(code word of the day – ‘Paper Towels’ = Toilet paper)
A few weeks ago, DC and I were on our way to a dance. I was planning on grocery shopping the following day but decided to stop at a convenience store to pick up a roll of paper towels – just as a little bit of back-up until I went shopping the next day.
I intended to pick up only one roll as I did not see any need to pay convenience store prices when I would be going to a grocery store the following day. It was no emergency, but I do know how quickly they seem to disappear in our house.
DC came into the store with me, hoping to pick out a treat. He went to the ‘treat’ aisle and grabbed his bag of Combos – no surprise there. I went to the next aisle. We met in line at the register.
There was one person in front of us and another behind us. DC looked at the single roll of paper towels and said,
“No! Two! Please!”
He was very loud and adamant about it. Alright, so he was nervous about running out of paper towels. I did think that it was a bit odd that he was so worried about paper towels, but not a big deal. We still had the one customer in front of us so I said “Okay, if you want two, go over and get ONE more, but you have to hurry”
DC went running over to the other side of the store.
This child, has THE best sense of direction of anyone I have ever met. He remembers how to get anywhere we’ve ever been. He always seems to know right where he is. He does NOT get this from me. I still get lost in the mall. For someone who has this type of directional sense, he just could not take direction to the paper towel aisle, even though there were only 3 aisles in the store and he had seen me go to the aisle only a few seconds before.
He was walking around, looking up in the air, trying to follow the instructions I was giving him from the line. At this point, the woman ahead of me had finished her transaction and not wanting to hold up the woman behind me, I called to DC and said “Never mind, we will get more tomorrow”.
The man behind the counter said, “It’s okay, I will just ring up an extra one if he really wants two” . He was ringing and helping to give directions to DC – it was beginning to get ridiculous – there were only 3 aisles, but I knew if he did not find the aisle soon he would become very upset and frustrated (he was already beginning to) and this agitated mood would carry itself over to the dance we were headed to. Just as I was going to leave the line to help him, the clerk said “I think he’s found them”.
Around the corner comes DC with not one, but an armload of at least 7 rolls of paper towels! I tried not to laugh and told him that we did not need that many, and to please put them back.
DC stood in the middle of the store, with his arms full of paper towels and yelled “PLEEEEEASE” “PLEEEEEASE” as if his life depended on it. He does not beg this much or this loudly when he wants me to buy him a book or movie. I told him to put them back but he just stood there, arms full yelling “PLEEEEEEASE!”
The clerk was now laughing, not at DC, but at the sight of him standing there with so many paper towel rolls. The poor woman waiting patiently behind me said “He sure loves his paper towels, doesn’t he?”
“Yes, apparently, he does today.”
I had no idea what was in his head or why he HAD to have them right then, but for some reason they were very important to him in that moment. I promised him that we would get more the following day at the grocery store (and we did), so he finally put them all back except for the additional roll I had agreed to earlier.
He was still out of sorts when we arrived at his friend’s house, but fortunately, over it by the time we got to the dance.
I suppose, still, after all this time, I do not always know just what is important to him or why it is important at any given time. Just when I thought I’d be adding paper towels to his “Odd Gift List” ; the following day, in the grocery store, he didn’t seem concerned whether we bought more or not, but for some reason, the day before, it was very important.
(After thinking about it – a lot – because that is what I do; and writing about it, because at times it helps me to figure things out* and after just writing that very last paragraph, the light went off in my head – I am wondering if it wasn’t the paper towels at all, just the fact that I was only buying one at the time and at the grocery store, we always buy a package? “Buying more tomorrow”, doesn’t make a lot of sense in his world – at that moment in time, we were just buying one and this had never happened before)
**I was told long ago by one of DC’s first teachers, Mrs. T, that, with Autism, not all things can be explained and I might just drive myself crazy trying to figure everything out. This is true, very true, but it does not stop me from trying…..