When Strangers Heard My Kid Scream Led Zeppelin in the Grocery Store

Although my daughter Zoey is considered nonverbal, music has helped her find her voice. This child can sing! But not all her songs are pretty ballads or catchy lullabies. Sometimes she sings in a high-pitched angry scream that sounds very much like a Led Zeppelin song.

Yesterday was that Zeppelin song. While we were at the grocery store, I was pushing around one of those carts with the car in front, and as soon as I stopped it, she got out. Did I forget to mention her nickname is Houdini? She can get out of any buckle or harness. We really don’t know how, other than the fact that she’s Houdini.

So there I am, chasing her through the produce section of the grocery store until I was finally able to scoop her up. But as I bolted to the checkout lane, she was singing Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” at the top of her lungs — you know, the chorus screaming part of the song. No, she wasn’t singing the actual song, but you can’t help hearing remnants of it in her constant scream.

I’m in the checkout lane waiting, groceries are on the belt and ready to go, and the screaming chorus continues while everyone turns to stare at us. Not a fun moment.

I keep looking at Zoey. I’m trying to get her to make eye contact so she can see I’m using the sign for “sit down” and “all done,” but her singing gets louder and louder until it was all you could hear throughout the grocery store.

The woman in front of me turns and looks my way to say, “It’s that time of the day, huh, Mom?” I smile, shake my head and think to myself, If you’re in the mood to hear Led Zeppelin, sure it’s that time of the day! 

I continue trying to sign and get her to look at me, but she isn’t having it. The young cashiers are chuckling and smiling, but I’m not.

Then I feel someone behind me put his hand on my shoulder and say, “You’re a great mom. You’re doing great!” Obviously a Zeppelin fan.

I thank him and say, “She has autism, and this is just a bit too much for her.”

He looks at me and says, “It’s OK, you’re both doing great!”

We left the store with all eyes on us, but we also left feeling OK. My eyes brimmed with tears as I thought of how this man had reached out to say I was doing a good job and I was a good mom.

We got to the car and I immediately put on “I Will See You Again” by Carrie Underwood, her “calm down song.” She finally stopped belting out the screaming chorus of Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” and instead was singing “Oh oh oh… oh oh oh.”

I think I prefer Carrie Underwood.

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