Do you remember riding around in the shopping cart as a kid?
OK, that’s probably not allowed anymore, or at least it’s frowned upon, but I remember clearly doing so. I know my kids all have had the experience as well. I can remember doing so until I was probably too big to do it. Maybe we have all had that experience as well. Mom or Dad refuse to lift you up anymore, or you climbed in and almost flipped it over. I also discovered that you could stand on the front, and lift the back wheels. Pretty awesome transition in my life as I look back.
Not so awesome to my mom. I remember that clearly as well.
Today at the grocery store I reflected upon these moments as I watched a few young couples shopping ahead of me. Actually, it was at the till that their mannerisms struck me. The couple in front of me seemed to be unsure of the whole process, took a long time unloading their groceries, and were not sure where to go next once they had filled the entire conveyor belt ‘checkerboard’ style. Had it not been right before closing I am sure everyone behind me would have expressed more patience, but alas, we all decided that 10-minutes before closing was the best time to shop. The clincher for me was when it came time to pay.
“Do you take cash?”
“Yes, you can pay the balance in cash.”
They had not added up what all these items would cost as they shopped. So, the hunt for the right card and the right amount of cash began. Once they were done they stood in shock beside the bagger searching through the receipt, clearly trying to find where things went wrong. (Mature shoppers usually wait till the parking lot or block the doorway to the store expressing out loud their dismay with the price.) This was all new to them.
It wasn’t until I was in the car that I considered how this moment related to modelling the skills or assets we desire for our children and youth to have as they grow into adulthood. If the ‘just watch me’ model to life is failsafe, then the moment I detailed would almost never happen in reality. Why? Because as a kid you were in the cart while someone went shopping, and eventually, around that time you almost tipped the cart, you would start to get a clear sense of how to shop. Or you would acquire your parents’ bad habits and develop the same workarounds they employed to make it through life.
I grew up with a watchful eye and a keen sense of a dollar’s worth. But it came with all 3 elements of life skill acquisition working in harmony: Watching, Telling, Experiencing… and eventually the 4th: Reminding/Debriefing. I liked buying my own candy, and hoarding it. (I was the youngest, which may speak to my evident distrust) I remember learning a bit about money at home, but one of the best experiences for me was putting the candy on the counter and having the cashier (my neighbour) tell me bluntly, “You don’t have enough money for all that.” Instead of figuring it out for me she told me to figure out what I could afford. (There was also a lineup of people behind me, which was a great experiment in small town socialization.)
Good lesson in life. And if you’re wondering, I still ‘wheelie’ the carts and like to think my mom is reprimanding me from heaven for it.