I was at Aldi the other day, having finished my grocery shopping and unloading my groceries from the cart to the back of my van. Now, if you know anything about Aldi you know that in order to get a shopping cart you must insert a quarter into the cart slot. Your quarter releases the cart chain and you then have your shopping cart. When you’re all done, you simply return your cart to the cart holding area, insert the chain, and out pops a quarter for you to take. You never see random shopping carts littering the parking lot, and you never see an employee pushing a load of carts back to the cart area. That’s because everyone returns their cart in order to retrieve their quarter.
So there I was, empty cart in hand, when I saw a woman walking in my direction. She was on her way to do her shopping, her quarter in her hand. I offered her my cart and she then offered me her quarter, but I did what many other shoppers do…….I told her to just keep her quarter and she was welcome to the cart. Now you would have thought I had offered to save her $25.00 rather than just $.25. She was so appreciative, and she said that she would pay it forward to someone else. I know that Aldi shoppers do this all the time, giving fellow shoppers their empty carts without taking their quarter. As I got in my van I was all smiles, just like the woman was who now had my cart and still held her quarter. I thought of what a simple deed that was and yet how very happy it made that woman, and also how very happy it made me.
Showing kindness can be such a simple act, yet can have such profound effects on the person to whom the kindness is given. Most simple acts of kindness take no pre-planning or preparation at all. They simply take an open heart and an eye for opportunities that come our way.
I’m always so thankful for those who show extra kindness to Aaron. It means so much to me as I’m out with Aaron to see those who show patience and respect for him, even if he’s standing there talking to them about aliens or a computer game or whatever else is in his head……while he might be rubbing his hands together in excitement……or scratching himself inappropriately…..or laughing loudly. Most people don’t know what to do in that situation but there are those who seem to just be gifted with a special understanding of our special son.
There’s the manager of our nearby Subway, whom I noticed has a knack for focusing on Aaron as if he’s all that matters to her at that moment. She is completely relaxed with Aaron, and when she told me that her mother worked with special needs and she grew up with those individuals in her home, then I understood. She asks Aaron what he wants to eat, not asking ME what Aaron wants. She was on her break one day, sitting in a booth trying to eat her supper, when Aaron spied her and remembered that she paid attention to him. He stood there talking about the latest movie he had seen, and she just looked up at him and listened as if he was discussing the very most interesting and important thing in the world. She answered him when he asked her questions. She made him feel that what he said was valuable. I wanted to kiss her!!! But I knew that might be taking it a bit too far! 🙂
There’s Shelly, the hygienist at our dentist’s office who cleans Aaron’s teeth. We have Aaron’s teeth cleaned every two months. Shelly should get a medal. She is very patient with Aaron and knows just how to handle his desire to talk or to stretch or to push the instruments out of his mouth. Look what she let Aaron hold at his last visit.
This kept Aaron’s hand occupied and gave him something to think about other than what was going on inside his mouth. Perfect!!
There was the girl at the theater snack counter this past Sunday. I thought Aaron was right behind me as I bought our tickets, but I turned and he wasn’t there. I went to one side of the snack area, but there was no Aaron. I finally found him on the other side, and by this time he was not in a line but was right up at the counter where a young woman was waiting to take his order. Aaron saw me and yelled, “MOM!!” as I hurried over to where he was. The first thing I did was to ask the young woman if Aaron had pushed ahead in line and she assured me that he had not. I knew instantly that she understood. A mom just knows. Relief washed over me as she asked Aaron what he wanted, looking him in the eye, and smiling at him with kindness and not with uncertainty. She just had a wonderful way about her with Aaron, treating him with calmness and with great ease. I wanted to quickly thank her specifically for her kindness to Aaron and maybe ask her about her background, but by then Aaron had moved on and was trying to stuff a huge wad of napkins in his pocket and locate a handful of toothpicks, so I had to run. I’m sure she got that, too.
This encapsulates exactly what I’m trying to say:
I just love it when somebody treats Aaron like he’s a somebody……because he certainly is a somebody. He’s special in his own right, and not just a person with special needs.
It doesn’t take someone doing some huge thing for Aaron, like taking him on a two month vacation trip…….although if you want to do that, I might say yes. No, just like my Aldi cart and the quarter, the kindnesses that mean the most in my everyday life and in Aaron’s everyday life are the “small” kindnesses. These acts in their everyday hues are really enormous bursts of color to me and to Gary and to Aaron.
Each of us can do the same for everyone that we encounter. The littlest gesture can lighten a load in others that we don’t even see or know about. It’s never a small thing to be kind. We have no idea of the lasting impact a word, an action, or a smile can have on those random people that come across our paths every day.
There’s another aspect to kindness that we have with Aaron as well. It’s about our efforts to teach Aaron to be kind. On some days he acts as if he’s never heard the word, but on other days he amazes us and others. I’ll save that for the next blog.
Aaron does give me plenty of material to write about, after all!