Posted by: Modern Mom | May 21, 2014

Grocery Store? I’d rather die.


I hate the grocery store. I didn’t always hate it. Just since I had kids. Specifically… two boys. If you asked me to choose either torture by waterboarding or taking both my kids to the grocery store, I’d snap on my goggles and nose plug. It’s that bad. Every time I go I swear I’ll never take them again. But, inevitably, I do, because well, my family needs to eat.
Back in the days before kids I judged moms who had misbehaving children in the grocery store. I would certainly never be one of them. Wasn’t I righteous? Ha.
Last week I was single parenting while my hubby was away on business. I was in desperate need of a few items. Like, food and toilet paper. The prospect of going to the store with them both was so frightening that I started trying to convince myself that “if we don’t have food… we won’t need toilet paper!” Brilliant! In theory at least. But in practice, I was getting tired of fishing through leftovers and freezer burnt fish sticks.
I womanned up (that’s a step higher than manned up. ‘Cause that’s what it takes for me to go to the store with them both.) and we set out for the grocery store on Friday morning. I like to go on Friday morning because that’s when the firefighters do their shopping. Anything to help make my experience a little better.
We arrive at the store and I give my pep talk while I get the reusable bags out of the trunk. I try to be positive, encouraging. I offer a bribe. I say a quiet prayer, “Please let this time be different than every other time.” I take a deep breath and we head across the parking lot.
Already I am having to get after them. Don’t touch other people’s cars. Don’t run! Hold my hand. Stay with me. Geez. Do I EVER stop talking? No wonder they don’t hear my voice anymore.
I throw my purse in the cart seat because, let’s face it, nobody wants to sit there, and we begin to shop. I pull out my list in the hopes of getting at least 75% of what I need on that list into the cart. The little one wants to sit in the cart. I move my purse out of the seat. NO! This is not the seat he wants. He wants to sit in the basket. Begrudgingly I throw him in the basket and tell him he won’t be able to sit there for long.
I hit the produce aisle first. Bananas, check. Carrots, check. Peppers, check. So far so good. Wait… how did a pineapple get in my cart? Go put this back where you got it. Only things mommy says to put in the basket, go in the basket.
We are moving along and the oldest boy is actually being helpful. I hold the bag, he picks a few apples. He drops them in the bag a little too hard. I roll my eyes and try to bite my lip. It doesn’t matter. I will cut the bruises off later.
Produce, check. Moving on to the bulk foods. I begin scooping things into bags. I bust the oldest digging candy out of the bins and feeding it to his brother. I yell at him to stop getting into the bins. I turn my attention back to what I was doing. I hear another bin snap shut. “I said to keep your hands out of the bins!” Oops. I said that a bit loud. I look around for anyone who might have seen my thieving child sneak another candy. I remind him that a reward is at stake and if he doesn’t straighten up there will be no ice cream.
It is now, in the bulk foods section, the one clear in the far back corner of the store, furthest possible point away, that my son declares he has to pee. Loudly. And it’s urgent. This boy has the bladder of a nervous cocker spaniel. “You can hold it.” I say. “I am not going clear to the other side of the store right now. We just got here.”
Meats and cheeses are next. The oldest boy starts messing with his little brother. Little brother starts screaming. That’s his specialty. I grab the oldest to get his immediate attention and lean in close to say through gritted teeth, “stop messing with your brother. Just leave him alone.”
I get further into the section and realize that the youngest has squashed the bananas from all his squirming. We turn back to the produce section. Lord knows we can’t live without bananas. I remove the child from the cart. I replace the bananas and head back to the cheeses.
Now I have two children at large. The oldest, the instigator, starts running and ducking around the meat coolers and hiding from his brother. I try to yell at them, without yelling. And give them the burning look that says, “If you don’t get over here and fast, your butt is grass.” You know the one. An ancient old woman stops to give me this gem, “Someday you’ll miss these days.” I give her a half smile when really all I want to do is punch her in the throat, and push my cart away.
I am informed once more about the need for a bathroom. I am aware. However, I still have shopping to do and we are still at the farthest point from the bathrooms. Dairy case next.
They both want to get the milk. Why is completely beyond me. They can hardly lift it out of the case much less into the cart. They protest so loudly that I agree to get two gallons of milk so they can each try to heft one into the cart. I end up helping with both gallons after a near breakage on the concrete.
Creamer, cottage cheese, butter, check. Now I am faced with the yogurt section. It never scared me before, those tiny unassuming yogurt cartons, but now… First of all, the boys are drawn to the really expensive yogurts with unidentifiable ingredients. We go through yogurt like it’s laced with crack. They are totally addicted. So it’s the cheap stuff for us. Luckily, the cheap stuff I buy has ingredients I recognize. Yay! But it also doesn’t have a flashy label with animals, or pie, or delicious fruits on it. They don’t WANT that yogurt!
