Two young children and their not-as-young-as-she-used-to-be mother are walking down the aisles of a grocery store. The mother has made a very bad choice because the children are both tired and hungry, and their “just one little errand before we go home” is heading rapidly downhill.
It’s not pretty.
There is whining that increases in both volume and pitch as they go along. There is pushing, bumping, and an almost magnetic force drawing little hands toward the stocked shelves. The mother contributes with tense exclamations… don’t touch that! come here! stop that!… and empty threats… if you don’t hold onto the cart -right now!- I’ll never take you to the store again.
It is, in short, an experience of everything the mother has judged other parents for when her own children were more well-behaved… or better yet, not with her. Judge not and ye shall not be judged? Too late now.
And she just needs two cans of black beans. They push on.
Cans in hand they head for the check-out, and the mother makes her final mistake. The candy aisle. She doesn’t even realize it until the begging begins and she looks up straight into a bag of sour patch kids. The mother digs in her heels… oh no, she will not be one of “those parents” who bribe with candy. Oh no… she has at least that left in her.
The children are not so concerned with their moral superiority. Whining turns to screaming. The mother is now physically dragging them toward the finish line when they almost run into a well-dressed woman who is considering the expensive chocolate bars.
“Sorry”, the mother mutters and braces herself for the woman’s disapproval. It never comes. Instead, the woman stoops down, somehow balancing in her three-inch heels, and looks into the dirty faces of the monster children. She smiles tenderly and looks into the strained face of the mother. “Treasure these moments,” she counsels, “they grow up so quickly.”
Now here’s a little quiz for my readers.
In response to the well-dressed lady’s comment, the mother thinks:
a) Oh, what a nice lady. I’m so glad that she didn’t glare at me and berate my children. What kindness. Oh God, please give me this kind of perspective when I see other struggling parents.
b) Oh, dear lady, she must have grown children. I wonder if they live far away now. She’s right, this time is fleeting and some day I’ll wish that I had these moments back.
c) Treasure? Are you blind? You have got to be kidding me. Grow up quickly? My children have been two and four for like ten years now, and I bet no one bangs on your door when you’re trying to go to the bathroom or screams in your ear when you are talking on the phone well-dressed lady. Go back to your fancy chocolate bars.
d) all of the above
How would you answer?