Because we were out of milk

I don’t take the kids to the grocery store with me all the time; in fact, most of the time I’m organized enough to go without them, because it’s vastly preferable. When I go alone it’s much quicker and there’s less whining.

But this week I am completely off my game and swamped, to boot, and so I looked up from my work about ten minutes before the kids got home and realized that I would have to take them with me and go get some food.

[Aside: Joshilyn was describing something unpleasant to me on the phone today and said that she’d “rather eat a bug.” There was a pause as we considered the gravity of this statement. Then we moved on to mitigating factors: Is the bug alive or dead? Well, I’d still rather eat the bug. Is it crunchy? Let me think about it… yep, I’ll take the bug. Etc. I think this is a pithy way to sum up feelings of aversion and I plan to use it as much as possible. When I looked at the clock and realized I’d run out of time to grocery shop without the children, I immediately fell to considering whether this was better or worse than eating a bug.]

Monkey went into the play place at the store (free childcare while you shop, which is such a smart marketing move because studies show you spend more money when you don’t spend the entire trip hissing PUT THAT DOWN THIS INSTANT), while Chickadee declared she was too old for that and would help me shop. We were in and out of there in under half an hour. Woo!

Top five reasons it’s fun to walk around the grocery store with your eight-and-a-half-year-old:

  • She’s just tall and strong enough to be able to push the cart without being a hazard to other shoppers, and she looks so darn SERIOUS about it.
  • Pretty soon she’ll be all grown up and dressing in black and kissing boys and failing calculus and probably won’t be delighted by a slice of free cheese at the deli.
  • When pop-tarts are on a Buy One, Get One special and you declare “Look, Chickie! It’s like Christmas came early!” while pointing at the display and holding your hand to your forehead in melodramatic joy, she laughs.
  • She will remember what you came into the store to buy, as well as what you bought last time and don’t need to buy again.
  • People who like children will smile at you.

Top five reasons it’s painful to walk around the grocery store with your eight-and-a-half-year-old:

  • Bleeding eardrums from the constant stream of chatter can be somewhat distracting.
  • Sometimes the commentary is less than adoring. (“Ewwwww that looks like GUTS!”)
  • As yet unfettered by the gene that speeds transit of food from mouth to hips, she not only asks for every cookie and chip and ice cream that looks good, she’s always certain to add, “You know you want it. You are tempted. You looooove those!” Get thee behind me, tween Satan!
  • People who don’t like children give you dirty looks.
  • You will be minding your own business, perusing the meat case, when she suddenly announces in an entirely-too-loud voice, “Mom, how do people have babies when they’re not married? I mean, you told me how that happens but sometimes ladies who don’t have husbands get babies. How does that work?” And you will slowly answer that that’s a great question, and a complicated one, and perhaps not one to be tackled right here by the pork chops. People around you will muffle their laughter.



  1. shannon

    Oh man, you let me live vicariously through you. I love my dog, she just looks at me and wiggles. The cats, however, are a different story. They go and lay on my bed, warming it for me when it’s bed time. :)

    However, I would rather eat a bug to the idea of never getting to have kids…and I think I’ll take mine dead and crunchy.

  2. Fold My Laundry Please

    Our local grocery stores don’t offer the free child care!:( They do have those nifty carts shaped like fire engines and butterflies, though. My kids love them! Unfortunately, the baby (15 months) is now old enough to see just how neat they are and so I have three preschoolers all trying to sit in that tiny front seat made for two little tushies! If it wasn’t for those carts, though, I’d be first in line to eat a whole basket of bugs as an alternative to grocery shopping with all of them! They scatter in all different directions every time I dare to look at my list to cross something off and see what else I need.

  3. Character Builder

    Tonight, my 11-year-old son and I were in the grocery store together. Just as we were about to leave, he asked me quite loudly, “Did you fart?”

    Thank God no one else was nearby to hear him. He learned mighty quickly that he should never ask me that out loud and in public again.

    I didn’t, by the way.

  4. Ruth

    Christmas story, anyone? :)

  5. Cele

    Memories for a life time. Next up, Grans, they are fun to take shopping.

  6. bob

    our son, having just recently learned about this asked in a loud voice in the checkout line, “do we have enough money in the bank for this check?” the clerk took EXTRA long writing down ALL of my identifying information while glancing repeatedly at the district attorney’s notice on check fraud.

