Last night I picked my kids up from their grandma’s house, and on our way home we stopped at the convenience store.
I was tired and in a hurry, as usual, so I told the kids to sit tight and that I was just going to run in quickly.
Zion already had his car door open.
I said, “Buddy, get back in the car.”
He said, “Red fish.”
Those daggum Swedish Fish. Making it impossible for moms to run quickly into the gas station since 2004.
I said, “Not today, honey. Get in the car please.”
He said, more loudly this time, “RED FISHHHH.”
I gave in right away. Judge if you wish. But as parents we can certainly agree that some battles aren’t worth fighting in the parking lot of the hometown gas station.
So off we went into the store.
Immediately I saw there were six people in line.
I grabbed the two things I needed while Zion made a beeline for the fishies.
We took our place in line.
Lines are annoying, sure. No one likes them. But as the parent of a child with autism, nothing strikes fear into my heart like seeing a long line.
Some of Zion’s Guinness Book of World Record tantrums have been while standing in a line.
Zion pointed to the line in front of us. He looked at me, and with a fair amount of anxiety said, “And now we go wait, Mama.”
Yes. Yes we do.
There were two cash registers open, so the line was formed in the middle. The customer at the left register was buying what seemed like 384 scratch off lottery tickets, while the customer at the right register stepped away and the next customer stepped up to check out.
Zion looked up at me and said, “We wait our turn, Mama.”
I quietly said, “Good job, buddy.”
The sweet lady standing right in front of us turned around and said, “I like the way you’re waiting so quietly. Would you like to go in front of me?”
I wanted to give her a smooch.
She was clearly a teacher, I could tell by her demeanor.
Zion said, “We wait our turn.”
It seemed like forever at the time, but the line actually moved pretty quickly.
What happened next will sound like it took 5 minutes to transpire, when in reality it only took about 10 seconds.
There were several people in line behind us. The sweet lady in front of us stepped up to the right register to check-out, just as 384 scratch-off lady was stepping away from the left.
Just then a man walked through the front door, looked toward our orderly little line, and then walked right up to the left register.
“10 dollars on pump 4.”
I was livid. Probably way more than I should have been about something so stupid and small, but I said nothing. And if you know me at all, that is really a Festivus miracle.
Just then, Zion looked up at me again and said, tearfully, “We wait our turn, Mama?”
Precious little unicorn.
He doesn’t understand cheating. Or unfairness. Or douchey line-cutters who need to be kicked hard in the jittles.
I said quietly, “Just a minute, buddy.”
In reality, that dude was rung up and out of our way in like 10 seconds.
But Zion said it again. “We wait our turn, Mama?”
I nearly had to bite clear through my lip to keep quiet.
You see, 2009 Angie would have gone clean off. (“The line is back here, butt nugget!“)
2005 Angie would have been passive aggressive. (“Zion, SOME people don’t feel the need to follow rules.”)
But 2017 Angie has learned that grace and kindness are more important than winning. And that my children learn more from my own actions, than the actions of others.
Butt nugget left the store almost as quickly as he entered.
Zion and I stepped up to the register.
The cashier said, “I’m sorry about that ma’am, but I didn’t think it was worth causing a problem.”
I said, “No worries, big guy.”
Little did he know that in my mind I was already out the front door, had the dude tackled, in a headlock, and was strangling him with my purse straps.
Zion said to the cashier, “Hello man! How are you?”
What the?! As if nothing had ever happened.
The cashier said, “I’m good buddy, are these your Swedish Fish?”
Zion said, “I get the fish!”
The cashier said, “I like those too.”
Zion scooped up his fish and said, “Goodbye, man! We’ll see y’all later!”
As we walked back out to the car, I thought back to a time when a line-cutter would have caused a barn-burner of a temper tantrum.
And possibly one from Zion as well. (tee hee)
I also realized that we had encountered two extremely kind people in that store…the lady in front of us in line, as well as the cashier.
So I chose to be grateful.
I thought about the lesson I hope Zion learned from me keeping my mouth shut. We can only control our own behavior, we can’t control the behavior of others.
And then I realized the lesson Zion taught me. Even in a situation when something upsetting happens, it is possible to just let it go and move on.
We were about 5 minutes into our drive home when Zion said, with a mouth full of red fishies, “We wait our turn, Mama?”
That’s Zion’s way of saying, “That guy was a big ole line-cutter.”
So much for letting it go.