Husband was away last weekend. I had both kids and no milk, no bread and no (gasp!) wine. Which meant I was bound to take the dreaded trip to the local grocery store for a few provisions…and countless “can we get..?”, “can I have…”s as I try my best to get out unscathed.
I went in, this time, with a new tactic in mind. I gave the kids a small cart and a list of their own. With instructions not to run over anyone, I sent them off in search of frozen waffles, shredded cheddar and two cans of cream of mushroom soup. Happily, off they went.
A few minutes later, Big Brother found me in Aisle Three. A jar of spaghetti sauce (with mushrooms!) in his hands and a questioning look on his face.
“Nope. That’s not it. Look for a red and white can.” And off he went again.
I met up with them in the final aisle. Their cart contained, to my surprise, shredded cheddar (orange not white but who cares), frozen waffles (he told me he got “honeysuckle” flavor which was actual “homestyle”) and two cans of the proper soup. Oh, and some contraband Dove bars. Fine.
As I headed to the check-out line I was stopped by an older man who was stocking shelves. “Excuse me,” he said. “I just want to let you know that your boys approached me asking where the frozen waffles were.”
Oh no. I thought.
“And I just want to tell you how polite they were. They said “excuse me and thank you and even called me ‘sir’. I’m just so glad to see that there are parents out there who still work at this stuff.”
Made my day. Almost made my week.
But then…there was yesterday
Big Brother has a gift certificate. A $10 gift certificate to a local Sports Shop. The gift certificate has been burning a hole in his pocket for well over a month and I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that he would ask me every.single.time we drove past this store (in the center of town) “when can we use my gift certificate?!”
So, yesterday I relented. After much consideration, Big Brother selected a $5 t-shirt that he designed himself. Bright orange (at least he’ll be easy to spot on the playground when I do drive-by spying) with a football ironed on the front and a soccer ball ironed on the back. With $5 left to play, he chose a pack of Orange Quench Gum for himself and one for Little Brother. $1 left.
“What do you have for $1?” he asked the store owner.
“Not much,” he replies. “But, here’s a real dollar for you to take away. Now, you can spend it wherever you want.”
Dollar in hand, the minute our feet hit the sidewalk Big Brother asks, “Can we go to the Candy Shoppe?”
I shocked the pants off him when I said “yes.”
We have a fabulous new candy store in town. Lots of penny candy, old-fashioned candy, light up candies and, we discovered, a NEW feature. A GIANT 25-cent gum ball machine with hundreds of technicolor gum balls (and a few GOLDEN gum balls!) inside. Get a golden gum ball, get a $5 gift certificate. Big Brother was intrigued. His little right-brained mind a-whirling, I could see him doing the math. Risk versus reward of spending ALL FOUR quarters on gum balls in search of the golden one.
Then, I stepped in. “Bud, I’m sorry but you just got two giant packs of gum at the Sports Shop. No more gum.”
I’m pretty much anti-gum, I should tell you. I never had it as a kid. I hate the open-mouthed gum chewer. I’ll have it occasionally but really more as a bad breath combatant than anything else.
Anyway, I put the kibosh on the gum ball machine and continued my chat with the shop owner.
Moments later, I look over and Big Brother has his whole arm up the eye-level quarter slot.
“Hey! Stop! Step away from the gum ball machine and go pick out something else,” I demand. He pulls out his arm. And then I turn away.
And, do you want to guess what happened ten seconds later?
The giant gum ball machine FELL OVER with a loud crash. Big Brother is lucky his arm, stuffed inside, didn’t break at the elbow. Little Brother is lucky he wasn’t crushed by the weight of this thing. They’re both lucky I didn’t kill them.
I was able to right the thing back onto its stand. Mortified, we left.
But, we returned about a half hour later. I parked outside and watched from the car as Big Brother marched himself inside, apology note in hand, looked the owner in the eye as he said “I’m sorry” and handed her his letter.
She gave him a serious look and accepted his note graciously.
As he turned and headed back towards the door, she smiled at me through the glass and waved.
So, I suppose, when dealing with 7-year olds (and probably any-year olds), you’re going to win some and you’re going lose some. A good impression made on the shelf-stocker can be quickly balanced out by a pretty bad one with a candy store owner. Here’s hoping the good ones, eventually, outweigh the bad.