Surviving Wal-Mart

Today, I dreaded shopping. It’s more than post flu malaise; it’s working with my son. He is a reluctant shopper and a genius at exhibiting behaviors to avoid trips to Wal-Mart.

When he turned three, Liev discovered I would rush him out of any store if he started gagging himself with his fist. He also learned that peeing on the floor yielded similar results. At four, he “used his words” to shout out how much he hated shopping. His loud impromptu outbursts amused other shoppers more than me.


What to do when you have to shop?

Plan ahead.

Planning is the key to a peaceable shopping trip. So, here is our plan:

  1. I made sure we had a good meal before leaving. Hunger plus sensory overload equals irascible irritability.
  2. I packed a plastic baggie of jelly belly treats, a chew toy, and a small notebook.
  3. I discussed a numerical plan for the shopping trip. Today, Level One shopping was fresh fruit and vegetables. The Mission One Reward was two jelly bellies. Level Two was frozen foods, and Level Three was meats. Small goals give shopping a purpose!
  4.  I buckled him into a big kid shopping cart. He can enjoy running around the noisy, busy store after a predetermined goal (such as ten items in the cart). We alternate between his time and my time. Both are hard for him, but for now, freedom is harder than sitting with a pacifier and fidgets.
  5.  I checked for rumbling behaviors. When Liev becomes anxious he talks loudly and is insistent. This means his ability to cope is nearing its end. (Level Six, last stop)!
  6.  I took deep breaths as we waited in line. This is the hardest part–I hate, hate, hate the video screens by cash registers!

Sometimes, I envy those who can shop without major planning and dread. I see them with their jolly obedient children, unfazed by the blinking, buzzing store around them. I wish I could turn the volume down on my world, so I am less anxious and overwhelmed. Then, I remember the flip-side to all that fretting—pure joy. Mamas shopping with your sweet little ones, do you feel as proud and accomplished as I do for shopping like a boss?

One thought on “Surviving Wal-Mart

  1. I’m pretty sure we made it into the record books as the first family ever walked out of Walmart for a poorly behaved child!

    That was nearly a year pre-diagnosis. He was 9, but already the size of a 14 year old and getting hard for me to handle physically.

    It gets better. He’s 18 now, and away at college. The boy who got a carpeted classroom as an accommodation due to his extreme noise intolerance went on to play tuba in his HS marching band and is now a volunteer firefighter.

    He still doesn’t handle Walmart well and avoids it at all costs. The nearer one to his college is 90 minutes away!

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