It all began on Saturday. Rich and I drove in separate vehicles to the church to pick up a whole bunch of kids and their luggage from a week of camp. After he greeted me and gave me a hug, Jacob told me that he and the older kids were going to get Chinese food with their friend Michael on the way home, so I gave him thirty dollars. Rich left with his group of kids and I left with Seth and Sarah, not really knowing who was riding with Rich or Michael. It was past lunchtime and we were all very hungry. I stopped at McDonald’s with my two kids, but Rich drove straight home with his.
I pulled into the driveway at home, went in the house, and discovered Ethan all distraught. “There wasn’t anything to eat”. I had assumed that he was part of the group going to the Chinese buffet. He loved Chinese food but missed out because somehow he wasn’t told the plan. I made him some elbow noodles and meat sauce but it just wasn’t the same. He missed out on Chinese food and was never going to get over it. “Oh E, I’ll take you to Chinese, just the two of us.” I was willing to say anything to encourage him, but I didn’t mean that I would take him anytime soon. Just that I would take him….eventually.
Soon everyone was fed and Chinese food was forgotten.
Or so I thought.
Yesterday, as typical on summer Mondays, I took Grace, Dave, Caleb, Seth, and Sarah to the movies, leaving Michael and the teenagers at home. I had a lot to do so I left Grace with the little kids at the theater while I shopped at Target. After the movie we stopped at Costco. By the time we arrived home the whole back of my SUV was full of bags and food and I was tired.
I discovered all the teens sleeping on the couches in the living room but I took no pity on them and woke them up so they could unload the groceries.
To my surprise, they happily woke up because they said “We are going to the mall and getting Chinese food for lunch.”
“Oh no, you’re not! I just gave you thirty dollars on Saturday! And I just bought a bunch of food while I was out that you can have for lunch.”
They wouldn’t hear of it. We went back and forth with our debate and meanwhile I was disappointed to come to the realization that my children are spoiled rotten.
Ethan especially wanted the Chinese food. “Mom, you said I could go!” He was still feeling left out from Saturday but the truth is, I never said WHEN he could go and I never said I would foot the bill for anyone else but Ethan. I wasn’t about to give them anymore money.
Jacob put his shoes on and got his wallet. He had money saved that he was supposed to be using for college. “I’m going. I’ll just pay for it with my savings.”
“Oh no, you’re not!”
The other point I made was that next week we would be leaving for family vacation and eating out all the time. So in the meantime we were going to “stay home and be satisfied with common foods like peanut butter sandwiches.”
They hated peanut butter sandwiches. They won’t eat them.
Yet another point was “Jacob, you needed me to take you to college tomorrow, I don’t want you going to go to the city two days in a row. You’re exhausted from camp and need to rest.”
But they still wouldn’t yield.
It was then that I knew I wasn’t dealing with spoiled rotten teens. I was dealing with over-tired, HUNGRY teens who had the stubbornness of both their mother and their father.
So I called Rich at work. We had a parenting situation that needed both Mom and Dad to solve. He promised to call right back when he had a minute to spare.
We were all in the living room: Michael (who was to drive them to the mall and didn’t care either way, but did want to buy sandals), Ethan (lying on his back with his arm dramatically over his forehead), Emily (who was using her Starbucks gift card in the debates) and Jacob (on the verge of tears).
Rich returned my call. I put him on speaker and placed the phone next to me on the arm of the couch. He received an earful as everyone stated their case. Being the wise and sensible man he was, he quickly decided in my favor.
“Your mom is right. I want you children to stay home and rest today. Jacob, if you don’t toughen up I’ll give you something to do to toughen you up. Ethan, I want you to get in the kitchen and find something you DO want to eat, and make enough for everyone.
“Now, I really have to go. I want to finish things up here at work so I can take a break and go eat Chinese food for lunch.”
(evil laughter from Mike and the parents)
Well, well, well. I had “won” the great Chinese food debate against my teenagers. I was feeling victorious but also sort of mean…..I love giving them anything they want….so when I DO have to put my foot down, I feel bad. (yes, I am a feeler, it’s a blessing and a curse). The poor children would have to forgo Chinese food, although we did have chicken patties in the freezer that they could shake soy sauce on. This idea of mine was not met with approval, however.
I took my phone off the arm of the couch and just as I began to get up to put away the groceries Mike said, “The Schwan’s truck is here.” He could see it pull in the driveway through the window.
Instantly, I started to scream because I knew they sold delicious Chinese food meal kits. “Oh my word!!! I cannot believe this!! This is all the Lord’s doing. You better get down on your knees and humble yourselves in gratitude!”
I opened the door to greet the man. He never had such a warm welcome. I turned to make sure the kids were with me to order their beloved Chinese foods from the catalog and saw Ethan kneeling in the kitchen with his arms raised to Jesus in grateful praise.
We had chicken lo mien and shrimp rolls for lunch.