Yeah, I'm rather lazy lately. It's another e-mail pulled from the archives. But my schedule has been pretty full, and vacuuming seemed a bigger priority tonight after work than writing. I think my choice was justified. Especially since vacuuming resulted in a different color carpet than I was expecting.
Shopping With Children.
That phrase is enough to strike fear into the hearts of the boldest, manliest people on Earth. We have been lucky -- so far -- Shopping With Children. I'm waiting for the other Keds to fall.
Usually, the worst I have to deal with is The Late Afternoon Crabbies or The Monkey Factor.
The Late Afternoon Crabbies is easy to explain: not long before dinner, a little tired, a little hungry, kids annoyed at being strapped into car seats too long or yanked from the park too soon. You've seen kids with this syndrome many times. Some hang on their parents' legs, some sit in the cart and cry, most are whining for every bright shiny object they see on the shelves, not unlike crows. The Crabbies can be handled with patience, firmness, and speed-shopping -- and a free shopper cookie from the bakery doesn't hurt, either.
You can spot The Monkey Factor at work a mile away. Kids can turn ANYTHING into a jungle gym, and grocery store fixtures are primo. Shopping carts are obvious monkey bars, and so are check stands. Less obvious are freezer door handles and canned goods displays which, fortunately, my girls have yet to try to swing from or climb. Yet.
A new challenge has arisen the last couple of times I took the girls to the grocery store. I should have seen it coming, but I didn't. It's the dreaded I Have to Go Potty Syndrome. This strikes without warning, usually three items from the finish line, and AFTER you've stocked up in the Meltables aisle. This doesn't have to be a disaster, but with more than one child, it usually is. "Sparky, don't touch that. Smedley, are you finished? Okay, now -- Sparky, stop touching that, it's dirty -- Smedley, it's time to pull up your pants. SPARKY! NOT IN YOUR MOUTH! EWW!" The store has unknowingly compounded my problem, by just trying to be thoughtful. Our store has those cute magic faucets which turn on by waving your hands under them. Helpful, right? You don't need to touch anything. Well, how fun do you suppose that is to someone under five? "No, you just washed your hands; they're clean enough. SPARKY! DON'T TOUCH THAT!"
But by far the scariest thing a parent faces in a grocery store is OTHER PEOPLE. I'm not worried about someone grabbing my child, because the girls never leave my side (yet). No, I'm currently terrified by the thought of Kids Speaking The Truth. (This phenomenon goes hand-in-hand with the rule that Children Mumble Only At Home.) For instance, Monday we encountered a very elderly man in one of those electric scooters. I thought sure Smedley was going to comment on that, so I was all ready to say, "Because it helps him get around easier," or something like that. But no. Smedley outsmarted me.
"Mama, why is that man wearing two different shoes?"
Wow. Didn't see that one coming.
Then down the next aisle we met a nice-looking fortyish lady who smiled at the girls. I smiled back, and was just past her, when Smedley addressed her directly. Pointing her finger at her.
"Do you know you have a big dot on your forehead?"
"Yes, I know, and every child notices that," she said sweetly. As I flipped around I reflexively looked at the lady's face, and she did indeed have a mole the size of an M&M between her eyebrows. Never would've noticed it myself, of course. Always keep a preschooler on hand for the fine details.
I've learned so many great tricks from friends and family who have gone before me about how to handle kids in the store, and I'm practicing some of these tricks. But so far, no one has told me how to deal with Kids Speaking The Truth. If anyone has any idea, please let me know.