You think you’re having a bad day. Have you tried grocery shopping with toddlers lately?
That dreaded time is here.
My pantry has been emptied down to a ketchup packet, five almonds, and two pieces of bread. For the past two nights dinners have been a wacky concoction of canned goods and condiments.
Bottom line: we’re hungry and we need to go to the grocery store.
I’ve contemplated all scenarios that don’t involve my young kids at the grocery store with me.
Leave the toddlers home alone while they peacefully nap? No. Free range parenting laws haven’t hit my state yet.
Pay the man on the parking lot corner to sit with my kids for just a few minutes? No. That will cut into my coffee fund, and I won’t make the mistake of skipping coffee again.
I’m out of options. So here I am, entering the store with my toddlers… and hell is coming with us.
This one is a bit complex. Our budget is tight and meals are health focused. I not only have to evaluate the food label of every ingredient tossed into my cart, but I’m also value shopping for weekly specials and double down coupons.
Not one of my classes in 18 years of schooling prepared me for the meticulous calculating of calories, dietary fiber, ingredients lists, price per unit, and stackable coupons. I either need a short cut formula, or I need about three more hours to grocery shop.
Safety. While scratching my head at what to fill my cart with, I have to simultaneously monitor safety. Head count. Are any of my kids getting abducted by a stranger? Does the look on my toddler’s face say, “I’m about to lunge out of this cart face first for a thrill"? Are there any glass containers of red sauce that could be tossed overboard? Head count.
And my personal favorite: Time. If I somehow miraculously achieve my first two initial tasks, it all must be done within 40 minutes precisely.
After 40 minutes has passed, the carriage turns into a pumpkin, my glass slippers turn into bread loaves, and my children turn into hangry, Tasmanian devils that scream, pinch, and shred all within their reach.
The clock strikes twelve.
My time is up. The cart is filled to the brim with groceries. My toddlers are buried deep under the rubble of my toiletries. 40 minutes has passed, and the real chaos has arrived.
I notice someone’s mouth is moving in a chewing motion. This is bad news! That wasn’t a snack from me. I scoop out a bar code from inside his cheek. “Whew. Thank God it was only a bar code.”
But it was far from just a bar code. I glance into my cart to find ten other bar codes with familiar bite marks around the edges. Checking out with no labels should be interesting.
It gets worse.
One of my little shopping gremlins is swinging open-handed at every person we pass by. Embarrassed, I try to cover up his assault attempts with laughter, “He’s only trying for a high five.” But the poor lady who was in range enough to receive a “high five” isn’t buying my excuses.
Followed by kicking, screaming, potato launching, and attempted stealing.
Mad dash for checkout!
And then there is you Mrs. Checkout.
Whether you are professionally trained or merely have extreme patience with my kind, I appreciate you.
Your peace offering to my children is sweet. I’m sorry the stickers you gave them were chewed up and returned to your counter.
Oh, and those missing bar codes are a mystery to me too.
Your polite conversation is appreciated. Asking how my day is rather than why am I here. Calling my children precious, though we both know what you’re thinking.
You’ll have to excuse my impoliteness. I’d truly love to shake your hand. However, I’m afraid it’s too late for thank you’s now. They’re escaping!
That’s not my kid.
No, I didn’t raise these children in a barn. Yes, I have taught them manners. And on a normal day, my kids truly are loving and well-behaved.
But there is just something about toddlers and grocery shopping that calls for a little fun and a lot of madness.