Four years ago we moved. The move wasn’t too far away – only an hour from where we had lived. Regardless, it was tough – as moves always are.
The move was hard on Tucker – but really for one reason in particular. His friend, Dominic. Dom was his first friend and lived just four houses away. They met when they were three and from that point on spent every afterschool and summer together. It was the type of friendship that people write screenplays about.
Dom was Tucker’s friend before we received a diagnosis. Dom is pals with Tucker…because Tucker is just Tucker. Tucker isn’t the kid with autism or the odd kid – he’s just Tuck. Dom loves him, unconditionally. I’m positive if Dom knew Tucker had autism he’d laugh and say, “Nah…Tuck is just Tuck.”
That’s refreshing and lovely – and sometimes I don’t like adulthood because we aren’t more like that.
Dom was there on the first day of Kindergarten.
Dom was there when he rode his bike for the first time.
Dom was there to coax Tucker into doing all kinds of ‘dangerous’ things – trampolines, scooter riding, catching frogs.
Every summer we try to have Dom visit for extended periods of time. Yesterday was the day. I told Tucker that we were leaving to get Dom at 5:30. My husband arrived home from work at about 5:15 – so we were sitting and talking when Tucker came flying in about 5:28.
“Mom, it’s 5:30…let’s go.”
“Yes, Tucker. Matt and I are talking. We have plenty of time. I told you 5:30 so that we had time for anything to go wrong. We actually aren’t getting him until 6:45.”
“It’s 5:30…let’s go.”
“It’s 5:30. I’m going to the Suburban to start it and get the AC going. Let’s go.”
“Tucker, you need shoes.”
I turn to my husband and he says – “I haven’t seen him stim like that in a long time.”
Yes…stim. A self-stimulating behavior. It’s the repetition of movements and/or sounds. It’s just one way that people who have autism both calm and stimulate themselves. It’s often used to show excitement when the words aren’t available. The entire conversation was accompanied by hand flapping. He returned, with shoes on and hands a’flappin.
“Come on mom, let’s go.”
I told him to go ahead and I would be out in a couple of minutes. My husband and I looked at each other and giggled. We giggled NOT because of the stimming…but because we hadn’t seen it for so long – and we knew that his excitement was OUT OF THIS WORLD.
Who knew? Who knew that one day I would be excited to see him stim? Excited because it reminds me of my little boy. Sitting and watching Thomas with his hands a going. Waiting for his tiny hands to settle before I handed him an ice cream cone.
On our way home I giggled most of the way. Giggled because they always return, right where they left off. Tucker was still stimming and Dom was just getting him all riled up. As I looked in the rearview mirror my heart was melting because Dom recognizes stimming as something that is just ‘Tucker’ and something that Tucker does when Dom is on a comedic roll. To him, stimming is awesome…and the more he can get Tucker to do it…the happier they both are.
As I write this tough…tears stream down my face. Not in sadness – but in such glorious happiness that Tucker has this friend. This friend who doesn’t recognize these ‘classic’ signs as anything but an excited Tuck. As a friend who loves and appreciate Tucker just the way he is.
Not much has changed since they were three and I’m very thankful for that. Last night they talked about being college roommates. This morning as I left for work I peeked in on them and couldn’t help but think about how some things change…but as they change, the more they really do stay the same. I have this same picture of them at all ages in their friendship and it just keeps getting sweeter.
It’s the kind of friend we all should be – one that just accepts – accepts and loves a person for who they are right then and there, no matter what.