The little man and I have this routine every week. We do the main trip to the grocery store, specifically Lowe’s Foods on Robinhood.
Now Malcolm doesn’t go to compare prices or squeeze avocadoes to determine ripeness or thump watermelons to see which are ready to eat.
He goes for the socializing.
All right, let’s be honest. He goes for flirting with ladies.
For a long time, I would have him sit in the buggy with some Cheerios or pita chips. It kept him occupied and helped him scope out whom he wanted to talk to next.
As a married man, Malcolm’s activities could present some interesting situations. Malcolm has been known to push the very husbands of the women he wants to talk to out of the way. Luckily, there have not been any hassles. It’s all in good fun. But what is really important is that even though Malcolm happens to have Down Syndrome, he is very good around other people. He has a knack of connecting with others.
Especially the opposite gender. His Grandpa Ed would be so proud.
As Malcolm got older, he became what parents might call a “runner.” He likes open spaces. He likes to explore them quickly. And when he runs, he forgets to listen. That causes some anxiety. And it’s getting better.
But Lowe’s Foods at Robinhood started doing something that has fixed this somewhat.
They now have a coffee bar.
Caffeine. Java. Joe. Cool beans. Java jives. Jittery liquid courage. (Actually, I don’t tell him, but we do get decaf when available.)
So what happens when you get a red-headed, “caffeinated”, runner, whose sole interest in the grocery store is to talk to ladies?
One smooth-talking, calm, and patient boy.
I am not kidding. If I control where the cup rests, then he doesn’t run. The way I doctor my coffee is how he likes it too. He asks for a sip. Smiles. Walks with me and gets some items I ask him to get and asks for another sip. If he sees someone he wants to say “How you doin?” in his own way, then he does. And comes back for another sip.
Then once in a while when we pass the front of the store and the coffee cup is nearly empty and I am getting ready to check out, he takes the cup and goes and sits on a bench in store front and allows people to talk to him.
Drinking coffee, sitting on a bench, receiving his guests who sometimes sit beside him and admire the red-headed, blue-eyed wonder he is.
I usually pick him up later in the day after he’s slept it off.