Wednesday, February 20, 2008

grocery shopping with small children: a photo journal

It begins with so many hopes and dreams.

Notice Lucy is clutching an empty cardboard toilet paper roll that she lifted from the bathroom at Starbucks. It made the entire trip with us.

Still gripping the toilet paper roll, Lucy picks out tomatoes. We're still in aisle 1 - all good so far.

We don't even get past the avocados before she tells me "I want to poop in Pathmark, Mommy."

There are two unseen forces are at work here: (1) the bathroom at Pathmark, which is just off the eggs and before the milk, is like the BEST bathroom she's ever gone in, because we always have to make a pit stop there and check out all the toilet paper dispensers and flush every single toilet and put down the changing table and ask 15 questions about the picture of the woman who is changing the baby on the changing table (who Lucy is pretty sure is a real doctor) and then we go to the bathroom and then we flush all the toilets again and take 10 minutes washing our hands with soap and then, yank yards of paper towel out of the dispenser and then stuff all of it into the garbage where we sully our hands again and have to re-wash and then, we can keep shopping and (2) Lucy is a little like those tourists who must have a photo of themselves at every destination they travel, only Lucy wants to poop at every place we stop. She likes to leave a piece of herself every place we go.

It's very existential.

I distract her with limes. The desire to poop is forgotten.

Edie discards her orange and goes for beans.

We try to get the beans in the bag but very few make it. The floor is covered in beans. And an orange.

I get a nasty look from the produce guy who wonders why I'm standing around taking pictures and not picking up beans off the floor.

Edie is now indiscriminately throwing anything in arms length into the trolley. I spend as much time removing groceries as adding them.

Edie eats the thyme.

Edie eats the thyme and juggles goat cheese.

She is a prodigy.

Boredom at the fish counter.

More boredom. It's the calm before the storm. Still not out of aisle 1.

Edie makes a run for it in the milk aisle.

I go against the laws of super markets everywhere who would prefer that we PURCHASE the food before we eat it. I dole out hunks of bread to keep the inmates from going over the wall.

Lucy pretends she is a dog with a bone. This is an important sign.

I know I only have about 15 minutes to get all my groceries and get out before the inmates take over the asylum. I feel I'm on some ludicrous game show from hell.

Edie gets the thyme out of the container. And stands on it.

Edie attracts a handsome fireman and woos him with her flirty ways near the yogurt.

Like bees to honey. More firemen.

Notice Edie wondering what the hell is happening.

And then, a complete freak out.

And we finish the shopping in Mommy's arms.

Nearly done now, but the waiting in line is the trickiest part. Lots of boredom mixed with shelf after shelf of impulse purchases - bubble gum, candy, soda, balloons and Dora toys. We never get out of this sector without buying something ugly. (Notice conspicuous drink case behind Lucy)

Every time I get here I vow to be strong...

Duh! We end up with the "pink drink".

Reminder to self: Bring sledge hammer to market and pummel this drink case.

I missed the shot where Lucy gave the woman behind us a stroke when she tried to stand on the cart and jump onto the conveyor belt. I couldn't figure out how to snap her picture without looking like a ridiculously bad mother, so you'll just have to imagine the looks of horror and unspoken judgments from the folks in line behind us.

We are so at the end now.

What we left in the cart: wadded up plastic bags, pieces of shredded bread, stray pieces of thyme, a mangled banana and that damned empty toilet paper roll from Starbucks.

Lucy performs an Irish step dance for shoppers while I bag the groceries. She is singing an Irish tune loudly and people are gathered around her smiling and looking at me approvingly. They seem to have forgotten her "death leap" minutes before. I am bagging my own groceries with one hand. Edie is, not surprisingly, breastfeeding.

For several moments, the step dancing continues, the shoppers are enthralled and I think (stupidly) we might get out of the store without incident...

Then, Lucy decides to haul ass out of the store...Because mocking her mother is fun.

She turns the corner out the door and I throw the last bag into the trolley, throw a coat over Edie and peel out after her, screaming "Lucy!" at the top of my lungs so that everyone in the front of the store stops what they're doing and gawks at me and wonders, "why doesn't this white woman have any control over her children?". The women who were smiling at me approvingly a minute ago are grimacing and speaking to each other in hushed tones. Approval is so fickle.

Three men, including the security guard, try to grab Lucy as she sprints past, but she's like a grease pig and she slips right through their hands. She runs down the ramp toward the outside door, cackling with laughter.

Okay, maybe she wasn't cackling, but she could have been.

That's when I turned the corner and over-turned my cart (groceries on floor, above) and oranges scattered everywhere and celery rolled to one side and bread flew to the other and a bunch of strangers came to my rescue and stopped what they were doing and picked up the trolley and all of my groceries on the floor and put them back inside for me...

while my daughter smiled at me from the bottom of the ramp

and it turns out had no intention of running out the door, she just wanted to "see the bubble gum" which - Thank you, freakin' Pathmark - is stationed right next to the door at the perfect visual level for someone under four feet tall.

