I'm convinced that we'll learn a lot in this life if we just keep our eyes open.
I was standing in the Target checkout line. Henry was asleep in his carrier and the older two boys were at home playing a rousing game of FIGHT with Daddy. And as I wait for my turn with the cashier, I pass the time scrolling through my cartwheel app, trying to add coupons for my groceries that day.
As I scroll, I can hear the father in line behind me admonishing his boys repeatedly to stay behind me and give me space. But you see, I was standing in front of the candy bars and gum. Who can resist that?! And so "Boys, stay back! Give that lady space!" became the background music. (Side note: I've achieved "lady" status now!?!? Might as well give me a walker and admit me to the home, dude-guy! Thanks for that gift.)
My turn. How-about-that-weather chatter with the cashier. And then I lay eyes upon the candy-lovers. Two boys, 8sih and 12ish. "Um, excuse me. Do you need help putting the bagged groceries into your cart?" I melted a little bit, and started to thank them but insist I could get it. Girl power, and all that jazz. And then I stopped halfway through my "No, but th-"
I realized that if they were MY sons who were offering to serve someone, I would want that person to let them. It's easy to be strong and independent. It's hard to lay down your pride and let others help you. But if we don't give people the opportunities to surrender themselves to us, we take away the joy they'd get from doing it. It's funny..the way that works.... When someone offers to serve us, we can serve THEM by letting them serve us. And I'll be honest, it's that truth I clung to when I let those two little guys serve me. If I had said no, I would have robbed them of that service; of the joy they got from doing it.
And so the register beeped as it scanned each bar code, the boys lifted each bag into the cart, and the cashier listened in participation as the boys' father and I chatted. I had questions for him- because obviously he was raising boys to be admirable, and he was just a season ahead of me. I was taking mental notes furiously.
And when my cart was full (and my wallet was empty), I slipped the dad a $5 and asked him to let the boys pick out a treat from that darned wall of candy bars. And we exchanged parental looks of gratitude on both our behalves. His because of the opportunity his kids received and the small thank-you for a job done well. And mine for a very profound understanding of the road ahead of me. Because oh, how I'd love to turn those tables one day...how I hope to be the mom watching her boys serve the young mother in front of us.
To the father of those two boys, who made sure they offered to help: thank you.
Thanks for preparing those two boys to be a gift to the world. To make the load lighter for those around them.
And thanks for showing me what it looks like to parent my sons well- with real life as a teacher.
I accept the challenge.