A superhero (sometimes rendered super-hero or super hero) is a type of heroic stock character who possesses supernatural or superhuman powers and who is dedicated to fighting crime, protecting the public, and usually battling supervillains. Wikipedia
“What is your favourite superhero?”
Those were the words uttered from a seven year old boy recently and taken in context they were loaded with so much more knowledge for his years then I could ever begin to describe.
His name is Harry.
I met Harry when he was a toddler after making friends with his mum at playgroup. Since those early days his mum and I have become firm friends and we maintain playdates not simply for the children’s needs but out of our growing friendship.
His mum has attempted to talk to her children about my PDA daughter in the past. You know, she may do this or she may react a bit differently, but that’s ok. She doesn’t chose to do it like that and we have to just move on because inside she is still that lovely little girl that you both know.
They both have nodded their heads and show some childlike understanding before running off to play princesses and superheroes in varying directions.
It may seem unbelievable, particularly when she is currently under investigation for a permanent school exclusion, that until last week they had never seen PDA child lose control. The red mist so to speak.
As many other PDA families will describe she keeps a lid on it. She loves this family so much and has been nurtured by them, that not only does she not want them to know her Jekyll side but she is far more relaxed that she is able to maintain the Hyde personality.
An incident occurred last week and the mask was forced to slide, unveiling all of her insecurities.
The four children were playing in the paddling pool and screaming with laughter, it was become noisy and I could anticipate something about to happen. All of a sudden, my two children collided and PDA child went into an unprecedented attack. Her friends shouted for her to stop hitting her sister and then they became targets too. Suddenly my voice was screaming to stop and I have children being attacked left, right and centre.
I managed to pull her out, now with my entire outfit dripping wet and without engaging my brain I sternly said “right that’s it, we are going home!”
Cue further eruptions now by both inconsolable children and a baby on a picnic blanket who had no understanding of the commotion, but who seemed to want to get in on the act.
My friend started to take control of the situation and spoke in very calming tones after my umpteenth apology of I’m so sorry and then wrapped one of my children on her lap. Her two children were still dripping in the pool looking confused at the ferocity of what had just taken place.
This special friend started using PDA techniques – the type of thing that I should have been doing if my emotions had not run away with me.
Then Harry climbed out, his goggles imprinted still on his forehead, and quietly said to PDA child “what is your favourite superhero?”
She told him it was Spiderman. He politely offered would she like to go back inside to play it on his computer. The situation was beginning to calm again so they dried off, chattering away as they engaged their talk on goodies, baddies and super strengths.
That night Harry talked to his mum.
He said about the superhero choice PDA child had made and in retrospect it was the wrong person to pick, she shouldn’t be Spiderman and that she should’ve said the Incredible Hulk.
“The Hulk gets angry even though he doesn’t mean to, but he is still a good guy.”
Firstly, we were both so impressed by Harry’s maturity earlier on when he used the art of distraction to get the situation under control. Secondly, he had reflected on the day’s events and had evaluated his own psychiatric report. He felt no need to reinforce the message that she had followed the wrong actions, but to empathise with her bodily response to danger.
Now, if only Harry was a bit older and could path the way in his leadership skills. Forget EHCP’s, TAF’s, Child in Need meetings and all the rest of it. Forget the paediatric assessments or the social workers invading the house – somebody just needs to speak to Harry. He doesn’t need to divert blame or add in the jargon, he simply understands my autistic child better than anyone.
We came away from that play date having had a positive experience despite the challenges we had faced.
Harry is a superhero to me.
Not only can he tackle crime, protect the public and eradicate the meanies but he also has supernatural powers: his intelligence far outweighs his chronological age.
I only wish he could be my partner in crime when I have to attend the next reintegration meeting at school – maybe he could shed some light on how school can educationally handle his superhero ally the Incredible Hulk?