I think most people – parents or not – tend to agree that children and supermarkets should not co-exist. If a child is going to have a hissy-fit over nothing in particular, you can almost guarantee it will be in the most public place you can find, with their parents held hostage, trapped betwixt shelving units, and drowning in a sea of judgement.
We go to the supermarket each week armed with coping strategies, gadgets, ear defenders, bribes and distant hope. Taking children to the supermarket is difficult enough (unless you have those annoying angel children, in which case please take several seats), so adding in sensory processing disorder (SPD) can make things more than a little challenging.
Today we went to our usual Aldi UK and everything was ticking along in a fairly standard way (Piper moaning like the devil, Sawyer avoiding sensory overload by squeezing his eyes tightly shut and ricocheting off of shelving units and innocent bystanders), however half way around the shop, Sawyer noticed a very small cut on his finger.
Sawyer hates blood.
Although this small cut wasn’t actually bleeding, at that moment in time, with all the other senses he was battling, he started to get upset. Then a bit more upset. Knowing that Sawyer hates to see blood, I usually carry plasters with me wherever we go, since even a small paper-cut can quickly escalate in to full blown meltdown. However today (of course) I had chosen to take a different bag with me – and the last plaster had already been used.
Luckily we were in a supermarket! So off we went on a hunt for plasters… only we couldn’t find any.
I asked a young man who was stacking shelves, and he confirmed that their store does not stock plasters. I smiled and said not to worry, assuring him (and myself) that it was only a slight scratch, as I walked off with a squealing Sawyer in tow, desperately rummaging in my handbag trying to find something (anything) that could substitute a plaster. As we walked around the end of the aisle, the young man had obviously seen how distressed Sawyer was becoming, and he followed us to tell me that he would go and get him a plaster from the staff room.
I stood still with Sawyer, my hand pressed tightly around the minuscule graze on his finger, waiting as this lad hurried off to try and help. And sure enough, a few moments later he appeared with a smile on his face and a plaster in his hand.
Small gestures like that make a massive difference to Sawyer, and to our family. Without that young man today, not only might we never have reached the checkout, but Sawyer might still be laying in bed thinking about how badly his day had gone. And how bad it might be when we need to do the food shopping again next week.
Children and supermarkets probably should’t co-exist. But I’m trying to teach my son how to cope in real-life situations. How to build coping mechanisms so that one day he will be able to handle these daily tasks and live as normal an adult life as possible. I can’t bear the thought of him living as a grown man, having to order his food shopping to be delivered because he is too scared to face the supermarket. This stuff matters to him. It matters to us.
Thank you, Mr Aldi. You rock.
**For those of you who are unfamiliar with how sensory issues affect Sawyer – I urge to watch the attached video**