She is a small framed lady, but the kind you suspect could kick some butt if need be. The lines on her face show her age, even though she has long bleach blond hair styled like a teenager. She runs a convenience store on the far side of our neighborhood. One of those places where things cost two or three times what they would in a grocery store merely because of the convenience of running in and grabbing it quickly and the ability to get your gas at the same time if you wish. A place where they keep the flimsy attractive kids' toys on display right at the front door where hard to manage children can't miss them.
She adores Connor. If I go into the store and leave Connor in the car with his sisters, she will come out to see him. He smiles every time he sees her because he knows that she is so happy to see him. I had explained to her last spring that he has autism and may not answer questions for her like typical children his age and to my disappointment she seemed distant the next time we went in. I guess we all have bad days and I chalk it up to such as she has been her normal loving self since.
This morning when we stopped by to get a juice for Connor's lunch she met us at the door arms opened wide and a big smile on her face. "Connor! How's my little buddy? I'm gonna get all your huggings.". She squeezes him and he smiles and giggles. He shows her how great the toy display is with "Ohhs" and "Ahhs", then we grab a juice and make our way back up to the cash register.
She is slow ringing us up and is looking every which way for something. Finally she stops "I had a little toy up here waiting for Connor and now they've gone and done something with it."
"That's OK, he's on his way to school and would probably lose it in class."
She continues to look around and points to a marshmallow, chocolate covered treat and asks "Can he have one of these?" She frowns a little as she asks, my face must have gave me away.
"Oh you don't want him to have that do ya?" she says.
"Well not really. If he wasn't on his way to school it would be OK, but I'm afraid he would be covered with it by the time we got there."
As we leave she still makes a fuss over him even though there are customers waiting. Her making a fuss on him has an effect on those waiting however and they can't help themselves from smiling at him and waving or saying "Hi little guy!"
It seems funny to me that adults are still so prone to peer pressure. What she does makes it OK for other adults that see it to do the same. What she does is so important, she promotes acceptance of him in our community.