. At 08:00 I got up to take head ache medicine and F. was up. She was so upset, since she had me send for a Birthday present for him and it did not arrive on time. She wanted to give him something Harry Potter and we decided that a hat could be fun. We looked on eBay since they are faster than Wish. We avoided all Chinese sellers since we suspected that it would not arrive on time if we chose one of them. So we bought from England. We thought. But after ordering, which has to be done on my mobile since my iPad just freezes, I went in on the iPad to check the seller’s reviews and noticed one negative comment mentioning that they lie when they say they are in the UK. They are in China! We felt cheated and upset but hoped for the best, since it had three weeks to travel. But it did not arrive! So instead, she had T. buy a donut with festive sprinkles on it, Saturday, and she told “Gubby” that it was her Saturday candy. Instead of a gift, she got up at 08:00 and boiled him an egg, set a tray with egg, bread and the donut on it and then invited him to the kitchen.

When T. got up, he showed me what he had picked for “Gubby” to wear. Only, that was “Gubby’s” Lightning McQueen PYJAMAS! I told him that my son is not going to the cinema in his pyjamas. T. thought it would not matter but “Gubby” knows that it is his pyjamas and will not go to church in that! He will say so! He objected enough to wearing his sports’ clothes! For years, I have bought these Asian outfits at Sjöbo’s fair, that are of a shiny material, which does not have to be ironed. They are perfect for gym class because of it. And they are bright, colourful and have fun prints on them. This year I bought a pair with Lightning McQueen and Mater on them. Shorts and top identical. But he knows that those are meant for gym class so he said “Going to church in gym clothes!”. I had to explain that they are not really gym clothes, that mamma just likes to use them for that, so I do not have to iron and when one has a Birthday, one can be dressed differently than regular Sundays. He did not object further but got dressed and we drove off.

When we got to the bend in the road, all autistic boys asked why we took another road than the usual one and I answered that “we just have to do something first”. When we got to Lund, “Boo” said, “this is not the road to the church”. When I parked, “Gubby” and “Boo” wondered why, so I said “We just have to go look at something first and then we go to church!”. They did not understand a thing when we got to the cinema. But “Boo” went and fetched popcorn and “Kitty” whispered “are we going to see a film?”. I nodded my head and made “Gubby” go to the loo, eventhough he did not want to. But of course needed to. When we sat down, he still did not have a clue what we were going to watch. But he was excited when he realized!

The Paprika Club at the cinema! “Gubby” ran up and hugged them as soon as he got in through the door!

What can I say about the film? I thought it was good but it was very depressing. I had to explain once to F., once to “Kitty” and once to “Boo” why “Lightning McQueen” had to quit racing. The entire film is about Lightning McQueen having to accept facts, that in sports, you can never remain on top forever. No matter how much go you have in you, how much you still love to compete and how young you feel still, there comes a day, when you have to move on. I told them about Swedish slalom star Ingemar Stenmark, who made all of Sweden stand still when he competed. We would be on our way to have a test in school and instead the teacher wheeled in a TV, so we could watch the competition. I could care less if he won or not. I was never interested. But it gave me an opportunity to review for the test once more. He won gold medal after gold medal, year after year. And then he started getting “old” in sport’s years. Instead of being praised to the sky, we all felt embarrassed. That he had not quit when he was the best. That he just continued even though he did worse and worse. That he did not accept facts and quit while he was ahead but instead ended up in 10th place, 15th, 20th… There was something pathetic about it and desperate!

The children were upset though, because everyone told McQueen that he was old. I reminded them how quickly a computer is considered old. That no, in years he was not old, but his motor could just not drive as fast as the rookies. No matter what, he could not get up to their speed. That is why the rookies laughed at him. And that speed was everything. He knew all the tricks in the book, to win, but lacked the speed. Question of course is, why they did not just put in a new motor. At the end though, his new trainer Cruz Ramirez, a girl car who always dreamed of being a race car, takes his place in a race wich he has started in and she wins it for them both. He goes on to be her trainer instead and accepts that this can be fun too. The film had fun moments but nothing to laugh out loud about, like my husband did! As a matter of fact, he was the only one laughing out loud so I was happy sitting far away from him! One could tell from the film though, that this will be the last film of “Cars”. They really pressed the final blood out of the stone. I will say, that “Cars 2” was the best of the three.

As soon as the film was over, we left for church where we could attend the last hour. At the end, when they had the conclusion for the children, everyone sang to “Gubby” and he was delighted, standing there proudly in his Lightning McQueen outfit. To be honest, I do not think he understood what half of the film was about. It was too complex of a topic for him. How can anyone say that a car is old and useless when the car is red and shiny, driving super fast?

