One year, I had the bright idea of taking my two eight-year-old grandsons to Ireland, Scotland and England. (We all survived, despite the odds being against that!) The cousins were amiable enough and were good travelers. Then in Ireland, I went into the shop of a line so expensive that I only had one piece of their famous dishes.
Right away, I knew I’d made a big mistake. The first clue: there were no other children in the shop. Other parents were smarter than this grandparent obviously was. The second clue was that the two boys suddenly appeared to have grown, not just in height, but in width. The latter quickly became a slight problem, since the aisles were somewhat narrow.
The third clue was a combination of things: a clerk became visibly aware of “the Matt and Zach.” A second clerk joined in that awareness. I was blissfully roaming through the shop, greed, jealousy, and avarice (worse greed) finding a home in my emotions, until I noticed two clerks were trailing us.
Then the ball fell. I knew what the problem was: my two boys. Just their physical presence, even if they stood absolutely still with their hands in their pockets, was enough to worry clerks in this store. (I am deliberately leaving out the name of the store. Just think of the most expensive one in which most of us dream of shopping.)
I caved first. “Boys! I’ve seen enough wonderful things, so let’s leave now and drive on in to Dublin.” The sighs of relief that were almost obvious told me more than loud shouts would have—that my decision was the right one. The boys, who hadn’t been even slightly interested in counter after counter of beautiful trays, bowls, glasses, dishes—ran for the car. Yes, for the car that had been new, but now had lost one outside rearview-mirror. I wondered if it had the same reaction when the boys approached as had the store clerks. And I didn’t blame either faction.
It’s a wonderful thing to expose children to broader fields than the ones here at home, but one should really “pick one’s fight” in choosing which field to plow.