Thomas Jefferson once said, "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."
I think Thomas Jefferson would have been proud of me yesterday. In fact, I think he would like me a lot; I've never been much good at keeping my mouth shut. There are times when a mom just has to speak out and yesterday was one of those. I just couldn't turn my back on my great country.
I took all three girls to Wal-Mart yesterday afternoon. As I was waiting to check out, there were two women checking out in front of me. Between the two of them, they had three little girls. They were the most darling children. They were just beautiful. Two looked like twins and they were all about three years old.My girls parked it on the floor behind my buggy with a People magazine. They always do this to pass the time, but this time they couldn't completely concentrate. They were totally distracted by what was unfolding in front of us, as was I.
While the new checker was completely oblivious, these little girls started loading up their arms with whatever they wanted from the shelves surrounding the check stands. We may not have paid much attention either, but they were knocking down a bunch of stuff while in the process, and I was surprised that their mothers didn't do anything about it. My girls were most certainly coveting some of the toys, lip glosses, and candy that they were gathering, but never said a word. They know that their allowance would have to be used and I was delighted that the magazine combined with these younger children misbehaving was distracting them from their usual, "Mom do I have enough money to buy this?"
So, on with the story, I was floored because the mother directed the children in Spanish to get a bag from the check stand and to put their stuff in it. The girls each got a bag and did exactly that. What really triggered me is that these sweet little girls kept adding to their loot. They were so excited about all their stuff and kept hugging one another and telling each other gracias and that they loved each other.
I looked to the front of the store to see if I could go and forewarn a worker before their exit, but there was just a teenage kid at the greeting place. I knew it was all up to me.
As the moms finished their shopping. I felt a twinge of guilt. I knew what I was about to do, but I have to say that I almost didn't because I felt sympathy as they used the last of their food stamps and were counting change to pay for the remaining bill. They had only bought one non-food item, fabric softener. These children were clean and had obviously been cared for physically. They had cute little outfits on and darling sandals.
But, I forged ahead, as it wasn't their physical needs I was worried about. My motherly instincts came out in full force as anxiety swept over me for the moral character they were being taught. Who teaches a three year old to steal? Especially when you live in a country that basically hands you everything you need, whether you are a citizen or not. And these girls were loaded up with non-essentials. Believe it or not, I was kind of scared. I started the inner dialogue with myself so that I could find the courage to do the right thing.
Right as the second woman was finishing up and the first woman had gathered all the girls around the buggy to leave, I approached. I looked the woman straight in the eye and pointing to the children and their loot bags I said, "They did not pay for those things. They can't just take them."
This mom was stunned. She gave me a non appreciative look which silently stated, "Mind your own business.", but proceeded to take the things from the girls and she placed them on the adjacent check stand. She never quit glaring at me. The one little girl (who I believe belonged to this first woman) went ballistic, throwing a pretty good kiddy tantrum. The other two twins almost seemed relieved.
I guess they don't want to live among tyranny either.
And, someday maybe my kids will remember me as a mom who wasn't afraid to stand up for what was right. I hope they won't just think that I don't know how to mind my own business because I could have very easily kept my mouth shut.
The moral of the story: don't check out in front of me if you are the kind of parent who corrupts my world. This mom happens to be one who still believes in the pillars of moral character that they teach at school. (Ironic that I took this photo at the school just one hour before this incident occured, huh?) And I believe in doing what it takes to teach my daughters and yours, and when you fail, you give that right to me.