If you give a kid a summer break at home, he will be at home a lot more than during the school year. If a kid is home a lot more than during the school year, he will eat a lot more at home. If he eats a lot more at home, a lot more grocery shopping needs to be done.
And I am not doing that by myself.
I always start out my shopping days with high hopes and optimism. I write thorough lists on separate pieces of paper for each stop and plan my route for efficiency. Short stops for small lists of non-perishables, big box store for, um, big boxes and finish off with the cold stuff: produce, meats, dairy and ice cream (it’s summer, ice cream needs its own category).
The optimism wanes about mid-big box store and flees as I load the minivan with the items I’ve already touched four times (into cart, out of cart into bags, bags into cart, bags into van). Knowing that I have two more touchings before I’m done is the optimism flight instigator.
However, those food eating, snack making, “Oops was that for dinner?” kids are home and they can help shop! It’s not like they’re toddlers who will whine and ask over and over for something requiring me to say, “no” over and over again. All three are double-digit ages and know deep in their brains my oft repeated warning of their younger childhood: “There are 20 thousand shopping cart related injuries a year! Do you want to be a statistic?”
They all know what “statistic” means.
They are all taller than the hood of a car and none needs me to hold a hand while making our way to our car. A car, mind you, that two of them can legally drive.
“It’ll be good one-on-one time,” the overly perky, optimistic voice in my head says. “Won’t that be fun?”
I have listened to that voice five times now and I’m about ready to seal her in a reusable shopping bag and put her by the curb.
Shopping with older kids is different than shopping with toddlers, but it’s still pretty stressful.
They disappear, eventually, answering a Where Are You text.
They push the cart, see shiny things and ram you in the back of your legs.
They’ve stopped asking and taken to slipping items into the cart for later discovery; they added, “Be extra helpful at the check-out” to their strategy for getting these things home.
They have commentary about most items, mostly negative. Yes, we’re having that for dinner. No, I will not buy the more expensive brand because of its cool commercial. Hush, I need tampons.
To be fair, the voice was partly right. We have had some fun: each of my kids now knows why I grocery shop where I do. Not because the store is new and pretty; not because they have good produce and meat and not because they give me discounts on my purchases. No, the real reason I shop where I do is because coming out of the store, into the parking lot, is a slight decline. This decline is perfect to hop onto the shopping cart and ride it like a scooter to the car.
Executing a perfect, middle-aged-mom-in-a-her-good-skorts arabesque in the middle.
Either paralyzed by embarrassment or anxious to try it themselves, not one of my kids has yelled, “There are 20 thousand shopping cart related injuries a year; do you want to be a statistic?”
Susan Vollenweider lives in Smithville. For more of her writing, go to thehistorychicks.com.