Mar 4, 2012

Are We On Candid Camera?

3/04/2012 — cori

I asked this question as we began unloading our grocery cart onto the conveyor belt this morning. This experience was too crazy, too unbelievable, too much to endure if it wasn't for the viewing pleasure of the rest of the world.  I want everyone to have a chance to walk in my shoes at the grocery store.

Most every week, I have the serene pleasure of gathering food for my family all by myself during a part of  the day when there may be only 5 other people frequenting my grocery store.  I specifically and intentionally have orchestrated it to be this way.  I operate best under perfect conditions.

But every once in a while, Chuck thinks it would be "fun" if we all go to the store as a family.  Where he gets this idea, I'll never know.  But I can't keep refusing him his little "fun", so every blue moon I acquiesce and gird myself up for the inevitable.  I take many, many deep breaths, determine ahead of time to hold my tongue and release no sarcastic remarks or "i told you so" looks and afix a permanent (albeit fake) smile to my face.  Often I pretend to be in a state of supreme concentration reviewing the list in my hand so I don't have to deal with the cluelessness going on around me.

The chaos begins the moment we enter the door.  All four of my entourage decide to camp in front of the doorway and argue over who should drive the cart.  I keep walking, knowing that eventually, they will follow and a cart will magically be by my side.  The moment they enter the store, they are apparently sprayed in the face with some type of "clueless gas".  This disables any and all normal thinking processes and they proceed to revert back to cavemen like behavior.

It was never this hard when they were younger.  I could plop each of them in a cart, control them with a food item (like a cookie from the bakery) and bribe them with some type of reward once we got home if they would follow me through the store and BEHAVE.  Worked like magic everytime.  Not so much anymore.  Now they wander down the isles, clueless that other people exist.  They are too busy talking about yuh-gi-oh or what super power so-and-so has.  They do not know how to walk in a straight line, talk quietly or move out of the way.  They think it's a great time to tell me a story or share their life dreams.  If I say "stay here, I'm just going to run down this isle and pick up one item" they apparently think I said, "quick, everyone, cluster around me and follow me so closely that you run over my heels with the cart as I go get this one little item that was 3 feet away from where we just were."  And that's only the kids.

Let's talk about Chuck.  If he is in control of the cart - watch out.  He is a "middle of the isle" hog.  This has to be one of my worst pet peeves - people who aimlessly walk down the center of an isle like they're the only ones there.  He also likes to read all the signs to me.  Ask me why we don't get such-and-such anymore.  Put random food items in the cart.  Joke with the kids (why would anyone do that in a grocery store - don't they know it just eggs them on!).  Ask to go on a satellite mission (you know, where I send them to pick up random items far, far away from where I am) but then come back with only 2 of the 3 things I told them to get.  And get this...when putting the food on the conveyor belt, he doesn't even group the food into like categories!  So then the lady packing my food in my bags is going to put things like bananas with a bag of sugar and everyone knows you can't do that.

We finally make it to the checkout lane and my people all just stand there, milling about, in the way of my putting my food on the belt.  There are some really important things to talk about as soon as you get to the checkout line apparently.  I'm on the verge of loosing my plastic smile.  I'm starting to hyperventilate.  I can see the end in sight and I'm ever so anxious for this charade to be over.  I used to look at other mothers and think "when my kids are that age, they are going to be so much better behaved in the store".  I got my payback.  I NEVER think that about anyone or anything at anytime anymore.  I have learned my lesson.  I promise.

Now I know what my Mom meant when she used to say, "You were so much better behaved when you were two than you are now (teens)."  YES! YES!  I want to scream.  "I FINALLY KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN!"  You can control little, bitty people - you can pick them up, move them, shove a cookie in their mouth, or just pass off their behavior as "oh they're in the terrible two's".  But what excuse do you have when their the age of my kids?  None.  Nada.  Zilch.  It just is what it is.

Amazingly, we have food for the week.  I don't know how I was able to stay on task under such duress.  It just goes to show the fortitude that comes with motherhood.  Sometimes we're asked to do the a family trip to the grocery store....and we come out on the other side better for it.

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