Today has been a good day.
I came home early from work today. Despite what Jess says, I still consider 3:45pm early regardless of a 5am start. As usual, the dog was the first to greet me before I even have the chance to close the door, (which is coincidentally 38 seconds before I can trip over Siarra’s backpack in the middle of the hallway floor).
Then, with the timing and stealth of a freight train, Stephanie “motor-crawls” from the living room to the kitchen where she comes to an immediate halt, sits up, and with a smile on her face announces “Hi Daddy, hi Daddy!!”.
So with the dog’s nose attached to my left hip, and a 14 month old kid attached to my right leg, I am able to sneak a quick kiss and a hello from Jess as she is doing the dishes for the 4th time today.
Right on cue, Jordan hurries most of the way in to see me but stops a couple of feet short. A smile and an incoherent phrase preludes our traditional high five, which is immediately followed by him returning to the more interesting things at hand.
This is usually about the moment that Siarra, with the grace of an elephant, clumsily meanders by with a quick “hi” before promptly walking into the corner of a chair, counter, or wall. It never ceases to amaze me how a 10 year old, 65 lb girl has more trouble navigating through the house than the clumsy 10 month old, 85 lb French-bull mastiff!
So at this point, I have been home and inside the door for approximately 1 minute and 52 seconds.
Yep, today is a good day.
Within ten minutes, my shoes and coat are on and I am back out the door again and reversing the van out of the driveway. I’m not running away because of the overwhelming chaos inside. Albeit, all logic points towards doing just that and not returning until all three kids are married and moved out. No, I’m off to the store for milk. Again. (I swear, we could save a small fortune if we just bought and raised a Holstein.) Halfway down our street, the cell phone rings. I’ve been found out. Jordan heard the van leave. 14 seconds later I am back in the driveway to pick him up.
Jordan’s autism prevents him from coping with many things, not the least of which is either Jess or I leaving without him. Jess believes that his meltdowns stem from some sort of a separation anxiety disorder. I chalk it up to the fact that he thinks he is missing out on something.anything. The level of fun is irrelevant. He just knows he is missing out on an adventure of some sort and how dare you not include him.
So with Jordan strapped in, I reverse the van again. His immediate whining informs me that I forgot to turn the interior lights on for the ride. My bad. With one quick click of a dial, a smile on his face, and Jordan and Daddy are off on an adventure.
When we pull up to the store, I am relieved that Jordan appears happy and willing to accept this as our destination. We both love this particular store. But often times he has his own version of where we should be going (usually Tim Horton’s) and is not afraid to pierce eardrums while voicing his displeasure when we arrive elsewhere. But today is a good day.
With his miniature Tow Mater and a Thomas the Train in hand, we happily enter the store. Most three and a half year olds would head straight for the candy aisle. Not Jordan. Autistic minds create a necessity for strict routines you see, so before I know it he is standing in front of the milk cooler waiting for me to catch up. I pull out the milk bags and he kindly closes the door. “Alright buddy. Go pick a treat. Don’t forget to get something for Siarra too.” And off he goes.
Jordan isn’t usually quick to decide on an item. He methodically looks at all of the treats and carefully weighs the options in his mind. Occasionally he will pick one up and carry it with him until he finds something else that interests him more. But he always returns the last one to its proper spot. Suddenly, Jordan remembers that there is a freezer here and quickly runs over to select two purple popsicles. One for him, and one for his older sister. Satisfied, he darts straight to the counter.
Surprisingly, the owner didn’t complain about Jordan constantly picking up packages and putting them back on the racks. And the owner didn’t frown when Jordan went running through the store. Most of all, the owner didn’t even flinch when Jordan screamed bloody murder because one of the two popsicles had to be taken away to be price-scanned. In fact, the owner was especially quick to scan it then return it to Jordan. And I could tell that the owner clearly appreciated the smile that Jordan gave him the second that the popsicle was returned.
Out of habit, I was about to blurt out an apology for the intense (but thankfully short-lived) meltdown that had just occurred. Catching myself though, I just offered a smile instead. I had almost forgotten why Jordan and I love this particular store. The owner understands us.
You see, this particular store owner has never judged us. Not once has he frowned at Jordan or accused him of being a spoiled brat. Nor has he ever told me how to parent my child. In the past, I have tried to apologize for Jordan’s behaviour but he insisted that apologies are not necessary. This owner informed me that we will always be welcome in his store no matter what Jordan does.
I told him once that there aren’t many store owners who are willing to show so much understanding. I told him another time that there definitely aren’t too many store owners with your kind of patience.
So today I finally asked him, “Why are you so kind when most other people get so visibly annoyed with Jordan when he acts this way?”
The store owner shot me a smile and simply said.
“Because I deal with those other people every time I am out with my autistic son.”
Yup. Today was a great day.