Grocery shopping has always been a challenge for our family. Let’s just say Elizabeth lacks in the proprioception and grace departments. Her tendency to stand smack in the middle of the isles isn’t usually received well by those who are making that “quick run” to the store. There have been times when she backs up right into the canned soups or stacked fruit or looks at the meat with utter disgust due to her severe food aversion. I’m convinced that by the time we’re done shopping everyone in the store knows her name because of my constant re-directing.
Today, I left her at home with the nurse while my husband and I took care of the shopping. Sometimes these child-free trips tend to feel like a mini-vacation! As we looked around in a relaxed state I noticed a woman walking around looking for someone. Her face showed concern…. “Eddy, Eddy” she yelled. She had everyone’s attention. Some people stared while others straight up laughed at her. My special-needs-mom instinct told me she was looking for a person with special-needs. Within a few seconds she began to walk in my direction holding the hand of a young man with obvious learning disabilities. I could hear her saying “YOU NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!” As we made eye contact I told her how relieved I was she had found him. Instantly, she began to cry and tell me how hard it was taking care of Eddy. I understood what she meant. The challenges we face are endless, stretching our patience like nothing else and tapping into fears unimaginable. Her rude spectators were clueless! Instead of trying to help her, they laughed. I can’t believe how mean people can be….. I later ran into her again and she told me that Eddy had apparently wandered off trying to find a bathroom without success and decided to “go” in the middle of the store isle. The store manager had assigned an employee to follow them around while she shopped. If you remember, pray for this woman and other special needs parents who handle these difficult situations on a daily basis.
Some days are harder… On those days I hold on to God’s promise in 1 Thessalonians 5:24
In the U.S., Halloween is just the beginning of the end of year holidays that seem to set off the ripple effect of celebrations and parties. As you drive thru neighborhoods you see decorations going up and temporary costume stores popping up everywhere. When our daughter started school we debated on whether or not to dress her up, knowing that finding a costume would be almost impossible. Most princess or super hero costumes are made of frilly polyester and almost all of Elizabeth’s clothes are 100% cotton or a cotton blend, anything different might entail a wrestling match trying to dress her. She knows the difference too! When I introduce a new article of clothing I will tactfully show it to her allowing her feel the fabric, once she is comfortable, I attempt to put it on her. I say attempt because she will usually push it away at least once before allowing me to dress her. Countless times I’ve read that scratchy and silky fabrics feel like ants crawling all over an autistic’s skin so I keep this in mind when shopping, staying away from the “oh-so-cute” costumes available on the market. We got lucky the first year with a soft doable lady bug costume found by ‘chance’ at an outlet store, on our way home from day-tripping. The 2nd year wasn’t so easy. After looking high and low for ANYTHING that might work I settled on a homemade costume made of black clothing and yellow duct tape creating “bumble bee” stripes. I’m sure many thought we couldn’t afford to buy the beautiful Elsa or Ariel costumes that seemed to be so popular that year but looking back I’m proud of my little bumble bee buzzing along in her schools costume parade.
Elizabeth is non-verbal and exclusively fed via g-tube making trick-or-treating senseless for her. We discovered one year that if you don’t say “trick or treat” you don’t get candy so we found ourselves explaining at every candy stop why she wasn’t saying anything. Once folks understood what was happening, they would give her an unusually large amount of candy! As you can imagine, the night ended with a mound of candy Elizabeth couldn’t even eat! My lucky co-workers enjoyed her candy for days on end.
October 31 is just around the corner and I still don’t have a plan on what she will be…. I’m sure something will come to me as I desperately search Pinterest for ideas. I’ve made up my mind to take a sewing class so I can create a suitable costume for my little princess next week.