Peanut Butter Crackers

Neala,

Yesterday you made mommy sad.
You didn’t mean to, but you did.

You went with me to the grocery because you are currently the easiest child to bring anywhere.  We only needed a few things, so I got the cart with the car attached. It’s a monster to navigate in and out of aisles. But you loved sitting in it pretending to drive, waving at all the other customers.

I let you “drive” the cart out of the store to the parking lot and I quickly loaded the bags.

“Sissy, it’s time to get in. Let’s go.”

Hesitation. Nervous smile. Fidgety hands.

I noticed your hands were trying to cover something up. Something you had attempted to hide in the rolls of your shirt.

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And that’s when my heart sank.
You had stolen peanut butter crackers.

“Did we pay for those crackers?”, I asked.

You hung your head in shame.

I walked you back into the store to return the crackers. You were as quiet as a mouse, your face frozen in fear. I explained to the store employee that you had taken the crackers and we had not paid for them. You wouldn’t speak when I asked you to apologize. You buried your head in my shoulder and again my heart broke.

The drive home was painfully quiet. Normally we sing songs, or you tell me some ridiculously long, exaggerated story. I asked if you wanted to pray and asked Jesus to forgive you for stealing. You whispered, “Yes.”, and repeated a short prayer with me.

Once we got home and told daddy the story, you sat in time out for 2 minutes. The great thing about kids is, you seem to bounce back fairly quickly. Ten minutes later you were happily playing with Linky and the twins. Things were back to normal.

Only not for me.

While I assumed this day would come for most (if not all) my children, I did not anticipate this day coming quite so soon for you.

I felt so sad when I saw you trying to hide those crackers. My mommy heart was disappointed because you had done something wrong. Even though I know it’s not true, I felt it was a reflection of my parenting. As if I had done something wrong.

Like most people, I thought my kids would be golden. My children wouldn’t throw fits in restaurants or stores. They wouldn’t act selfish or bratty when they didn’t get their way. My children wouldn’t lie. Or steal.

Then I had kids.
I quickly realized no child is perfect. No child is the exception.
I sent an apology to all the parents in the universe I had ever glared at in restaurants and stores when their children acted “not so golden”.

I remembered a story from when I was a little girl.
I too, accompanied my mother to the grocery store. I too, stole something from the checkout aisle. Namely, beef jerky.

When my mother discovered I had taken it, she turned the car around and marched me back into the store.  I was older than you are, around first or second grade.  She asked for the manager and made me apologize. It was horribly embarrassing, and to this day I won’t eat beef jerky. I suppose the proverbial apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree, eh?

Neala, what you did was wrong. But it’s ok. One poor choice doesn’t mean you are a bad kid. Or that I’m a bad mother.

Yesterday I was sad. But I’m fine today. I realized this was the first of many teachable moments.

And not just for you.
Mommy was reminded how many times I make poor choices. Thankfully, we serve a God who is ever patient with us. He loves us and forgives us every.single.time.
Even when we are “not so golden”.

P.S. Yes, I did take a picture of you trying to hide the crackers. My phone was in my pocket and I quickly took it before kneeling down to ask you about them. I will need it as proof when you are older and insist you were my golden child.  😉

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