By Judy Brandon
Several years ago, I was in the grocery store when my heart was sad as I watched a family shopping with their young children.
The father was pushing the basket while the mother was braking out orders: “Stay in line!” “Don’t touch anything!” The toddler riding in the basket started to fumble with a package of crackers. The father stopped the cart, picked up her little chubby hand and slapped it. Of course the child screamed.
The mother remarked, “You ain’t hungry. Hush!” The other two little children just walked on ahead trying to make the best of a terrible situation.
In contrast, I remember the scene that Buffy, Annie, and I witnessed in Clovis three summers ago. We were at a drive up window getting breakfast. While in line, we noticed a family in a vehicle loaded down with vacation paraphernalia. We watched the scene as the passengers began to unload.
On top of the vehicle was a folded up baby stroller, coolers, two little bicycles and suitcases. The first to get out was a little girl about seven, holding a black dachshund. Then she set the dog down and holding the leash, she led the dog toward the grass that lined the parking lot.
Next the rider’s side door opened and the mother stepped out carrying a baby, a diaper bag over one shoulder, and a small portable cooler in one other hand. Next to appear was a boy about 10. He jumped from the back seat holding a leash that was attached to chubby English bulldog. The boy led this wobbly, hefty swaggering dog to the grass to meet his sister.
Finally the dad got out from the driver’s side. He picked up a little boy about two and set him down on the pavement. This little guy ran to the grass to meet his brother and sister.
Amid barking dogs, the father continually was on the run after the toddler, bringing him back within safe watching distance. Once both dogs’ leashes got tangled. The dad had to undo them while the two bigger children held the animals so they wouldn’t run off. He held the leashes while the two older children headed into the restaurant to join their mother.
That left the dad sitting on the grass with one dachshund, one English bulldog, and a toddler. Five more minutes passed and out came the mom and the children with everyone’s breakfast. They joined the dad, dogs and toddler on the grass. Food was passed around and even the dogs had breakfast with the family.
As confusing and chaotic as this seemed, everyone was happy. We marveled as we watched everything go so smoothly. To see them together unaffected by the confusion was just a refreshing sight for us. Annie said, “You know mom, those kids will remember this for a long time.”
After watching this scene and then seeing the grocery store incident, a renewed awareness came to me: our children are gifts from God and they should be treated with love, honor and respect. I want to tell those parents in the grocery store that they will not pass this way again. Each day in their family’s life is valuable time and how sad it is to not realize that when children are young.