Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Awkward Mom vs The Grocery Store

Awkward Mom heads that evil necessity feared by all superhero momkind; The Grocery Store. This disaster zone is a hotbed of potential meltdowns and whining fits alike. Aisle after aisle of shiny glass jars, just within the baby’s grasp, and row upon row of financial hazards, right at the toddler’s eye level. Can she survive this journey with her pocketbook and sanity preserved? Let’s find out, in this episode of Awkward Mom!

Well, it only took us 36 minutes to leave the house, a new record! The toddler is decked out for the occasion; pink sparkly crown, Toy Story sunglasses, sleeveless t-shirt with no less than 17 stains, swim trucks, and no shoes. Wait, what?! No shoes? How did that happen? Shoot. Well, he’ll be riding in the cart…hope the no shirt no shoes no service thing only applies to those old enough to read the sign.

I pull the Awkward-Mobile into the parking lot and search for a spot next to a cart corral. I finally find one, about a thousand miles from the entrance, but that is ok. You see, I am hoping to find a cart in said corral, so that I can pop the boys into the cart and wheel them into the store in one smooth movement. No long, tripping, stumbling, car seat bruising my leg, toddler running into traffic, dropping items like some modern-day Hansel and Gretel….no, no, not today. I do find the cart; happy day! I affix the car seat to the front without waking the baby, like the pro that I am. I sweep the toddler into the basket in a graceful arc, while closing and locking the door with my leg. I have bags, coupons, diapers bag, wallet, and sanity still intact. I am amazing.

However, my plan for a seamless trip from parking-mode to shopping-mode is quickly derailed when (halfway to the store) the toddler starts screaming. Apparently, we left Princess Bear in the car. So, we trudge back to get her. She is really a blanket baby bear that was supposed to be the baby’s special toy. However, that bear-napping was so long ago; she now officially reigns in the toddler’s royal court of lovies. We rescue her from the confines of the car and head storeward again.

This time (again at the halfway point), the toddler declares that Princess Bear has informed him that we must get the frog out of the car because she needs to kiss him. I, politely, inquire if Princess Bear could transform the love of her life later, but this is met with screaming, flailing, and way too much stranger attention. I quickly rush back to the car to claim the frog for Princess Bear. Once they are happily reunited and smooching in the cart, we are, yet again, on our way.

There are exactly 4 more stops on our way to the store; once to watch a dragonfly, twice to pick up blowing plastic bags, and once because the toddler mistakes an older gentleman for Santa Claus and demands a hug. After extracting my son from a surprised, yet accommodating man, we make it to the front door. It has now started to rain, but the baby is still asleep. I am calling it a win.

We enter the store with the trepidation I have only seen in horror movies. Of course, my list is a foot long and requires us to venture into every aisle in the place. Best get to it, I suppose. Our trip to get Awkward Dad’s razors is quick and painless, so I gain a little confidence. I start to move a little faster, speeding down the beauty aisle, grabbing shampoo, Mr. Bubble, and some soap. I even stop to admire the lipsticks. This is when the store employee catches up with me and asked me to kindly return the “Floor Wet” sign. I stare at her until she points to the front of the shopping cart. I crane my neck around the car seat and see the sign, stuck to the cart, looking like the figurehead on a rather disorganized ship. I detach it and sheepishly hand it to her. The toddler starts to yell at her to give it back, finally waking the baby, who immediately joins in the yelling, and my newfound confidence takes a serious tumble.

Aware of the stares, I slink toward the baby section to pick up some wipes. A few coos and teething rings seem to placate the baby, for the moment. The toddler relents and stops looking for his missing sign, but now he wants the toys that seem to be everywhere around us. Wasn’t the toy aisle somewhere else yesterday? Great. I bust out of this section in record time, leaving a whine trail and a scream cloud in my wake.

We rush through the produce aisle; mushrooms, green beans, some apples and bananas, onions. I turn around a moment too long and return to find the baby chewing a garlic bulb. Guess we are buying garlic today. I throw the tomatoes in with the toddler before I remember our own personal La Tomatina from last week. I quickly rescue them and tuck them into the space between the car seat and front basket. The toddler reminds me to get grapes; apparently Princess Bear likes them. Once Princess Bear is satisfied, we head for frozen foods. I am forced to put the chicken and fish on the bottom shelf of the cart after the toddler claims it freezes him "to death like a Death Ray." Hmm...might be time to monitor Daddy and Son time on Saturday mornings.

