Send ‘Em To The StorePosted: February 16, 2013
“What are you supposed to do with a baby?” “I don’t know, make ‘em go to the store for ya?”
This was the exchange between two characters in a movie played by Bette Midler and John Goodman. Midler’s character is unmarried and unexpectedly pregnant and her best buddy responds to her fears with this simple and light-hearted reply.
It’s an exchange I always remember because I found myself in a similar situation over 25 years ago. What did I know about having a child or raising a human being? Not a thing! Just the stuff I learned as a child growing up and being raised by people I loved.
A friend of mine whose relationship with his mother was a positive one, would tell me about these trips to the store his mother would make him go on. Comical stories as told by my friend. If he came home with the wrong thing she would make him go right back to get the right thing. And his mother would not only make him go to the corner grocery store or the neighborhood grocery store but she would often have him go to grocery stores that were subway-rides away. Since my friend would much rather be out playing baseball, it was in his best interest to get it right the first time.
I have to confess that I never made my son go to the store for me, though it would have been a tremendous help if I did. I realize I did us both a disservice. I gave the message that I didn’t need the help and also that he perhaps was incapable of providing the help.
This small life story has a big message for me. Getting your child to do things to help is significant. They learn that they are part of the solution and that their actions affect the family. They learn that they are capable and that their mother — that sacred and powerful being — is human and fallible.
On the surface, they learn to interact and negotiate with adults as my friend had to return items he purchased from the grocer in error. They learn about money, the cost of things, and about traveling around the city. They learn that doing their best to get it right is not only for their mom’s benefit but for their family’s benefit too. And getting it right the first time allows them to play those all-important games.
Raising a child is hard and wonderful and full of surprises and if you think too hard about what to do next, you can miss the simple ideas and solutions such as “making ‘em go to the store for ya”.