When we got home, big sister E. was still not back from the child blessing she had gone to in Malmö. The baby being that of her former employers in Basingstoke, England. We were starving and had no interest in waiting up for her, so we had dinner and then we sang to “Gubby”, giving him his presents finally. He loved everything he received! I had finally settled on a Junior Lego set with Luigi and Guido, from “Cars”, a pencil-case with emojis, a jubilee set of Thomas the Tank Engine, and finally an insane toy called Stretch Armstrong. All of the things wished for by him, but especially the last toy, which I think is a crazy item. A grotesque stress ball in the shape of a naked man! As a toy I think it is pointless BUT I think that an autistic child can actually get a lot out of it. Touching, pulling, relaxing with it…

“Boo” so much wanted to give his brother something, but had no money. Then he usually looks around the house and finds something to give. In this case, he ended up giving “Gubby” an old skateboard for a smaller child, that he found at the city dump. Dirty and wobbly. F. took one look at it and said she did not want it in our clean living room. Having OCD, she just gets like that. He exploded and stormed upstairs screaming. And I had to explain to her that by doing what she did, she offended him saying that his gift was not good enough and that his heart was in the right place, that it is not easy to give, when you have no money. I decided to grab one of the Christmas presents I had bought for “Gubby” and let “Boo” give him that instead. So upstairs I went and told him that “Gubby” is too young for a skateboard, that he is too scared to go on one and that he could give him a troll instead. “Gubby” loves the film “Trolls” and especially the troll “Guy Diamond”, for some reason. I found one when looking for Birthday presents and decided to give it for Christmas, having the shop wrap it in Christmas paper. “Boo” took the present, walked down and gave it to “Gubby” and he said happily, “Oh, I love the paper!”. Father Christmas all over it! He did not even think about it being Christmas paper! And it being the wrong season. He got really happy about his troll and we put him for decoration on the “ostglass”, since I had forgotten to buy a marzipan rose!

Ostglass- or homemade ice cream cake

We sang again, had cookies and the ice-cream cake and then it was time for the film he really wanted to see. When we got to France in July, they were showing “Gnomeo and Juliet” on French TV, dubbed in to French of course. We all sat down and watched what was the last 20 minutes of it and the boys regretted not getting to see the entire thing. None of them saying that they had not understood a single word! Anyhow, I managed to find the film to order it and when it arrived, “Gubby” said he wanted to watch it on his Birthday. I asked him if he was sure. I could offer “Vaiana”, “Beauty & the Beast” and something about storks. But he wanted to watch “Gnomeo…” so that is the film we watched last night and it really is a cute one. And more over, it does have a happy ending, because the couple does not die at the end! And the one garden gnome who did die, got glued together again! After the film, which is a garden take on Romeo and Giulietta, I sat down to watch the extras, where it showed that the film was made by Elton John, who wrote the music. Handsome James McAvoy does Gnomeo’s voice, his mother’s voice is done by Dame Maggie Smith (YES! My favourite actress!!!!) and Juliet’s father’s voice, is done by Sir Michael Caine. So my husband had no reason to huff and puff at all nor taking a nap, like he did in the middle of the film. He did not wake up until E. walked in, while the Capulets and Montagues or should I say the Reds and the Blues, fought like maniacs!

(Storyline is that two neighbours living in attached 1930s houses, hate each other. Hers is with blue decorations and she has class, while he has red decorations and his are somewhat tacky. One gnome has one of those horrid bathing suits for men which is just a string in the back and only holds the private part in the front! When the owners go off to work, the garden decorations come to life. They compete in the alleyway with the lawn mowers but also take care of everything in the gardens. One day, when the blues are out to get revenge, Gnomeo notices the beautiful but protected Juliet, high up on a garden tower and his heart is no longer in the mood for hurting red gnomes! Instead they date in an adjacent abandoned garden. When they are discovered, Juliet’s father glues her in place, so she can not go see Gnomeo. And Gnomeo has an accident, which makes everyone believe he is dead. To get revenge, the blue gnomes, order a gigantic lawnmower called the terraferminator, not adviced for personal small gardens. The lawnmower arrives and is started by the blues. Soon, both gardens are completely ruined and all the gnomes now believe that Juliet is also dead, since the lawn mower took down the tower. But out of the crash site, climbs Gnomeo and Juliet, holding hands. Happy ending, even for the garden plastic flamingo, who was single. They order a female flamingo for him! You can’t find a cuter film!)

E. never joined the party in other words. She just sat out doing her own things in the kitchen. But “Gubby” was so hyped that he did not even notice the slight. I am glad, because her behaviour since she got back from England has been appalling. When it was time to go to bed, he was still all happy. I asked him which was his favourite gift and he counted them all up, which was nice to hear. It is sooooo difficult to buy presents for autistic children! They do not really play with toys! And they often have a very short attention span.

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