The Grocery Gauntlet

. January 29, 2013.

I was hosting the book club meeting this month.  I have the privilege of meeting with a group of women who enjoy reading in their spare time as I do, and we all have children. We are good friends who get together once a month and let the kids play while we eat and talk about the book. It’s fun.

I had planned on making my favorite spinach artichoke dip.   My husband, Matt, and I went grocery shopping, and I mysteriously lost my list halfway through our shopping trip. I remembered
everything except one red onion and an 8-ounce can of artichoke hearts. I was quite impressed with my memory, but disappointed I had to go back to the store the next day.

 Kicking off the day

We started the day out by going to the community playgroup–always a good time for the kids, although pleasantly uneventful. I should have known trouble was brewing when the kids ran out of the room and got their coats and shoes on by themselves. We headed to Meijer, the local grocery store. Passing the TV Karts at the entrance of the store, the $1 per rental kid carts seem cute and kid-friendly, but cause a bit of trouble. They have two seats in a little enclosed “car” that has a television monitor inside offering kids a chance to chill out and watch TV while you shop. Seems simple enough, right? For my kids, it’s an opportunity to pound on each other while strapped inside, and inevitably one of them ends up trying to climb out the front window while other helpful shoppers stop me to point out that there is a child hanging out the front of the cart (the top is so high, I can’t see the front.)


Weaving through the store

 Instead of using a cart, I opted to let the kids walk beside me just to get a couple of items. After all, they are completely capable of walking, Madeline at age four and Charlotte at age two, and it will just take a minute, right?
We headed straight for the canned goods, passing by the live fish just long enough to say “hello” and after a search I found the artichokes. I opted for the canned variety over the glass jar, which ended up being a good thing. So onward ho, we passed by the ever-enticing candy section, and made it to the produce. Charlotte was walking slowly, and refused to be held, so I just coaxed her on, attempting to make sure their awe-filled shopping dazes didn’t trip more than one shopper.

After picking out a perfect plump red onion, I noticed Charlotte, who insisted on carrying the artichoke can, no longer had her Binky Bear (the one thing she CANNOT live without.) Since leaving Binky is NOT an option, we headed back over our previous route in search of a pink cotton blanket with a bear head. By this time Charlotte had dropped the can three times and it was seriously dented.   Madeline assumed the can and onion carrying duties. 

Overcoming obstacles

We found Binky next to a candy display, obviously a casualty of ogling over all of that chocolate. At that time I remembered the last packet of seeds I needed for my indoor garden was oregano. How convenient, Meijer has seeds, too. So off we went, across the store to grab a packet of seeds and we’d be on our way, and only $5 in the hole. Whoopee! On to the garden center we go. Luckily, the store had oregano seeds for $1.89. After grabbing one packet, I noticed that Madeline was no longer carrying the artichoke can. I couldn’t find it anywhere. Where could this 38-inch kid have hidden the can? We found it underneath the display of orange amaryllis blooms, easily identifiable by the can’s new dents.

Okay troops, we are ready to go! But wait now, Madeline—where is the onion you were carrying?   Luckily for us, it wasn’t a long search. She had set it on a shelf to help us look for the can and remembered where she had put it. Now we had our items: one can of dented artichokes, one semi-perfect red onion and one packet of oregano seeds ready for spring planting.

Stepping into the checkout lane and feeling slightly victorious, I noticed NOW that Charlotte was missing her Binky Bear. Again. As tempted as I was to leave him at the store, I knew that I would only be condemning myself to come back later, when she needed him to get to sleep or console herself. Life can be so unfair sometimes!

There was no way I could handle losing the groceries again, or having to re-hang displays or save delicate flowers from curious toddler hands, so I marched the kids to the carts waiting at the entrance and strapped Charlotte in against her will. Then the wailing started. Madeline went in the basket, and was not happy about it either, but was able to control her disappointment to a grumpy comment or two. I wheeled the cart full of fun back around to a clothing display, after searching for five minutes; we found Mr. Binky Bear hiding under a rack of exercise pants (when were we even here?)

One last hurdle

Taking a brief second to inventory everything: can, onion, seeds, kids (two), coats (two), purse (YES!), I ran myself and the goodies to the checkout lane (thankfully there was no waiting!) and paid for everything quickly. With all of my goodies in a bag, and both kids in their coats, I headed toward the door with two kids marching right beside me. That was, until they saw Sandy the penny pony and climbed on, refusing to get off without a ride.

With Madeline in the saddle and Charlotte hanging between Sandy’s front two legs, I used my free hand to fish out my last penny and start the pony ride. But as it was, the bag on my arm slipped and the penny fell from my hands and rolled underneath. I was no longer in control. Was I ever? On my hands and knees now, looking for the penny and begging the girls to wait until the next trip to Meijer to ride the pony, a good samaritan tapped me on the shoulder and held out a bright, shiny penny for me. Ah, the kindness of a stranger to save the day!

Sandy started right up, and I felt a little twinge of hatred at the bright, sunny Roy Rogers theme playing while the kids took turns riding the pony. I sat there on the bench next to it, pondering my next move.
We left after one ride (probably the one and only time I will get away from Meijer with only one pony ride), made it across the parking lot and loaded up the Jeep without any more incidents. By the time we made it home, they were both fast asleep, their angelic faces conveying none of the mischief and mayhem which had ended 10 minutes earlier. Ah, to be a kid again and feel wondrous and happy at the prospect of a day at the store with Mommy.