The boys and I set off this morning to visit a friend who just had her third child. Given that I have been swamped with work and homeschool and life, I didn’t have a gift. We quickly stopped at Marshall’s to pick up a few outfits and board books. A few years ago, when autism was at its height, such an errand would have left me in a cold sweat. Now, I have no fear. I take the two of them in tow everywhere alone: crazy sounds, tantrums, and all.
Moose has had an increase in rigidity lately. If life doesn’t go as planned, even with verbal reminders, QARs, and visual schedules, all hell can break loose in any given moment. And it did. He wanted to go to the grocery store next to Marshalls, and the flailing and tantrums began.
Luckily, little brother Monkey knows the drill when Moose has a moment: stay calm and do everything I say. He received an academy award for best supporting sibling in the dramatic films starring Moose.
Within a few minutes, we made it into Marshalls. I made a beeline for the books. Moose squawked happily and spun and did his new exploratory behavior-touching everything. I no longer apologize for his behavior. I no longer feel the stares and the glares of patrons expecting their piped pop music and random cell phone chatter.
While looking at the board books, Monkey fell in love with-a-book-I-must-have-oh-please-oh-please-oh-please. It was called Little Blue Truck. I told him no, we are here for the baby and the baby only, it was just your birthday, and we have therapy and medical bills up the wazoo and no, you have literally 5,000 books at home.
I set the book on a ledge near the check-out, and Moose began tantruming again. We paid, and went on our merry way.
We made it to the van without more drama, and I took a few deep breaths after the boys were buckled and ready to roll. I began peeling the labels from the books, and stuffing it into a gift bag I saved from when the world showered me with random gifts when my sons were babies.
Suddenly, a knock at the window. It was a man, heavy-set, with a crestfallen look on his face.
He had the Little Blue Truck book in his hands. At first, I was confused. Did he think I paid for the book and left it?
I rolled down the window.
“I want your son to have this.”
Wow. He handed the book to me.
“You are doing one hell of a job. I have a little boy with autism too.”
He smiled. My eyes filled with tears.
He turned to walk away.
“Thank you, sir,” I called out. “You really made my day.”
Some days, you don’t know the angels behind you in the check-out. The people watching the scenes unfold may have the same hardships at home. Sometimes, mere acts of kindness, speak volumes of the beauty in this world.