A phonecall from the school. The Boy was in the head teacher's office, having punched one of his colleagues in the face. Can I come in to discuss what has happened?
Of course, says I, hoping this isn't the start of another reaction to a change at school that I have, yet again, not been advised of and will thus spend several weeks of being used as his human punch bag until I can get to the bottom of what the issue is.
To school I toddle, and am shown straight through to the head teacher. The Boy is sat outside, swinging his legs and with his head bowed, picking at an invisible to my eye speck on his trousers. He won't look at me, he won't look up at me. He does not respond when I say his name. He is clearly struggling to contain himself.
It transpires that he has punched some of his fellow inmates during a lunch time scuffle, and continued to shout at said compadres and attempting to kick at then as he was pulled off. I ask if it has been establised what led to this incident; I am told "nothing". I am told that he "jumped on and started to attack and pummel" these children with no possible provocation.
I take several deep breaths and launch, once again, in a detailed speech about how autism doesn't work like that; how everything is a result of stimuli, how sometimes his reactions are delayed to earlier wrongs, and how morality has no place in examining what has occured. I ask if they have a STAR form filled in for him in relation to the incident, already knowing the answer is no.
I think, surely at this point, they've heard this from me so many times, in so many variations, that they muct be expecting it. You'd think that they would at least investigate what I say to them; what I "claim" to the case, merely to save me saying this to them every time I am called in for one of his minor disability related misdemeanors. Sometimes, the constant explanations that I need to give, what seems like total logic to me, appears to pass them by completely and I start to hear my voice wander off elsewhere, trying to find where the teacher's comprehension facilities are and why their brains can't process such easy, evident information.
I ask that The Boy be called in. He shuffles in, eyes down. He is picking at a nail, the side of his thumb is gently bleeding from the pressure he is applying to ease his stress. He looks at me; a mixture of defiance, annoyance and a face that just screams out "this isn't fair."
It is a face I know well on The Boy, and one that does not need to be questioned. Ever. He has acted in a way he believes tobe absolutely right, and now we will need to find out what the reasons were that he did.
He sits down. The head teacher starts to speak. The Boy looks directly at me. He speaks quietly, and over the head's voice.
"They called Lid fat Mum, and they made her cry. They wouldn't stop. I told them to leave her alone, and I asked the grown ups, but they didn't. And Lid was crying and she was really sad. So I stopped them."
The head teacher starts to say that, even if this is the case, it is not right of him to react like this, and tells The Boy that I agree with her. She waits for me to confirm that she is right on this supposition.
I ignore her. I hug him and thank him for being a good big brother. I tell him that I wish that I had a brother like him, and I really, genuinely do. My heart swells with pride. I want to rush up to these bullies and shout "ha!" in their faces. I want to put The Boy up on my shoulders, carry him through town shouting "this is my son! I made him in my tummy you know!" But most of all, I want to see my daughter and make sure she is ok.
As it is nearing the end of the school day, she is brought to me, still slightly sniffy, still very upset. She starts to cry when she tells me that these stupid, ignorant idiots have called her fat. I know that she is delicate in a way that people miss, and I know this because she is me.
We cuddle and chat. I tell her that of course she isn't fat. She is strong and tall and extremely cool. I tell her that she is the most beautiful girl in the world. "And the prettiest" pipes up her brother. I tell her that she is more than just beautiful, she is kind and gentle and funny and clever; that these are the things that are important; these are the qualities that the bullies in the playground do not possess; the same ones that she and her brother have in gargantuan quantities.
The head attempts to intervene about a suitable "punishment" for The Boy. I ask how will the children be punished for their verbal abuse of my daughter? I am told it will be "investigated". I already know that this means nothing will be done.
Her voice persists, saying that The Boy will have to miss break times for a week, and may need to be internally excluded.
I sigh heavily. At times like these I struggle to keep my tendency to swear when those around me are being idiotic under control, although my control assisted inordinately by having children in the room. I look at her. I tell her, very slowly, in my best cross voice, that maybe she should be examining how the lunchtime assistants are supervising their charges. A little less time for them to gossip, a little more time for them to attend to the chidlren around them.
I tell her that I can't help but be proud of The Boy, because although hitting isn't right, defending someone younger and smaller than you always is, especially when it's your sister. I tell her that I won't condemn him for being the sort of brother that all girls, but especially Lid, deserve, and that I can only heap praise and thanks on him for stepping in where I could not and her staff would not.
We leave at this point. Nothing will be achieved by continuing the conversation. I hold on to The Boy and Lid's hands, and we skip outside in to the sunshine.
"You'd think Head Teacher would understand more" says The Boy "because she really is fat."
"Yes" says Lid "and she has goopy droopy boobies."
*Sigh* I can see a lecture about not calling people namesa coming on...