I very innocently planned a grocery trip today to Aldi. I often go to Aldi on Friday mornings. Not a big deal…so I thought.
Also, not a big deal to take Aaron with me…so I thought.
I wasn’t surprised that the parking lot was rather full. I WAS surprised when Aaron and I headed for the carts to hear a woman call out to me, telling me that Aldi wasn’t opening until 12:00. Somehow, I missed that memo.
Thankfully, Aaron and I only had to sit in the van for less than 10 minutes. Out we hopped, again, grabbed our cart and had to walk to the back of a long line. Never…not Thanksgiving…not Christmas…not pre-blizzard…have I seen a line waiting to get into Aldi.
The lady behind me mentioned that this was crazy. Yes, it was crazy. So was the line all the way up the first aisle headed for the produce, and the line waiting for eggs, and another for dairy products. All through the store, in nearly every aisle, we were bumper to bumper carts and shoppers.
So much for social distancing.
I saw some things.
I saw concerned faces.
I saw tired children.
I saw long lists in shopper’s hands.
I saw smiles, too.
I saw kindness from many of the harried people there.
I saw a very elderly and frail woman with beautiful white hair sitting on the counter where her caregiver packed their groceries…and she was sound asleep, her head bowed, seemingly oblivious to the noise around her.
And I saw Aaron as we stood in the check-out line, his arms hanging down and his hands folded together while he stared down at the end cap display beside us.
He was somber and quiet, very uncharacteristic of him when shopping. Usually he rubs his hands together happily as he stands in line talking about a game or a movie or what he wants to eat for supper or any number of other things. Usually I must remind him to talk softly.
But not today.
Today, Aaron saw and felt the crazy all around him. I was calm all through the store, talking to him and to others, trying to maintain a sense of normal.
That’s because I know how necessary normal is to Aaron.
But today was anything BUT normal, and Aaron was not to be fooled.
I’ve written about how Aaron is very tired of this Coronavirus…how done he is with store closings and restaurant closings and crowds and shortages.
I really didn’t expect Aldi to be part of the crazy today. I didn’t expect our trip there to add to Aaron’s angst.
Yet there we were, sucked into the crazy while not wanting to contribute to it. I was just there to get normal groceries. But the crowds…the lines…the empty shelves…the waiting…the jostling – all made Aaron most unsettled.
“Mom,” he said. “You’re just here because of the crazy Coronavirus!”
I tried to assure him that I was there because of needing normal groceries. But Aaron wasn’t buying it.
All through the store…thankfully in a quiet voice…Aaron told me over and over that I was a part of this crazy because of the Coronavirus.
“You’re just buying that because of Coronavirus,” he muttered as I bent over the sandwich meat.
“You just want that because of the Coronavirus,” he said again as I added coffee to the cart.
Seeing him in the check-out line, so still and serious, made me very sad. All the times I’ve wanted him to be quiet and now he was…but for a reason that yanked at my heart. He was most uncomfortable…most uneasy…most worried.
This whole scenario of our current lives is new to me…new to all of us. Watching Aaron’s manner and seeing his worried face was a real insight into how this strange time is new to him as well and is affecting him.
Normal is gone for now, and for who knows how long. So, for many of us with special children…children who respond strongly to their environments…this may be an extra stressful time.
Let’s encourage each other and pray for one another.
And if you’re out and about in the crazy, and you see a mom with a special-needs child, give her an extra big smile, would you?