Saturday, 27 August 2011

Grocery Shopping

I go grocery shopping every week. Once a week, every week, for the last 18 years. And every time I go, I tell myself it will be different. I have just returned from yet another shopping trip, and am having a moment of clarity. IT WILL NEVER BE DIFFERENT.

The problem is, I have 4 kids, so I am constantly looking for ways to spend quality time with them. And so when I leave the house to go grocery shopping, I think of what a great opportunity it is to spend a few hours finding out what is going on inside the head of one or two of my darling offspring.

Every time this happens, Jason looks at me, rolls his eyes, and returns to whatever he was doing. He knows how this will go- we have had this argument so many times it's almost scripted. He tells me it's a bad idea, I tell him it's a great way to hang out with the kids, he tells me I'm going to regret it, and I tell him they will thank me for it in the future.

No, they won't. They will invest thousands of dollars in high-priced therapy for it. They will have flashbacks of it. They will have nightmares about it. But they will never, ever thank me for it.

There is only one child in my family who enjoys grocery shopping with me. Liz thinks it's the greatest thing in the world (mostly because she is getting away from the little kids). She writes grocery lists with me, compares prices like a champ, and is willing to stand for 15 minutes in the meat section, debating whether to buy the case of chicken thighs, or the case of chicken breasts, which we prefer, even though they're more expensive, which may make them a better deal. Liz is the exception to the rule. She is not the problem.

Isaiah simply refuses to go with me. He is way past the age where he wants to spend a few hours in the grocery store with his mother. He learned the lesson as a small child. He stood up in a shopping cart once. He was in the basket- not the seat up front. (I said I was a teen mother- I didn't say I was a GOOD teen mother), and the sound of his face hitting the cement floor when he landed was enough to bring our best friends running from about 60 feet away. Consequently, he knows there are better things for him to do with his time. Even if it involves yardwork. He is not the problem.

The little kids are the problem. They don't understand that we are having quality time, and that we are making memories that will last them a lifetime. They just think we're shopping.

No one said my kids were smart.

Squid doesn't see a grocery store. He sees row upon row of racetracks, all designed just for him. He is a champion at 'looking with your hands, not with your eyes'. He gets bored easily, HATES standing in one spot for more than a millisecond, and likes to talk to strangers. He has the attention span of a hyperactive guppy, and can take apart a rack of gift cards faster than I could spend them. I also kinda think he hates me.

So I go to Superstore now, because their carts have those double seats in front, and if you load them just right, you can actually fit a 5 year old and a 1 year old into the thing. It doesn't leave a lot of room for groceries, but this isn't ABOUT the groceries. It's about bonding.

As soon as we get in the doors, I remember why this is a bad idea. Every time. First of all, I hate other people. Not all of them- just the ones I don't already know. And grocery stores tend to be full of that type of people. So now I have to remember to keep the kids quiet, while not bumping into any strangers. Check.

Then Squid starts up. "Can we get a candy? I want chocolate milk. Can we look at the lobsters? I hate Superstore. If we're good can we get Little Caesar's? Can I have the loonie from the cart when we leave? Where is my shoe????"

Eva just waits. She knows that eventually, I will have to turn around, and that is when she will put on the cutest face she has, and attract strangers from up to 30 feet away. All of whom like to touch babies. Then she will lean over, take her soother off the clip that keeps it attached to her shirt, and drop it on the floor. And every single person she has ever done this to has leaned over, picked it up, and Given. It. Back. To. Her.

So not only am I gagging and stressed out and running out of hand sanitizer, I'm slowly realizing that I have nowhere near the room left in the cart for the week's worth of groceries that I need to feed 6 people. Now I need to grab a couple of those 'we're only here for strawberries and sour cream' baskets and dangle them from the crooks of my arms as I continue to push the shopping cart through the store. It slows you down considerably, because you have to keep stopping and putting them down and letting the blood flow back into your hands.

This is when the kids start to lean. They save this till what they decide should be the end of the shopping trip, cause they know it's the last thing my frazzled nerves can take, and even if we don't have milk, diapers, or any sort of vegetable, the trip will be over. Squid will lean into Eva's side of the cart, pinning her against the side. She lets out a bloodcurdling scream every time this happens, and proceeds to fight back. She (all 22 pounds of her), will lean into Squid, pinning him to HIS side, and he starts to cry as though someone has cut his arm off and beaten his puppy to death with it.

This sets the stage for when we line up at the checkout and everybody gets to see what quality time you're having with your kids. I am separating two struggling kids while packing my own damn groceries (if it wasn't for the carts, we'd never go back to Superstore), and I'm starting to sound like someone you would normally find in Wal Mart, whispering death threats under my breath to the kids if they don't, for the love of God, stop TOUCHING EACH OTHER!!!!!!!!!!!

By the time I get my groceries into the car (breaking at least 1 egg out of the 18 I just bought), load Eva into her carseat, and put back the cart (no, you CANNOT have the flipping loonie!!!!), I have vowed never, ever, ever again will I take the little kids shopping with me. Ever. I can't do it. I am not emotionally equipped for it. I stop crying, crank up Simon & Garfunkel, and pop into the liquor store for a bottle of Boone's on my way out of the parking lot.

So the next time you're in Superstore and see a mother beating her children with a loaf of French bread, stop, smile, give her something harder to hit them with, and wish her a good day.

She's probably me.

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