Have you ever had a simple moment transform your whole day? Today I found grace in the grocery store.
Anyone that knows me is well aware of my pea sized bladder. After 39 years, 3 natural births, and my chronic tea addiction I have developed PRR (public restroom radar). Much like when you are pregnant or potty training toddlers my body tends to twitch when it is within five feet of a flushing toilet (or non-flushing if my last tea was large and my opportunity is small). Today of course was no different, or so I thought.
Grocery stores are notorious for restroom closets, no stalls, just a simple toilet for each gender. Catching one empty is almost a challenge and so you just anticipate standing in a cue two people deep. As I stood there today something unexpected happened. The boy in front of me who was all of about 13 suddenly flopped himself down on the floor and began kicking off his clothing. I stood there watching as the woman with him began to coax him off the floor and realized that the boy in question was autistic. I didn't back away at the scene before me, I simply took one step out of the way and observed her as she brought the boy to calm. It was amazing. As a mother with a child who has ADHD and ODD I understand how easily these situations can get very overwhelming but she was a pro. Once the situation calmed she sort of glanced my way in slight discomfort and I found myself saying "wow that was great control" and she smiled. "He's been working on that really hard" she said, and I told her that it was lovely to see.
Suddenly the boy looked up at me, right in the eye, and took my hand. It wasn't a hand hold like come with me or I mistook you for the lady I'm with but almost a thank you. It was a purposeful look with a purposeful gesture from a boy, that for a minute, forgot the world around him. It was the most beautiful thing I have experienced with a stranger in a long time. I told him that he did a great job. I found myself fighting back a tear, as he walked away into the men's room..
As I left the restroom a woman with a half full shopping cart happened to be blocking the way. She apologized and explained that she was waiting for her son who she thought was inside. As I walked over to the baskets it struck me that maybe that boy in the other room was hers. Returning to her I asked if he might be the same boy and she confirmed he was. On her face was a sense of relief at knowing where he was and probably more importantly that he was just fine.
I understood that mom. The fear of what's happening with your special needs child when you are not there to observe or assist. I understood the caregiver who knows the urgency of handling the situation and the embarrassment of having to do so with an audience. I understood the boy who shares my world but sees it completely differently than I do with a courage and strength he is entirely unaware of.
This queen of hand sanitizer forgot all about germies and viruses today because her hand was held by an angel.
Little man I hope your days are as beautiful as you are.
The Bathroom Lady