A friend made a link, yesterday, between her 53 years and my 53 days. Today the satisfaction is all mine: I have reached 54 years and a 54th day. As with the years, the days can be an eternity or the blink of an eye; sometimes it feels like an age since Dylan moved into residential care, sometimes only yesterday.
Increasingly, I can feel the heft of my 54 years. A few years ago I became conscious of Dylan and I passing each other as one of us approached the peak, physically, while the other began the decline. Now, at 21, Dylan is in his prime. As well as being aware of how much stronger he is than me, I notice subtler differences. Young adults of Dylan’s age do not, generally, behave like their parents; they perform their own narratives. Dylan might be autistic with learning difficulties but he still has 21 year old tastes and preferences.
‘I love Dylan’s style’, a care worker said to me the other day, ‘especially the way he wears his hats’. Most of the care workers at Dylan’s home are much closer to Dylan’s age than I am. I like the fact that, as well as having a peer group, Dylan has young people supporting him. They act as role models for him, sharing their practices and developing his. So when, last week, a care worker mentioned that Dylan needed some new trainers and offered to support with this, I said a grateful Thank you, Yes. I never know which trainers to buy; I find the range of prices, materials, styles and brands quite overwhelming. I don’t want to guide Dylan to a wrong choice but have no idea what is right. Dylan has a better chance of getting good footwear, I told myself, without me.
So this week Dylan had ‘shopping for trainers’ on his schedule. Although he helps choose his own clothes when he shops with me, this was the first item of clothing Dylan had bought without me. The manager emailed me that it had gone well; Dylan had selected another pair of Nike trainers but with an orange tick. He had them on when I visited on Wednesday; ‘I like your trainers, Dylan’, I said, when I picked him up. In the pub, later, I noticed they were the wrong size and a bit big. The shopping trip might not have been completely successful, I told myself, but this was another new road and Dylan had taken the first step.