Regular readers may remember my piece on absconding (‘Unplanned Leaving,’ January 2016) and might have noticed a lack of recent anecdotes about Happy Chin’s tendency to disappear at speed. Perhaps the behaviour simply disappeared, like Barack Obama?
I’m afraid that instead, the behaviour temporarily disappeared, only to emerge later just when we thought it had gone for good, like Tony Abbott.
So it was with some surprise that we fielded a phone call on a Friday evening around wine o’clock informing us that our eldest son had been arrested. To be honest, if any of our sons was likely to get into trouble with the police, it’d be Tech Support I’d have my money on, especially after his recent move into a share house with three other bartenders. Drunk and disorderly maybe, or causing a public nuisance with his rap music.
Happy Chin, however, had managed not one, not two, but four misdemeanours. Let me elaborate on his crime spree for you.
He’d been at his home with his carer, happily listening to music and rocking away on his swing seat on the front porch. The carer ducked inside to gather some folding and when she returned moments later, HC was nowhere to be found. She quickly checked the perimeter of the property and when he wasn’t located, raced inside and phoned in a missing person alert with the local police.
Meanwhile, down the road, an elderly man (aged 90) received a knock at his door. He opened the door to Happy Chin (Trespassing) who promptly pushed past into the house (Unlawful Entry), wandered into the living room, sat down on the floor and started going through the man’s DVD collection.
The poor gentleman, unable to persuade HC to leave simply by asking him, phoned the police. A description of a tall autistic boy with headphones gone missing in the local area, followed by a call reporting a home invasion by a tall autistic boy with headphones didn’t exactly stretch the mental resources of the local police, who arrived 5 minutes later.
Entering the living room, they greeted HC by his name and told him it was time to go home.
“Noooooo!” he shouted, unsurprisingly.
After several unsuccessful attempts to use reason, the police took hold of an arm each and hauled HC out to the waiting police car (Resisting Arrest). HC took the opportunity to add a final misdemeanour to his charge sheet by biting and kicking the coppers in the process (Assaulting a Police Officer).
As with all of Happy Chin’s previous episodes of absconding, it all could have ended so much worse. The elderly gentleman declined to press charges, HC was returned safely home and so far has not returned to the scene of the crime (although the carer had to return next day, embarrassingly, to retrieve HC’s headphones which had been dislodged in the struggle).
We now have a closer relationship with Kingston police than previously, and a very healthy respect for their patience and compassion. The Senior Constable assured us it was all in a day’s work for them. Obviously the use of force to remove HC was not ideal, but the police are not trained disability workers and can’t be expected to stand there negotiating because they’re not allowed to use restrictive practices and hoping that an offer of Soda Stream or Bob the Builder will do the trick.
I often wish I was big and strong enough to just pick HC up and remove him from a situation. It was easy enough to do when he was little. Tantrum in the supermarket? No problem, simply grab child, abandon groceries and bolt to the car.
Now he’s a grown man, those who are involved in caring for him have had to develop some pretty specialised skills in the case of emergency. Take the problem of ‘nuding up’ on a recent bushwalk. Happy Chin was accompanied by a young male carer who was new to the team. He was faced with the not insignificant problem of an adult male charge determined to take the term ‘nature walk’ to its logical conclusion. Knowing the walking track was popular and he was very likely to encounter fellow walkers whose definition of experiencing nature somewhat differed from Happy Chin’s, the carer devised the only strategy he could think of at short notice. He invented the Willy Monster.
I’d never heard of the Willy Monster. Apparently he lives in the wild and eats willies. So you obviously have to be very careful if you’re out in the bush and you possess a willy. Wandering fully naked along a track in broad daylight is just tempting fate.
When I heard about the Willy Monster, I was appalled, amused and impressed (all at the same time). Appalled because it’s obviously wrong and totally inappropriate, amused because let’s face it, it’s really funny, and impressed because it showed amazing initiative from a young carer faced with a potentially disastrous situation for his client. Talk about thinking on your feet! I mean, he got the desired result. HC put his clothes back on, no one reported him for indecent exposure (his charge sheet was already long enough for god’s sake!) and they had a successful outing.
Although the Willy Monster may represent a serious setback in our attempts to get HC to do a ‘nature wee’ when out and about (I mean, who wants to dangle their equipment in the vicinity of a potential knob nibbler?), the strategy has never had to be used again and our young man is not waking up with nightmares, clutching his genitals.
So all in all it was a win and certainly no more improbable or frightening than a fairy who comes at night and absconds with your molars, a random dude who drops a bag of sand on your head just as you’re nodding off or a fat guy in a red suit breaking into your house at Christmas time.