Shopping with a bunch of kids is stressful at best. Mom has to remember everything, plus keep everyone in line, safe, and sound. Not an easy task.
I remember clearly one day about 20 years ago, when Jared was five. We had a big old Town and Country Station wagon, with the extra seat in the very back, facing the rear. How I was able to get 7 kids and all the groceries into the car, I can't remember. But I do remember the day my son tested my patience and got on my very last nerve.
I was a careful shopper. I read the flyers and planned my strategy before we left our home in the country. It was a 25 minute drive to the part of the city I shopped in. I would go to the health food store first, to get bulk food, then to Valdi's - a no-frills, no fresh produce kind of store. Every time we all piled into the station wagon, I'd look in the mirror, checking to see if all were present and accounted for. "Everybody got a seatbelt?" I'd ask. "Yes!", they'd chorus. Then, I'd do the roll call, and we were off.
On this particular day, I fed baby Linda and got them all into the car. When I asked, "Does everyone have his seatbelt on?" I was assured that, yes, they did. A few minutes down the road, I noticed Jared standing up.
"How are you standing up, Jay, if your seatbelt is on?"
Gulp...caught in the act. I hollered at him, reminding him how unsafe it was to not wear a seatbelt, and how he'd lied to his mom, and so on. He knew he was in big trouble.
Next stop, the health food store. "Jared, don't sample the raisins." "Jared, stay close." "Jared, don't touch that gum on the sidewalk. It's gross. It's full of germs. You'll get sick if you eat it. It's disgusting." The list went on, and Jared just kept on ticking, just like the energizer bunny. I was getting more and more frustrated with him. He seemed to take it all in stride.
Back in the car...to Valdi's. Remind the kids of the rules. "Don't touch anything. Stay close. Adeena, you push a cart, and I will push the other one. Where's your brother?"
We rounded them all up and headed into the store. Down one aisle we trotted, picking the necessary items off the stacks and putting them in the carts. Next thing I know, we're missing Jared. One of the bigger kids stays with the littles, and Adeena and I go looking.
I find Jared sitting between two boxes, hiding, chewing gum. I retch, then inquire, "Where'd you get that?" He looks at me with a blank stare, saying nothing. I KNOW he's picked it up off the floor, or found it stuck on a cart somewhere. I demand he spits it into my hand, then make him stay right by me, holding onto my cart the rest of the time we're in the store. I stay civil because we are in a public place, but inside I'm fuming.
We load all of the groceries into the car (piled on the kids, by their feet, between them on the seats, and so on). When the kids are all in, and all seatbelts are attached, I begin to lecture my firstborn son. "Don't you know how many germs are in a person's mouth? When you chew gum that has been in someone else's mouth, you put all of those germs into your own body? That's disgusting, Jared!"
The lecture continued most of the way home. I told Jared that he was not allowed to help with the groceries, because he had been too disobedient that day. He was to go right upstairs, and I would be up to deal with him later.
We hauled in the boxes and bags, and put everything away. Just as we were finishing that monumental task, I heard a strange noise. "Hmmmmm, what was that?" I wondered. Something wasn't right. I looked around the kitchen, and caught some movement out of the corner of my eye.
Jared was under the table, gobbling a banana.
It's a wonder I didn't kill him.
I took a big breath, and reached under the table. He tried to avoid me, but I was quick. I marched him upstairs, praying for wisdom as we went. "How would I get through to this child?" I wondered.
I am glad to report that Jared survived the night. He learned that mom meant business, and that mom was to be obeyed. He learned that there are GERMS in used gum, and that he wasn't ever to touch it or put it in his mouth. He also learned that I loved him, when I was finished disciplining him, and I took him in my arms and told him how very, very important he was to me.
The reason I am thinking about that episode in my life as a parent is that today, my daughter phoned me to tell me, "Mom, I have a Jared!" She had a wonderful Valentine's meal planned and prepared for her family, along with a delicious, chocolaty dessert. When her husband arrived home, the family was visiting in the living room before supper time, and they heard a strange sound. When Daddy went to investigate, there was 2 year old Stewie under the table, hands full of chocolaty goodness!
Jared is now 25, and has grown to the height of 6 feet, 7 inches. I guess all that dirty gum didn't hurt him, after all. And in spite of all his disobedience as a young fellow, Jared is a fine man, with a generous spirit and a good heart. He loves the Lord and his family, and we love him!
Be not weary in well doing, parents, for in due season you will reap what you sow, if you faint not!