If you have small children and take them with you to get your groceries, you know that every trip is an adventure. I have to admit that as I load my 3 boys into the van to go to the store each week, that perhaps I should rethink this homeschooling gig. Don't get me wrong, I am really enjoying it so far. However, now that I have three children, I actually enjoy grocery shopping by myself and as often as possible sneak away to do it sola mia! But I digress.
Monday, the boys and I had a fairly normal trip through Kroger, complete with the free cookie and sticker. Sadly, there was no one in the floral department, which meant no balloons. (Where were you, Miss Kathy?--yes, I do know her by name) Sam and Jon each struggled a bit more than usual to obey around the end of our trip--you know, around the dairy section, when you're just minutes away from escaping. This led to a few tears as we're checking out, which is actually unusual. For the most part, they know the routine and do a pretty good job of sticking to it. I share all this, just to paint the scene for you leading up to the excitement.
Jon and Sam climb into their seats and buckle up, while I load the groceries into the van--Will's still hanging out in the cart with his blankie. It's a this point that a man my age walks up to me and starts pleading his case. He tells me his story. He says his wife's mother had a stroke and they drove down to be with her. He has a job at home but they don't have any gas money to get back. The family is strapped with medical bills and can't help out. Could I spare any cash to help? Sprinkled throughout his story, he says frequently, "And God bless you if you can help even a little bit." I was a little skeptical, but wanted to believe and help this guy. I knew better than to give him cash, so I said, "I'm getting ready to fill up my tank and could put $10 in yours if you follow us over there." (pointing to the Kroger gas station that is in the same parking lot) He jumped at that idea and headed off to his vehicle, telling me that it was at the other end of the lot.
As I was buckling Will into his seat, a woman stopped me and said that she and her husband had seen that same man weeks earlier telling the same story and asking for cash. She said that they had reported him inside and the Kroger staff knew exactly who they meant, saying that he had been doing this often. She said she would go report him again and hoped that they would call the police. I immediately thought of my dear friend, Jessica, and her husband who is a police officer in my area. I called her while I was driving across the parking lot and stayed on the phone with her while figuring out what to do. While talking to her, I saw him pull up to a gas pump in his fairly nice vehicle. As soon as he saw that I was on my phone, he pulled out of the parking lot and drove away.
It turns out, Jessica's husband, the cop, knew immediately who the man was. Apparently he's been doing this for quite some time and has had charges brought up against him in court. And yet, he's still at it. Try explaining that your six and four year old. They wanted to know all about what was happening each step of the way. "Who was that man talking to you, Mom?" "What did he want?" "Why doesn't he just have money from his job?" "How come we're not going to get gas for him after all?" "So is he lazy? Or is he just trying to steal from people?" "Wait, what does lazy mean?" "Why haven't the police taken him to jail?"
The thought of a "bad guy" that the police knew about really stuck with my boys and has come up repeatedly in the days following. The night of the incident, it consumed our dinner conversation. Here is the plan that the two of them devised:
Sam: We're going to get scooters, like with motors and sirens, and chase that bad guy when we see him.
Jon: Yeah, when we see his black car (it was blue), we'll just turn on our sirens and pull him over.
Me: Then what are you going to do?
Sam: Well, one of us will go up and hold him (He illustrates by holding his arms out in a circle) and the other one--
Jon, interrupts: the other one will zoom back home and have you call the police!
Sam: And I'll just keep holding him until the police come to get him.
(side note, I love how in this scenario they're big enough to ride motor scooters to catch a bad guy and hold him with just their arms, but they don't have a cell phone! HA!)
I love their imagination and creativity.
Even today, days later, it came up again. Sam says to me, in complete seriousness, "Mom, it was my lifelong dream to have a scooter." (He got one for Christmas from his grandparents)"So since I have one, now my lifelong dream is to have a motor scooter with a siren so that I can catch that bad guy from Kroger." These boys...they crack me up.