Monday, March 2, 2015

Trashing Then Robbing the Grocery Store

Recently, us members of the Blackwell clan found ourselves at the grocery store.

Regular readers of this space won’t be surprised by this, since our family spends more time there than we do anywhere outside our home.

Did I mention we’re extremely exciting people?

As we perused the aisles, slowly taking our time and crossing off items on our list, it became clear that the boy no longer wanted to sit in the cart.

Looking for a good time? I know just the place. 
By “became clear” I mean that he began screaming and crying loud enough for people three aisles over to hear him.

So, what do you do hot shot?

Do you let the boy “cry it out” and make every other patron in the store suffer through your parenting techniques?

Or, do you cave to the kid’s tantrum and get him or her out of the cart?

We opted for the latter.

There’s nothing worse than your kid having a tantrum. A close second however, is being stuck listening to someone else’s kid’s tantrum. So, in the interest of social graces, we opted for what we believed was the lesser of two evil options.

Anytime he's out of the cart, the boy acts like a boy, which is to say he ambles about like the town drunk.

There's much wandering and the notion of proceeding in a straight line is non-existent. His path is dictated solely by whatever strikes his attention on a moment-to-moment basis. Naturally, this means he's weaving in and out of shopping carts and bumping into perfect strangers along the way.

As we're learning, his desire to be free means he's "free" to do all sorts of things, including grabbing whatever is within reach at any given moment. Crafty little guy that he is, he prefers to use the split-second windows in which his parents' attention is diverted from him to get into whatever trouble he can find as quickly as possible.

On this particular visit, he grabbed a glass jar of pasta sauce and gave it an impact test using the linoleum floor to gauge its durability.

Not surprisingly, the boy's findings were conducive with those of every other person on Earth. The glass shattered and the sauce dispersed in a five-foot radius.

Thankfully, the staff of the grocery store was quick to respond — and forgiving. They didn't charge us and cleaned up the mess, though we helped as much as we could.

At this point, the boy knew the jig was up and a return his seat in the cart was imminent. He put up a little bit of a fight but, he knew it would be to no avail and begrudgingly took his spot. But, he didn't stop reaching for the shelves at every opportunity.

"Almost, but not quite boy."
One can't place one's cart in the middle of an aisle to keep their kid in check; other people have to be able to get by. So that means, the items on the shelf are frequently within grabbing range.

There were crackers, baking soda and, of course, Oreos that made their way into his hands.

Mrs. Blackwell and I stayed on top of the boy quite well too. He'd grab items and, the moment he lost interest, we'd remove them from the cart or, set them aside so they could be returned to the cashier.

But, unlike his parents' attention spans, the boy's efforts were consistent, including the checkout counter where impulse buys and candy bars abound.

As I removed food from the cart and Mrs. Blackwell watched to make sure the bill was shaping up accordingly, the boy stealthily grabbed a Twix.

Our food was bagged and we were just beginning to exit from the store when I noticed what would have been a stolen candy bar nestled in the boy's lap.

I'm not sure what, if anything to take from this ordeal, except that history repeats itself.

My mom has told my brothers and I the story numerous times of one instance in which she was trying to keep up with her three boys in the grocery store.

My older brother ran into an adjacent aisle, and I made a move to do the same, just as my mom turned to collect me, my younger brother, who was seated in the cart, reached for and promptly dropped a jar of pasta sauce.

Turn about is fair play I suppose and, 30+ years later, I suppose karma has righted the Universe once again. Of course, that imbalance looks perilous as the boy shows little sign of losing those sticky fingers.

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