Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lessons From the Grocery Store

I like grocery shopping. No really, I do. Yes, I have shopped online and then simply drove to the store to pick up the groceries someone else gathered for me. And, yes, I've even done the online shopping that includes delivery service to my home. But since there are a slew of things that my family seems to go through with record-breaking speed, it's actually easier to make a stop to the local grocery store every week. I'm okay with this, though, because like I said, I like grocery shopping.

But now I have kids.

And now I've decided that grocery shopping isn't all that fun.

I think it was the time that Grady Lee dropped a tube of refrigerator biscuits that exploded when I decided grocery shopping with kids wasn't a lot of fun. Or maybe it was the time Micah wet his pants in the cereal aisle. Or maybe it was when Annalyse dropped her snack baggie of Goldfish Crackers that I didn't notice and rolled over with my cart. Or maybe it was a hundred different times among these times that made me decide that grocery shopping with kids really, really isn't fun.

Today's quick stop to pick up fruit, bread, yogurt, and milk involved every occasion for me to climb on top of the deli counter, yell with all my might, and ensure the entire store knew that I did not, in fact, enjoy grocery shopping with kids. Guess what though? Today's quick stop also offered me occasion to teach responsibility, integrity, and gratitude.

Let me explain.

While whisking my cart and three kids through the meat aisle en route to the dairy aisle, Grady Lee was having difficulty keeping his hands and feet to himself. Sale signs: slapped them. Refrigerator doors: swung them open. Lines in the floor tile: jumped over them. Meat packages: poked them.

And then I heard it. A loud pop and an unexpected gasp from my six-year old. I whirled around and found him hovering over a pork tenderloin saying something like, "Wow! My finger poked through and I touched the meat and didn't get blood on my finger!" Although he was proud of what he'd accomplished, I was not. At all.

In hushed whispers, I told him his choice was to bring the meat to the meat counter, apologize for not showing self-control, and then ask for forgiveness. Or, if he didn't want to do that, I would take care of it and something much more uncomfortable would be waiting for him at home. Tears flooded his eyes. Not because he was convicted about his lack of self-control, but because he had no desire to talk to Mr. Meat Man and apologize. Which, when you're only six I can imagine that's somewhat terrifying, but I wasn't going to back down.

My lip-quivering six-year-old carried the finger-poked pork tenderloin through the store for the remainder of my shopping time before he was finally ready to approach the meat counter and take care of business.

Grady Lee (while offering the pork tenderloin to surprised Mr. Meat Man): "I didn't show self-control and I poked a hole in this meat. Will you forgive me?"

Mr. Meat Man: "Oh, that's okay! Accidents happen. Thank you for telling me, young man!"

Grady Lee (while walking away from Mr. Meat Man): "He was so nice to me! He must love Jesus because he didn't get angry at me."

And this is where I began my mental bullet point list of all the lessons this simple accident and apology offered. Our car ride home was lively as we talked about responsibility for our actions and the importance of owning our actions. We talked about being an example and what it means to be a leader. We talked about always doing what we know Jesus wants us to do even if no one else will ever find out.

Today's grocery shopping adventure taught my eldest, and indirectly, my younger two, a lesson in self-control, integrity, and apologies. Oh but wait, I'm not done yet.

While in the check-out lane, Micah was at the end helping Ms. Grocery Bagger with our groceries. While I was shuffling things with my purse and wallet, I overheard Micah and Ms. Grocery Bagger deep in conversation.

Ms. Grocery Bagger: "Did you have a fun day today? What did you do?"

Micah: "I went to Discovery Place with my mom and my brother and my sister. And I had a lot of fun but not as much fun as I would have had at Carowinds."

Ms. Grocery Bagger: "I know, Carowinds is a very fun place! But, Discovery Place is pretty fun to and I'm sure you had a great time."

Micah: "Yeah, I can't go to Carowinds because it costs a lot of money and we don't have a lot of money."

Ms. Grocery Bagger (caught slightly off guard by Micah's directness): "I understand. Carowinds is expensive, but maybe you'll get to go someday."

Micah: "Well, I've actually been a whole lot of times when I was really little but now that I've been four years old I haven't been able to go because my Mom and my Dad are saving our money and giving it away to other people."

Ms. Grocery Bagger (caught entirely off guard now and pleading at me with her eyes to help her out): "Hhmmm, that's nice."

And, if I'm honest, I could have interjected a long time before this point, but it was both fascinating and fulfilling to listen to my four-year old articulate with clarity and confidence how our family manages our money. He didn't go into specifics and he didn't tell too much, but I've no doubt that if he had the time he would have!

My mental bullet list of talking points for the car ride home grew even longer. We talked about Who gives us money and why giving that money back to Him is so important. We talked about the value of saving for things we really want so that we can enjoy the reward of working hard rather than enjoying on impulse. We talked about sharing Truth and Love with all people all the time no matter where we are or what we're doing.

Today's grocery shopping adventure taught my middle child, and indirectly, my other two, a lesson in joyful contentment and money management. Oh but wait, I'm still not done yet.

We arrived home and my boys jumped out of their seats, ready to help with the routine of carrying bags into the house. Grady Lee and Micah gathered several and headed to the back door, leaving Annalyse at the tail of the van crying. 

Apparently she wanted to help carry groceries into the house but couldn't reach. Grady Lee was quick to tell her she was too little to help, and Micah was quick to try and off-load his share of grocery bags on to her. I stepped in, took a box from Grady Lee's bag and a can from Micah's bag and handed them to Annalyse. Before anyone carried anything else into the house, we had (any guesses?) a talk. We talked about work and responsibility. We talked about why it's important to work hard. We talked about why it's important to lead by example and teach others how to work hard.

Today's grocery shopping adventure taught all three of my kids, a lesson in how to help, how to work, and how to teach. 

Maybe, while not the most expedient way, and certainly not the most convenient way, grocery shopping with kids is a good thing. An important thing, actually. 


  1. Thank you for sharing this, I totally neede to hear that...

  2. I laughed so hard with the mental picture of you climbing on top of the deli counter...:-) What great opportunities to be intentional about parenting! We miss so many of these because we don't want to stop what we're doing and take the time to teach. I had several of these "wonderful" moments on our last Target run...and I thought...hmm...instead of a family bathroom...maybe they could just have a family "discipline" room...that's what is primarily used for by the Jimenez family!!!

  3. What a fruitful grocery store trip!
    "And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." Deut 6:6-7