Meeting milestones: what every parent hopes for as their child grows. We compare them to other children, compare them to books, charts and graphs. I suppose it all starts with the Apgar scores minutes after a child is released into this cold, harsh, bright, unforgiving world. Then the question is, how well will she nurse? When will he smile? When will she roll over? Parents will wait with bated breath and then celebrate when their child reaches for objects, sits up, creeps and crawls, eats solid foods, points, manages finger food, stands, toddles, walks and says their first words followed by full sentences tumbling out of their mouths like an avalanche.

My son Calvin has left in his wake a long path of missed milestones. At nine years of age he still functions somewhere between an infant and a toddler. He has yet to master a pincer grasp. He cannot walk unassisted because of his poor balance (in part, likely due to the antiepileptic drugs) he cannot speak or use a spoon and he still wears diapers. But despite all of these obstacles he—and I—did something together for the very first time this weekend. We went grocery shopping without a cart.

I am strong enough to lift Calvin, who is forty pounds, into the shopping cart where his narrow butt will still fit. But because he doesn’t help raise his knees and guide his feet between the bars, it’s a feat I cannot tackle alone. So for years I’ve been patiently waiting and hoping that, one day, he could go grocery shopping with me by simply holding my hand. Saturday was that day.

We parked about fifteen cars back and walked holding hands across the lot. Once through the foyer into the store, Calvin was nearly mowed down by someone rushing around a corner. He toppled, but in my tight grasp he managed to remain upright. Then he squealed and reached up, which made me think our adventure was over before we’d even begun. In the past I've feared that the large florescent lights might trigger seizure activity; he’s had seizures in the store before. So I picked him up as he squirmed and clawed, then he let loose a huge belch, after which he was totally fine. Our nice neighbor girl Brittny, who was cashiering, gave me the thumbs up to stash our groceries in the recyclable bag around my wrist since I clearly couldn’t manage a cart or basket. Hand in hand, Calvin walked with me through produce to the meat department to pick up some chicken thighs then to get cereal and oatmeal, a bag of almonds and milk. At times I had to hold him by the harness and the scruff of his collar to prevent a fall as I precariously reached for an item. I switched from hand to harness and back again while weaving between throngs of pre-storm customers and their carts. If I’d had eyes in the back of my head no doubt I’d see plenty of gawkers. But I’m way past giving a rat’s ass about what anybody thinks and, at this point, I figure we’re the normal ones and the gawkers are the weirdos. And despite the fact that I was tempted to abort the mission on several occasions because of the ridiculous logistics, I was compelled by grit and determined to succeed.

We triumphantly paid and made our way through the parking lot as I gently wrenched Calvin’s wrist steering him away from the cars he desperately wanted to bang, and redirecting him toward ours. “Where’s our car, Calivn? Do you see it? There it is!” and, once he had it spotted, he made a pigeon-toed beeline toward it. When he tagged the car I showered him with praise, “You did so good, Calvin ... Mama’s soooo proud of you!” A big, toothy smile crept across his face, the result of my applause for a milestone met and one that, in the scheme of things, was no small feat at all.

photo by Michael Kolster


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  2. That's wonderful! It's all about the little milestones. A day without any type of seizures? A week without med side effects? (In daylights? Or midnights? Or sun sets or cups of coffee? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsj15wPpjLY) I am truly joyful for you.

  3. That IS a milestone...so very happy for you and Calvin. Bask in the glow of your daring to try and his triumph! Danielle

  4. Way to go Calvin! Its the little milestones that add up.

    btw, I am having a hard time proving I am not a robot. Should I be worried?

  5. triumphant, indeed! i am so proud of Calvin (and YOU) for attempting and succeeding.