I can see a tantrum coming on. “If you start throwing a fit in this store I will put you in time out right here and now. Don’t you think I won’t.” He’s sees by the wild wide eyes that I am serious. He realizes defeat. He backs down. Score one for mom.
I look up and realize the oldest is grabbing himself and doing the potty dance. What IS it about that back corner of the store that makes a kid have to pee so bad? I survey my list. Can he make it through the next few aisles? We still have half the store to get through. Ugh. So we make a bee-line for the bathrooms. I almost run over that old lady that spoke to me earlier. I laugh a little inside.
I stand outside the bathroom with the groceries and the littlest, asking if he needs to go. No. Are you sure? This could be your only chance. He’s sure. Hmm. When the oldest comes out of the men’s room I task him with watching the cart and go into the bathroom with the protesting boy. I tell him he HAS to try because I’m NOT coming back.
Moments later the oldest walks in. What the heck? Where’s my purse? You’re supposed to be out with the cart. He gives me a blank stare. Go back out there! I leave the littlest in the bathroom and go check on the situation outside. Purse, check, boy, check. So I wait with him. What is taking so long? I grab my purse this time and instruct the boy not to leave the cart. I find my son trying to operate the soap dispenser. I help him. In walks the oldest again. *sigh* I hope nobody walks off with my cart, because then I’d have to start all over again.
Potty stop over. We regroup and head back to the back corner of the store. Now… where was I? Right. It’s time to start combing the inner aisles of the store for all the little things I need. Wait. I have only one child. “Where is your brother?” I ask him. He shrugs. I look around. I use my mommy instincts and think like a four-year-old. We are near the cookies. Sure enough, that is where I find him. I grab his hand and start lecturing him as I drag him back on track. I get a sidelong glance of judgment from someone who probably doesn’t have kids yet.
I am comparing prices, finding the items on my list, and trying to get them into the cart. Boys are thwarting my efforts. They are taking items out of the cart. They are adding unapproved items. I am losing patience. “LEAVE the cart alone! STOP touching everything!”
I am tired of fighting with boys. They are now racing up and down the aisle. I no longer care. Haters can judge all they want. I’m just done. I’m examining my list to see if I can abandon the last portion of it. Is there anything I simply cannot live without for the next oh… lifetime? I decide to cut my losses. I announce to them that there will be no ice cream and that we are leaving the store.
One is excited to be leaving. I’m not sure if he heard the first part. The other is completely devastated at his loss and pleads with me to reconsider. “We will be good! I PROMISE!” Your promises mean nothing to me, child.
I push my cart, devastated child screaming behind me, to the check stand. I’m sure they see this all the time, but it’s still really embarrassing. I load my groceries on the conveyor. The oldest wants to help. Fine. Except that he can’t reach in the basket far enough. So I have to hold him up so he can pick one miserable item at a time and put it on the belt. All the while I’m thinking, For the love of Pete, please hurry up. Holy cow you’re slow. I know this is supposed to be great that he’s helping, but I just want to get out of here before I see anyone I know. Finally I set him down and thank him for his help. Then, like a woman possessed, I load the rest of the items on the conveyor.
The youngest is now being scolded by the cashier not to go into the adjoining cashier’s area. All he sees are buttons. Glorious buttons. “Get out of there!” I grab him and put him in the empty basket. Ah, containment.
I begin bagging my groceries as fast as I can. Again the oldest wants to help. No. I will not have my eggs and bread smashed. He gives me attitude. He pouts. I give him the look of imminent death. It does not phase him. I threaten to put him in the “baby seat” of the cart if he’s going to act like a baby.
They begin asking me for candy. Why the HELL do they put candy at the registers? That should be illegal. No. Absolutely not. That’s the last thing I need. Two rowdy boys sugared out of their skulls while I’m on day 5 of single parenting. No thanks. I say “no” so many times that I think I start to growl it. Then I end the line of questioning with, “I have answered your question. The answer is NO. If you ask me again, I will put you in time out.”
Then the cashier chimes in, bless her. “We put naughty boys to work in the warehouse sorting rotten potatoes.” She winks at me. The boys look at me and I give them the look that says, better watch out. They stick to the cart as I load it with groceries. Where the heck was this woman when we were in aisle 14? I’m going to hire her to shop with me.
I think I got about 50% of my list out of the store. A fair accomplishment in my book. Please don’t make me go back.


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