Even though my boys are 13 and 8, most of the time I go grocery shopping without them, because, well, it’s just less stressful that way. However, if they do have to go with me, I make sure to fill them up with snacks before we go into the store, which usually means rummaging under the seats of the car to see if there are any old granola bars or maybe some peanuts or dried bananas leftover from trail mix. If they don’t have something to eat before grocery shopping, we become the owners of aisle five.
When they were younger, something mysterious would happen as soon as they walked through the threshold of the automatic doors. In those short steps, they would become whiny, irrational, obnoxious little beings.
Sometimes random items would appear in my cart. Organic blueberry pop tarts? (Where did these come from? We get the regular kind.) Reese cups? (Once these entered the cart, I couldn’t put them back on the shelf because of my own addiction.) Depends? (Who needs these? No one, yet.) My boys made it a game to put random items in the cart just to annoy me. They thought they were funny. How embarrassing to have to say, “Oh we didn’t need this, nor this, how the hell did this get in here? I’m so sorry…” to the cashier as the items floated through the conveyer belt.
If we went to a store where there were, god forbid, samples, my kids would tear off in opposite directions and fill up on turkey, cheese, cookies, or whatever was available, acting as though they hadn’t eaten in days.
I found myself saying the following over and over on any given grocery store trip:
“Stop touching the cereal boxes.”
“Get out from under the coffee display!”
“OMG! Get OUT of the freezer!”
“Watch where you’re going!”
“No, you cannot open the string cheese right now.”
“Act like you have some sense!”
Anyway, today they are old enough to behave themselves in the grocery store.
Or so I thought.
You see, I had gotten most of the groceries for the week the previous evening without my boys, but as usual, I had forgotten the bread, the eggs, the Cinnamon Toast Crunch, the Cheetos, all the staples. So, after I picked up the boys from school, I said, “We’re gonna run in Food Lion real quick. Or you can stay in the car if you want.”
No, they both wanted to go into the store with me. “We’re gonna be quick,” I said at least nine times. As we walked through the produce aisle, I tossed some oranges into the cart. As I turned my back to examine an avocado, I saw David sauntering off, texting as he walked and Kevin wandering the other way.
“Ya’ll stay close! I am not gonna spend time trying to find you when it’s time to leave!”
I peered into the cart and noticed some peculiar items. Cheese puffs. White powdery donut holes. An entire coffee cake. None of which was on my mental list or that I put in the cart. How mysterious.
I took the foreign items out of my cart and placed them on a shelf, not where they go. (Sorry, Food Lion staff).
“Wait!” Kevin exclaimed, suddenly appearing from…somewhere. “Those are my groceries! They are my snacks for school!”
“No, they aren’t. I already got snacks for school yesterday.”
“But I want these snacks! I need them, Mommy!”
Side note: I’m getting really sick of Kevin asking why not? When I tell him “no” on something. We have talked about this over and over and over. It’s normal kid behavior, but that doesn’t matter. It grates on my nerves. I gave the answer that slips from my mouth and hear my mother’s voice, “because I said so.”
David, at this point, reappeared from a few aisles down and chimed in, “Because mommy says so, Kevin.”
With no warning whatsoever, Kevin exclaimed, “STOP IT DAVID!” and he flung himself on the floor, right in between the pickles and the salad dressing. He sprawled himself across the entire aisle, blocking anyone who may have been trying to get through.
“Get up, Kevin,” I said.
He didn’t move.
“Get up now.”
“I can’t. I’m so mad.”
“Get up now, Kevin, or you’re not playing on your Kindle the rest of the day.”
He didn’t move.
At this point, I was simply not sure what to do. People were starting to watch us, and my face felt hot. I could drag him up, but that may have caused a bigger scene. I breathed, like I had learned in yoga class. Then I thought, fine. He’s old enough not to throw tantrums in Food Lion and I would never worry that any one would kidnap him. They would quickly return him once they realized what they were getting into.
Shoppers walked by, some suspiciously, some sympathetically. I prepared myself for any “parenting” advice that sometimes came in grocery stores. I always loved that.
Kevin lay straight out in the middle of the aisle, and I did the only thing I knew to do. I walked away, down the aisle, through the dressings and ketchup and mustard. David looked at me, puzzled.
“Aren’t we gonna get Kevin?”
We strolled through the aisles, suddenly realizing we needed more items than we initially thought. Funny how that happens.
A few aisles later, Kevin, scowling, arms crossed, shuffled up behind us.
“Hi Kevin!” David said cheerily, to annoy.
Kevin glared at David.
We maneuvered down the aisles, picked up the eggs, the Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
“I’m sorry,” Kevin mumbled to me.
“What are you sorry for?”
“For my attitude. But I really wanted a snack for school.”
“I forgive you.”
“Then do we have to talk about it?” he sighed.
We picked up some yogurt, dropped it into the cart.
“OK, both of you go grab one snack each for your lunches this week.” Yes, they already had snacks for their lunches, but some kind of unusual compassion in me let these words spill out before I could catch them.
“Oh yes!” Kevin exclaimed, jumped up, and dashed down the chip aisle, David close behind him.
Kevin grabbed Cheetos and David, cool Ranch Doritos.
“Okay, we’re done. We gotta get out of here!” I was so incredibly done.
“One more snack mommy?” Kevin asked.