He was stopped dead in his tracks.
“I’m not going in there, Momma!”
We were standing outside The Disney Store in the Mall. It was 90 degrees outside and sticky. A trip to the mall to ride on the carousel and the germy kiddie cars was all I could think of to get us through the heat of the day. The mall isn’t close to us, so we don’t go that often. This trip was supposed to be a fun adventure.
Thinking I was rewarding them for behaving in the mall, we stopped at The Disney Store to window shop.
“I’m not going in there, Momma!”.
Howie put the brakes on outside of the store. He would not take one step across the line that divided the mall corridor from the all-things-Mickey overload.
Gerry was already in the store, about five feet from us. He’s still conditioned to not be out of my sight in any store, even at nine years old. Lewis was practically falling out of the stroller, trying to get to the Lightning McQueen display.
“Come on”, I said. “It will be okay. Look! There’s Phineas and Ferb!”
“NO! I’m not going in there.” Panic came across his face.
Gerry turned to look at me, with eyes that said what is taking so long??? Lewis started to wriggle and squirm his way out of his buckles.
I looked right into Howie’s eyes. They were fixated on the giant Mickey and Goofy suspended from the ceiling. I turned my head to them and caught the reflection of the huge projection TV that was in the back of the room. An ad for the next “Pirates of the Caribbean” was blaring from the speakers.
He was being bombarded from every direction. Overwhelmed by sounds and sights.
I bent down and gave him a squeeze. “It’s okay”, I said. “You can do this. I’ve got you.”
I picked him up and carried him into the store, pushing the stroller with my legs.
He buried his head into my shoulder. His hands “tunneled” into my neck. I squished my head into his hands and brought him over the threshold.
“Look at all the Cars 2 stuff.” I whispered into his ear.
He slowly turned his head and looked.
A few steps later at the Phineas and Ferb display, he slid down out of my arms. I tickled him with a Perry the Platypus doll. His infectious laugh filled the store.
A smile came over his face as a commercial for “Disney Junior” came on the big TV. A familiar song, a familiar site.
And all was calm.
We spent fifteen minutes in the store.
Just long enough to buy a new Phineas and Ferb beach ball like his friend has.
Just long enough to overcome his fear.
Just long enough to know that he was okay despite his sensory overload.
My son went into The Disney Store. For most kids, this is an easy stroll they take all the time. For my kid, it was like climbing a mountain. And at the top, the view was nothing short of breathtaking.
(photo credit Wikipedia’s “perry the platypus” page. Yes, they have one)
“Listen, baby, ain’t no mountain high
Ain’t no valley low, ain’t no river wide enough, baby
If you need me, call me, no matter where you are
No matter how far, don’t worry, baby
Just call my name, I’ll be there in a hurry
You don’t have to worry” – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye