As parents of really young children, we spent a lot of time preparing our kids. Buying all of the ‘right’ baby products to stimulate their world, comparing notes with other parents, and worrying. Lot’s of worrying. He isn’t talking yet, is that normal? I would wonder to myself when we met a younger child at the playground who was speaking in full sentences. Or, she seems uncoordinated when she’s running, is that normal? Should we do something about it, or let it be? Will she grow out of it?
….and on it went. Then, our daughter received a diagnosis. At some point, we started to enjoy the absolute adventure of a seriously unpredictable life. The grocery store has become one of my greatest adventures. Let me start by saying, I avoid public places like it is a full-time job with good benefits. If there are people around…I will find a way to not be!
So, when it was clear that a necessary part of our daughter’s education was going to be social, I knew I would need to work through it. I chose the grocery store as an easy out. Afterall,we had to go… there was a list and clearly marked aisles.
On one of our first adventures, we were able to get through five aisles before a ‘mini’ (tantrum). The five distraction toys failed…one after another…after another. All of a sudden, she started screaming, “Mommy… Mommy!”
Yay…she spoke! Boo…I’m Momma.
Clearly she was asking for my wife. At this point, the sympathetic looks of poor Mom or I’ve been there, turned to curiosity and… dare I say, fear. She clearly wasn’t responding to her Mommy. Who is this lady and where is this kids mother? We made a quick get away…but it took a few months before I tried again.
The next few visits to the grocery store went fairly well. We got into a good routine and I collected a number of tricks that actually worked well. Books managed quick distractions. Pointing out words she liked to read could get us through the whole produce section. And if all else failed…singing. I spent a whole shopping trip singing a combination of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Peace Train.
During our most recent trip, Sage turns to me and stares directly into my eyes. Alert and aware. It still takes my breath away thinking about her being so present and actually looking at me with no prompts.
“Yes…” I look at her with a smile.
“Momma, I’m MAD at you….you did not want for me…MOMMA!” she starts pointing her finger and shouting in a ‘Grover’ voice. As usual, people started to turn and stare.
I started belly laughing, as she continued to act out lines from a recent book. She was “MAD at Momma”all the way to the check out line. I have learned not to interrupt her scripts. I think she was proud of herself for making me laugh and acting out a story similar to our shopping adventure. I have to admit I was pretty proud of her too.