I made a late-night run to Fred Meyer this week and chose a checkout line that seemed to be moving quickly. As I waited my turn, I noticed a flag marking this particular checkout line as “family friendly”. Looking around me, I wondered what exactly this designation meant. Candy, gum, and toys were all resting in their splendor at perfect child-height, so I knew at least that my definition of “family friendly” was not theirs. When I made my way up to where the checker stood, I asked her as she scanned my items what “family friendly” meant in this context.
“I’m the only one who is nice to kids” she quipped. “Seriously, though, it means that there are no magazines in this particular aisle.”
Looking around I realized that, indeed, I had learned nothing about Angelina Jolie or a Kardashian while waiting. Interesting that I hadn’t even noticed.
“My boys care much more about the Hot Wheels and chocolate than they do about the Booby magazines!” I told her and she laughed. We then compared notes about our kids and she asked me if I was sending my kids to a local Vacation Bible School that is apparently very fun here in Shoreline. I told her that no, I wasn’t, and she proceeded to share with me details of all the local churches and what they offered in terms of VBS programs.She made a comment about how she sends her kids to as many of them as she can and that it is nice to have a bit of time to herself. “You definitely should do it!” she told me, in that one mom looking out for another mom kind of way.
I mentioned that we did attend our church’s VBS and that I work at our church. Her countenance changed, and she spoke differently to me at that point.
“You see, I didn’t grow up with anything having to do with the church,” she said with tears showing in her eyes. “It means so much to grow up learning about God when you are a child. I never got that. I had to wait far too long and I made a lot of mistakes in my life. It just means so much to get it when you are young. I want my kids to have that, since I never did.”
I thought of the comments I made last summer about families that hit up a different VBS every week. I think I looked down on this a bit, like “oh, people are just taking advantage of basically free childcare and not having to deal with their kids for a week!”
I was reminded that most of the time, we really don’t know what is going on with people: the stories behind their decisions, what their motivations are, and we are far too willing to fill in the blanks and offer our judgment.