On the way home from church today, we stopped at Whole Foods to pick up some more new roots to try.  We’re checking out and the boys are helping me put the groceries up on the belt, like they always do.  The cashier asks them if they are going to help me with some baking.  (She sees GF pie crusts that I got in preparation for Thanksgiving.)

Justin perks up.  “Yes!”

She decides to keep the conversation going and playfully asks, “Really?!  Do you really like to help your mom bake?”

Justin has a smile growing on his face, “Yes!!!  We’re going to bake the pumpkin and make pies and roast the seeds for a snack.”

Whether the cashier was genuinely impressed or just playing along, it didn’t really matter to me because she was making Justin shine in a way I seldom see from him.  Many years ago, he was evaluated by a neurotherapist.  She explained to me that he does not have all the normal brain connections the average child has in their brain.  With that, even the connections he does have, don’t always work.  There isn’t any predictability about it.  He also has Apraxia – in a nutshell, his brain doesn’t communicate with his muscles properly.  Justin…is Justin.

This is a perfect (and one of our favorite) Justinisms:  Les walks by Justin’s room after we had told the boys to go to bed and Justin is playing on his floor.  Les tells him, “Justin, you’re supposed to be in bed.”  Justin replies, “But…it’s a triangle” pointing at the floor.  That’s nice.  Les tries again, “Justin, you’re supposed to be in bed.”  Justin, again says, “But it’s a triangle!”   That’s pretty much life with Justin.

He realizes, on some level, he’s different from other kids and deals with it by being silly.  Get him by himself though, and you’ll see a serious, inquisitive child emerge.  This cashier caught him on a good brain day as well as on his favorite topic – cooking.

“So what do you use the turmeric for?”

Without hesitation, he replies, “For curry.”

Impressed she decides to keep going,  “What’s this?” as he picks up a bag and looks at him.

“Those are sunchokes.  We use them like potatoes.  We helped my mom peel them last night for mashed sunchokes and potatoes.”

“Wow!  You help your mom with cooking too?”

“Yep.  I’m a chef.”  (In my mind, I’m thinking, “Hey!  I thought we agreed I was the chef and you were my sous chef.  You just upgraded yourself stinker!”)  “My brother is my sous chef” as he points to Chris.

During the conversation, this lady had nonchalantly given instructions to Chris on how to bag the groceries.  She told him anything she sent down the belt to him was to be put in the bag she set up.  Chris was beyond thrilled that he was being her helper.

She was incredibly engaging.  She was sweet and playful with my kids.  Just all around lovely.

At this point, Justin decides to let the flood gates open and becomes a chatterbox.  “I have a signature dish.”  (He does.)

“Really?!  What is it?”

“Banana Swirl.  It’s bananas, peanut butter, chocolate chips, and coconut.  I make it for a snack when my mom lets me.”

“Well…you’ll have to bring me some of your creations at some point so I can try them.”

I found myself smiling through all of this and just soaking up how much Justin was getting to share the heart of who he is with someone else.  So, so sweet.