Good Mom, Bad Mom

Parenting is all about the lessons we teach. We try to model the behavior we want our children to emulate. And when we aren’t exactly the picture of perfection, we hope we haven’t skewed their perception of the world too much. Enter the lesson I recently taught my children at a gas station.

Bear in mind that traveling with two children is not easy, and it’s even more complicated when mom does it solo. Such was my Saturday afternoon.

The man was working on the house, so the girls and I hit the road for a visit to my parents. That’s 3 hours, 2 kids, and 1 cranky mother. Thankfully, the kids fell asleep shortly before we left the city limits, so the first two hours of the trip were uneventful. Peace and quiet on a dry, dusty drive. Ahhh…

The kids couldn’t stay asleep forever, though, so the last hour saw 3 stops. As soon as the oldest awoke from her nap, she informed me that she needed to use the restroom. We were 15 miles from the nearest facility. Those were a long 15 miles indeed.

While stopped, my daughter said that she was hungry. Stop #1 was only equipped with vending machines, and I never carry cash, so we had to move on down the road for stop #2.

Once we were all settled in again, we proceeded on. In all the hubbub, I had forgotten that we needed to fuel up, and I somehow missed the reminder light on the dash until that panicked moment when I saw the needle on E. So, even though we had managed to make it within 30 miles of our destination, we had to stop yet again.

This is where the lesson begins.

I pulled in to the most convenient pump to fill up. I zipped my card and started fueling. No problem. We would soon be on our way. Only the pump cut me off at $20, and I did not get a receipt. I checked the message on the screen and saw that it read, “Prepay Complete.” That’s not right.

I got back in the car and pulled into a parking space. Then, with two kids in tow, I headed into the store. Where there was a line.

When it was my turn, I explained what had happened to the clerk. He replied, “Yeah, I set the wrong pump, so I need someone to pay for that $20.”

Excuse me? I’m not the one who screwed up here. Don’t get smart with me, young man.

This is the thought process that led me to blurt out, “So I had to get my kids out of the car and wait in line because you screwed up?”

Well, at least I was honest and paid for the gas, right? I mean, I could have driven off, and no one would have been the wiser. Somehow, though, I don’t think that’s the lesson that will stick.

The rest of the trip involved a lot of deep breathing and debriefing. There seems to be a lot of that when it comes to teaching my kids a lesson.

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