I have this underlying philosophy that it's important for Max to have as many typical experiences as possible, even with his limited mobility. To that end, I recently took both kids grocery shopping. It was the second errand of the morning, so the kids were getting antsy. I should have known better than to push two errands in one morning. But, I thought, "Oh, this will be quick and it's still early...". As usual, Max insisted on sitting in the seat section of the shopping cart, relegating Jozey to the cart section. Usually, this isn't a problem. But, at this particular store, the shopping carts are on the smaller side so as to better navigate the aisles. As soon as I put Jozey in the cart, she was picking her leg up to climb out. That was the first clue that this was going to be a bit less manageble than I had hoped.
Then, after I got the kids settled in their respective places, I noticed that the back left wheel of the cart was slightly bent and not working very well. This was causing the cart to veer towards the right, unless I pushed with both hands. And, as soon as we got into the store, both kids wanted out! Jozey kept lifting her leg to climb out; and Max was complaining because he couldn't get the seat belt fastened. The closure end of the belt was stuck, and there was not way I could get it out without taking him out of the seat. As I'm trying to explain to him that the belt is "broken", Jozey is continuing her attempts to climb out of the cart. I try to appease her by going to the front of the car and she immediately puts her hands out and says, "Up". When I refuse, she starts to wail and screams even louder, "Up!". I cave and take her out. Of course, that means holding a writhing toddler because if I put her down, she's going to bolt for the nearest breakable. So, I'm holding her as Max continues to whine about the belt, his frustration level increasing by the second.
A manager of the store walks by and hears me telling Max that the belt is "broken" and offers to help. (He must have noticed the frustration on my own face at this point.) I explain the problem, and he is kind enough to pull Max out of the seat and asks him to stand.
Manager: "Okay, buddy, you stand here."
Me: "Oh, he doesn't stand yet."
Then I proceed to fix the belt while he's holding my son's arms.
Me: "Okay, it's fixed now."
The manager gently picks Max up and places him in the seat, but the braces make this a bit awkward. Max has to have his legs just so in order to get his feet through the leg openings. I talk him through it and he gets settled. Max immediately buckles the belt, then looks at the manager with a huge grin and says, "Thank you". The manager smiles at him and says, "You're welcome, buddy." I thank him, too and we continue on our expedition. After a few minutes, I notice the same man walking towards us, this time with two balloons tied to a shopping bag. With a gentle smile, he offers the balloons to the kids, gives them high fives and goes about his business.
We were in the store another 20 minutes or so, but I didn't see him again during that time. I wanted so much to thank him again for his kindness. He did more than distract my kids, he offered us a few moments of peace amidst chaos and that was enough to transform the experience from a chore to an adventure.