Get reference to child component as method parameter?

This is a pure vue question - I am using Kendo UI and it requires a lot of custom coding to get the right behavior. I have a page like this

<template>
<kendo-tooltip :content='loadToolTipContent(thisToolTip)'>
<kendo-dropdown></kendo-dropdown>
</kendo-tooltip>
...etc,many other tooltips and dropdowns...
</template>
<script>
export default {
   methods:{
      loadToolTipContent:function(thisToolTip){
         thisToolTip.heavilyCustomize();
      }
   }
}
</script>

I am wondering how to actually pass the instance of the tooltip to my component’s methods as a parameter? I know I can do refs but that’s a bit of overhead. _self is my component, not the tooltip, so is “this”.