Wal-mart is always an adventure, especially when I take the girls. They did well, today, but we saw something today that just kind of struck all three of us as odd, and it was interesting in trying to keep the girls from speaking out.
In the produce section, a little boy of about four was carrying a food item and crying, calling for his mother. No parents were looking frantically, and the boy was growing more upset by the moment. I went and got someone who worked at Wal-mart while another woman stopped to talk to the child. The Wal-mart worker was really sweet with the boy, got down on his level, talked with him, soothed him. Some minutes went by; the girls and I went on with our shopping and were in line checking out when a family of four got in line behind us. You guessed it: the family with the little boy who had been separated from them.
The girls immediately noticed and recognized the child, but I shushed them and kept them focused on the little dolls they were purchasing. The boy was calm now and wandering far and wide from his parents who were canoodled against the cart, the husband's hands in the wife's back pockets, as they ignored their son. There was no sign of distress, no sense that just a few minutes earlier their child had been nowhere near them (they weren't anywhere near the produce section), that he had been distraught and weeping.
They were oblivious. Maybe it's because they were young. Maybe it's because their sexdrive was in hyperdrive. Maybe it was something else. But it struck my girlies as really weird behavior that they weren't paying any attention to the boy, especially after he'd just wandered away and been lost from them minutes before. For me, losing one of my kids, even for a moment, is my worst nightmare. I know they often aren't focused, and I make sure that they hold onto the cart, that they stay near me, that I keep my eyes on them. It still scares the crap out of me to let Bobby at 21 walk to another part of the store without me, but he's got a cellphone and he needs to be able to do these things, so I loosen my grip and let him. Maybe it's the difference in raising special needs children and neurotypical? Or maybe it's the difference in the way those parents view the world and the way it works? I can't help but play out the worst possible scenarios, and I'm a bit highstrung, so I watch more carefully maybe?
I don't know, but I'd bet you anything that incident today left more of an impact on me and my girls than it did on that family of four. And I don't know whether that's a good thing or not.