I like to think my family brings a little Autism Awareness to where ever we might go. Even the most boring errand is a opportunity for a "teachable moment". I'm usually pretty open about my kiddo's autism because well, it's not he's hiding it stealth ninja style is he? Sometimes though, I don't want to though. Sometimes I tired of being the "Autism Information Kiosk". Sometimes, I just want to buy my generic cold medicine and tampons at the pharmacy and leave. (Honestly, look at that combo. Do I look like I'm in the mood for a chin wag?)
The kiddo and I head out this morning so I can restock the bathroom cabinet. He's always down for a ride pretty much anywhere. He has just taken full advantage of my cold induced fog and crampy state by suggesting we get coffee. Which is really just suggesting he get some donuts. I fall for the bait. At this point, I'm just trying to get in and get out. Once we hit the feminine hygiene aisle, he's on board to get the heck out of there too. Nine year old boy in this aisle with his mom? Scaring him for life, mother of the year award right here.
We head up to the register and it's our favorite cashier. She's an older woman, grandmotherly, the kiddo's type for charming. She rings me up as she tells me all her business as per usual. (Why she too has the cold that just won't quit) The kiddo meanwhile is off in autism land with the sliding glass electronic doors by her register. She keeps saying "Hello" to him and he keeps actively ignoring her. Woman, there are doors to make "Wosh!" here. We don't have time for your chit chat. He's flappy. More so than usual I guess. I'm so damn used to it that I often don't even see it much anymore. All the sudden she starts flashing a stick of gum at him, asking him if he would like a piece. He keeps ignoring her. She seems completely baffled how this kid is NOT taking her up on her offer of free gum.
Not thinking where I am I just tell her the truth "He's never had gum." She is stunned. A kid his age?? I can tell she's eying me up and down. She didn't have me pegged as a helicopter mom. In that moment I realize I either have to explain why he's never had gum or pretend that he can't have gum because my delicate sensibilities would never allow such things. Do I take the time to explain he's never had it because he's never shown an interest? Do I try to explain the various food and chewing sensory issues that he has? The fact that he's in feeding therapy and for the past four weeks he has been working on eating carrots. That's right. Four weeks for carrots. Do I even try to begin to explain how completely confusing it would be to offer him something that's he's told to chew but NOT swallow? That this food item would go into your mouth kind of hard and dry and then become sticky and soft.
It's in this moment where I just wish I didn't have to be "on". There is no quick way to explain this. There is a line behind me and I just want to go home. I get tired of being the "autism mom". I'm human. I don't even want to tell her to google sensory processing issues. I just want my stuff. Part of me feels bad that I'm not grabbing this chance to educate but the other part of me wants to go back in my pajamas and take my bra off for the damn day.
I sigh and say "It's really too early for gum", smile and thank her anyway. The kiddo does one more flap and "Wosh!" of the doors before we go. One last time she says "Oh it's sugar free Mom!" and I shake my head. I just don't have it in me today.
How come no one is ever offering me free wine? :-)