You know those parents; those sick, twisted, masochistic parents, who turn a simple trip to the grocery store into educational and high-quality family time? You know who I’m talking about? The ones where the husband AND wife AND the kids go to the store together, and each parent pushes a buggy containing a kid or two, with the wife giving the husband instructions on which kind of peanut butter or breakfast cereal or dishwashing detergent to select …. Or worse, the moms who are in the produce section, helping their toddlers learn their colors by “Ok, little Johnny, point to the RED apples … good! Now point to the GREEN apples … excellent!” Or helping them learn their numbers by opening up the egg cartons and counting to twelve together --- you know the ones I’m talking about, don’t you? Those parents who believe every situation is a learning opportunity?
I am not one of those parents.
I am the mom who, if we were to run out of toilet paper at the house, and I had recently been diagnosed with a bladder infection, and I had to choose between taking my kids with me to the store to buy lovely, fluffy Charmin, or using folded up cheap, generic, tree-bark paper towels, I would use the paper towels.
I am the mom who waits until dad comes home from work, so he can stay home with the kids and then goes grocery shopping by herself in the evening. I am the mom who will gladly give up a Saturday afternoon so I can go to the commissary by myself, while the kids are again home with dad. I’ve never understood couples who go to the store TOGETHER --- what is up with that? If the husband is off work, then he can stay home and watch the kids. I can get the entire shopping trip done in less time, for less money, and with a WHOLE lot less frustration, if I just go by myself. It probably helps that Blaine feels about the grocery store like I feel about Auto Zone. Or total body waxing. No, thanks. Forget that quality time nonsense. Quality time is a picnic in the park, or family game night, or a bike ride together ---- not scurrying your buggy past the cookie aisle hoping your kids won’t notice and start whining and clamoring and begging for mint-flavored Oreos.
I am the mom who, if meeting friends at McDonalds for a playdate, will go through the drive through to buy the Happy Meals, then get out and carry the food in with me. Because standing in line with all three kids, waiting on them to make their selection, and then trying to pay for my order, fill the soda cups, carry the trays, squirt the ketchup, and balance the shoes they’ve abandoned in their gleeful sprint for the play-land, seriously gives me hives.
When we lived in Ohio, I discovered the best invention ever: drive-through liquor stores. I would go once or twice a week after our morning playdates. Not because being a stay at home mom to three kids under the age of two drove me to drink … often ... or a lot ... normally I didn’t drink until **at least** 2pm, that was my rule. But the drive through liquor stores in Ohio also sold MILK by the gallon --- GENIUS for someone like me who would rather stab myself in the eye with a rusty fork than take a newborn, a one year old, and a two year old into the grocery store. Shoot, it would take so long to get them in and out of their car seats the milk would have expired anyway. But drive through liquor stores? Brilliant.
Even now that they can manage the seat belts on their own, I try to avoid taking them to stores. Maybe when they’re older, and it’s important to teach them the proper way to grocery shop, I’ll take them one at a time for instruction. Otherwise, let me zip in, get what’s on my list, and zip out again, without them bugging me. That’s my motto. It might be a selfish one, but it works for me.
Yesterday I had to fill a prescription at Eckerds and had two of the three kids with me. Eckerds has a drive through, but I needed a few other items as well, so I reluctantly took them in with me ---- because no matter how much I hate dragging them with me, I’m not about to leave them in the car unattended. I might be willing to do that, oh, say, maybe when they’re 30.
So I was standing in line at the pharmacy, waiting to be helped, while Brayden and Kellen played with the automatic arm pressure cuff machine that measures blood pressure. And they were giggling, and getting along, and not bothering anyone, and not pestering me to buy candy or toys, and I began to chastise myself for being so impatient. And cranky. They’re good kids … well-behaved …. I should just take them more often … it’s not such a big deal, right? I looked around, feeling good about my kids’ behavior, not really paying attention, and then realized they had wandered off. Well, they knew better than to go far, so I wasn’t worried.
Then, a moment later, I heard peals of laughter coming from the next aisle, and then a young boy’s voice, suspiciously familiar, exclaiming loudly: “Beano!!! Beano!!! Helps control gas! You know what that means??? It keeps you from FARTING!!!” and then more hysterical shrieking laughter.
The lady in line behind me just looked at me, and yep, you know exactly what I did. Pretended like I had no idea who they were, gazed around, whistling innocently, and made a mental note to see if Blaine is available to watch them on Saturday so I can go grocery shopping alone.