Really? Again? I remind myself to take a deep breath so I don’t lose my mind.
“Please, Matty, put your hands in your pockets,” I manage to say in a calm voice for possibly the 103rd time that day. Anyone who has used a self-checkout lane knows that there is a specific technique to the process. If you put your item in the bagging area too quickly after scanning it, you will be scolded by the computer. But if you can’t stop yourself from touching the baggage area because you are extremely impulsive, (enter Matty and his hands), the computer will think you need a lot of help. The self-checkout lane with Matty as my shopping assistant depletes my daily allotment of patience in about 30 seconds.
“Unexpected item in baggage area,” the computer’s voice announces.
Unexpected. I get it, computer. I know all about unexpected. I have a long list of unexpected. It’s unexpected that my teenager enjoys watching the preschool TV show, Peppa Pig. It’s unexpected that he still needs help in the bathroom and probably always will. It’s unexpected that my almost 14-year-old son can’t cross the street independently. But the unexpected you are presently referring to, computer voice, are my son’s impulsive hands leaning onto the bagging area.
“Please wait. Help is on the way,” the computer repeats.
That’s our life as autism parents. We are standing in the self-checkout lane of life. Navigating unexpected conditions. Being told that help is on the way. We need so much help some days we don’t even know how to measure it. How to ask for it.
Then I see Matty jumping up and down, flapping with excitement. We call it “smiling with his whole body” when the flapping starts. The self-checkout employee was walking toward us. Help was on the way (reason for the flapping). He swipes his employee card to reset the machine, which silences the computer’s scolding. For now.
“Thank you,” I tell him as I gently relocate Matty to the other side of me so my body blocks him from leaning into the baggage area. “Thank you, Kevin!” Matty hollers (he’s a good reader of name tags). I continue scanning, but before I know it, I hear the familiar voice saying, “Pease wait. Help is on the way.”
|Matty and his new friend, Kevin. Bagging groceries together.|
But Matty, somehow finds the help he needs. He makes his own way. He finds the most incredible teachers, aides, therapists, babysitters, camp counselors, friends, grocery store employees – the angels in his life. They enter his life and help him from point A to point B. By the end of the self-checkout lane experience last Sunday, Matty had Kevin bagging the groceries with him. Their conversation centered around Matty’s favorite topic: what Kevin was planning to eat for dinner that night. Matty even pointed out to Kevin, “Oops you forgot one,” when Kevin didn’t put the last bag into our cart.
It’s not part of Kevin’s job – to bag our groceries or put them into our cart. But Matty made that happen. In our life full of unexpected situations, I have to remind myself, Matty will always find the help he needs. Thank you, Kevin!
|My boy - teaching me a new life lesson every day.|