  7. carrien

    My three year old delighted the people around us in the checkout line the other day by announcing that when she gets bigger SHE will grow a penis just like her brother’s. CHickadee makes me laugh, she sounds sweet.

  8. Muirnait

    In my book, that last one is one of the reasons it’s awesome. Your kids are too funny. And sweet…and I’m pretty sure they’re cute too, but I’m just guessing on that one.

  9. Sara

    Love it. When I have to take all four of mine shopping at the same time, my children get an in-depth tour of the wine department, as I know I will need at least one glass to counteract the very act of shopping with them.
    I am taking the oldest 3 Christmas shopping tonight. Pray for me.

  10. tori

    I actually love to take my almost 9 year old shopping with me. She does do the constant talking thing though, but since I have four kids, it is nice to have some alone time with her. She unwittingly spills all her “secret thoughts” to me while we are shopping. It’s actually one of my favorite times of the week. Shopping with my two year old is ok, but shopping with either of my six year olds would make me choose eating the bug.

  11. Kathy

    My daughter is also 8 & 1/2 – turning 9 in March. What the he!! is with that constant talk,mumble,sing,hum,laugh,squeal,makeanykindofnoiseIcan thing anyways? It’s making me loopy!

  12. Karen Rani

    I love shopping with just Dylan – the commentary totally cracks me up. He’ll be 8 on the 19th of December. You’re right – it’ll come to a screeching halt soon when those babies will be all, “Moooooom! I don’t WANT to be seen with you!”

    You made me tear up a little at that thought, woman.

  13. Katie

    I could totally use the child care thing at the grocery store, my 5 and 4 year were attempting to make me poke my eyes out with chopsticks the other day. (Although I could never ever eat a live bug, dead maybe if it wasn’t slimey.)

    Lately I’ve been driving my Girl Scout troop around (7-8 year olds) and they NEVER stop talking. And the squealing and screaming when they get excited, what the hell’s that all about?

  14. Randi

    Okay, the whole “how is a baby born” thing…yeah…I SO don’t wanna go there.

    At least I can say “see this scar on mommy’s tummy! You came from there” to ignore the whole ‘out of the birth canal’ thingy…but when they start asking how they got IN there…THAT’S when we’re in trouble.

    And a play place at your grocery store! DUDE! SWEET!

  15. Susan

    For just a split second, I thought you were going to say you opted for feeding the kids the bug. Monkey might like that, being a boy and all.

  16. Elena

    heh, I can go shopping with either of my 2 kids (Zac, 9 yr old boy, Bookey, 3 yr old girl) SEPARATELY and live to tell the (sad) tale, but both of them? I just give up and take them straight to the toy dept. Ten dollars apiece for a small toy–my sanity is worth twenty bucks, easy.
    Spoiled children? Priceless.

    And speaking of spoiled, I have been agog to hear what treats you have managed to pay only pennies for to give Monkey and Chickadee this Christmas.

  17. Rebecca

    My daughter, when she was nearly three, puffed out her cheeks and pushed out her belly every time we passed an overweight person in the grocery store and loudly asked why that person was doing as she was imitating. THAT was embarrassing. Even the child-likers give you dirty looks when that happens, like you’re raising some sort of fat-phobic freak.

  18. Stephanie

    My daughter rides in the shopping cart shaped like a car, and she pretty much stays quiet while she pretends to drive. The problem is that everyone laughs hilariously at us because the static from the car makes her hair stand straight out all over her head, even out the windows of the car. She looks like a hair monster.

  19. chewie

    huh? wha’? I didn’t get past “they have childcare in the store”. MY LIFE WOULD BE SO MUCH BETTER IF THAT STORE WERE IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD….heck…my STATE.

    chewie the mother of the fiercesome foursome

  20. Jenn2

    I used to hate grocery shopping. HATE it. I’d have rather eaten a bug. Dead, alive, crunchy, squooshy, any bug, except a moth. Don’t ask.

    But then I discovered the joy of leaving the kids at home with the hubbie and having an hour and a half of me time in the aisles. Oh, the nirvana. I do occasionally have to shop with the wee ones, and they are too young for the play care, but those little car-carts save the day.

    All this to say, I sympathize. I have been there and done that. Shopping with a tween is both pleasure and pain. Who knew I had so much to say about shopping? Huh.

