These were words spoken by my three year old son to a well meaning older lady at the local grocery store. I could not come up with the words on the spot, but the whole event was so emotional for me.
My son is three years old. He he tall for his age and makes great eye contact. It could possibly come as a surprise to learn that my son is speech delayed. Six months ago, he started preschool in the early intervention program to help develop socially. He’s not quite there but yesterday was such a huge milestone for our little family.
My son was super tired after playing outside all day before I had to pick him up from the sitter and take him to the store. We made a polite exchange with two ladies who I am assuming was a mother and her grown daughter. As I moved across the isle to retrieve an item the older woman approached my son. His reaction was that of any shy three year old in that he moved away. But what he SAID was what stood out to me the most about this exchange.
Once the woman did not respond to his ques of body language that he did not want to talk to her, he became overwhelmed. He pointed away from him and repeated “You go. You go.” I apologetically smiled as he verbally communicated that he was uncomfortable with the woman’s proximity, but she did not let up. My son is absolutely adorable and it’s sometimes hard for even me to leave him alone.
“It’s okay. Your mama taught you not to talk to strangers.” she said and rephrased two or three times. All the while, my son is verbally telling this woman to back up in the best words he can find.
“Right now. Right now.” he started saying this when the interaction had gone on uncomfortably too long. All I could do was move closer to my son in hopes that she would return to her cart and continue shopping. Finally, she waved “Bye-Bye” and my son waved back and repeated her. It was over.
So many emotions came over me. I was sad, excited, embarrassed. My little boy was faced the a situation that he did not want to be in and was able to verbally express his needs in the moment without losing his cool or getting upset. He did not touch the lady, was not mean, and even ended on a positive emotion of saying good-bye.
I hugged my son so tight and I told him what a great job he did using his words. But deep down I was so glad he stood up for himself in a respectful way. There was not an once of ill intent from the woman at all. She was really sweet and could not help but chat up such a handsome three year old being so well behaved.
We still have a long way to go on our journey of verbal communication but for a moment I felt like we gained some ground. Good job, Little Buddy. And to the women at the store: thank you.