My son is an “only” child in the sense that he is my only biological child and he lives in our household with mom and dad and no siblings. My husband has two adult children. My son’s half-brother is 32 years old. His sister is 27. He has had exposure to his siblings only at holiday time and only for a few hours. His sister did stay with us briefly for a few months after returning from a trip to Europe but this was long before her brother was diagnosed when he was only about 1.5 years old. He understands he has a brother and sister but that really does not carry the kind of meaning one would normally associate with the concept. Plus, they are adults, carrying on their own lives and he is a small child.
I’ve mentioned before that where we live there are no children in the neighborhood. So, really, his only entertainment on the home front involves playing with mom and dad. All of the potential socialization of my son occurs when he is at preschool, in therapies, at the mall, or at our office. For the limited amount of social interaction with others that my son has, I feel he is definitely trying, although it is painfully obvious that he needs lessons with his peers. With adults, who are kind and understanding, my son has the best of friends.
This is where the office comes in. As you may know from reading here, my husband and I run a small law firm. We operate in a building in the suburbs which we own and manage. Because of this, our son has free reign in the building. He receives his ABA therapy in an office there and has a “classroom” where he can sit on a couch, watch TV and play with toys.
Within our office, believe it or not, are actually, people who perform work. The famous Jessica, of Adventures with Tootles, is my son’s best friend and our legal assistant, Billy, our law clerk, who is getting ready to take the Bar Exam in a couple of months, works in another and our part-time assistant, LM, an works in a third office. My husband and I have offices on opposite sides of the building (for good reason – he still does not understand that I am the boss).
My son knows everyone. He is comfortable talking to everyone in the office and really does not manifest a lot of “shyness”. If someone is new, pretty much like LM is, it takes some time for my son to warm up to them. Once he does, it becomes challenging to get work done unless someone intervenes to physically remove my son from the office of his latest
victim friend, and get him redirected.
When my son was first born and started coming to the office, there was Zane. He was very quiet and hard-working. He was good-natured and indulged my son’s toddling on in to his office. Especially, since Zane’s wife was my son’s first nanny. We called her the “baby whisperer” because she was the only one who could get him to nap. But my son was very young at the time, and there was not a lot of physical effort needed to get him back to his territory when he wandered to Zane.
There were times when he reached the age of two that Zane would have to intervene to stop my son’s crying and screaming for me when I was in the middle of a discussion and, one horrible episode involving a deposition. However, my son was in pre-diagnosis – no one suspected anything- mode at that time.
Next came David, a newly, licensed attorney. From the time my son first saw David, my son was fascinated. He walked right up to David and stared into his face. David was unfazed and friendly.
David became synonymous in my son’s mind, with the theme song from the show, “Two and a Half Men”. For some reason, every single day that my son saw David, he asked him to sing the “men song”. David, obligingly would hum the tune for my son, awkwardly at first. Then as he got used to it, with greater flourish, since it was a regular and daily feature of his employment.
David’s duties were to answer interrogatories, draft letters and motions, make court appearances, cover depositions and sing the theme from Two and a Half Men to my son. Additional child duties including watching that my son did not dart out the front doors and lifting him up and down like weights. With David, my son was always laughing and silly.
Finally, Billy came to work for us. Billy is, pretty much, a quiet kid. My son would often dart right past Billy, run to Jessica and play. Finally, one day, after quite a few months, my son demanded, out of the blue, that Billy play PacMan with him. Billy turned out to be a closet PacMan champ. Billy’s days of trial preparation, power point presentation prep, writing letters, reviewing documents, answering interrogatories and document requests, were now compounded with the duty of playing PacMan and “Delete the Document” with my son.
Recently, Billy had the nerve to take a trip to New York during spring break. When he returned, my son made it clear that Billy’s office was now a “shared” one and that Billy’s new office mate was quite interested in playing “delete the document” on his computer. But my son does not want to go in there unless Billy is there to share the fun. Since Billy returned from spring break, my son has monopolized his time and is now working with his ABA therapists for time to play with Billy to delete documents.
When Billy shows up, my son jumps up on the chair with him and begins to type. Billy, again, is very easy going and understanding of my son. He lets him climb right up and type away. Even though, Billy is never sure what my son is talking about, or how he should interact with him (he is single with no kids) Billy is kind and full of humor about the whole thing – even when he loses a document. Of course, he does try to get out of his documents before my son begins his typing.
Lucky for all of us, Billy is not required to sing any tunes. And Billy, I know you’re reading this. That’ll teach you for trying to take a vacation.
I wonder what will happen when he comes back from taking the bar exam…