Monday, April 21, 2014

Walking Next To The Cart

The last several trips to Costco, we have tried something new.  After our list is filled, each toddler gets a chance to walk next to the cart for a few minutes. This privilege immediately ends if they fail to stay next to or in sight of our cart. Once their turn is over, they are buckled back into the double cart while the other gets a turn.

Carter has very much enjoyed this new "something new". He begs to walk, and then stretches his toddler legs proudly next to the cart. Or if he gets in front of the cart, he keeps checking back over his shoulder to make sure that we are still within sight. He understands all too well the consequence of getting back in the cart if he takes off, so he chooses to obey. (knock on wood)
The first several times Addison walked next to the cart, she immediately took off and lost walking privileges within the first thirty seconds. It's as if "out of cart" meant "you can run wherever you want to! Double points for running into people or ducking behind large displays!" No matter how I explained it to her- or how quickly she got put back into the cart, she acted like she just didn't get it.

I admit I have had thoughts of- what if she is a ten year old who still can't follow an instruction like "walk next to the cart"? What if the stress I feel now out with the eager-to-run toddlers never goes away? I have silently worried about this- extremely thankful that she is small for her age and still fits beautifully into her side of the double cart.
But today? After 4 trips of not getting it, watching Carter, and begging to walk with him- she finally got it.

I set her down next to the cart and explained it all again.

"You can walk, but if you don't stay next to us or obey mommy, you will go back in the cart."

She stared at me through her studious looking glasses with a blank look on her face.

Sighing, I prepared myself for another 30 seconds of Addison running away from me as FAST AS SHE COULD...while I chased her with a cart full of groceries, a sleeping baby, and a brother cheering her on and yelling to get down to run with her. (Isn't grocery shopping fun?)

But to my surprise, she walked very calmly right next to the cart. When we switched aisles, she looked up when she heard my voice and walked back over to where we were (she had been watching her feet and didn't see us turn). When we passed someone, she stopped, waved, and sweetly said "Hi! Hi! Hi!"She didn't grab merchandise off of the shelves, and she DID NOT RUN AWAY while gleefully staccatoing "catch me if you can"with laughter morse code.

I was shocked.

Little feet stepped confidently. She responded immediately as soon as she heard me say "This way, Addison." She stayed right next to the cart the entire time. In this sense she did even better than Carter who prefers to stay in front of the cart.

She did so well that I extended her time and let her keep walking even in a busier part of the store. She walked all the way up to checkout, and continued to stand right next to me while checking out.

She only lost it when I tried to then get her to order her own hot dog. (I got greedy, and she let me know that that was just too much by melting down aaaaaand running away. ha.)

Other than the last bit- I was so proud of her.

I couldn't help but think of the months that I wondered if she would ever drink on her own instead of by g-tube- and then she did. I couldn't help but think of the 27 months that I wondered if she would ever walk- and then she did. I couldn't help but think of the many milestones along the way that she sat on for a long time- making me wonder "will she ever?" And then just when my faith is the lowest, she does it. Confidently.

I know she watches Carter closely for a lot of these milestones. I know she internalizes it before she does it outwardly. I know she takes a bit longer for concepts to sink in to the point where she is ready to commit to them.

And I also know- that she surprises me every single time.

Today in Costco, I was amazed by how grown up she was- walking beside me, obeying instructions, and acting like any other 4 year old girl walking beside her mommy in the store.

(beams with pride)

She's in a phase where she is learning so much so fast.

I love this girl. And while this issue is by no means solved forever- this is an excellent first step. Literally. I see a lot of shopping fun in our future.

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