This past Saturday, Jen was going for a long run (she is training for a half-marathon) and so I was going to do the grocery shopping with Jonathan. Lately this has been a chore when we all do it as a family, so I wasn't sure how this would go--especially since we had three stops. We had to pick up a box of vegetables at a private residence from our CSA, go to Trader Joe's and then to Copp's, and since Jen was not with us, I had to get Jonathan out of the car for the CSA box. We went into the holding area of the house where the boxes are, took ours, and Jonathan helped me by carrying the CSA newsletter. So far so good. Of course, I had been prepping him by saying "pick up vegetables, Trader Joe's, then Copps."
I decided I needed coffee badly to continue this mission, anticipating a few meltdowns along the way. I stopped at a PDQ and figured it would be okay to make an extra stop if I also bought him a cookie. Yes, it's bribery, and maybe it's bad parenting, but you have to go to extremes sometimes when having an autistic child to avoid a prolonged meltdown. Mission accomplished, by the way--he held his cookie tightly all the way to Trader Joe's. He then let me put him in the shopping cart, which he doesn't always do. He ate his cookie. He wanted me to buy the gallon of milk, but I somehow didn't let a temporary disagreement deter me--I put the half-gallon in the seat next to him, then got an apple juice to put on the other side of Jonathan. He was happy, and he was fine through the checkout process.
Then it was on to Copp's, where we buy the rest of our groceries, including usually the other milks--one that we drink, the organic one; and one for Jonathan to put on the corner of the kitchen table--notably, the one with the yellow label, just like they use as school. He calls this "yellow" and going to the store means buying a half gallon of "yellow." Anyway, he usually flips out going up and down the aisles, until you get to the milk area. So I did the smart thing--we went straight to the milk area. Of course, Jonathan wanted nothing but the gallon of "yellow" and so now we have that (we dump them out each week after they sit for hours on the corner of our table--and keep it tightly sealed) as well as the one we drink, as well as an extra half-gallon from Trader Joe's. Yes, the milk is an issue we are working through, but it's something we are just allowing right now, a few dollars a week for something that keeps Jonathan happy.
Anyway, speaking of happy, he was very happy through the entire shopping experience at Copp's too. In all, we're talking over two hours of father/son time with no major meltdowns. I was expecting there to be issues, and thought I'd be pleasantly surprised if there weren't any--there weren't. As with every little victory when you have a child with a disability like autism, you look for little victories at a time, and try to celebrate them and build on them. And quality father/son time, even for something simple as going grocery shopping, is definitely a little victory.
Oh, and a bonus--he wanted to listen to the Mike Farley Band's Halfaworldaway album while we were running around town, and at one point he shouted out "Daddy's music!" That's cool for two reasons--I can hear my own songs through the ears of our son (because I've otherwise heard them a million times); and two, it is less time listening to Elmo or Handy Manny!