Battle of the Pops, or “A Lesson on Gratitude”

As single moms, we often find ourselves including our children in activities where we might not have otherwise included them. My vice is the drive-through liquor store down the street from my house. Convenient – why isn’t everything drive-through? Why did Walmart finally start doing online ordering and convenient pick up conveniently after my kids were walking?
So the liquor store is a weekly stop. Seriously. Not more than that. The kids know that this is where we pick up “momma’s wine”. When they were really little, I did call it church for a minute and always told them we were going to church to pick up some juice for momma, but then decided when we started actually going to church again that this was totally blasphemous and may cause some embarrassment for me in some random exchange between the kids and their Sunday School teachers where they would ask “where’s momma’s juice?”
The liquor store has revealed a more pressing issue, however, than the poor example of momma driving by a window to buy wine every week. It has spurred the “pop” battle. Pops, also known as Dum Dum lollipops, perhaps the most inexpensive form of candy out there nowadays, have incited an embarrassing display of greed, anger, selfishness and primal reaction on a regular basis. I am positive by the time we leave, the man at the window, who has left an Asian country to pursue his dreams in America, is convinced that while he may find more money here, there is a dearth of family values and elder respect.
Picture this: unsuspecting mother (me) pulls up to drive-through liquor window and politely orders her usual. She repeats the order two or three times, knowing that the man will bring her a big bottle of wine instead of a small bottle of her favorite “Big Bold Red”. There is rumbling in the back, where her two toddlers, Caleb and Callie, are assessing the items sitting in the window.
Callie: “Does he have pops? He has pops. Momma we want a pop.”

Caleb: “Yes, momma, ask him for a pop”.

Confused, I look around the window, searching for the pops that have been sighted from the back seat of my vehicle. Man returns to window with correct bottle of wine. I hand him my credit card, smiling gratefully. Man glances nervously into my back seat, gives a weak smile and a little wave toward the toddlers, saying “hello.”

Callie: “Momma. Pop. Ask him for a pop. I see pops.”

Me: “Yes honey.” To man, “Um, excuse me, do you have lollipops today?”

Man: “Uh, yes, sure.

He digs into something I can’t see through the smudged up window covered with ads of women in swimsuits selling beer and hands two Dum Dums through the window.

Callie: “I want blue.”

Caleb: “No! I want blue!”

Me: “There is no blue!”

The arguing escalates in the back over who will get the non-existent blue pop. Man and pops forgotten by the toddlers, I swipe them out of the man’s hand while he stands there, shocked and awed by the commotion in my backseat, mouth hanging open. I mumble “thank you” and hit the gas, leaving about 6 months worth of rubber behind me. I pull to the side, stop and look into my back seat with a forced smile.

“Here are your pops!” Each kid snags one.

Caleb: “Momma, mine has a picture of a barrel. This means it is going to taste like a barrel.”

Callie: “Mine is going to taste like a Mystery Mouseketool.”

I realize hers is a mystery flavor with question marks on the wrapper, similar to the Mystery Mouseketool on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Smart kid. Wrappers are torn off and handed to me. We seem to have moved quickly away from the blue pop battle, not unlike a tornado which touches down, blows apart a house, then quickly moves up and on.

“You guys didn’t say thank you to the man. It is important to thank people for things you ask for, even if they are not blue.”

Yes, my wisdom and eloquence parallels the Dalai Lama at this point. Both look at me innocently, white sticks protruding from their mouths. I take advantage of the quiet and drive home, looking forward to a glass of wine.

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