When it comes to the 5:45 pm witching hour, I know better than to expect much of my youngest child. On the few days I head to the office, Kolby spends a solid nine hours in pre-school navigating toddler concerns, craft-making and playing “doggy bad.”
It’s tough work for a four-year-old!
She tells me “mommy you were gone way too long” and wraps her soft arms around me when I pick her up.
So, I try to use my nicest voice and keep expectations low.
The last thing Kolby wants to do is run an errand or go ANYWHERE for that matter.
I’ve written about this before. Her vehement outrage at being asked to do anything other than go home and play with the neighbor kids is legendary. We don’t use the word Pavilions in our house after 5:00pm.
But this time I had a game-plan—bribery.
As I buckled Kolby in her car seat, I casually mentioned I wanted to get her a special small toy at the store.
And to my delight, she happily agreed.
We entered Albertson’s, found the toy aisle and picked out a bunny glider plane on sale for $1.79. It seemed a reasonable price to get through my dinner shopping without any unnecessary toddler drama.
I quickly gathered up my chili fixings, picked up a few more items and headed for the line. After a long wait—due to the 6:00pm rush hour—it was finally our turn and we paid and rumbled out of the store.
I say “rumbled” because I was pushing her in a behemoth bubble gum pink plastic contraption with two steering wheels. I’m convinced that whoever invented these carts hates mothers, because a mother would make a cart with a remote control and an engine.
My kid always wants to ride in this 400lb truck/cart. I can barely steer the thing empty–much less loaded down with a kid or two, groceries and a purse.
So, out we rumbled into the parking lot.
I saw my car and exhaled deeply, “Almost there Sam, almost there!”
But then Kolby exclaimed in terror, “Where’s my toy?”
I frantically rifled through the bags but didn’t spot it. Kolby’s chest started heaving with the first big wail, when I saw the plastic packaging wedged in the side of the cart.
“Here it is honey!” I joyfully exclaimed.
Kolby examined her toy carefully, “Mommy, I don’t think we paid for it.”
This child is too observant.
And for one brief sinful moment I thought about how easy it would be to fib to my child and make off with $1.79 toy. I mean I was almost home free.
I stopped the cart and my flesh struggled with temptation.
I turned and looked at my car about ten feet away and then looked back at the busy store. I looked at the sky darkening into twilight and realized by the time I picked up Kyle from football practice, unloaded the groceries, supervised homework, got Faith back from babysitting and made the stinking chili we would be eating around 8:30pm.
A small tear of frustration slid down my cheek.
Then my sweet baby girl turned and looked up at me with her big blue eyes, “Mommy you always say we have to pay for our things. We don’t ever take anything that’s not ours. We have to be honest and go back.”
I nodded yes and another tear fell—convicted and chastened by my tiny tot.
“That’s right! I did teach you about honesty little angel. So we are going to go to the car, unload all the groceries, and then turn this monster pink truck around and wheel you right back in to the store to wait in line another 15 minutes to pay, so mommy can be honest.”
And that’s exactly what I did, reluctantly and dragging my …!
Later on that evening over dinner, I told the family about our little encounter with honesty and how Kolby had been a model citizen and a great reminder to Mommy about integrity.
Kolby beamed (and yawned) as everyone affirmed her.
My husband leaned over and smiled at me, “Baby your integrity is worth a lot more than $1.79.”
Yes it is Pastor Tim.
Yes it is.
But sometimes I forget this truth because I get run down by life.
I forget because I’m freaking exhausted after a long day at work, of making lunches and coffee and breakfast at zero-dark thirty, after car-pooling three kids to and fro, and going to the gym at lunch, and writing any minute I can grab, and doing endless laundry in my sleep. I forget after trying to be meet my husband’s needs and caring for my parent’s through illness and even death and on and on and on…like every other mother I know trying to balance family and work and life.
I forget that integrity costs something. It’s not always convenient.
It can hurt to be different.
And I want to be the person who goes the extra mile.
Even over a cheap crappy toy.
As I prayed that night, I thanked God for using my little one to keep me honest, because I need accountability in the weaker moments. I need people holding me to a higher standard.
I need someone who inspires me to reach deep within my pits of selfishness and pull out of this muck something good and pure and holy.
I need Jesus with skin on to give me “the look” when I am tempted to fall.
And this time God used little Kolby to keep me on the straight and narrow path.
Who helps you become more of the person you want to be?