Jessica is my 4 year old son’s 25 year old best friend. She teaches him appropriate times to use cool words like “Scrilla scrill!” and “Come on!” when playing video games, shares snacks with him, runs around with him, and acts as his “reward” when he completes a behavioral therapy program. She gets together with “Tootles” as she calls him, weekdays at the office where we work and sometimes, on weekends at home.
Jessica is a regular contributor to this blog. Her posts appear here every other Saturday (and give Mommy a little break!) Mommy needed a little break on Thursday this week! So here it is now… Please enjoy”Adventures with Tootles”
When I first met Tootles I really thought that he didn’t like me. I was new and he wasn’t familiar with me and would ask me to “go away.” As time progressed we became great buddies and he has taught me all sorts of awesome things. Here are a few things that I have learned from the coolest four year old ever:
1. How to cuss in public without getting “in trouble”
When Tootles gets mad he doesn’t use regular cuss words, he says FIRE TRUCK!! What noise does the fire truck make!?!” So, when I’m out at the DMV or in line at the grocery store and someone is invading my personal space, I’ll say “What noise does the fire truck make?” It seems to be pretty fail proof. I get a weird look and the person behind me usually takes a step back.
2. How to get what I want without being direct.
Tootles asks things by using the second person voice. He asks “Are you hungry?” He is the one that is hungry. “Do you want to play iPad?” I don’t but I’m sure that he does. So, I got to thinking one day and started asking my boyfriend, “Do you want ice cream?” He will say something to the effect of “Um, sure?” SWEET! Cause I know that I sure do!
3. How to get people to GO AWAY
Tootles has a very intriguing personality. If he likes someone they will know it and will feel his love. If he doesn’t like someone they will definitely get the picture! He will ask them to leave. Even if he loves someone, sometimes, they can get the boot!
For example, Tootles sometimes just wants to hang with his ladies. Dad cramps his style. So, I’ve heard him say, “Daddy, GO AWAY!, GET LOST, DADDY!” “Goodbye!” He has this inflection that shows that he is not kidding. The consequences of not listening will be losing a limb, or something equally as valuable.
I am in the process of mastering this inflection. There is a guy at the office who really gets under my skin, sometimes. So, I’ll just pull out the trusty old Tootles’ method. “GO AWAY Billy!! GOODBYE!” This tends to work for me. I have started to notice that even when I start to look slightly irritated and just say good bye, Billy will flee for safety of his limbs.
Tootles has taught me lots of things over the years. I’m sure that there are many more things to come. I’m just super stoked that Tootles is my teacher!
[Solodialogue’s Note: Jessica’s Adventures with Tootles shows what I consider a very healthy, accepting and nonjudgmental relationship by someone who knew my son, but did not know autism and then has the word “autism” introduced into the equation. True, that when I told her of his diagnosis, I was a little taken aback at her blunt – so what- approach. But since that day, she has shown me how adding a “label” to certain behaviors does not have to change a relationship between my son and others, and between others and me. She’s shown me that autism is irrelevant to who we really are inside. And she’s shown me that what I sometimes view with worry and fear, can be viewed with laughter, tickles, and love.]
[PPS – Thank you all for your unending and much appreciated concern for me and my family during this very difficult time. Mom is almost nearing discharge and we are actually nervous about taking her home. But hey, it’s home!! Today is her 14th day in the hospital. While a “skilled facility” was recommended, she is going home instead (knock on wood) where she will receive home health care and physical therapy.]