Thursday, August 07, 2008

Lessons in Chocolate

I write heartfelt and inspirational stories about family relationships, stories that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories from which children and parents might derive hope, guidance and a smile after reading them.

I collect written stories and conduct recorded telephone interviews to gather the information necessary to put together a story for my book projects. Stories are not published as submitted or told but rather are used as anecdotes told by me, the narrator, to help illustrate a message about teaching or cherished moments.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

The deadline to offer a mother-daughter story has passed. Please continue to visit this blog for updates on the book as it begins the last leg of its journey toward publication (Spring, 2009).

Now on to today’s post~

Zoe was barely five years old and on a grocery shopping trip with her mother and sisters. Of course, as all grocery stores do, assorted candies and tempting chocolates were strategically placed right next to the checkout counter. Spying a favorite brand of chocolate bar within arm’s reach and believing in that moment she had to eat it or die of malnourishment, Zoe begged her mother for permission to have the chocolate bar.

With four children in tow and knowing if she said “yes” to one chocolate bar she would indeed have to buy four, mom firmly and without hesitation answered “No.”

Oh, the humanity, Zoe thought, her hunger and guilty pleasures thwarted by an unsympathetic adult. Not to be denied, while mom was preoccupied unloading the groceries from her cart and onto the conveyor belt, the little girl seized what seemed at the time a golden, er, chocolate opportunity.

Hoping to satisfy her cravings and at the same time not altogether disobey her mother’s orders, Zoe quickly unwrapped one end of the bar, took an ample bite from it and returned the partially consumed candy bar to its place on the shelf. It was a moment of delirious joy, having gotten a taste of milk chocolate, peanuts and caramel, while believing briefly she had successfully evaded detection.

Still a rather young covert operative and not versed in making sure no one observed her offending conduct, Zoe was shocked when she heard the words that would send a chill down her spine.

“Are you going to pay for that, ma’am?” Busted by the cashier! I’m doomed, Zoe thought.

The disappointed mother looked down at her child with a stare anyone watching from nearby understood meant, “Just wait until I get you in the car!” Zoe trudged across the parking lot with pouty lips and while dragging her feet, the best days of her short life flashing before her eyes, certain as she was she may never see sunlight again.

Taking her place in the backseat behind the front passenger, Zoe sat diagonal from the driver’s seat, in the perfect location for mom to be able to look over her shoulder to make eye contact while yelling and driving home at the same time.

Zoe sat bracing herself for the barrage she was certain was about to come. And to her surprise, not a word of the incident was mentioned, although the piercing stares of disapproval and self-righteous indignation coming from her sisters did make her a tad uncomfortable.

Arriving home, mom sent Zoe to her room and shortly thereafter, came in with the partially-eaten candy bar in hand. Here it comes, the little girl thought. She shut her eyes in an effort to numb herself for a well deserved spanking.

But then a second surprise occurred. Mom sat down on the bed beside her daughter and softly but seriously began to speak of the importance of honesty, integrity, honoring your parents’ wishes and respecting other people’s property. When the moral lesson was over, Zoe was told to take a nap. She put her head on her pillow and watched as mom left the room, taking the candy bar with her.

When she finally stirred from her nap, Zoe shuffled into the kitchen. Dad was now home and he sat at the table with his other three daughters. All eyes were on Zoe. She noted her far from impartial jury hadn’t softened their opinion or desire for justice one iota.
“Come with me, Zoe,” mom said. And back to the grocery store the pair went. There Zoe was introduced to the store owner and instructed to confess to her crime. With tears streaming down her cheeks, she spilled everything and then gave a heartfelt apology with a promise to never steal again.

The man knelt down to eye level with Zoe and said, “More importantly, you should promise to never disappoint your mother again.”

Zoe turned to face her mom, the adult that could have spanked her but didn’t, the woman who for years to come would be Zoe’s moral compass and guiding light, and with a sorrowful heart, made just that promise.

Thirty-five years later, Zoe has remained faithful to her word.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

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