a.k.a. The Bologna Castle Incident
One week, recently, I went grocery shopping.
I have a simple philosophy when it comes to groceries – the less often I shop, the less money I spend. I make a menu plan for the next seven to ten days, check my pantry, then make my grocery list. Then I go shopping once. Sometimes, I forget things. Like toothpaste, or laundry soap. And then I have to go back before the week is up. But generally, it works pretty well. Or at least... it did.
And now... going grocery shopping once a week, with three kids in tow, is like running a marathon. (Well, that's my best guess for a comparison. I've never run a marathon though. No plans to, either. Not a runner.) Anyway, I'm always exhausted by the end of it. And the kids are usually totally over it by the time we
get done get halfway through
our list enter the doors of the store. Sometimes I go by
myself at night after the kids are in bed! It's like a vacation!
(Well, that's my best guess for a comparison. I don't really get
Anyway, back to the week in question. On this particular day, we were expecting company. They were due to arrive in the evening, somewhere around suppertime, and we needed some groceries and sundry items. It couldn't wait until after they arrived, and I hadn't planned ahead, so that left me with no choice other than to go shopping in the middle of the day with my kiddos. Not really my favorite thing to do, but hey... I do it all the time, so no big deal, right?
Well, we got through the non-grocery sections pretty quickly and painlessly, then moved on to the grocery aisles. We got our milk, yogurt and cheese. Then we stood in front of the lunch meat. And as I decided whether we wanted turkey or ham (we got both), Mountain Girl made a monumental discovery.
Bologna packages STACK in a fashion quite similar to blocks.
“Look, mom! I'm making a castle!”
Me: “Wow, honey, that's great.” (She had about three packs stacked up at this point.) “Okay, kids, let's go.”
One thing that preschoolers struggle with is... listening. I guess adults struggle with that sometimes, too. If it's fun, and I only do it for one more minute, then I don't have to come exactly when someone calls me, right?
I begin walking away from the deli case. And at that time, Biker Dude sees what Mountain Girl is doing and since it looks like more fun than following mom around the grocery store (I can't imagine why), he starts stacking bologna too.
The more steps I took away from the deli case, and the more often I called them to follow me, the faster and more haphazardly the bologna packages were stacked! They were making the most of their time, that's for sure.
Finally, upon threat of
time the loss of their afternoon snack, they come running
over to me. YES.
Then, I look beyond their happily mischievous little faces to the deli case. NOOO...
It looks like... like... well, I can't even think of a suitable comparison. (Tsunami? Earthquake? Hurricane? Landfill?) Anyway, it's bad. There are bologna packages everywhere. (Not on the floor, thank goodness, but strewn everywhere through the deli case.)
“Okay, turn around,” I say. “You guys are going back over there and cleaning up the mess you made. We have to put all the bologna back where it belongs. Somebody worked hard to set that out, and you guys trashed it!”
We go. We fix the bologna. I can't figure out where the Beef Cotto Salami is supposed to go (what is that, anyway?), but we do the best we can. Then we go to find potato chips for daddy's lunches.
And then IT happens. A nice young lady stops me and says, “You're a good mom. I saw what you did there, and I was impressed.” I was a little embarrassed, to be honest. I didn't realize anyone was paying attention. I said “oh... thank you”, then moved on.
And then I thought to myself... “Yes, I think that was a pretty good mom-moment. Making my kids take responsibility for their behavior. I can do this mom-thing.” And I walked down the aisle feeling a little happy with myself. A little pat on the back. Yes, it is nice to be recognized sometimes for things that we do as moms that are generally pretty unremarkable.
BUT, just when you think you've got it together, life happens.
Life, in this case, refers to the full-scale mutiny which my (lovely) children unleashed on me in the next aisle.
I'm sure there was a whispered conversation between them. “Psst, MG, mom thinks she's got a handle on us here.” “No way! What do we do about it?” “Oh, it's on now! Just follow my lead...”
(P.S. - This is all in fun. I love my kids. I know they're not actually out to get me – well, most of the time anyway. :) )
They ran up and down the aisles! They darted in front of other patrons and their shopping carts! They didn't come when I called! They said things like, “let's play tag!” and “let's play hide-and-seek!” to each other! They shouted! They (well, mostly Mountain Girl) screamed!
I tried to get a handle on it. I picked up Mountain Girl and put her in the cart. She cried. Loudly.
(Sometimes people, the lady in the store with the crazy kids that you look upon judgmentally (and yes, I've been guilty doing that myself)... sometimes, she's doing the best she can. Maybe show her a little grace...)
They weren't done yet!
I put MG back down after she “pom-missed” to behave herself.
And they danced! And they played ring around the rosie! And they fell on the floor! And crawled on the floor! (Which is just gross, by the way.)
PJ called. He was on his way home from work. He was going past the store. I said, “rescue me!”
A few minutes later, my
in shining armor husband in dirty work clothes came riding
walking through the door on a white horse in boots.
Reinforcements had arrived! I breathed a deep sigh of relief.
Kids. Sometimes they make you proud. Sometimes they keep you humble. Sometimes they make you laugh. Sometimes they make you cry. Sometimes you find yourself celebrating your apparently awesome skills in parenting. And sometimes you wonder where on earth they came from and who taught them how to behave.
At times like this, when our kids make us feel like a complete disaster, I keep telling PJ that consistency is the key (even though sometimes I feel like it's not working at all). I have to believe that as long as we keep on reinforcing the same concepts – eventually something is going to stick in their little minds. And later, when we can't be there beside them, they'll hopefully have learned enough from us to make the right choices.
Next time they stage a mutiny in the grocery store and I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle... I'm gonna try and remember that. And in a few years, when we're facing much different challenges, I'm maybe even gonna wish for a deli case bologna castle.
"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
-Proverbs 22: 6 (KJV)
"Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him."
-Psalm 127: 3 (NLT)