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2003-10-08 - 10:58 p.m.

Went shopping at Weigmans today with the three little ones. The three yr old was thrilled to be pushing her own kid cart, those dangerous ones labeled "Customer In Training". The two year old enjoyed driving the cart shaped like a car. It was especially fun for her today as her lap strap was broken, which meant that as I turned to read something on a shelf she could climb out and ON TOP of the whole car. Soon after she became even more challenging (if you can imagine that). While not often a proponent of spanking as a method of discipline, today I actually resorted to giving her a swat on the ass publicly after all other attempts at controlling that wild child failed. She was then amazingly good, and I only had to threaten her once by saying "See this hand? Do you want it on your ass?"

She said "No" and immediately sat back down properly in the cart rather than continuing to lay down while sticking her feet out into the middle of the frozen food aisle.

When we arrived at the store the three year old was SO EXCITED to get a cart she could push. There is a sweet cart guy I'll call Jon who works at Weigmans who clearly is autistic. Jon always asks the same question of me "Can I help you?"

Jon eagarly shouts it at people as they get out of their cars, as they leave the store, or as they head for the cart bay. Today, as my daughter and I looked for the little kid cart and found none, I was so glad to be able to go back outside and ask overzealous Jon who yearns to help someone, if he would get one for us. I approached Jon and he was politely listening as I started to explain to him what we wanted, and that a little girl and her Daddy just headed down the one aisle of cars with one, When some young twenty something guy comes over and interrups, and says "I'll help you" and quick as a flash walks over to get the cart.

I was so disappointed. I could have walked over to get it myself. I had been happy to have a REAL need for the sweet autistic guy to meet. There are so many people who are uncomfortable with Jon's differences that they brush off his offers of help. He's helped me load the car with groceries and he just gets so happy when someone actually treats him with gratitude and respect.

So I stood there just stunned. There were three young black girls - one holding a little toddler boy, standing right next to us. I started to talk, I suppose to myself. I think I said "I can't believe that. How rude!" and then noticed them standing next to me- so directed by outburst to them as if to explain why I was so upset that I was talking to myself. I turned to the girls as soon as the autistic guy dejectledly went back to gather his carts-- defering to the intruders apparent authority. I said "It nice he wanted to help too... but he missed the whole point! " I complained in a frustrated and I imagine aggrevated voice "I WANTED to give Jon the opportunity to actually help someone. All he ever wants to do is help people, but no one lets him."

The girls just looked at me like I was crazy. That "Are you talking to me?" look... that "I have no clue what you are talking about" look.... and they said nothing.

The other guy came back with the cart. I noticed he was a young Italian good looking fellow. ( Maybe that made me forgive him a little) I also noticed he went over to talk to the three girls and I realized he had come from that general direction before. I suppose one of them must be his girlfriend who I just complained to about his lack of awareness and rudeness at interruppting and not giving Jon any opportunities to REALLY do the job he is there for.

After completing our shopping, there Jon was asking "Can I help you? "

Of course he came over to the car RIGHT when I had the three year old laying on the front seat as I changed her diaper because I forgot to make the planned trip to the bathroom in the store. The other two kids were still in the cart and I wasn't yet ready to start unloading it. I had to finish the diaper changing and get all the kids in the car first. The rear of the car was loaded up already with the cumbersome double sized stroller, so the packages would have to go in the middle seat on the floor under the kid's dangling feet.

So when I heard Jon's voice "Can I help you" I had said with that impatient "Go away" tone "No- not right now" while blocking any view of my daughter's exposed vagina and fumbling with soiled wipes and the empty bag I was trying to get the dirty diaper in.

By the time all three of the little ones were strapped safely in the car with freshly changed diapers, Jon had the chance to walk from the cart bay to the store at least once. So I was not surprised to hear as I was almost done loading the groceries "Can I help you?"

I answered "Yes! Now I can use help." and explained as if it meant something to him "I wasn't ready before as I had to change all the girls diapers."

Jon said nothing more but happily loaded my grocerys and efficently wisked off the cart to the cart bay where it belongs.

I drove home, with whining girls, feeling glad that I had allowed Jon the chance to help me. I wondered why it is that many people are so impatient and lack understanding and acceptance of people with diabilities. I wondered "What harm could be done by letting someone help you even if you don't need it?" I thought that I had done a good thing simply by giving Jon the opportunity to feel he made a difference to someone today.

We got home and I unloaded the groceries while the tired girls relaxed in the car. The three year old was zonked out after having pushed her cart all over the store. The baby was also fast sleep. The only one awake was the two year old cart climbing wild child with boundless energy and spirit. I asked her, "do you want to take a nap here, or do you want to go out in the back yard to play for a while while I sit here and read and watch the girls."

She had to play her favorite contray game and said alternatly

"No nap. I want to play."

My turn: "OK. I'll get you out to play"

Her turn: "No play. I want a nap."

My turn "OK, you can stay and take a nap."

Her turn: "I want to play. No nap."

At which point I started to look for her thrown off shoes to get her ready to go play..... Hmmm.. "Where are your shoes?"

I realized then that she had taken them off during the cart antics at Weigmans. I thought"There in the bottom of the cart!"

I wondered "How could I have left them there? I always check the bottom of the cart!" (Taking shoes off is not a new game!)

And I again talked out loud as I said "OH- Jon hjelped me and he put the cart away! I always check the bottom of it- but he took out the last bag and put it away so fast. I didn't even think about it! So this is why people don't like anyone helping them"

WE drove back to Weigmans and found the shoes. There they were- sitting in the bottom of the little blue car cart, tucked away neatly in the far right corner of the car port.

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