The first thing I recognized was how cheery and outgoing this Mom was being with her son. He, with a wide smile, eager eyes and tossled hair as if just out of bed, seemed perfectly normal. Still, he was vaguely oblvious to her and not defiantly so. He obviously listened to her and responded, but not by looking at her and not by following directions, at least not on the first prompt. Gradually though, through her cheery insistence, her words sunk in and he was able to accept their first order of business -- there were no rice krispy treats. Apparently, this was his typical order. She was actively selling alternatives like strokes of luck before announcing the disappointment. And I recognized her defensive maneuvers, every last one of them.
She asked him to stop touching everything, he was tapping and touching everything in the open case, just like C.S.. He complied, but then began to rub his neck against the tape that formed a partitian in the wrapping line. She tapped his back and reminded him not to lean on it that it would not hold his weight. As he swayed to the music, it suddenly occured to her to tell him, "and don't get on the floor" quickly followed by a slight correction in her tone making it sound more like an inside joke, "don't start breakdancing." Followed by a reassuring smile as if to convey (I'm not blaming you sweetie, I know it's not your fault).
I smiled in recognition at her. Seeing it, she simply replied, "because he will, he'd do that sort of thing."
Of course, I knew he would. I knew he was a sensory seeking little guy. After just 3 minutes of just watching this pair, I recognized everything they were doing, the subtle struggle, to make it through a coffee order at Starbucks. Been there, done that dahrling. I wish there was something I could do or say to let her know how much I sympathise with all this over-active parenting, with everything she was doing to make it through what to so many is the most hum-drum part of a typical morning instead of a series of public obstacles.
Still, I know too well that part of the goal is to make it through like anyone normally would. To be, just like any Mom there with her son to pick up some morning treats. But, I wish she could somehow know that she was more like this stranger standing beside her than she could ever realize.
Silver Lining: I think there's more and more families struggling with sensory issues than we realize. I recognize it more and more in my son's classmates. And eventually, one day, this will be something that does get talked about, not in that gossipy way, but as understanding shared. I'll figure out eventually how to relate. As for today, I added my own little skill at redirection as she waited for her coffee order to be delivered. I said, "I see a lucky penny over here, does anyone need a lucky penny." She obliged, he excitedly picked it up and then fixated on it just as I expected he would.