To The Father Of The Nonverbal Child At The Grocery Store

by Kathy Roller
Originally Published: 
Kathy Roller

Dear Sir,

I’m sorry if I freaked you out.

I didn’t mean to.

I was just watching you and your daughter in line at the grocery store.

I was standing with my husband. You were in front of us, and there were about three people in front of you.

As the line slowly moved, I noticed your daughter. She looked a little big to be sitting in the shopping cart. I noticed that she was chewing on the seat belt (which is totally gross). I noticed that she didn’t talk and that you would touch her before gesturing something.

I noticed all those little things because they reminded me of my son, Isaac (who also ate the gross seat belt).

I whispered in my husband’s ear, “Do you think that little girl can talk?”

“Do you think I should say something?”

“Do you think that dad will think I’m totally weird?”

The pressure. I didn’t want to bother you, but my curiosity was getting the best of me. My husband was tired of me asking him questions that he didn’t have answers to, and I’m sure you were wondering why I was staring.

Finally, as you paid and were walking away, my husband said, “Go follow him out to the parking lot. It’s OK.”

And I did.

Okay, we didn’t make it all the way to the parking lot.

We stopped by the door, and it took all the courage in my 5-foot-tall body to speak up, “Excuse me sir, but…can I ask you a question? Does your daughter talk?”

You looked shocked, and I’m sorry I just blurted it out like that (but I needed to know).

“No…she doesn’t talk. Why?”

I started rambling about how she reminded me of my son who passed away earlier this year. (I’m sorry I blurted that out, but it was honestly what I was thinking. When I’m nervous, it takes me a while to get to the point.)

I told you that my husband and I give away iPads to nonverbal children as a way to communicate.

Kathy Roller

You told me that your daughter actually has one at school and one at home and that you use the same program that we used with our Isaac.

You kept apologizing to me for the loss of my son. (I’m sorry again that I brought that up, because it sucks so bad to think about. But, that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about.)

You kept apologizing for your daughter who kept trying to hit me while we were talking. (Your wife would have been proud; you shouldn’t just be talking to some strange woman at the grocery store.)

Thank you for letting me talk to you about your daughter, for letting me share my son with you (and not telling me to my face what a crazy woman I am).

Thank you for sharing your daughter’s diagnosis with me (even though I can’t even begin to spell it here).

Thank you for bringing your daughter with you to the grocery store this weekend. It helps heal a piece of my heart every time I can talk about Isaac or help another nonverbal child (even though you didn’t really need me or my iPads, it was nice to chat).

With love and gratitude from your grocery store stalker,


If you would like to donate to iPads From Isaac, we will be sure to get iPads into the hands of those children who need them. For more information or to donate, find us here.

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