  21. Saint Tami of Simi

    My personal favorite line uttered by my darling lil’daughter is “Mom, I REALLY have to go to the bathroom NOW”
    when you’re just ready to check out &/or when you’re at the farthest point in the store from said facility, and of course, she won’t go by herself. Meps, meps, meps(ref. SNL-Coneheads)

  22. InterstellarLass

    HA HA! They do ask questions at the most inopportune times.

  23. rachel

    wow. I am in awe.

    Someday I want to shop in a place where they have childcare. *swoon*

    they do ask the biggest questions at the most inopportune times (“why is that guy talking about jesus and god? couldn’t he talk about something else?” at the Christmas concert)

    My kids have been very helpful lately in the grocery store. It’s weird.

  24. Daisy

    Muffled laughter from those near you? You bet — along with a muffled, “Good answer, good answer!” from all of those parents within earshot.
    Instead of the meat counter, maybe she’ll ask near the produce deparment when you’re sorting through the baby carrots.

  25. Liise

    rachel: Because it is almost Christmas and they know Santa is watching them…

  26. Lily

    Oh, tee hee! on the source of muffled laughter. I’m sure I would have blurted out, “Uh, pretty much the same thing married people do, except they aren’t married.” After all, facts are facts, aren’t they?

    As I read your lists I realized that I never notice any looks, dirty or otherwise, when I’m at the store. hmmmm. I think I will just try to keep it that way.

  27. Belinda

    OK, I just love that you said that when you grocery-shop alone, there is “LESS” whining, instead of “NO” whining. Hee. I’d like to see you zooming through the grocery-store, whining to yourself…

  28. Barb

    Bob – my darling husband finds it funny to periodically shove the checkbook at me and announce “Here honey, it’s YOUR turn to write the hot check!” while at the grocery store. You should see the face on most of the cashiers when he does that – like “I hope he’s joking and by the way, can I see 6 forms of ID please?”

    Mir – My oldest son, soon to be 5, has been asking many birds-n-bee related questions. We have at least 3 friends who are expecting in the next few months and he’s oh-so-curious about how those babies got in there and EXACTLY how they are getting out! It’s not so much that I mind answering his questions, it’s that I worry about what knowledge he is sharing with the rest of his preschool class!

  29. Melanie

    Chickadee just sounds adorable! She makes girlie tweendom seem almost tolerable (but I’m still glad I’ve got a boy).

  30. Laura

    My daughter used to call corn ‘porn’ so every time we were in a produce aisle she would plaintively ask me “Mommy, can we please get some porn???” I almost called the police on *myself*!

    We have a grocery store near us that has a childcare room, and I am already feeling tragic that my daughter will ‘age out’ next year.

  31. Lady M

    You just get the best questions.

    I think I’m finally going to have time tonight to write about the carseat/airplane thing again. Of course you put me to shame, handling two kids and all their stuff by yourself.

  32. Juliness

    Chickadee’s question was a classic! I love how kids come up with the most interesting questions which get asked immediately after entering their brains, regardless of current location or company present.

    I’ve been on the receiving end of several of those from my 11-year-old niece. She’s WAAAY to perceptive for her own good and I swear, she relishes my squirms as I try figure out an appropriate answer.

    Gee, I can’t wait to have kiddos of my own.

  33. ishouldbeworking

    Laura reminded me of my friend’s daughter who, when she was a preschooler, had trouble pronouncing the word “hungry”. Whenever she was hungry she said, “Mom, I’m ‘horny'” I about fell over the first time I heard that and lauged every time after that. She finally figured it out though.

  34. Cyndi

    May I say…that while I have no recent experience with the 8.5-9 year old “constant stream of chatter”, I do have the occasional required shopping trip with my 70 year old mother-in-law.

    She lives with us, which is sort of like being responsible for a toddler with a credit card. But, I tell you what…it is the SAME non-stop-about-stuff-I-never-needed-to-know-in-this-life-or-the-next shopping CHATTER. It also goes on the entire time we drive anywhere. And at the dinner table.

    I never thought about eating a bug. I usually wish for an ice pick to plunge into my right eye to stop the pain. It’s a pain very similar to the kind you get when you eat ice cream too fast…but way worse.

    And when I’m not shopping with her? I’m the one laughing my heiney off at what your kids are saying in line. LOL Thanks for the laugh!

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