Aaron and I are always telling the kids that God has a sense of humor. Aside from obvious examples like creating the platypus and the corpse flower, He’s really good at having a plan that is frequently in direct opposition to our own. For example, I always said I would never have kids….Very funny, God.
He also, in my case anyway, likes to teach me lessons through my crazy children.
I went to a clothing store recently with all the kids because I needed a new dress for a wedding I was going to. You may be wondering what possessed me to take four children to a store where I had to actually try on clothes. If you figure that one out, please let me know, because I’m still wondering myself what I was thinking.
But I digress. After the whole finding, trying on and choosing process was complete (which took between one to a million hours), we were finally ready to check out. I herded my cats, I mean kids, to the register and stood in line. There was only one lady working the registers, and she was in the Return/Exchange line. Everyone was lining up there, so we did also.
About the time I was next in line, a man that also worked for the store walked up to us and said that we were in the Return line, and if we were making a purchase we had to walk to the next line over. I glanced disbelievingly at the still empty row of registers, but shrugged and started backing myself and my crew out of the aisle to get to the other line. We’re not exactly fast when we’re moving en masse like that, so the customer that had been in line behind me made it to the front of the other line first. That was a little annoying, but ok, whatever. Shortly after that, the one lady working the register (the same one who had been there the whole time) said “Next,” and the woman who had cut in front of us walked right up to buy her numerous items.
Ok, seriously? Are you kidding me right now? I’m standing here with four kids trying to buy one dress, and you’re going to blatantly cut in line like that with your cart full of who knows what? Do I look like I have unlimited amounts of patience, lady? I was clearly first, and if the man WHO WAS STILL STANDING THERE WATCHING THE WHOLE THING hadn’t told me to move out of my place I would be next and done with this whole store.
I don’t generally make scenes, and I didn’t this time, but my oldest – Layla – could tell that I was annoyed. Once we finally checked out and walked outside to the car she asked what was wrong and I explained how frustrated I was by the Line Cutter and the Clueless Store Employees. Then we had a quick object lesson about why it’s rude to cut in line, and the importance of being observant of the people around you.
So now we fast forward to the next day. The kids and I are getting in the car to go to the store, when suddenly Gwen starts screaming at her sister.
Me: Gwendolyn, calm down! Why are you screaming?
Gwendolyn: I was going to climb in my seat, and Sydney went in first!
Sydney: I was just trying to get in the car.
Me: Gwen, please stop crying. Sydney was just trying to get in the seat and you were moving more slowly than she was.
Gwen: But I was first!
Me: I know, but that few extra seconds you waited wasn’t a big deal, and we’re all going the same place anyway.
Gwen: She’s a cutter!
Annnnnnd there it is. Very funny, God.
You think you’re teaching one lesson and it turns out your kids are learning something else entirely. I got annoyed so I tried to teach them about respect and manners, but they watched my actions and learned to get irritated at people who cut in line. They learned impatience. They learned name calling.
Apparently I was the one who really needed the lesson. I’m the one who practiced “me first” instead of “others first.” I’m the one who took my aggravation about the wait and turned it into a time to condemn other people that I didn’t even know. Rather than exhibiting patience, kindness, gentleness and self control, I did just the opposite.
I’m going to try to get better at this. I’m going to work on giving others the benefit of the doubt, and not judging them as rude and uncaring based on one small action. I’m going to try to pay more attention to what I’m teaching with my actions, and to be sure that those actions aren’t contradicting my words.
I can’t say I’ve lost all of my annoyance when I think about that shopping trip, but I’ve definitely downgraded the woman’s name in my mind from Line Cutter to Woman Who Probably Didn’t Notice that We Should Have Been First. Ok, imperfect progress, I know, but give me a break. It’s baby steps, people.