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!) So here it is now… Please enjoy”Adventures with Tootles”
Tootles likes to take care of the ladies in his life, show them a little extra attention and support. We’ve been together a long time now. He tells me all the time, “I love you, Jessica!” Sometimes, it’s in a quiet voice while he looks in the other direction. He is quite the ladies’ man. Here are some of the ways, he makes me feel like one of his ladies.
Tootles loves to “compliment” his ladies on their shoes. Now, I must admit that there was this one girl he loved who had the ugliest sneakers I ever saw and he used to worship them when he was a baby. Luckily, his taste has improved as he has gotten older!
I have a pair of patent leather white stilettos that I occasionally wear to the office. Tootles has his own way of notifying me that he likes my choice in shoes and that they look GREAT on me! He will fall to the floor and hug my feet. I can’t walk or move, but my feet get loved!
He also loves to compliment me on whatever new tennis shoes I happen to be sporting that day. “What color are the shoes?” “Are the shoes Vans Off the Wall?” Why, yes Tootles, thanks for noticing!! He’s so stylish, he knows my brand! Sweet!
Tootles will also “taste test” the food that his ladies are about to eat. One day, Tootles and I were at the mall and the coffee shop was sampling coffee cake. Tootles’ mommy grabbed me a sample and I took a small bite. Tootles asked for a bite and when I ever so delicately put my hand out to give him one, he stuffed the whole thing in his mouth! I like to think that he is just as concerned about my waist as I am, so instead of making me feel bad, he just eats my food for me! What empathy and consideration!
Tootles will show his love and affection for his ladies by kissing them. Yes, I know you are jealous but I do get his kisses! These kisses are usually laced with Nacho Cheese Doritos and cherry juice. He will come up and smack a juicy one right on my cheek! This way, you can tell one of Tootles’ ladies just by looking for the Dorito/sticky lip marks on their face.
Tootles also has a great eye for hair. If the hair on one of his ladies doesn’t look up to par, he doesnt want her to feel bad. Instead, he will just fix it for her. One day, Tootles and I were watching TV and he climbed up next to me and started swirling my hair in his fingers. He had been eating cookies and juice so my hair had residual Oreo and juice stickiness to keep it in place. He swirled for a bit, looked at me and decided that I was finished. I was ready for a hot date!
I am super stoked to say that I am one of Tootles’ ladies! I have cookies in my hair and Dorito on my face and I couldn’t be happier!
[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.]