This summer, Philip started a new behavior whenever we enter a store. As soon as we pass through the automatic doors, he stops and looks up.

He’s looking at the signs.

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?

Five Man Electrical Band, “Signs”

It used to be he was more interested in those temporary signs that gently sway from the store’s air circulation. Now, he is equally intrigued by the large, unmoving, permanent signage.

It’s been a battle of wills to get him to proceed so that I can actually shop. I like to let him look for a bit, but I do want to eventually buy what I need and go home. In this regard, however, I have more patience than Peter. When all three of us were at Walmart on Sunday, I knew that I had to find a way to move Philip along.

We had actually made it from the entrance and almost all the way through the Lawn and Garden section when Philip paused to look at the large blue cube with white lettering suspended from the ceiling. I decided to read it to him.

“Automotive, Housewares, Pets, Pharmacy.”

Philip immediately began walking.

As I went walking, I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

Woody Guthrie, “This Land is Your Land”

I looked at Peter, shrugged and resumed pushing the cart. When we got to the end of the aisle in the other corner of the store, Philip halted. I read the names of the departments listed on the sign to him. He continued on.


I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes
I saw the sign
Life is demanding without understanding
I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes
I saw the sign
Ace of Base, “I Saw the Sign”

This pattern continued as we made our way around the store.

“This could take forever if we have to read him every sign,” Peter said.

“At least he’s willing to move on,” I countered.

Philip looked so satisfied each time I read a sign to him. I’m not sure why I never tried this strategy before. I guess I never knew what it was that captured his attention. I always assumed it was the colors, shapes or movement of signs.

He and I need to get a few more supplies for school, so we’ll be heading back to Walmart soon.  I’m looking forward to our next trip there. Will he want me to read the signs again, or did I satisfy his curiosity once and for all?

Photo of a stop sign in Turkey courtesy of H.M. Stieber.

Photo of a stop sign in Turkey courtesy of H.M. Stieber.

The photo above was taken by a friend for inclusion in a post called “Stop Signs for Tommy” over at Musings of An Aspie. Read here to find out the inspiration behind the project.

8 thoughts on “Signs

  1. I prefer the the first song referenced, personally! That’s cool what you discovered about your son. Of course, next week, it’ll be on to something else, I’m sure. It always is!


  2. Loved the way you used the songs. I’m also curious to know whether Philip will want the original signs read to him over and over, or whether once is enough. Very interesting post!


    1. I’m curious, too. He was a bit cranky last night when we went shopping, so neither of us was in the mood for testing this out. I do know that he definitely wanted to know what the new-to-him signs said.


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