Last weekend Zion and I were at the grocery store.
We had popped in for some produce and Cheez-its, and it was very busy.
I immediately saw Zion’s anxiety begin to increase.
He was chattering a million miles a minute, pointing out every item he loved along the way, commenting when anyone got within a 5 foot radius of us.
You know, normal Zion stuff.
Dear God, I said in my mind, just get me in and out of here quickly and without seeing anyone I know.
Zion continued to chatter.
“Mama, I see the pepperoni pizza. Mama, do you see the ice cream? Mama, I see the crazy, crazy squares.” (Cinnamon Toast Crunch)
I said, “Zion. We are here for fruit and Cheez-its. Focus.”
He continued to chatter.
“Mama, can I see the Kung Fu Panda? Do you see the toys? Mama is angry. Zion stop talking.”
I busted out laughing. This kid knows me so well, and I die laughing every time he picks up on what I’m thinking and then says it out loud.
No inner monologue there.
I admit it. I was losing my patience, so clearly he could tell I was getting irritated with him.
So I turned to him and said, “Buddy, I’m not angry. Just try to calm down. We are almost done.”
He then pointed to someone standing nearby, and said “I see the man. Hello, man!”
Friends, if there is ever a time in all of history I could have chosen to not turn around, this would have been it.
I turned and came face to face with a man I dated briefly after my divorce…and it didn’t end well.
You know when you’re at your grandmother’s house, and the antique lamp is falling off the table, and it takes 347 seconds for that lamp to hit the floor, but you’re frozen and just watching it fall?
In the Cheez-its aisle.
I think my mouth was even gaping open a little in sheer shock and awkwardness.
So to ice that bumbling cake, Zion points again to the man and says, “Hello, man! How is your day going?”
Oh. My. God. Someone kill me now.
I knew Zion was addressing him because he remembered him. And I was trying so hard to find something, anything to say.
But my mind was blank.
My heart was racing.
And before that horrendously awkward moment waged one instant longer, the man just gave me a cold “seriously?” type side look, and walked away without saying a word.
To either of us.
And as he walked away in silence, Zion jumped and down happily, and waved, squealing, “Goodbye, man! We’ll see y’all later!”
Dude didn’t even look back.
And I just stood there, mouth still ajar, I’m sure.
Did that really just happen? And why weren’t any of my girlfriends here to witness it? Did anyone catch that on Zion-cam?
I’ve got to start wearing a Go-Pro.
In reality that moment lasted 10 seconds, but I swear to you it felt like 10 years.
So this week as I’ve been reliving that freakish moment, and true to form, I’ve tried to find some silver-linings.
First of all, Zion is the most precious, innocent little soul on the planet. He doesn’t understand awkwardness. And I love that about him. It doesn’t occur to him to be mean or cold, or to dive behind the avocado display to avoid an awkward situation. Note to self: be more like Zion.
Moreover, it occurred to me that I attract a very different subset of human being into my life now. That means I have changed immensely. The circle of influence I currently have in my life is overflowing with positive, influential, and overwhelmingly beautiful people.
People who are kind. And generous. People who give back. People who take the time to play with children and have a conversation with an elderly person and smile and open doors.
There is not a single person I talk to now on a daily basis who would walk away from a child with special needs, without saying a word…even if I had hurt their feelings.
And I know that for a fact.
And that makes me very happy.
And you know what? I believe that is a direct reflection of who I have become.
Like attracts like.
Lastly, during a week when people have been spouting all kinds of hate and awfulness toward one another, Master Zion teaches me and all of us to just be nice. Even if you don’t agree or have completely opposing view points, be kind. Always. The autism makes Zion incapable of lying, or ignoring someone, or acting like a prick. Being Zion’s mama forces me to reflect on the way I have treated some individuals and make amends when appropriate. And although I can promise you I am not reaching out to apologize to Cheez-it aisle man today or any other day, had I been able to form actual words, I would like to have given him an apology for my behavior 5 years ago.
But did that happen?
But Zion got his Cheez-its. I got my produce. And as we were leaving the store, Zion took my hand and said, “Okay mama, let’s get outta here!”
Thanks buddy, but where was that sentiment 5 minutes ago?
Perhaps on the way home you’d like to stop by and visit the last person I fired or the people I’ve unfriended on Facebook.