I take the girls to either McD’s or DQ each Thursday after their gymnastics class. Alyssa’s class ends at 7:30, which means they’re both starving even though they eat before their class.
This week they chose DQ and because the line at the drive-thru was insanely long, we decided to go inside.
While placing my order a man and what I assumed was his adult daughter came in. They went directly to the freezer where the boxed frozen treats are stored.
The dad brought three boxes of Dilly Bars to the counter. His daughter took them from him, put them on the counter and recited which kinds he’d chosen.
She and I made eye contact and she said, “We’re having company tomorrow. We are serving Dilly Bars.”
At first glance, this was a typical young woman in her early twenties. When she spoke up, though, I could tell she was not typical. She gave serious thought before she spoke, she enunciated her words very precisely, like she’d practiced this through years of speech therapy.
I couldn’t tell if she had autism or something else caused her very deliberate speech pattern but it didn’t matter. She was working hard to make conversation and I was going to take part in that conversation.
I smiled and told her that her guests would love getting Dilly Bars. She smiled in response to my comment. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her dad step back, letting her do this on her own. I was glad he was able to do that. I imagined it had taken years for him to give her that space. I’m still not there with either of my shy girls. I haven’t learned to give them space and let them shine on their own. I continue to work on it.
She glanced around, obviously trying to think of something else to say. Her eyes landed on my purse. She declared, “I like your purse!”
I said, “Thank you so much.”
She said, “It’s so colorful and has great patterns. I see stripes and paisley and it’s just so…old fashioned. I like the yellows and blues and browns in it.”
I thanked her again and the DQ employee arrived with the green and blue Arctic Rushes I’d ordered for the girls to drink. A couple of seconds later, the chicken strip basket A and O would share showed up.
I smiled at the young woman waiting to pay for her Dilly Bars and told her I needed to get the food to my girls.
I wish I’d told her how great it was talking to her. I wish I’d stopped for just a second and said, “It was so nice talking to you.”
Next time, I will say that. Next time, I will acknowledge it when someone goes out of their way to be friendly. And I will learn from her dad. I will continue to work to give A and O their space, let them figure out how to be social without me butting in if the silence goes on too long. Who am I to say how long is too long when it comes to silence?