For folks that have taught, worked, or know Johnny it won’t be a surprise to hear how much he likes girls or being around women in general. The smile he gets on his face when he sees a pretty girl is so flirtouus I know we are going to have troubles when he is older and discovers the power he has in one look.
There are a few girls that make sure they say “goodbye” to Johnny when I pick him up from school but one girl is insistant but sweet. I remember being in church on Palm Sunday in a procession with Johnny when I could hear from behind us “Johnny..Johnny…Hi Johnny..behind you” and there was this little girl with a big expectant smiie on her face. Johnny said “hi” and was instantly very happy to be in church. When we were leaving the little girl made sure she got through the crush of people and was standing right in front of Johnny trying to say “bye” to him but he didn’t notice. He was trying to let me know that there was something wrong with the baptismal pool because it was empty and I should fix it. The little girl looked sad and I knew I had to give Johnny an ending quickly so he would move on and then acknowledge his classmate. I told him because it was a special time of the yearthe pool is empty but will be fixed by Easter. He looked up just in time to be face to face again with the little girl and she spoke to him again really making sure to make eye contact with him “Bye Johnny. See you at school tomorrow”. He quietly said “bye.”
Two months later when I picked Johnny up at school Johnny was “Student of the Week” where the child sits on a chair and his classmates ask him questions to get to know him and then write a little story about him. This is the moment for revelations. He likes butterflies? His friend is “Elise.”? HE HAS A FRIEND!!!! For any parent who has a child with Autism that surely has to be one of the wishes very high on our lists. Our children do not make friends easily.
So when we were enjoying a drink on a bench after school I asked him who his friend was at school. He said “Elise” and face then had the biggest smile and he dove his head into my chest hiding his face as if he told me a big fun secret. I teased him and said “do you like her?” and he said “yes” and kissed my cheek. Hmmm….”do you kiss her too?” “yes…Mommy.” Okay so thats how he stopped just buzzing my cheek or lips with his lips when he kissed me goodnight to now puckering up and making the sound and why he had giggled and said “kisses at school.”
For curiosity sake I pulled out the class picture and decided to see if I could figure out who Elise was ( I think I knew) and yup he pointed to her right away. The sweet little girl from church.
On Monday Johnny came home with two little spots on his inside write where it looked like he had fallen on a toy and he had bled a little. I asked him how that happened and he said “Johnny fall down.” I look in his communication book and Johnny had gotten in trouble for pulling a peers hair and was in time out again. I asked him what he did that was a wrong choice today? Pull hair. “Whose hair did you pull?” Elizabeth. What? Then he points to his wrist and says “Elise pushed Alex fall down.”
Isn’t there an old saying about little kids who really like each other and the sandbox?
Johnny’s little sister has been wearing lots of clips in her hair and hair ties which have been fascinating him a lot lately. He is trying to understand why he doesn’t get to wear any too. I am letting Daddy explain that:) Instead I concentrate on explaining why we don’t reach out and pull hair or try to grab clips out of girls hair because its a wrong choice and they don’t like it hence why Elise pushed him. I reminded him about how much they like each other and maybe he should say he’s sorry the next day with a little gift. I suggested giving her one of his art works. We went to his room which has art hung on impromptu laundry clips and string and he stands and makes a careful inventory. Suddenly with a lot of seriousness he points at one and tells me “That one Mommy…Elise.”
When his Daddy got home he helped him write his name and Elizabeth’s on the back and I helped him put it in a special envelope and into his backpack.
The next day I asked him if she liked his present and a big smile appeared on his face….”yes Mommy.”
Everyday as I got him ready for school he’d get frustrated and angry and say “don’t like school Mommy” and give me his angry mad face. I would remind him that he’d get to spend time with Elise and he would get thoughtful and a little smile and then his mood would change and we would get ready for school.
By Friday after Elise said goodbye to Johnny she came over to me and asked me what Johnny’s sister’s name was and then she said hi to her.
My son has made a connection to a peer that a lot of parents take for granted when the make “play dates”. For my son this connection could possibly change his life. Thank you sweet little girl.