Call me crazy, but I just made the trek out to one of those yuppie health food stores with all five boys by myself. I'm trying to find ways to break up the endless grocery shopping on Saturday. I shop three stores each weekend and it is a bit much. I thought if I could just hit one of those stores during the week with the children, I could save myself some trouble on Saturday.
I don't think it's going to work.
At least not this way and let me say loud and clear that this is NOT the children's fault. My children were quiet, obedient, and even helpful, but you'd never have known it by the looks we received today. I should know better than to head into yuppie-ville with all five of my progeny, but still, I was horrified by the looks, the mumblings, the comments. Honestly, by their expressions you'd have thought I'd dragged five rodents into their health food store rather than five human children.
OK, it was crowded so perhaps the impatience and the glares were more criticisms of our physical bulk than our social contributions. I might have explained the obvious annoyance we caused this way because it certainly could not have been explained by the childrens' behavior which was TOP NOTCH, quite frankly, because they were working hard to earn some chocolate covered blueberries for the ride home. I don't think that was it, though, because I heard a few under-breath remarks as the speakers intended me to hear them, "Well, here's a crew," and "Some people..." and "Wow (not in a good way)." These and other comments made me self conscious and uptight.
Nobody was friendly, not even the cashier who became visibly irritated when the children tried to help unload the groceries from our cart. I was just glad to leave there, sighing in tremendous relief as the door closed behind us. I wouldn't need to pull the reins in beyond reason, now. I could let go and let my poor kids be kids.
The drive home offered ample time to think over my experience and the many others I've had like it when I've headed into this particular area of the state. I was angry and embarrassed. I had just publicly displayed my ability to give life and that to persons who considered it a shameful thing. Why, I wondered. Was it that we are consumers, multiplying a drain on the earth's already strained resources? Did these people not like children? Had these people so eradicated children from their lives that they considered them strange or somehow threatening? Did they associate numbers with poverty, fruitfulness with irresponsibility? I couldn't understand it. Whatever it was, it made me sick and sad and it gnawed a hollow pit in my stomach.
"Nine billion and two...nine billion and three...nine billion and four...nine billion and five...nine billion and six...nine billion and seven..." Jacob counted in the back seat.
I looked into the rear view mirror and saw a tuft of hair standing up straight on Zachary's head. It caught the sunlight and had the effect of making him look like a candied apple. He was clapping his hands in rhythm to Jacob's counting.
Nicholas was drifting off to sleep, his eyelids drooping, snapping open, and drooping again.
Simeon and Alex were absorbed in a game of their own inventing. Hushed secret things were exchanged between them, erupting from time to time into bursts of contagious laughter.
My van is full. It's full of life and it's a life that I love. I do not understand why those people were so unfriendly to us today, but this I do understand: There's nothing wrong with us. There's something wrong with them.