A Smile in Every Aisle


Last week Adam and I ventured to the grocery store after work. He's satisfied to sit in the cart for a few minutes, but quickly starts itchin' to get down and explore. On this particular trip he discovered that he could grab onto the lower part of the cart's basket and push, all the while looking down at his feet.

I guided his steering from above, while at the same time grabbing and throwing things left and right into the cart as we sped down each aisle. This was a bit of a challenge for me, as I rarely remember the shopping list these days. Thus, I normally linger a bit as I shop, both trying to remember what was on the list that I left laying on the counter and what I forgot to put on the list that I left laying on the counter. Speed shopping is not my forte. But, there I was, zooming down the aisles as if racing the clock for a big prize at the end. Adam was thrilled. He'd giggle, he'd weave left, then right, then left again. Stopping nearly caused a tantrum.

I did interest him, for a short time, in opening and closing the freezer doors in the ice cream section. Some things just cannot be rushed. It was buy one, get one free. I could barely decide on one flavor, let alone two.

As we rounded the corner towards the check-out I spied a display of animal crackers in the little "circus train" boxes. Oh! Nostalgia! My mom used to buy those for me when I was young. Not only did I love the cookies, I loved the box. So, I snatched one for Adam and offered him a cookie, knowing that the cart-pushing would have to come to an end as we checked out.

It worked. For awhile. He snacked as I quickly piled things onto the belt. He began to wander...to the end of the check stand... and then over to a man in a wheelchair; the kind of wheelchair that allows a person to lay nearly flat. The man appeared to be in his early 40's and had MS or something similar. His legs were strapped down, and his head was held in place by pads on either side of his neck. "Hi", I heard my sweet boy say. And then he reached out and touched the man's hand. And then his leg. And then his chair. "Hi." Exploring some more, Adam again touched the man's arm. A lady appeared whom I guessed to be the man's wife or caregiver. "Aren't you cute!" she proclaimed. "Hi", Adam said.

By this time I had completed my purchase and pushed the cart towards Adam to round him up and head to the car. "What a sweet boy," she said. I looked at the man, and he was beaming, trying to turn so he could see Adam. I moved over so he was in the man's line of vision and he reached a shaky hand up towards my son. Adam reached out, too, and they held hands for a brief moment. "Oh my", said the lady. "We came here to buy lottery tickets but we've gotten something much more precious. Most children are scared of this big old chair."

"Well, he's a social little guy", I said. "And curious."

"Bye-bye" she said. "Bye", said Adam, waving. And then he threw two kisses, one to the lady and one to the man.

Much more precious, indeed.

Until next time,

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