*(Shoprite can be substituted with any other grocery store.)
Whenever I go there with my children, I feel like all eyes are on me. My kids are generally pretty well behaved. But you know how in between the music played over the speakers, there are subliminal messages to buy crap you don't want to? Well, I think hidden in the music / messages are instructions to my kids to act out and drive me crazy.
It all starts with the shopping cart. They always want me to use the one with the car in front. For those who are not familiar, it's a regular shopping cart, but attached to the front is a plastic car that the kids can sit in. My kids are 4 1/2 and 7. Waaay to old for this crap. This cart, though fun in design, was not actually built for narrow aisles and smooth navigation. It should be easy to just say "no, we are not getting one" but then it sets the whole tone for the shopping adventure. They are whiney from the start. With a standard shopping cart, one has to walk and one can sit in the cart. Amazingly, even if I get a regular cart, the 7 year old still wants to sit in it. Let the fighting begin! Back to the car cart...it weighs a ton and is hard to push. It's even harder to turn corners. Never have I used this particular shopping cart and NOT knocked over a display. Just the fact of losing the debate of whether or not to utilize the car cart starts the patience meter. (That's the internal gauge of "losing one's temper." The patience gauge starts on full but like a car in traffic, the level seeps below safe levels. Proceed with caution.)
Another cart issue is that if they are not in it, they want to stand on the side bar and hang on it. "No, no, no, no, no" I plead. "You can crack you're head open!" We even know somebody who actually cracked her head open doing this and they still fight me. Maybe I should have shown them photos. My older daughter just does not know how to follow along with a cart. She is either slow poking in front of it and I run over her heels, or she is slow poking behind me and gets lost in the crowd. I just can't win.
To be honest, my kids are pretty good with the "I wants." Not boasting or anything, but they really are not the type to say that they want everything in the store. However, what they do want is to put the stuff into the cart. One would think that it's no big deal until they try and throw a carton of milk on top of a carton of eggs. Or, they grab the jar of whatever out my hands and not so delicately plop it down in the cart. I cringe and pray that nothing broke. I don't need the call of shame over the loudspeaker. The younger one just likes to take stuff off the shelves and put it in my cart. When I say we don't need it, she protests that we do. Then I will ask her what it is, you know, to quiz her to see if we actually need the item. When she answers that she doesn't know, I retort in a nanni, nanni, poo, poo tone with "then what makes you think we need it if you don't even know what it is?" YES! VICTORY OVER FOUR YEAR OLD!
At this point, putting shit that I don't want back on to the shelves has made my patience meter drop. At least to half way. This is the time where I say to my children in a not so loud voice, but in a stern way with crazy eyes, "Do I have to be the crazy, yelling mom in the store? Please don't make me become the crazy, yelling mom in the store." They pinky promise that they will behave. But by the next aisle they have forgotten their promise. Also, this is the point where I start getting paranoid. I start wondering if social workers from DYFS are behind the two way mirrors. I am pretty convinced that over the loud speakers I am going to get scolded by a person of authority. Can they see my face? Can they tell by the look in my eyes that I'm imagining beating my kids? (To all of my readers, don't go all berserk calling DYFS on me because of my blog. I don't actually beat my kids. Sometimes it's a fantasy, but really, that's about it.)
At times I have even abandoned cart and went home to avoid freaking out at the store. It only causes me to be inconvenienced by having to go back. But by then, I am more likely to be able to go shopping A-L-O-N-E. Even if it's at 10:00 at night when my husband can be home while the girls sleep.
My solution to this problem, and to avoid having my kids actually taken away from me is for the grocery stores to have baby sitting. Why not? The gyms have it! At the gym, the policy is that if your kid is crying for more than 10 minutes, they come get you and you get your kid back. If that happens at the grocery store, they can just call your name over the loudspeaker and publicly humiliate you at the same time. Also, the grocery store has everything one would need to run an efficient baby sitting center. They can set it up in the warehouse part, I know they have the room. Snacks, Check! Toys? Sure, get a large bundle of paper towels and the kids can make towers and knock them down, Check! Nap? Many grocery stores carry dog beds...perfect!!! (Another check). Speaking of dogs, kids can also play with the doggie toys they sell. My local grocery store also sells dvds, tv's and cd's. Entertainment is at the edge of their fingertips.
This plan is flawless! It's genius! I thought that the system could work like the shopping cart procedure. You stick a quarter in and when you put your shopping cart away (as opposed to leaving it in the middle of the lot) you get your quarter back. You drop off your kid and get your cart, and when you return your cart you get your kid back. I have a feeling the parking lot would be full of abandoned carts.