A Grocery Store Tale
My hand is cramped. I just finished writing a half dozen pages of "motherhood". I picked up a book at McNally last night on a "time out" for myself after feeling like I was going to lose it these last couple of days. It was Rod's idea. What a good thing. Anyways, the book is "Writing Motherhood" and it's all about how to combine motherhood and writing basically. So I bought myself a new notebook, and was privileged to fill the first pages with a doozy of a story (well, it was probably one of my most memorable shopping excursions).
Oh my goodness! Grocery shopping over the lunch hour turned into disaster today. Thankfully, I only had J2 with me. Even so, I had my hands full.
It started out with me getting distracted by school supplies and other such sundries. I kicked it up a notch when I remembered that I had a lot of groceries to pick up and another stop after that.
J2 did really well for the most part at Superstore. We had the chips, the canned goods, the cereal, the cookies (in hand and mouth, of course), the milk, the fruits and veggies, and then it started to get interesting.
J2 started standing up in the bulk section. I would temporarily acquiesce him with a hug and some extra attention and ply him to sit down again. After the bread, we backtracked for pizza and chicken. Oops, never did pick up the bacon! The standing up was becoming more frequent. Finally we were at the check-out (not without dropping my list and retracing some steps first), and for the second time in two weeks, had a delightful soul take an interest in J2 and even give me a hand with a couple things. The drinking box had just come out and this early 40's mom discussed the flavor of the juice and the benefits of using the straw, and congratulated him on getting the straw back in the hole. Then she offered to put the out-of-reach chicken onto the conveyor after I pulled the cart too far in to get at it.
I was throwing things on the counter, checking on J2, trying to start bagging and boxing things, coming back to pay, trying to keep him from pressing the buttons, realizing I'd forgotten to ask for a subtotal after the bar, and having to re-swipe my card and enter my pin and keep little man out of the interac machine yet again in order to pay for the household and kids' items.
By this time it was 1:00. Neither of us had eaten lunch and it was already nap-time. We drove to IGA. The van was sauna-like.
I knew there was no way I could persuade J2 to sit in a cart again--he wouldn't even be carried into the store--so I did the unthinkable. I took a tired, hungry 19-month-old boy into a grocery store and let him run. At first, he was enamoured with his very own basket. But that didn't last long when tantalizing plums and pears were within reach. There's a real problem when produce shopping with a toddler who is not contained. You need two hands for picking and bagging and you can't hold your baskets much less your escapee's hand. I managed to pick up five pears before we moved on. Waiting at the deli seemed absurdly impossible at the time, so off we went in search of other meat. "Hmm, what's the price on this roast...come back here big guy...sirloin tip...why not....ah, J--, oh, it's bloody on the bottom---what the hey--we gotta go! This way, J--, over to the farmer sausage. Okay. Ah--wait for me!"
Back to the deli and produce. By this time, he's really getting out-of-sorts: sitting down, throwing himself down and oops, his pants are down! I had already tried to hike up his shorts and super-saturated diaper several time as he was developing severe plumber's butt. But in the chase to the deli, his bottoms had worked themselves to his ankles. I checked to see whether anyone had noticed. No one seemed to be smirking, so I breathed a sigh of relief, undid the diaper and tried to fasten it more securely. Then I tried to explain how much shaved corned beef I needed to an 18-year-old male while I intermittently chased and scooped up my little protester. I managed to pick up a bag of apples after that--how, I don't know. Then, it was a basket in each hand as little tugboats trying to steer an unwieldy ship to harbour--the cashier.
Oh, oh...total meltdown. His shrieks had already garnered the disturbed gazes of several, but here was a little 75-year-old woman giving us the evil eye. I grab him off the floor, pull a burnt almond dark chocolate number off the shelf and rip off the wrapper in desperation, all the while explaining he's tired and hungry and hoping I don't look like I make a habit of bribing my children with sugary treats. The wrapper is off and we split it 50/50. I need this chocolate every bit as much as he does. We each take a big bite and visibly relax as the smooth sweetness soothes and satisfies. We walk down to the express lane, me clutching my purchases and he tightly holding his wrapper in one hand and the melting chocolate in the other. I think mine is already devoured at this point.
I panic momentarily when I see no one at the checkout. Then, I let out a sigh of relief as one of my favorite cashiers, a forty-something Aboriginal woman takes her place at the till. She recounts an equally harrying story of her daughter and grand-daughter going shopping recently. Ah, someone who understands! There is a moment of concern as J2 resists handing over the wrapper to be scanned, but he complies and is quickly given it back. Groceries are bagged. Card is swiped. J2 takes off for one more mad dash. I find him half-way down one the aisles and snatch up the gleeful little chocolate monster. Thankfully, IGA isn't very busy and no one is breathing down my neck for holding up the line.
Back to the hot van and off to pick up the other two from the studio. As I strap my little charge in, I try to figure out how to minimize the mess. I end up with some of his chocolate in my mouth, bemoan the fact that the other kids are going to feel ripped off with no chocolate for them, and grab a Kleenex to wipe off the thickest chocolate from his little hands.
As I drive off the parking lot, I marvel at what I have just survived and brace myself for the next challenge: unloading, making a late lunch for over-hungry kids, and making it through the afternoon with no naps. I remind myself that I'll have an extra-long evening to myself, and somehow I make it through.