How a Cashier Tried to Undermine My Parenting & Ruin a Teaching Moment


So the Monkey and I were at the commissary the other day, picking up a few things to get us through the week. He did not want to be there. Duh. I did not want to be there. I promised we would hurry, and asked for his help.

This is how he helped: He kung-fu'ed a watermelon... and split that sucker right open.

It's so packed with flavor ...

For the tiniest fraction of a single split second, he was horrified. Shock passed over his face like a fast-moving summer storm, disappearing just as quickly as it had come, and leaving in its place a look of mischievous (say it like the Brits, please) pride.

In the very next second, he stuck his hands into the bin and began to flip the watermelon, intent on placing it cracked-side down.

(Born innocent, my hiney.)

That moment, the mid-flip moment, must have been the one in which he felt my eyes boring a fiery hole into the side of his skull. He glanced up.

Ever so calmly, like the mother I wish to be and every so often manage to call forth, I said, "Put your watermelon in a bag, son, and put it in the cart." The still-smoking hole in the side of his head must have provided sufficient motivation, because he silently did as he was told. We continued on, but strangely, I no longer felt obligated to hurry.

Imagine that.

When we got to the checkout, the thing I feared might happen, happened. The well-meaning, grandmotherly clerk eyed the busted watermelon as I placed it on the belt. She squinched her eyebrows first at me, and then at the Monkey.

Calm Mom smiling serenely, "We need to pay for that."

Clerk Lady smiling cluelessly, "You don't have to, I can just throw it away."

Calm Mom determinedly, "Thank you, but we need to pay for it."

Clerk Lady determinedly clueless, "Really. I'll just take care of it," as she moved to take it off the belt.

Mostly-Calm Mom, with the slightest edge to her voice, "Oh, no you won't. It's a lesson in character."

Clerk Lady: disapproving silence

Eerily-Calm Mom: inner grrrrr-ing

Monkey, "Can I have some gum?"

With all the back-and-forthing (and the gum request, for the love), I feared the lesson was a goner. Today, though, I experienced one of those mothering moments in which the clouds part and the sun streams through while the angels add background music to the whole glorious display.

The Whole Glorious Display: The car. I'm in the driver's seat, with the Monkey by my side. We just so happen to be passing the mall.

"Mom. I have my birthday money, ten bucks from mowing the lawn, and twelve from babysitting last night. I'm only three dollars short of having enough money for those Jordans. I can't earn more money for a whole week!"

"Just three dollars? Wow! Isn't that, like, the price of a watermelon?"

Silence -- (and singing angels)


Karen is a freelance writer and speaker. You can follow her on Twitter at @karenklasi.

Photo Credit: artdrauglis.


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