I was loading up the conveyor belt with my purchases at Target earlier today when I noticed that there seemed to be a hold up with the customer ahead of me. Once I could find no more space on the belt, which hadn’t moved in a couple of minutes, I looked up to see what was going on and my heart melted.
A little boy of no more than five years old was standing next to his young father, struggling to open his own adorable wallet and pull some paper bills out. I looked at the cashier in time to see her bagging a mid-sized Star Wars LEGO kit and then I looked at the dad, who was positively beaming.
It’s little moments like these when I want to open my big mouth, but I fought the urge. Instead I had an inner dialogue with myself about how adorable this sight was, how great it was that this little boy was being taught the value of money as well as the joy of buying something special on his own, and, the inevitable “OH MY GOSH IT GOES SO FAST BECAUSE BEFORE THEY KNOW IT THAT LITTLE BOY WILL BE TWENTY-TWO YEARS OLD AND NOT EVEN CLAIMABLE AS A DEPENDENT ON THEIR TAXES.”
I could have totally high-fived that boy and complimented him on his actions, and I could have commended the dad on what a responsible young man he was raising, but it was that all-caps revelation that made me keep it all to myself. It goes so fast always comes into my mind during moments like that–always–but ever since my friend Keely read her essay “Just Wait” in last year’s LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER show in Chicago (watch HERE), I just don’t want to be that lady.
My not saying it out loud doesn’t change a thing, of course. It really does go too fast. My boys were little and buying LEGO sets only yesterday, it seems, and then they were buying iPods and guitars and computers, and then cars and hefty slices of their own college tuition. (The things grew more complex and more expensive over the years; luckily their ability to earn and save more money grew, too.)
It’s during moments like these that make me wistful and happy at the same time. I know it’s the Circle of Life. It’s someone else’s turn to beam with pride while his little kid struggles with his wallet in the checkout line, and it’s my turn to watch and smile and reflect on my own years as a mom. Just for a second, I see my own boys in the face of that little boy. They’re small again and needing lots of extra time to count out their hard-earned savings after asking the cashier how many more dollars are needed in order to pay in full.
As the conveyor belt started moving again, the little boy and his dad walked away, excitedly talking about building that LEGO set together when they went home. I smiled, pushing away the melancholy feelings over how my years of mothering flew by at the speed of light and saying a silent thank you to the universe for letting me go back in time, if only for a moment.