No, this is the face of someone who did his level best to talk me out of the electric cart I was using in Walmart.
"Owww, my foot hurt," he said, hobbling along beside my cart.
Whaaaat? His foot was not hurting.
"Ooooo, hurtin' me in my side," he wailed.
Nice try. Nothing wrong with his side either.
So he followed along behind me as I set out in pursuit of the Hardware Department to find a screwdriver.
But first, I'd have to find a way to get to get there. Not that I couldn't walk it, but I'm due a cortisone shot and what may seem like a short jaunt to you seems like a cross-country hike to my knees.
Somewhere during our Walmart excursion I asked Charley if he would like to go to the front and bring me one of those electric carts. "My knee is in bad shape," I said. "I don't know if I can walk all the way with this cane, and then back again."
Off he went. And where he went, who knows. Around the corner, down the aisle, around another corner, down who knows how many more aisles, while I stood in the main aisle desperately searching with my eyes. Where. Is. He?
He had to be somewhere, but where?
Finally, just as I was about to commit the ultimate embarrassment sin by having him paged, here he came. Big as day, happy as could be.
"Did you think I sent you to get that cart so you could take a joy ride?" I asked, tapping my foot as he approached.
"I having fun, Mom," he said, grinning that grin of his.
"Well get off, I need the cart." I'm sure my tone was curt.
"Be nice, Mom," he said.
So off we went, heading to the back of the store.
That's when the limping began.
First he held his foot, then, his knee, then his hip.
"Cut it out," I said. "You're not injured."
"But I want dat cart. Please...I want it bad."
"I know, but you can't have it. It's for people who have trouble walking."
He sat down. Right in the middle of the aisle. "My foot bwoke."
"It is NOT broken. But I know something that will be, if you don't get up." I glared at him.
He grinned at me.
We resumed our trekk to look at screwdrivers.
And speaking of drivers, did I mention that someone had a screw loose? That would be me. That would be the moment I turned my back to you-know-who and resumed my journey to the hardware department with full confidence that he was right behind me.
Suddenly the hobbling ceased. So did the whining.
Did I mention that when I turned around, Charley was following right behind me? In his very own cart?
I nearly fell out of my seat.
"Where did you get that?"
"I no know," he said. Like sure. That cart just appeared out of nowhere for your traveling pleasure. Keep your hands inside the ride...
"Well you had to get it from somewhere."
"I bowwote," he said as he pointed toward the paint supplies, and vroom, off he went.
I followed close behind, then made him follow me to make sure he wouldn't mow anyone down.
I couldn't help thinking about how it must be for Charley, seeing all the guys his age drive, knowing he can't. Wishing he could ride off into the sunset with his arm around some girl. I know that's what he envisions, because he tells me so all the time. I feel for the guy. I really do.
But not so much that I couldn't wait to get my hands on him. We had a little talk about those carts, and how taking someone else's cart probably left them in a lurch. I wasn't proud of that. So we went all over the store once more, looking for who-ever-it-was he'd "bowwote" it from. After all, they had it first. And worse, what if they were stranded?
"When we find who that cart belongs to, you are going to apologize; you got that Mister?"
"Ok Mom. Sorry..."
Never did find the poor soul. Part of me hoped they'd gotten a ride to the check out, and part of me was afraid we'd come face to face and I'd have to admit that my son was the culprit. That I qualified for Worst Mother of the Year. Shame overload. That this 25 year old opportunist with a beard had hopped on their cart and left them in his dusty trail. Worse, that I hadn't taught him better. Pastor's wives (spouses)...are you with me here? Our kids are supposed to be perfect, right? Eh...not so fast...
I tried, believe me, I did. But even with everything I've attempted to do right as a parent, and in the backdrop of how wrong this was on so many levels, all manners and consideration for others go out the window when faced with a go-cart and a store that has morphed into a race track. What I wanted to do was clobber him (after I stopped laughing - to myself of course). But since I'm a better shammer than clobberer, I would just have to wait and fuss in the car. (Which I did).
There was only one thing left to do. Get the heck out of the store.
"Start your engines," I said.
"Woohoo!" he squealed. If he'd had long hair it would have been flapping in the breeze. And off we went, heading toward the entrance where hopefully some other shopper would be able to salvage their knees.
I hate to admit this, and I know it's wrong, but it was the most fun I've ever had at WalMart.
Me in my cart, hoping we wouldn't get caught.
Him, on his joy ride.
Sherry Palmer is the author of "Life with Charley: A Memoir of Down syndrome Adoption." You can find it at:
Life with Charley
Life with Charley
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