CC and I used to joke that Jay is lucky that he’s cute because his personality is not gonna win anybody over. I have come to adjust my view. Jay is not like most other children, no, but his personality is not that big of a problem. The issue lies largely in how people choose to react to him. Even though I know that it’s better to respond to his seemingly “bad” behaviour in a calm way, sometimes I get a reminder from an unexpected place and it feels good.
There is a 7-11 (convenience store) attached to a gas station in our town. CC went to fill the car up and decided to run into the store. Jay spied a small tube of cheesy Pringles and picked it up. He’s a big fan of “chips“. (God, I love that he has words now). When he and CC made their way to the check-out area, the man behind the counter asked Jay to hand him the container of chips so he could scan it. In typical Jay fashion, he clutched the tin tighter to his chest and yelled “NO!”. Most people would get annoyed at that behaviour. Or they would go into judgmental mode and assume CC was a bad parent raising a rude child. Had CC taken the chips from Jay and handed them to the man, Jay would for sure have cried and started to throw a tantrum. He doesn’t yet understand the concept of having to pay for things. He knew he wanted chips. He knew he had chips in his possession. He knew that CC had already said he could get the chips. So CC taking them away now would have sent him into a tail-spin.
This gentleman didn’t react to Jay’s mini outburst at all; instead he picked up the hand-held scanner and reached over the counter to scan the tin while it was still glued to Jay’s chest. Jay thought that was hilarious and shifted his body to prevent the man from scanning the container.
The man actually ended up chasing Jay around in circles. Yes, he was trying to get access to the bar code but it was clear that he was also playing with him.
Now, that has become CC’s favourite gas station and whenever they go there, Jay is greeted cheerfully with “there’s my little friend” and Jay doesn’t give them a hard time about getting his snacks scanned.
Now, obviously I don’t expect everyone to do that with him everywhere we go. If there had been a line of people – or even one person – waiting to be served this interraction would not have gone over well. But what I am saying is that sometimes, it doesn’t take much to turn what could develop into an ugly situation into a fun time.
It just takes someone who chooses pleasantness over agitation. As the saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. We have seen it proven time and again that, that certainly is true with my son.