the penny reminder

Tuesday after dinner I had to go out to our local Mejier (much like Wal-Mart in the whole department store thing, but unlike Wal-Mart in the whole skeeze thing) for some supplies for a baby shower I am giving this weekend.

As Cort cleaned up dinner, Eddie announced he wanted to come with me.

Cort told him, “That’s up to mommy. ”

Normally, I would say, “no. it’s too close to bed time.  I won’t be gone long and you’ll have fun with daddy and Charlie.”

But since it was only just after 6pm, I said, “finish your dinner and you can come with me. But only if you can be a good helper. Can you be a good helper?”

“Yeah, Mom! I can! Let me go wash my hands and face!”

So off we went.

For anyone who has been around for awhile, you know I have a generalized anxiety disorder along with PPD/PPA.  After Eddie was born I was paralyzed with fear to go out with him alone.  Not because I thought he would get hurt, but because I was afraid I couldn’t handle it.

It was easy to avoid going out alone with Eddie.  When he was 4 months old, Cort lost his job and became a stay at home dad for a year and a half.  He did most of the errands during the day and had no problem taking Eddie with him.  In fact, he planned it so they would get out of the house at least once a day.

If I went out for anything, it was to pick something up on my way home from work.  Alone.

When I had Charlie, I had over a year of therapy to work on my anxiety and I had discovered baby-wearing. Charlie and I got out about once a week to do all sorts of things.

It was still rare that I took Eddie out alone though.  Not because I was anxious, but because we didn’t have tons of alone time.

So Tuesday night when he wanted to come along, I figured it would be good for both of us.

When we got to Meijer, Eddie insisted on holding my list.  As we held hands through the parking lot, he peered down at it and said, “yet’s see…hmmm.  what is first?”

I almost melted right there.

Once we were safely inside, I crouched down and asked if we could look at it together.  I pointed to the first thing and I said, “this says we need eggs and strawberry soda.”

“Hmmm,” he replied.  “yup, mom. You’re right! It says it riiiiight here.”

(I should remind readers that Eddie is 3 and cannot read, but we “pretend” to read often as a form of “play learning”.)

So I let him help me pick a cart and off we went.

I let him run a bit ahead of me and didn’t get panicky or yell to him to slow down or wait.  I trusted that he would.  And he did.

He would get a certain length ahead of me and then stop, turn around, and wait for me with a smile on his face.

I let him choose which package of sausage we would buy.  And then I let him “fix” the rest in the display so they were nice and neat.

He put strawberries in the cart and helped me pick the “right” paper plates.

It took longer than if I had zipped through the store on my own, but it was so SO much better this way.

A few people commented on how it was nice that we worked together to do the shopping instead of my just having him be there.  Each time we found something on the list, I would get down on my knees in the aisle so we could look at the next list item together.  He held the list the whole time.

At checkout, I let him unload the entire cart (except the eggs).  The belt was not as neat and organized as when I unload (I have a method of what gets grouped together for bagging purposes), but he did it all on his own.  Luckily for us, the cashier smiled and talked to him and told him what an awesome helper he was.  She said it was nice to see someone using a trip to Meijer as a “learning” tool instead of a battle between mother and child.

On our way out, he wanted to ride the penny pony, but I didn’t have a penny.  I felt sad for him as I watched him hang his head in disappointment because he had been such a great helper and he deserved a spin on the pony.  Just as I was telling him that I promised I would bring TWO pennies next time, a lady in the check out next to us bent down and handed Eddie a penny.

“OH THANKS YOU!” he beamed at her.

“You are very welcome, young man.  I saw you help your mommy.  You are quite the gentleman!”

“You too,” Eddie replied.

To which we both chuckled while I thanked her.

As we approached the pony, we saw that someone had left three pennies next to it.  Eddie asked if he could use one to take a second ride, and I let him.

When we were done, he asked about the other two pennies.

“Are those for other girls and boys?”

“Yup, someone left those there for good boys and girls so they can ride the pony too.”

“If they don’t have pennies they can use them?”

“That’s right.”

Just then a little boy, smaller than Eddie, walked up.

“You has a penny?” Eddie asked him.

“no. I can’t wide it.” The little boy said, “I just looking.”

Eddie reached down to the extra pennies, and handed one to the little boy.

“Der you go. Now you can ride too!” And he patted the horse.

As the little boy ran back to his mom to show her his new treasure, Eddie and I walked to the car.

“That was very kind of you, Eddie.”

“Yup. Dat boy can ride duh pony now too!”

