Saturday, June 26, 2010

An Inconvenient Lesson

It is important to me to raise ethical, moral, honest, law abiding individuals. I know that the single greatest thing I can do in that regard is model those characteristics. Hence, the large gulp I had to take in admitting I messed up this week.

Monday afternoon we went to see Toy Story 3. The showtime was at 1pm. The Art Camp K,P & R were attending concluded at Noon. So, I picked them up, drove through our Chic-fil-a for kids' meals and had them eat on the way to the cinema. When it was time to go in, the children each had a half a container (or more) of cold milk left. I had every intention of buying a $4 bag of popcorn for them to split during the movie, but spending an additional $6 on drinks when we had plenty of perfectly good milk left seemed wasteful. (That's how I rationalized it anyway.)

I know you are not supposed to bring outside food and drinks into the theater. I also know that many, many people ignore that rule and sneak it in. I realize ethics aren't on a sliding scale according to what the crowd is doing, but my rationalizing won out.

I could tell you it was a impulse decision--not really pondered at all. That would not be true. Quite the opposite. I encountered obstacles at every turn--and proceeded to break the rules any way.

I rarely carry a purse, so I had to dig around in the car for something to conceal the milk. All I could find was K's dance bag...a bright pink, patchwork canvas bag with her name on the side. The straps were intended for a 5 year old. It looked ridiculous on my arm. Nonetheless, I slipped the three milk mini-jugs inside and decided to toss in a bottle of water, a half consumed bottle of diet Coke AND the large styrofoam cup containing tea I was in the process of drinking. (I was definitely not going to be thirsty.)

As we walked into the theater there was a prominent 8x10 sign right at my eye level announcing that "NO Outside Food or Drinks" were permitted. I noted that the children did not read that aloud. They didn't see it, I justified. 

We went to the snack counter to purchase popcorn. I just spent $36 on tickets and $4.50 for popcorn, I rationalized. It's really not that big of a deal. They are making plenty of money. And, really, could it be any more obvious I have forbidden snacks? Look at this silly preschool bag on my shoulder. 

Suddenly, I was blaming other people for not catching me making a bad decision. Isn't it AMAZING how we have the ability to justify breaking rules that we classify as dumb or unfair? Or am I the only one? :-)

As we were walking away from the concession stand the children started asking why I didn't order drinks. 
"I have something for you," I replied quietly. 
"We're thirsty?" Where is it?" "I need something now!" They chirped as they shoved hands full of popcorn into their mouths in the lobby. 
Of course, we had to wait a few minutes for the theater doors to be opened, so I had to keep putting them off without explanation.

I admit, my conscience was finally starting to be bothered. 

When we finally got in and were seated I handed out the milks. 
"Why did we have to wait, Mom?" R asked.
Deciding to finally be honest I replied, "Because we aren't really supposed to have these. They want you to buy them here."
Ever the precious rule follower, he immediately tossed that milk back at me like a hot potato.
"Take it! I don't want it! I don't wanna get in twouble!"

And suddenly, it hit me. I was completely teaching my children how to be sneaky and disregard the rules. 

I know it does not seal their fate as juvenile delinquents. It did, however, convict me about my tendency to take my eye off the ball when it is inconvenient. For all my desire to teach and train and model Godly living--sometimes I just get tired and find myself tempted to throw in the towel for a bit. 

That's because I cannot be a Godly parent apart from God. It is not in me. I cannot do it without Him. The minute I try to go it on my own goodness I start doing things like sacrificing lessons in integrity for $6.

Being a Mom is a FULL TIME job. God, thankfully, is way bigger than my mistakes. 


Ms. ~K said...

I always enjoy your posts...You are truly an inspiration.

Cheri said...


His Doorkeeper said...

One of my deepest concerns and prayers is that there be more young mothers like you!! I see so many children today with absolutely no conscience whatsoever. It really concerns me.

May the Lord bless you for teaching and modeling the right thing for your children!

Liz said...

Been there, done that. My youngest called us on the one time we thought about sneaking in snacks. What a great lesson for her and us!

Pam said...

I recently experienced the same situation only it was mostly in my thoughts as we were on our way to the theatre. I used to always bring my own drink and snacks. On our way I made the comment to Coco that I should have made some popcorn to bring and then it hit me that I would be teaching her to break the rules. I then explained to her that I shouldn't have thought that because it would be wrong to break the rules. I think it never fails that she will catch me when I fail to do what I know is right. You are right without him I am just another sinner, but thankfully we are forgiven. I know he is smiling on us when we have the ah ha moments.

HW said...

This is a hard situation - to stick with our values when we feel like we are being "cheated." And who of us hasn't felt cheated by the movie theaters?

However, I agree, it is crucial to teach our children that we cannot break rules because they are "little" rules. As my children have received their licenses, this has become a bigger battle for us. I insist they must not drive 5 miles over the speed limit even when their drivers ed teacher (and sometimes even their father) says that's okay. They must not let two passengers in the car when the state law allows one. They must not come home at 11:15 when our city curfew (and family rule) for those under 17 is 11:oo. I always say to them "So. You'd steal a candy bar because it cost less then a dollar? That's what you are doing when you choose to break 'little laws. You are stealing the little items because you think they won't matter.'"

The things is, you're obviously done something right for R to sling that milk back at you knowing it was contraband. That image made me chuckle. May it always be so - that our children want to remove themselves from forbidden things.

A-and-Z's Mom said...

This is really hard!
I am wondering, when do we teach them that some rules are bad rules, like when the Nazis came to power, and there were excellent, moral, God loving people, who plotted to kill Hitler and that was a good thing, when do we start down that road with these precious children?
As for drinks, we also went to see Toy Story yesterday, actually. I tell them to drink up before we go in, and there will be water fountain there.

kstein said...

ok, i have a confession to make here too! I once tried to sneak a Sonic Route 44 drink into the theater, but somehow, the straw ended up poking thru the styrofoam, soaking the contents of my purse, and i, unaware, left a syrupy trail all the way insinde...busted! Never will do that again!

Tara said...

And it is so good to be able to admit to them when we've done something wrong.

Anonymous said...

Wow - great lesson! I've been guilty of breaking that rule too. (Actually I think my parents taught me how to - apparently frugality was more important that the rule to them.) I admire your desire to be an excellent model for your children. God bless you!

La Familia Garcia said...

I'm always amazed at the way God uses our kids to teach us as we're trying to teach them! Thanks so much for posting this and being transparent as you grow in grace. Blessings!