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.