Jack and his Bush's Baked Beans

A Boy and His Bush’s Baked Beans (A Love Story)

It was an affair of Hugh-Grant-ian proportions. You’ve seen an aimless youth, lazy and passionlesss, morph into Romeo after a single glance from her? That was Jack. Wandering through Safeway aisles next to his mother without an inkling of how his life was about to change. But one turn around the bend, and there she was. The most beautiful thing he had ever seen. A perfectly stacked display of Bush’s Baked Beans.

Practically speaking, Jack never cared for beans. To this day, he doesn’t eat them. But there was something about the way the gold gradient glimmered under the florescent lights that he found irresistible.

He threw a fit when he got home, and we couldn’t figure out why he was upset. He could not tell us, of course. Even though he’s seven, he cannot really speak. His autism usually turns his words into mush, and when we do recognize them, they are either one word requests or familiar nuggets of encouragement from Bob the Builder. But this time, in the midst of his angsty malaise, his words crystalized for one clear instant: “Go to Safeway!” he commanded his mother.

Well… a three word sentence from Jack should always be rewarded. Into the van they both went, and the moment Sara stepped out with him through the automatic doors, the boy bolted through the store. He knew where she waited. Aisle three! He came home with a can of Bush’s Original Baked Beans, round and true. You’ve never seen a boy so proud. He set his prize on the bookshelf, and flapped in his hands in front of it. His love dance.

It was a fine discovery for Sara and I. These bean cans have since proved a fine reward for completed sticker charts. In an otherwise dismal summer, Jack has had flashes of strong motivation during “work time.” The Safeway trips have become more frequent, and the cans have multiplied. Original, Vegetarian, and Country Style. We have bunches of them. He lines them up and flaps them. He runs around the house with them. He holds them at night like teddy bears.

beansdonationThen came our big church-sponsored event. It was an outdoor festival: a concert, kids’ fair and, most importantly, a fundraiser and food collection for the local food shelf. Two cans of food got you in.

I was on Jack duty that day while Sara took the other boys. Jack is terrible in crowds. Really. He has no sense of boundaries–his or other peoples–or of danger. But on that day, he saw the food donation table, and that was the only place he wanted to be. I wasn’t supposed to be working that station, but I ended up helping take donations for about an hour, while Jack searched the table for any cans of Bush’s Baked Beans. He would find them all of them: short cans, tall cans, cans of every flavor, all golden and glorious. We would hide them, and he would find them again.

We told him he could choose a can to take home since we brought extra donations, and he took a long time to choose. When he did, his decision left me speechless…….
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vancamps
Wait, what? Van Camp’s? I don’t get it either. But like so many other things with our boy, we just shrug, laugh, and go with it.

“Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.”

5 replies
  1. Chris Audet
    Chris Audet says:

    Well, that ending was a bit of a left turn…Van Camp’s indeed. Thanks for the stories, man.

    As a side note, have you seen the new design of Le Sueur Vegetables? Lots of silver foil printing, which might catch Jack’s eye…I should know, ’cause I worked on rolling out the design. 🙂

    • jason
      jason says:

      Chris, I just checked it out. At first all I saw was the old branding, which I knew couldn’t be yours. The new ones look fantastic. Nice job! I’ll look for them at Safeway. If we find them, and if he starts eating vegetables because of your design, I’m going to hire you full time myself. You can create his personalized lesson plans in that glossy style.

  2. Lisa Smith
    Lisa Smith says:

    Ahhhh. A canned goods phase. We had one here too. Our guy loved all canned goods though and was not just partial to baked beans. I haven’t thought much about that in a while. Thanks for the memory jog. I love the blog. Lisa from Quirks and Chaos

    • jason
      jason says:

      Nice! His phase ended over a year ago. Now, it’s all dvd cases. Not the movies themselves, just the cases. We have such interesting lives…I look forward to reading more of your journey, Lisa. Thanks for visiting 🙂

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  1. […] markers that experts look for. In our experience, these obsessions can change over time. Jack had a tower of bean cans that he kept in our living room for months. He also had a shirt he refused to take off. And then […]

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