Moments in my life exist that feel ‘typical.’
Some moments begin ‘typical’ and end with a solemn reminder of the spectrum.
This isn’t a long story, but a story with impact.
Last Tuesday we went shopping because Estelle wanted a new Easter dress (which by the way is my FAVORITE ‘dress-up’ holiday).
We decided to go to Kohl’s. For those of you who don’t know what Kohl’s is – it’s a department store with clothing, shoes, toys, bath, jewelry, kitchenwares – pretty much anything you need except groceries. Although…there is chocolate if you consider chocolate a grocery item. Days exist that I do!
In we walked. Estelle through the doors first, then Tucker, then me.
Estelle darted ahead, excited to look at all of the pretty dresses.
Tucker stopped the second he went through the second set of glass double doors.
I nearly ran into him.
I stood beside him as he looked. He closed his eyes.
Then, I had the moment. I didn’t know how long it had been since I tried to take him shopping to store other than Target, Wal-Mart, or Fareway (our grocery store). Honestly, I can’t remember. I began having flashbacks – of him throwing himself on the floor, screaming in a cart, hiding under racks of clothes. Why? Because it was all too much, now I get this. Too much light, too much noise, too much reflection, too many smells, too many people, too much of everything.
For years I have just brought him home clothes and shoes. Back to school shopping is not so ‘fun’ in our house. I go to the store. I buy armfuls of stuff. I bring the goods home. He chooses what he likes. I take the rest back. That’s how it’s been since…honestly, I can’t even remember.
I stopped, I held my breath. Finally, I whispered his name.
He grabbed my hand…and then opened his eyes, looked at me, and smiled.
We followed Estelle around the store just like that. Hand in hand. My nearly 6’2″ 12-year-old, holding my hand throughout the store.
She found two dresses and we needed to go to the dressing room. I told Tucker I needed to go in with her. He said, “Can I go sit on the bench at the front of the store?” (Benches are placed in between the two sets of glass doors at the entrance.)
I said, ‘Sure thing. I’ll come to get you as soon as we finish.’
He said, ‘Thanks mom. I promise I’ll scream loud and kick someone in the nuts if they try to steal me.’
That is how I know.
It’s how I know it’s real.
It’s how I know we’ve come a LONG way.
It’s how I know it may never feel okay for him.
It’s how I know he may be ready to begin overcoming yet another challenge.
It’s how I know he knows what to do if he’s overwhelmed.
It’s how I know he is and will be okay.