I was first exposed to Roman’s painful addiction to moving staircases when he was six. His older brother was playing Henry Ford in a grade-wide role-playing exercise the following morning, and was in urgent. need. of a tie. STAT!
So I grabbed Roman and headed for the mall. Those of you who have been at the parent rodeo more than once know that this is a rookie mistake. Nev-AHH go anywhere with one of your kids if you are in a hurry. And if you happen to pick the six year old with Autism for your quick errand, you will live to regret it- soon, and quite publicly.
I pre-teach Roman in the car on the way over. “What feet do we use?” Then for expediency’s sake, I also answer for him: walking feet. “What voice?” Inside voice. “What words?” Kind words. “Mia just has a quick trip to the Gap, and then we’ll go straight home. Pinky swear!”
Holding hands, we make our way the entrance of the Maine Mall. The food court is just inside. Crap, why didn’t I park at the other end? Roman is super-sensitive to sounds and smells- he starts to turn into liquid, threatening to kick off a shoe. So I scoop him up and carry him to safety, expertly avoiding a meltdown. So good, so far.
Arrived at the middle of the mall, the Gap is right in front of us. However, Roman has noticed that the ESCAVATORS are directly opposite. Escavators! Escavators! he yells, drawing stares.
Still holding him in my arms, and on the threshold of Gap Kids, I can see I’m losing him but persist in trying to use reason. Clear expectations are what is needed here!
“Roman, we’ll run in here, grab something really quick, and THEN we’ll go on the escavators.” See what I did there? First. Then. Genius!
But here’s what happened instead: like a cobra, Roman dope-slapped me in the face three times- super quick. I did not see that coming! Red-cheeked, glasses sideways, and quite humbled, I lock eyes with a Gap sales lady who happened to be in first responder status, re-arranging the store window. I attempt to regain my dignity by straightening my glasses while several passersby stop to gawp- perhaps to ascertain if I might be abducting this poor little child.
Did we get Henry Ford’s tie? No, and we skipped the escavators too. We drove home in silence, both bummed to have lost out on our prize. Once through the front door, Quinn asks expectantly “Did you get my tie?” “Nope,” I say. “They were out.” Which is obviously what I should have said in the very first place.
Roman's older brother- in his father's tie and store-bought moustache. Crisis averted!