“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or a duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift." Kate DiCamillo
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Slice #11- Unloading the Groceries
Every weekend I go to the grocery store. And come back with somewhere between $200 and $300 worth of groceries. So that my kids don't starve to death in the next week.
Most weeks, if they are around, the boys help me bring the groceries in from the car. After that, they usually disappear. And I unload all of the bags and put the groceries away.
The last few weeks, however, have been just a little different.
Three weeks ago, after we had carried the groceries into the house, my oldest son stood in the middle of the kitchen. "You need to leave me alone,"he said, "just go somewhere. I'm going to do this."
"You're going to unload the groceries?" I asked.
"Yes," he said, "but you need to leave me alone. I'm serious, just go somewhere else."
"OK," I said, heading for the basement to do a load of laundry.
Twenty minutes later, I came back upstairs. The groceries were, for the most part, put away. Granted, they weren't all exactly where I would have put them, but they were put away. And I didn't have to do it.
Last week the same thing happened. It was the first weekend of the month, and I had been to the grocery store and also the local food warehouse. I had a ton of stuff. But once again, Son #1 unloaded everything.
Today when I came back from the store, the boys came out to unload the car. This week, I thought we might be back to our old pattern. "I'm going to carry stuff in," said Son #1, "but I'm not unloading it. That's too much work."
"OK," I said externally. My inner voice was saying, "Darn!"
The boys carried the groceries in from the car and I started unloading. About three minutes later, Son #1 was back.
"I'll help if you need it," he said. "You do as much as you can do, and I'll do the rest." Then he turned and went around the corner toward his bedroom.
"Hey, Zay," I called, "I've done as much as I can do."
My son turned around. "Get out of here," he said. "I'm going to do it."
"Yeah," he said. "I'll do it. You can go do something else."
And so once again I left. And once again, he unloaded all of the groceries, all by himself. And once again, things are in somewhat unusual places, but it will work. Things are put away. I didn't have to do it.
And now I am sitting here. Writing my slice. Thinking about my sweet, sweet guy. What a great man he is growing into. How crazy I am about him. And most of all, how much I am going to miss him. Starting in August. When he leaves for junior college, 800 miles away. I'm going to miss him. Who will unload the groceries?
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Tears streaming down my face, for the blessing adult sons are, for the holes in our hearts--and in our lives--when they are far away, and for mama-love. This is what matters. Thanks, Carol.
This is a touching slice--and your son seems like a wonderful young man. Thank you for sharing it!
An excellent new tradition! Now you'll never be able to unload the groceries in quite the same way ever again. You'll always think about him and how he loves you enough to unload the groceries (with a happy heart!). Thanks for writing today. I can't read enough of your stories.
Beautiful slice. I think we can all relate the that fabulous feeling when someone finally steps in and does something extra to help us out. It is even better when it is one of our own children lightening our load. The way you repeated lines like "Things are put away. I didn't have to do it." helped pull the piece together.
There's a lightness to the story that is peppered with humor, "So my kids don't starve to death." The use of dialogue also helps move your story along. At the end I realized your story wasn't as much about unloading groceries as it was about how much you'll miss your son when he soon goes off to college. Oh, I can relate.
I think it's Don Murray, or maybe Graves, who always said that we write to find out what we are thinking. I originally thought this slice was about what you said in the first part of your post-- how nice it was (especially as a single mom) to have someone else do something without being asked. Didn't know until the end that it was about how much I was going to miss him.
The above have said it all. It is bittersweet to find out the help you love so recently is soon to go. I love the path you take when you tell stories, a little bit of intro then into the main part, the kernel of the story that makes the center, & then the learning, as some writer/teacher said the "so what".
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