I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this time of the year, when I see “Autism Awareness” everywhere. I would really, really, really love to have just five minutes of one day where I’m NOT aware of Autism. Seriously – if having Autism is such a darn good thing, then how about I take my bad attitude about it off to a remote island somewhere, and let someone else take over my job for a while?
- You need to be able to visually monitor one not-so-little boy every single second of the day. Including while you’re on the toilet, hanging out washing, cooking, trying to parent four other children, or run a business. Woops – you just took your eyes off him and now he’s urinated all through the kitchen cupboards and inside the heat vent that you can’t quite reach fully to clean out. Well, you’d better get used to living with the smell of wee because there’s a lot of it.
- You need to have hearing aids that you can turn down or off. If your hearing is still fine, it won’t be after this – consider yourself warned. Wear ear plugs, because those shrieks are LOUD and very high pitched – those rock concerts you went to as a teen had nothing on the noise you’re going to get 24/7. Woops, you had your ear plugs in and didn’t hear him take his nappy off. I’ll show you where the gloves and bucket are so you can clean the poo up – just a warning though, it doesn’t quite come out of the walls anymore, ever since he’s pulled the wallpaper off it just soaks right in. The smell usually dissipates within three to five days though, so that’s alright.
- If you need eight hours of sleep a night, please don’t bother coming. If you like to go to bed at a certain time in the evening, and get up at a certain time in the morning, please don’t apply. You must be prepared to sleep as soon as BuddyBoy is asleep, and get up before he does, otherwise your job is going to be much harder. Woops, you dozed off didn’t you? You’ll have to pick up the bits and pieces of his shredded bedsheet so he doesn’t choke himself with them. Make sure you wipe that wee off his bed, once you’ve picked up the paper he’s urinated on.
- You must love cooking bacon. And once you’ve worked here, you’ll never want to cook it again. Your job is to cook bacon to the perfect degree of crispness, at least once a day. If it’s not crisp enough, you will have to start again. Make sure you cook it slowly so it really dries out and gets nice and crunchy. Sometimes he’s really hungry so you’ll need to cook bacon twice a day. Woops, you weren’t watching it carefully – that’s too crisp, he won’t eat that so you’ll have to start again. Don’t bother cleaning the floor just yet – he likes to spread bacon pieces all over the kitchen and dining room, as well as wiping his greasy hands all over everything. Once he’s finished eating, you can wipe his hands, legs, stomach and bottom with some warm soapy water. Use a fresh lot of water to wipe down all the benches and the table, and then mop the floors with really hot water or the fatty marks don’t come out. While you’re mopping, you might want to mop his room again, as he did a wee in there while you were cooking the bacon.
- If you’re timid and shy, don’t apply! You need to be able to spend hours on hold on the phone to talk to the people who are supposed to be helping you. When you finally get them, just ignore their excuses about why they haven’t rung you, and why they haven’t sent you the paperwork, and why they can’t help you. Just go through your story again, as they won’t have written it down, and won’t believe you anyway, so don’t think that anything is actually going to change. Make sure you practice your meditation while on the phone, so when they tell you, “if you just do xyz then your son will be a perfect little angel”, you’re not going to try and lunge down the phone to grab them by the throat. Trust me – it doesn’t work. Oh, and when you’re off the phone, make sure you clean up that loaf of bread that BuddyBoy has ripped to shreds and thrown all over the kitchen floor. And you’ll need to mop it again as he’s done a wee in there. You’ll need to give him a sponge bath too, because he rolled around in his wee and he refuses to get in the bath tub, so you’ll have to just try and wipe it off him.
- Obviously you need to be single. That goes without saying, really. You can’t possibly have a relationship while you’re looking after BuddyBoy. He’s a full time job and then some, so you’re not going to have time for friends, significant others, or other family members. If you’re a single parent that’s okay – you can just let your other kids fend for themselves, that’s what we do with ours. They get used to being ignored, having their exhausted parents yell at them for no particular reason, and having all their possessions broken when they forget to lock them away. They’re resilient, they’ll get over it. And the counselling sessions help – just make sure you budget for those as it’s not cheap having to send your other kids to counselling to cope with their life. When you’re done yelling at your kids to get to bed NOW, could you please come and pick up the broken pieces of your laptop – you left it out and apparently BuddyBoy couldn’t get it unlocked so he got a bit upset with it. And don’t forget to clean up the wee in his room.
- If you’re expecting pay, gratitude or praise, GET REAL.
- Did I mention this job was 24/7? In case I don’t come back for any reason (you never know what could happen), just remember that this is going to be for the rest of your life. You’re not going to be able to have time off, a holiday, or Heaven forbid – retire. I’m sure your other kids will send you the occasional postcard so you can still be part of their lives. If they still remember who you are.
I’ll stop there as I’ve got to go and clean up some wee off the iPad. I wonder where the best place is to post my job ad?