Each day is made up of the actions of other people. So, when you are some one else's other person, why not make their day. -Me
So, I haven't posted in a while, but I had to share an experience.
I took the Little Man to the supermarket on Saturday. The supermarket is not always (or even usually) a successful endeavor. Many times when we go out in public, my wife and I are on hyper-drive. Get in and get out as fast as you can to shorten the window of time where Autism can reveal itself in all of its glory. Such a frantic pace is not good for the Little Man. If we are going to build familiarity and resiliency, slower is better. So this past Saturday, I hardened my skin, prepared for the worst, and decided to make the supermarket the place to socially interact and share an experience with the Little Man.
I know I mentioned before that the Little Man was smart. Truth is - I know that he is even smarter than I think he is. I always like to push the envelope.
As we went down the Italian foods/pasta aisle...I used a single word "Spaghetti" and I happily followed him down the aisle and watched him come to rest in front of all of the boxes of different pastas. I parked across the aisle and watched him look around at the words on the boxes. He heard me, processed it, and knew what to do. He was looking for a box of Spaghetti. We were working together. I watched as he looked up and down and finally recognized the pasta just above his head.
Truth is, it took several moments for him to find the pasta. Then, cutely, in only the way he can, he dramatically jumped up and down several times, scripting a "I can't reach it" -- all while the box was clearly in his reach.
Now, at that time, the supermarket was crowded and the combination of my cart and his spaghetti search was blocking the aisle. I felt someone behind us, but I wanted soo bad for the Little Man to make the discovery and succeed in this simple task. But, the "good citizen" in me was feeling the pressure to just grab the box, grab his hand, and make way for the normals. But, I didn't. I waited those extra few seconds as he proudly grabbed the box, put it in the cart, and looked to me for what was next. Excellent.
Now to deal with the fallout.
I turned around to see an older man waiting stoically for us to make way. I figured his eyes must have been rolling in frustration as he waited for our side show. So, I sheepishly turned, looked at the man and apologized.
"No need," he replied. "I enjoyed watching him." As he walked away, he turned back and said "Enjoy it. They grow up too fast."
I don't think that man knew we were dealing with Autism. I am sure he did not know that having the Little Man out with the masses is a stressful endeavor for us. To him, we were just a regular father and son, enjoying a regular father and son activity. And, he said the perfect thing. Believe it or not, something so simple gave me validation -- and confidence to do it again.
I wish I would have gotten his name. I wish I would have told him how much those simple, kind words meant. But I will not forget what he said and did. Pay it forward!