Adventures with Leslie, Independence

Leslie returned home after visiting with family for a few days. She walked in the door…didn’t slow her roll even a tiny bit as she breezed past me…took off her shoes, walked up the steps, emptied her lunch bag, put the water bottle and containers in the sink, handed me the schedule of activities at her day program, unpacked her overnight bag, put her laundry in the bin, and hung up her clothes.

“The Ravens won.” This was my signal that it was ok to go in for a hug.

Leslie is different. But while she might miss social cues and my kids keep trying to get her to say please and thank you at the correct time, she could give them a MasterClass on completing mundane household chores.

I have taken Leslie everywhere I go, undaunted by the stares. She’s been isolated over the years and what I want most is for her to not feel like a burden and to know she is welcome.

One of our recent stops took us to Belvedere Square, a food hall. I could see the person behind the counter noticeably staring at her. He seemed curious…but not unkind. The counter provided a buffer sufficient to look without having to ask.

On a recent visit to Lowe’s, the woman in the paint aisle saw us coming toward her, Leslie hurtling down the aisle, and started to back up. “Hi!” Leslie exclaimed, standing a little too close.

The woman kept inching backwards. I gently touched Leslie’s arm and said, “let’s give her a little room, honey.”

At the hardware aisle I expected the same reaction from the older gentleman wearing a matching customer service smock.

“Hi!” Leslie’s greeting is deep and decisive.

He didn’t budge. Didn’t flinch. Not an inch.

I started to ask her to move back a little and he said, “she’s fine.”

So you never know how it will go! Every one of us is different, just like Leslie.

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