“That’s right.  Thank you for being such a great helper and such a kind boy.”

“I yuv you, mom.”

“Aw. I love you too, Eddie.”

I am beyond stressed out and way overly exhausted.  But these small moments…just 30 minutes out of my day on Tuesday, made me smile.  It made me forget the deadlines and the calendar conflicts and the have-to-do’s for 30 minutes and just focus on my older son.

I was able to spend quality time with him encouraging his fierce independent streak in a positive, healthy way.

I am an overworked working mom.  But I am a good mom.

My son is kind and helpful not because he just knows to be that way, but because we have modeled that for him.

We have taught him to share what he has, even if all he has in that minute is a penny and a helpful nature.

These small moments also remind me that I am not raising boys, but men.

Men who I hope will bring good to this world instead of sadness.

Watching my son share a penny made me hopeful that I am achieving this goal.

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. Beautiful and thoughtful and who cares if you didn’t edit/revise. You and Cort are great parents! Those boys know how loved they are and it just flows out from them to other people!

  2. Dagnabbit now I am all teary eyed. I agree they model what they see from us, what we instill in them. Looks like he is getting the right stuff.

  3. Oh I just love this story. Love. You ARE a good mom, and I’m so glad you can see that. Much love to you and yours. xo

  4. This story is so adorable, and I cant wait until my daughter is this age. It sounds like you’re raising a wonderful boy and I hope I do the same with my daughter.

  5. Ditto on the teary eyes…what a sweet story and what a sweet little man.

  6. This is so sweet and beautiful. Exactly what mothering is all about.

    I’ve never started to tear up reading about a trip to the grocery store before today!

  7. Aww friend. This makes me so very very happy. For both of you! I love it.

  8. Sitting here all teary eyed and smiling at work. Beautiful. I’m so glad you shared this moment with us. 🙂

  9. Such an incredible story! When I take my 2.5 year old to the grocery store I find it is often *my* attitude that affects the outcome. If I am willing to let him be a big helper, we have a great time. If I want him to sit in the cart and not be the little awesome boy he is, he gets frustrated and annoys me.

    Seems like you’re raising an incredible little boy!

  10. amazingly cute. what a sweet little boy you’re raising. 🙂

  11. I loved this. Loved it.

  12. You are a great mom!!!!

  13. That was awesome! You are a great mother! You made me cry and I do not even have kids. Thanks for sharing that with us , for a moment it took me away from the to-do list in my head and reminded me to stop and take time.

  14. I loved this Katie. Your post yesterday (or the day before?) was so me right now. It’s just… hard. There’s not enough hours in the day and I feel grumpy and short and just… off most of the time. But there are good times too, and your post reminds me that I need to hold those a little closer to my heart until things settle down a little and I get a chance to breathe again.

    Here’s hoping you can breathe again soon.

  15. Mrs. Sluiter,
    I have a kindergartener, and I so wish you were his teacher (even though I know you teach high school). You are doing an incredible job of raising your sons; it’s very apparent.

    We get complimented at our sons’s Catholic school daily on how well behaved Murray is. We strive to teach him about being a kind person, a good friend, and how he has such great manners. It’s always a struggle to teach, but worth it in the end.



  16. This story is one of the most beautiful I’ve read in a while. I’m crying.

    I know too often I respond with “no, I’m too busy.” Or “it’ll just be easier on my own.”

    Thank you for reminding me that it is better together. Especially time with our children.

    I love your guts a lot. A lot a lot.

  17. Sob sob you are such a good mom. I hope it will be like this with Nicky.

  18. Good for you. I’m glad that you had this moment.

  19. I needed this today. We *just* got back from a trip to the grocery story and while it wasn’t a bad one, it wasn’t our best. Had a lot to do with errands taking longer than I planned and me starving. K always wants to “help” push the cart and while this is getting hard and harder for me to handle (I’ll be 7 months pregnant on Monday) she so enjoys it. She was fine, I got snappy, and just wanted to hurry up and get home to eat. I need to remember to enjoy these small moments, especially with a new baby on the way. Thanks for the reminder.

  20. aww.

  21. What a special outing and a great time the two of you had! How did you manage not to melt into a puddle of Katie when he gave the little boy that penny? You’re doing a great job raising good men 🙂

  22. What a beautiful reminder of how important we are to and for our kids. Thanks for that!

  23. so so so precious. loved this glimpse into your special day! eddie is such a sweetie!

  24. This? This is what good parenting to all about! I would be beaming too.