Thursday, November 13, 2008

The WalMart Incident

*settle in; this is kinda long

This occurred in December of 2005, but it is still fresh in my mind. It taught me to not engage total strangers who think they are allowed to spew opinions about my life (that’s what FAMILY is for, anyway, right?!). It also taught me to not leave the house with a bunch of kids unless I am mentally prepared to deal with My Public.

So I take my 3 kids (ages 10 months, 3 years and 5 years) plus Joel’s girl friend Alex to WalMart. I was at the back of the store perusing, and Michael was sitting on the floor in the middle of the aisle. Then someone pushing a shopping cart tried to get through and all hell broke loose. I now know I would MUCH rather look like Pushover Mom and ask the innocent shopper to go around the next aisle than have what happened happen.

INSTEAD, I tried to be the Mom Who Looks Good in Public and first asked Michael to move. Okay, any non-quirky (that’s my new word for what Michael is: quirky) kid would’ve said, “Yes, ma’am” and moved. But he wouldn’t move. Not out of defiance, but because he kind of shuts down. It’s hard to explain. Social stuff isn’t his thing.

So I gently moved him out of the way. And he LOST HIS MIND.

He went into his Fugue State with screaming and crying. I decided to beat it out of there. But not before I bought my stuff. Did I mention it was after Christmas and I had some AMAZING deals in my cart?

So I’m heading for the front of the store with Michael behind me still screaming. If I speak to him, he screams louder. So I did the logical thing and IGNORED him. Thankfully, he followed me instead of running off like some kids do.

Once in line, I hear a snotty woman one line over say, “Maybe she can’t HEAR him.” Instead of ignoring her like I should have, I chose to entertain her and the rest of the store. I said to Snotty, “I can hear him. What do you want me to do, Miss Child Psychologist?”

She goes, “TALK to him or something, at least.”

I go, “Okay, watch this … Hey, Michael, are you okay? What can I do for you, Baby?”

He screams louder.

I say to Snotty, “GREAT idea. Got any more?”

She turns to her friend to make more snotty comments. I reach out and touch her arm to get her to turn around and finish this. She shouts for Security, who comes running over. Since I didn’t want to spend New Year’s Eve in jail, I backed off.

I unloaded my craptastic (Zee! I TOLD you I’d fit that word into the blog somehow) deals onto the conveyer belt, Michael STILL screaming and crying. Snotty was STILL talking smack the next aisle over. I’m betting she has exactly ZERO kids of her own.

So I make it out of the store and to the van. It is then that I am visited by the Three People of New Year’s Eve (like the 3 Ghosts of Christmas, get it?).

As I’m struggling to get Michael into his carseat, my brother-in-law Ray comes up to the van just to say hi. I wish to GOD he had been in WalMart when I needed him because he’s a tall, strong guy and would’ve scared the pants off Snotty.

Next (do I have a sign on my van that says Open For Visitors????) comes the woman who offers Michael M&Ms as he’s screaming. I told her, “Go ahead and try to REWARD his bad behavior, but he’s not going to want them … he’s in an alternate universe right now.”

And did the M&Ms work? Let’s see. His MOTHER said they would not work. His MOTHER who is with him 24/7 and knows him better than anyone in the world. WHAT DO YOU THINK? (Sorry to yell at you, Reader)

Michael is STILL struggling with me about the carseat issue, still screaming.

The final Person of New Year’s Eve is a child psychologist. She goes, “I saw what happened in there. You did everything right. Ignoring versus beating him is a much better alternative. That woman in there was just mean. You’re a good mom. Keep it up.”

Isn’t it strange who God sends you when you are at your lowest point? Just a few simple encouraging words, and I suddenly had the strength to buckle that carseat and be on my way.

Updated 4/20/12: We now believe Michael has a touch of Asperger's. It's so mild and not a problem that we are choosing not to get him an official diagnosis, which of course meets with opinions from everyone we know, but I'm done defending us ... he does not have meltdowns like this anymore and is doing great and is a smart, sweet boy who is on a fishing trip with his dad, brother, uncles and cousins this weekend :D
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