It started out as a romance. A pretty cliched love story, actually: boy meets girl, boy sweeps girl off her feet and whisks her off to distant lands. Before they knew it, a baby girl came along and the script had morphed into a screwball comedy. This was hackneyed fish-out-of-water stuff. Adding a baby boy moved the family straight into a farce.
Then there was a twist: a diagnosis- this was special needs parenthood. A showstopper. It couldn't be a comedy any more, could it? Surely the next scenes had to be gritty. A kitchen sink drama. Moody stuff, filmed only in black and white.
Maybe, for a little while. But what if that was just one scene? What if the story continues in glorious technicolor, with joy and laughter, and plot developments we never saw coming? Perhaps as the camera keeps rolling it can return to comedy, or romance, or even an action adventure.
Last week, we drove an hour away from our home in Johannesburg to a wildlife reserve. We fed a family of elephants. The kids reserved at first, then curious, then brave, then gleeful. Picture a baby elephant raising its trunk, and Pudding reaching out her own arm in wonder, then tentatively stroking. It was a sensory experience like no other. After a few moments of silent greeting, Pudding raced off to place carrots between the "lips".
My girl who struggles with social interactions with her own species was instinctively communicating with another. Then the elephant- scene-stealer that she was- sneezed on Spectrummy Daddy. You didn't need canned laughter for that piece of improv!
There are some things you can't capture on film, but these are the very scenes you will never forget. The diagnosis wasn't the end of our story; it wasn't even the beginning. There'll be more tear-jerking moments, suspense, and side-splittingly funny times. Forget what they say about never working with animals or children: the show must go on!