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Going to the Store



Last week, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that our 16-year-old son had used our car and debit card for a BJ’s run, while we were away on our cruise. He had done some light food shopping to hold them over until our return, at the direction of his grandmother. I was especially pleased, because “going to the store” is not something that I would normally ask of my children. Sure, I send them to Dunkin for pumpkin and Wawa for hazelnut, but I’ve never thought about sending them into the grocery store for bread and milk, with my entire paycheck on the swipe action. They’re young, naïve, and let’s be honest… they’re boys. So, no.

Contrarily, I’m an 80’s baby, and we grew up a little different. I was constantly at the store for someone. I remember being young, like 8 or so, going down to the corner store to buy eggs and bacon with my cousin’s food stamp booklet. I liked that store, because they had all the flavors of Now and Laters at the register. I wasn’t much older than that, buying my Mom’s cigarettes for her at the deli down the street. The guys in the store would pull the knob on the cigarette machine for me, they knew the brand she smoked. My grandmother would send me across the street for Pepsis and Kandi Kakes, nearly every evening that one summer. None of this was out of the ordinary then. Looking back, these were all good memories that instilled confidence, responsibility, and furthered my development, rather early in life. Discernment and instincts sprouted. I counted change, was aware of my surroundings, and learned that everyone did not have good intentions. I’ll never forget walking to the store with a neighbor, when someone stole our money from us. We came home crying that day.

My kids haven’t learned these lessons of “going to the store”, partly because big bank took little bank, and corner stores aren’t on the corners anymore. However, the more blaring and obvious reason that they don’t “go to the store” is because I haven’t tasked them the same responsibility that was given to me. I just can’t. I can’t send them to the store with a list, money, and coupons to make decisions among weirdos. The world has changed for the worst, and kids are getting snatched. My boys won’t even see it coming, because they have their heads in the (i)clouds.

Has the world REALLY changed for the worst though? A quick look at crime statistics over the last few decades most certainly tells a different story. Violent crimes actually peaked in 1991, when I was ten, and there I was… “going to the store”. Now, isn't that ironic? Without the internet, our parents didn’t realize kids were getting snatched. They lived life without fear and relied on nearly extinct notions of faith and common sense.

This overly deep reflection of “going to the store” is truly revealing. It is obvious that the shift in culture is actually… me. We (80’s babies) are Millennials, also known as: The Anxious Generation. We are worried, fearsome, and insecure. In result, I have sheltered and micromanaged my children out of life’s experiences, and even worse- out of common sense. And when I (shield and protection) was taken out of the equation (and out of the country), my son actually and successfully... went to the store.


The same son who ventured to BJ’s on his own last week walked in the house this evening and exclaimed, “$20 only gets you 6 gallons of gas!? That’s ridiculous!” I smiled. Welcome to the world, my child.

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