Monday 24 December 2018

Why George Michael's heart couldn't be sold on eBay

Box with hearts

Since last week Anthony has been singing a song he’s heard from other kids at school. On a walk the other day he blared out:
“Last Christmas, I gave you my heart,
But the very next day, you sold it on eBay.”

I did a double take and then said to my rather festive lad that it wasn’t the original words. He was aghast. Why would his class mates sing a song incorrectly? Anthony is autistic and it’s fair to say his sense of humour or his understanding of jokes at all is under developed... or at least fairly unique. Honestly I think he only understands one joke and it’s a really simple . 'Knock Knock' one.

He also doesn’t pick up on social cues, he struggles to identify if people aren’t nice to him, are 'taking the Mick' as I would say, or any saying that aren’t literal. If I say I’ve got a lot on my plate at the moment, he assumes it means I’m not hungry.

However, I’m able to use the song as history lesson - one which had a far greater impact than I thought it would. The song by Wham! Of course could not have included a lyric on eBay.

When we got home we looked up on the Internet when the song was released.

"Wow, 1986.  The same year Alain Prost won the Formula One World Championship.  "

Then we looked up when the Internet became something usable for most of the world (1990) and finally looked up when eBay went live on the Internet (1995).

"Nine years after the song!"

It wasn’t really that long ago that Anthony had real difficulty thinking about things that existed before he did or even things being different to how they are now.  So this a good thing.  Thinking about things being different or thinking about what it might be from another persons point of view can sometimes be very difficult for people with autism and children in particular.

But Anthony got it.

"So his heart couldn’t be sold on eBay because eBay didn’t exist - that’s crazy,” he said. 
“Why would someone want to to sell his heart anyway - that would kill him.”

Anthony thought it was also crazy that someone wouldn't love a person back.  After all, everyone he loves, loves him back unconditionally.  And then came the inevitable. 

"Sadly Anthony, the man singing in the song died on Christmas Day two years ago, in 2016."

"But Alain Prost is still alive."

"Yes Anthony, George Michael, the man who sang the song, was only 53 when he died."

"Oh that's very sad.  That's very young to die.  That's younger than both Grandads', Nana's, Papa, Grandma and only a bit older than you."

We've talked about death a fair amount recently as my own Papa died in the summer and we had to cut the kids summer break short. Death is part of life and it's important that we don't shy away from talking about it. 

"At least he died on Christmas Day.  I hate Boxing Day, it's the worst day of the year."

Much of Anthony's life it literal and one sided. His side. Christmas is the best day of the year because unlike your birthday - everyone gets presents. This is good in two ways - everyone is happy and also there is less pressure than if it's your birthday.  Anthony finds birthday's stressful as there are so many expectations and most of them around him, what he should say and how he should act. So almost by default, Christmas is the best day of the year.

And by association Boxing Day is the worst.  Whereas I think of it as a day you get to play with all the new toys, to Anthony it is 364 days away from the next Christmas and therefore the worst day ever.  The only exception being the first day back at school after Christmas break.  Anthony rates 'school' as one of the top stresses in his life.

He will frequently say to me, 

"Who made life like this? It's so hard.  Why would they make life like this?"

I remember how childhood often felt tough. But as an autistic 10 year old with ADHD it's fair to say Anthony struggles a lot more than I did, or most other kids.  He has no friends unless you count his family. He struggles to fit into systems not built for him. He has burst into tears when we talk about things at school.  

"Why don't people understand, I can't do that?  Why do they want to make me?" 

And this despair concerns me deeply. People with autism are more likely to attempt suicide than those without. So when I told Anthony that I had read that the singer of his song may have wanted to die, he seemed very sad indeed. He asked what he died of.

"Actually, I think he had some difficulties with his heart.  I don't think it was able to work properly."

"Oh dear, he really did have some problems with his heart."
"Mine is good at the moment."

He was both sad and benevolent about it.  And it's true.  Anthony is on medication for his ADHD that means he has regular blood pressure and checks on his heart. And it's all just fine.  Of course, I'm aware there's a lot more that can go wrong with your 'heart' than the physical and as I hug him tightly I remind him of just how wonderful, important and loved he is. 


  1. What a lovely reason for having Christmas as your favourite day. Anthony is such a sweetheart. I love the new lyrics too! #spectrumsunday

  2. Oh wow, I felt quite emotional reading this! So many thoughts, so interesting to get Anthony’s perspective on things... xx


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