Saturday, August 2, 2014

Back to school shopping

“A parental moment”

    Although Kay and I have no kids, I don’t mind recommending how others should raise theirs. My recommendations are never appreciated.

I can only assume it’s because of my lack of parental experience. Some people actually think you must be a parent before you can judge. To that I say, you don’t need a parachute to skydive. You need a parachute to skydive twice. I don’t know why I say that, but it just comes to mind.

Regardless, after my experience last week, I am now an expert in parenting. At least, as close to an expert as I care to be. You see, the place we attend church has a yearly program whereby 100 or more youngsters from the inner city of Houston are bused to our church building, and volunteers greet them and take ‘em on a back-to-school shopping spree followed by a meal out.

The program has been going on for a good while, and each time I’ve been blessed in my attempt to avoid being hassled into volunteering. That all changed this year. John, the coordinator, would not leave me alone. He had the weird notion that I should be thankful for the opportunity to take kids shopping, and that by the end of the day I might just have a Hallmark Moment.

After he finished his spiel, I reached for my wallet and said, “Okay, John, what’s it gonna take to make this whole thing go away?” He thought I was a joking.

I’ve got to tell you that my reluctance was due to the fear of failure. I’d never bought shoes, pants, shirts, underwear for a kid?  What do they wear nowadays? What’s in? What’s out? What’s their size? When I was through with him, the poor kid would start his first day of school looking like he’d spent his summer following the circus.

Well, I eventually caved, and Kay and I were assigned two nine-year-olds, Carlos and Gilbert. Cousins, they were. Before we headed out, they were each warned about me. They thought people were joking.

As a way of getting our two kids to remember our names, I asked ‘em to think of K-Mart. I told ‘em that our names are Kay and Mark. It sounds like K-Mart. They had never heard of K-Mart, so figured it’d be just as easy to memorize “Kay” and “Mark” as K-Mart. Sharp kids.

During the shopping spree, I learned so much. Did you know that kids don’t like to try on things? Not even shoes. I had to get Carlos in a chokehold before he’d agree to try on his size 5 tennis shoes. At that, he’d only try on one. I told him that one of his feet might be smaller than the other. He got a good laugh out of that. -- No one takes me serious. 

Speaking of underwear, kids prefer boxers to briefs. When I was their age, I didn’t even know there were underwear options. We didn’t even call briefs, “briefs.” We called ‘em “underwear.” The word “briefs” was not invented until someone came up with boxers. You ask me, briefs should’ve been called “wrestlers.” 

We shopped for belts and backpacks and socks. They both wanted black athletic socks. The ones that go midway up your calf. The kind that used to be considered dweeb-wear. Now, they’re fashionable. Who comes up with this stuff?

Kay and I went a bit over budget with Carlos and Gilbert, but neither of us had the heart to tell ‘em to put something back. After loading up, we went over to Chuck e Cheese. Kay and I had never been, and will never go again. I thought the place would have a buffet like Incredible Pizza. The only thing Chuck has that could in anyway be considered incredible is the price of their pizzas.

Fortunately, Carlos and Gilbert really enjoyed themselves. We bought ‘em each 15 game tokens and they went through them in, oh, about 20 minutes. They each won a couple of gag gifts. I could’ve bought a bag of 10 of ‘em at a dollar store. You would’ve thought those two kids had won the lottery.

Before they got back on the bus, I asked Carlos and Gilbert if they remembered our names. Gilbert didn’t have a clue. Carlos thought for a few seconds and then said, “Uh, Mark and Kelly.” I thanked him for remembering.

When the smoke cleared, Kay and I could say that we enjoyed our time with those two knot-heads. More importantly, I know they enjoyed themselves. I pick up on stuff like that.

A Hallmark Moment? Not really. But it was a good moment. I believe it was Jesus who said that we shouldn’t do good deeds for the sake of experiencing a Hallmark Moment. I may be paraphrasing here, From everything I’ve read it’s apparent to me that motive for doing a good deed is quite important to God.

That being said, I definitely owe John an apology. And, I would give him one, except I’m pretty sure he thought I was joking when I reached for my wallet asked how much it would take to make the whole thing go away. -- I already apologize to God. He took it well. He always does. 


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