We move to dairy; I have to dissuade the toddler from drinking the milk then and there. Ditto for the yogurt. I, myself, am tempted to eat some cheese, so I make a note that we all need to eat before heading to the store. The baby is happily chewing on some strap from his car seat and doesn’t seem affected by hunger in the slightest. We breeze through the baking, beverage, ethnic food, and pasta aisles on adrenaline alone. I take great pains to avoid the candy aisle, and lose a battle with the toddler over fruit snacks in the cereals aisle. Oh well, I can’t win them all.

We get in line before I realize that I forgot bread. Out of line and back to aisle 3. We get back in line and I figure out that I didn’t get the eggs. On our way to get them, I find that the toddler has grabbed some hummus and a cake mix out the cart that was in front of us. I rush back to give it to a rather (understandably) upset woman, but, of course, forget the eggs again. We acquire the eggs and return to the back of the now 4 mile long line. I keep my Super-Mom vision tuned onto the boys, as we inch closer to the stacks of shiny candy and magazines flanking the checkout, while managing to peruse “10 ways to get a beach ready body.” Of course, while I am distracted by the news that “Batboy is alive, well, and being adopted by Angelina Jolie,” the toddler dumps an entire box of Trident gum into the cart. I get most of it back on the shelf before our turn to put the groceries on the belt. The toddler wants to help, so he stands up, promptly crushing the bread. Why did I put that in there? No matter. He hands me the items in an eclectic order; beans, yogurt, shampoo, hairclip that was in the cart already, Princess Bear, butter, the baby’s teething ring, some gum (I guess I need some anyway), onions. I realize he has punched a hole in the mushroom container and it is half empty. He smiles up at me with some still in his teeth…yes; we definitely need to eat before coming to the store. The baby can’t see us, so he starts to fuss. Luckily, a grandmotherly type is right behind us to make a few faces, while I haul the rest of the groceries onto the belt.

Bagging and paying goes surprisingly well, but trouble waits just beyond the service desk. The toddler is relatively fearless, as a general rule, but he does have one super-villain that strikes terror into his heart. The horse at the grocery store has frightened the toddler since he was the baby of the Awkward Family; their legendary battles have caused a series of meltdowns and crying fits in decibels that cause bleeding from the ears. And this menace, this foe, has to be passed to get out the door. I rev up to speed by him, but the toddler has super-vision, of course. A little whine starts in the back of his throat, a deceptively low hum. This rapidly builds like an incoming swarm of wasps until it is a full out howl, causing whiplash all around us, as concerned parents start looking around for their kids. Finding them, usually happily playing in carts, by the candy machines, or on the horse, their looks turn to anger. We all know how fast one child’s tears can start a chain reaction. I start to run, causing the baby to laugh, as he bumps and rolls on his own personal rollercoaster. I am forced to slow down when the toddler starts flinging our groceries out of the cart, seemingly in an attempt to pelt the horse with apples, onions, and a copy of People magazine. That or he has a new super-villain, the startled little girl riding the horse. This is new and decidedly not something I want to be on the news for. Thankfully, the toddler’s aim is very bad. I rescue our items from the floor and hit into hyper-drive, bursting out of the store like I just shot down the Death Star.

Panting, I skid to a halt, right before we barrel into traffic. I take stock of the situation. The baby is asleep again. The toddler is happily making his bear and frog kiss. I am a sweaty mess, clinging to the cart and a slightly damp copy of People Magazine. Ok. Ok. Well, we are alive. We have most of the groceries that we need. It only took 2 hours. I am ready to call that shopping trip a near-success, when I realize that I have no idea where I parked.

Awkward Mom survives another outing with only minor wounds to herself and her pride. Where will Awkward Mom’s plucky, if often misguided, adventures take her next time? Will the toddler vanquish his horse foe once and for all? And where exactly is the car? For these answers and more, tune in next time for more Awkward Mom!

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