My son and I went to Target the other day (shocking I know) to get a few things. It was a typical Thursday outing for us with Aniston at school and 2 hours of times to kill in the wintery Chicago weather. Normally, we would have gone outside, but since hypothermia didn’t seem to be an attractive option we stayed inside. Lil’ E was being so good that he didn’t even try to arm rake any of the glass spaghetti jars off the shelves for once!
Let me tell you that is a huge deal.
We had just finished shopping and it was time for check out. This is a good thing because Easton knows it means we are almost out the door and that he gets to “help me” put the things on the conveyor belt.
Side Note: Doesn’t it always seems when you put things on that belt that they multiply in your cart. I feel like Mary Poppins pulling stuff out of her bag as I unload. It just keeps coming!
Anyway, this day we got in line and wouldn’t you know it we got stuck behind Coupony Couperson and her 35 boxes of mac and cheese to go with her 17 cases of Tic Tacs. We were in for a long haul since Target only opens up 1.5 lanes out of their possibly 71 in the morning. We were stuck. It didn’t take long for Easton to be “done” with sitting in cart and started to fuss. Before it got out of hand I decided to try something.
The fine folks at Target now have front facing, double seated carts for the kids. Granted it makes you feel like you are pushing a “67 El Camino around the store, but they do drive like butter and the kids love it. So when Easton started to get antsy I just decided to grab a seat right by him. Yep, I popped a squat in the little toddler sized booty holder and we chatted.
You should have seen his face…he LOVED it! He instantly went from fussing to talking about everything on his mind that no one understood but him. His hands started making signs that made more sense than that weird dude at the Nelson Mandela funeral. But what was so cool was that he totally relaxed! We had a great daddy moment while the woman ahead of us checked out the last of her items so she could scurry back home to her Apocalypse bomb shelter and put away her rations.
This spoke to me on a couple different levels and no I’m not becoming a couponer.
First, it showed me how important it is to be present with your kids. We all see parents that will ignore their kids while they text their girlfriends important things like their high score on Candy Crush. Some parents will just simply endure their time with their kids until they can get home and turn on the Disney Channel. Still others will look at their kids as if they are a nuisance and hindrance to their entire existence…as if they were the ones that chose to be born and now have inconvenienced them.
Our kids need us to engage with them and constantly reiterate that they matter. This doesn’t mean that letting them watch a show from time to time is bad or that communicating with your friends is sinful, but when your kids have to beg for your attention something is wrong. I have heard it said time and time again by older parents that they ”wish they would have soaked up the earlier years more because now that they are all grown up it’s different.” I simply don’t want to be that regretful parent. To do this we must realize it takes time, energy, and patience, but I believe it will make a world of difference in our kids futures. The call can wait, but a moment with your kids will fly by never to be had again.
The other thing that this cart conversation did for me was remind me that this is exactly what Jesus did. No, he didn’t conquer the Target challenge and spend less than $100 dollars, although that may have been a cool miracle to see happen! It was much more powerful than even that.
Even though He was God Jesus often would get down on the level of the people he was ministering to so that He could relate. Even beyond being the obvious incarnate God-Man, Jesus, who become man to live amongst His creation, He went further time and time again to know us. We see this in places such as when He hung out with kids, dined with sinners, stooped down to help the adulterous women, but one that stands out to me is when He chose his disciples.
One day Jesus ascends a mountain to pray about who He was going to choose to join Him in his close circle of disciples. After finishing, He calls the 12 together together and then descends the mountain. It’s here in Luke 6:17 where the good stuff happens as Luke says“He went down with them and stood on a level place.” Jesus chose not to preach, teach, and minister from a platform, but from the bottom floor. He chose to see them eyeball to eyeball instead of over the bridge of his elevated nose. Jesus got on their level so He could know their level and He still does that today.
Our kids need this too.
They need us to hangout with them in the cart and they need us to tell them about God in a way they can understand. Heck, they need us to tell them about God period! After all, what good will it do if they know their math facts by they time the reach 4 years old by playing a Fisher Price game on the iPad if they don’t know who the Son of God is!? Our kids need to see that God is important to us and worth our time to tell them about Him. We can’t expect the Sunday school teachers or the pastors to do it all. We are the most influential people in our kid’s lives so we need to use that influence to tell them about who God is and what He’s done for us.
On their level…eye to eye…life to life.
So give yourself permission to sit in the cart from time to time. Your kids will love the time with you and it will give you chance to be on their level. Who knows what you might see and what opportunities God may give you to tell them about Him.
Don’t be afraid of hanging out with your kids…be afraid of the coupon lady that just bought the last case of bottled water.