If you are a young mother and you are experiencing countless embarrassing moments whenever you take your child to the grocery store or any public place for that matter, this season of life may seem like a time you may want to forget. Let me just tell you, these are the days of making some of your best memories with your children.
There will be certain memories of your child that will forever stay in your mind and it will not be all the planned and perfect ones. I know this because two of my children are grown men now and I still find myself laughing at the times that once almost made me cry. These early years are difficult and outright exhausting, but I promise one day you will sit and reminisce and somehow miss these beautiful, full, and chaotic days.
My oldest son Jacob was a very curious child and taking him to the grocery store was, let’s just say, interesting. He would pick up, rearrange, bounce, roll, attempt to disassemble and shake everything that he could get his hands on. The words “don’t touch that” were used at least thirty times before we approached the checkout lane. Oh yes, you know all about the checkout lane! It’s what we call the FINISH LINE. The colorful eye-catching place where candy and toys, that break before you pull in your driveway, are placed at the exact eye level of little children who have been dragged all over the grocery store. The place where Mom just might say yes to just about anything or shout, “Okay, candy is on me for everyone in the store!”
One morning we were on our way to the grocery store and I came up with a brilliant idea to prevent my son from his usual take down of the store. He was going to put his hands in his pockets and keep them there until we reached the checkout. And if he was successful at keeping his hands in his pockets he would be rewarded with a prize when we made it to the checkout.
We arrived at the grocery store and I told him the plan. “If you can keep your hands in your pockets while we are in the store,” I said, “you get to choose some candy when mommy is buying her groceries.” He acknowledged my plan with a huge smile so I knew he was up for the challenge. I was feeling pretty confident in my parenting skills at that moment and we were off. We made it through the produce and he talked about how much he liked bananas. We then made our way down the juice aisle without incident and I was feeling like the boss. We approached the breakfast aisle and he became a little distracted with all the colorful cereal boxes and the promise of a free toy inside the box. He was trying really hard to look at one cereal box that was just a little lower than his eye level, and within seconds — he was going down. He went straight down, hit the floor with the side of his face and the child still had his hands in his pockets.
Two valuable lessons were learned that day. First, it is really difficult to break your fall with your hands if they are still in your pockets. Wondering what the other lesson was that was learned that day? To just let your kids be kids and allow them to explore. It’s okay if they act like children because they are children. He wasn’t destroying anything in the store or running up and down the aisles. Looking back, I was probably just afraid that he was not making me look like a responsible parent when he was touching everything. Moms, you are a marvelous parent if you allow your child to be curious and explore the things around them. There needs to be rules set in place, but not to make you look good, but only for their safety.
If I had to do it over again, I would have picked up, rearranged, bounced and rolled everything (to a certain degree) in the store right along with him.
Oh and Mom, there will come a time that you will be able to return those unforgettable moments of embarrassment. When they are going through puberty and you are dropping them off at school you can yell, “Mom loves you!” Blowing kisses at them while yelling these words of love makes the moment even more memorable. One of our children’s personal favorites is for me to yell, “Make some friends” when I drop them off at camp or the first day of class. Years from now when they bring their girlfriend over to meet the family you can pull out the baby albums or show her a few of the pictures of him during his awkward years.
It all evens out.
Jacob is now studying to become an RN and I am sure his childhood curiosity has played a huge part in his ability to succeed in the nursing program.