Sensing I was in over my head, this man volunteers to push my groceries to the corner by our house.

I carry Edie and walk holding hands with Lucy, well, really I was nearly pulling her along since all the energy she had running away from me seemed to disappear completely when she didn't get any bubble gum, and she kept repeating the word "bubble gum" over and over while moaning like an injured raccoon and dragging her feet along the pavement.

The man tried to say "good bye" to Lucy when he left us on the corner, but she only fell to her knees and moaned, "buuuuuubble guuuuuuum" and then bowed her head sadly for effect and laid fully prostrate on the sidewalk. People from the nearby Starbucks gawked out at us.

My good samaritan walked away just a little faster.

This next guy actually was one of the gawkers in Starbucks. He saw me trying to pry Lucy off the sidewalk and abandoned his grande frappachino to give us a hand. He's either the nicest guy on the planet or I couldn't have looked more needy and pathetic. I'm going with the latter.

15 minutes later, we were inside. Lucy stopped murmuring like a wounded forest animal and Edie foraged for toys and left my boobs alone...for like 2 minutes. I poured myself a scotch, okay, no I didn't. It was only 10 in the morning. But I wanted to.

And we had a full refrigerator.

xxxooo YM



Izzy's Mama said...

Did you stage this?? How on earth did you manage to stop and photograph this mayhem? Truly one of your funniest posts, priceless gem! Next time let Lucy run..She won't get very far, Izzy never does!

Lucy said...

Kim, this is wonderful!

Haven't enjoyed a photo essay so much for a long time.

Thank you for the link, by the way.

The Yummy Mummy said...

Unfortunately, this was sooooooo not staged.

Some of our trips are more run of the mill and some are even crazier but something interesting almost always happens when both of them come along. They are like little packages of traveling mayhem.

This time, running into the firemen was good luck - we had met them before and always chatted in the bean and pasta aisle, but having both kids there and having a camera out and ready to shoot made it all come together.

Really, I shouldn't have been shooting pictures a few of those times, like when all those people were helping me with my groceries that were all over the floor and I was standing there taking shots of Lucy, but you know, it was for THE BLOG, so I had to go for it.

Imagine doing this with triplets!


Mommy said...

So cute! And demonstrates what I have experienced. New Yorkers are REALLY nice.

Le laquet said...

Thanks for the kind words Kim - I come here often but usually just lurk. In other news I'm going to get me a toddler just for the firemen at the supermarket ... so lucky!

Mir said...

I'm visiting from BlogHer -- this was priceless!! Someone needs to get you a medal, stat!

A Musing Mom said...

This was WONDERFUL!!!! I lived in the metro area when my four kids were young and your essay tells it like it is, for sure. Add the snow and rain to the sidewalk tantrum!!!! My greatest shock when moving west was that your groceries are bagged and you are always offered carry out service - even with one bag. Huh?
No matter how cute we are, we never get the fireman and the chivalry, though!

Anonymous said...

Another chuckling visitor from BlogHer. My kids are long-grown, but boy do I remember these scenes -- absent the fabulous fire guys though -- we never got that lucky. I'll be bookmarking your blog. Great post!

Carroll (Still not reconciled with Blogger's new commenter registration process!)

Momma Mary said...

I thought shopping with one grabby little boy was bad. :) I finally broke down and have started using the 'car' carts. Only the ones with the seats up high in the front. Less cart space, but that means I can't fit as much junk in there either.

Great job with the photos. I don't think I could have done it.

tammy said...

THANK YOU!! For making my shopping trips with the kids seem like so much tranquility.

The Yummy Mummy said...

Thanks you guys for the support, the commiseration..and most of all, the pity.

A special thanks to all of you who came through Blogher. What a lovely surprise to see my shopping post there - what an unexpected lift to the day. I look forward to visiting all of your sites and making some new friends. Please come back and say hello!


Jessica said...

I found your article through blogher, and I was laughing the whole way through! I have a 4 year old and an 18 month old, so I relate all too well! So glad to know it isn't just me! :) Thanks for the giggles.

Lyvvie said...

I love your shopping trolly and I want want want one! I don't drive and it would be so much better than my humongous backpack.

grocer said...

that's why people like YOU need people like ME!

HoorayForMom said...

oh my goodness I cried I was laughing so hard...I so feel your pain!

When my oldest (now nearly 9) was this age she had a distinct aversion to wearing panties. We went to the store, where I was grateful to find the little childcare open and my child fully potty trained...woohoo! So in she went to play with the other children and I went to shop in peace. I returned for her when I was done, and much to my dismay she was, yet again, panty free! I KNOW I checked that before we left the house! lol! I don't know when she snuck them off, but I'm sure the lady running the childcare was less than impressed with my parenting skills LOL!

So girl you are SO not alone...we're all right there with ya :)