First off, if you haven’t read my blog entitled “Grocery shopping…alone!!!”, you should give that a once over. This one kind of relates.
It was a Wednesday afternoon, a few months ago, when I was grocery shopping in a local Costco…alone. Costco is a very dangerous place for me. I’ll go in for chicken breasts and hamburger and come out with an air compressor, tires, and new ski goggles. Costco affords me a very low shopping tolerance. It’s all their fault, I swear!
As I was wandering down the food aisles, I noticed a mother coming towards me, in the opposite direction. She was trying to shop but had three small children with her. Two were in the seats and one in the big basket, of the shopping cart. These young and cute children were not being their best. Let’s be honest, they were being little terrors. They were screaming, punching each other, throwing stuff from the cart, and so forth. The mother looked at me as if she was embarrassed. But, I wasn’t judging. In fact, my heart went out to her as I had been in that position before. I reached into my cart and grabbed the box of Wisecrackers (if you haven’t had them, they are super yummy!). I opened the box, grabbed one of the bags and walked up to her and her kids.
“Hey gang, who’s hungry?” The kids stopped dead and looked at me, with smiles. I could tell the mother looked cautiously curious, but, allowed me to continue. I asked the children and sit down and I started handing out crackers. I said, “Kids, would you like some more crackers later?” They all nodded unanimously. “Then, I’ll tell you what…if you all sit down, be quiet, be good to each, and quiet for your Mom…I’ll give you a lot more when your Mom goes to pay for the food. Do you think you can do that?” They are nodded in agreement. I shook each of their hands and repeated, “That’s a deal.” The mother and I shared a smile and I turned and went on my way.
From that point on, we were an aisle apart. And, if you have ever been to Costco, you know you can usually see through the shelving to the next aisle. And, every time their cart and my cart passed, the kids were staring through the shelving to ensure I was still there, watching. And, I would watch each time, and wave when I passed, as would they. It was fun.
We finally, got to the checkout and of course, lineups were long. I was at the other end and those kids were glaring at me, about six lineups away. I was pretending not to see them but we would end up catching each other’s glances and end of sharing big smiles. Finally, I gave in and left my cart and wandered down to see them. They were sitting quietly and I started handing out crackers. I commended them, shook each of their hands and off I went. The smile on the mother’s face was reward enough but it’s what happened in the parking lot that burst my heart.
I went up to load of my car and there was a tap on my shoulder. It was the mother. She immediately wrapped her arms around me in the biggest bear hug and thanked me. She couldn’t believe what I had done. She said, “You have kids, don’t you?” I replied, “Three…they are older now, but, I’ve been where you have been.” She smiled. We talked for a few minutes, she thanked me again, and we parted company. My heart was full.
Parenting is easily the most challenging job on the planet. And, the old saying “It takes a village to raise a child…” rings true. We are all in this together.
Have you ever had empathetic experiences? Please, share them.