I took three exhausted, dirty children to the grocery store last evening. I’d had no choice, there was nothing left in the cupboards. We had just endured a two hour long baseball game, of which I saw little. Where the baby put on an adorable display of nerve-racking bleacher climbing, discarded (on the filthy ground) gum chewing, animal mauling, sticky candy and other crap eating performance, while the other two boys rifled through my purse searching for change to buy additional junk food. It was a barely contained free for all and I’m not sorry to say I was thrilled when the game was over and I could get the hell out of there. But not so thrilled when I realized I had to go to the store with these dirt covered, miserable children.
After a few words with my pouty pre-teen about his potentially building, poor attitude, I rushed to the store to stock up on a few provisions. Before exiting the vehicle, I barked out threats to the already whining and fighting children in the back seat. Informing them that if they continued with their behavior in the store, I’d leave everything in the cart and we’d get back in the car and go straight home for bed and bathes. However, my threat was largely ignored.
Thanking sweet baby Jesus for the availability of a ‘racecar’ cart to deter any possible grocery shopping transport hysterics, I began literally racing around the store. Counting the precious seconds until the kids began to come completely unglued. Trying to stay focused and remember what I needed, (I forgot the list at work) I battled through incessant questions and demands “Can we get this? I want this! Momma, look! Can we get it?” and gathered about half of what I actually needed to get.
Finally arriving at the finish line, I pushed my cart toward the five available check-out lanes. All were completely full with other shoppers, except one. Candy lane express check-out, lined with assortments of chocolate, gum and various other types of confections. I think at that point I may have said out loud, “Oh dear God. Really?” I hesitated, eyeing the much wider handicap lane, its width appealing to my overwrought motherly senses. Unfortunately, no luck- LANE CLOSED glared mockingly back at me. Bracing for what was next; I sighed and forced the overly large racecar cart into to the only other lane with no shoppers- placing the kids conveniently within reaching distance of all the candy.
And then, pandemonium ensued. Mothers across the world know exactly what I am talking about. That’s right, the candy/book display some horrible, God awful ass in a marketing office came up with to torture parents.
I broke out in a stress sweat as I rapidly placed the contents of my cart on the belt, trying to get past the ‘Valley of Death’ unscathed. But the kids immediately began reaching and grabbing for items on the display, knocking candy bars and gum off onto the floor as they cried and fought with each other and tried to climb out of the cart- which didn’t contain working seatbelts.
I reasoned with them, trying desperately to rationalize with their tried little faces. “You had enough candy at the baseball park. We aren’t getting anymore. Please stop guys. We’ll have a treat when we get home, if you’re good.” But it was all to no avail, as I fought to pull a Snicker’s from Ailey’s tightly gripped fist and contain her to the cart. In the meantime, Kian was pushing the cart into my ankle in an attempt to get in on the action, crying because he “WANTS ONE TOOOOOOOO!” Placing eggs and a gallon of milk on the belt with one hand, I reached with the other and grabbed Kelan just as he almost fell out of the cart grabbing for yet another pack of gum.
Everyone is crying in unison at this point. At the brink of tears myself, I loaded the last item and pushed the children to the end of the check-out, finally out of reach of the candy. Waiting for what seemed like five painful hours, as the oblivious cashier took her sweet time scanning and bagging my items, I turned around and looked at the discarded candy bars and gum packages on the floor. Sighing with complete exasperation, I went to pick them up but then stopped. I stood there in line, staring at the mess and thought, “What the hell? These people put this crap here to make my life a total nightmare! I’m not picking up a damn thing.” And so I didn’t. I left the mess there. At first my- don’t be a woodchuck and pick up the damn candy- guilt kicked in. But the crying and complaining of my children reinforced my decision and so I paid for my things and wheeled them out of the store, leaving the remnants of our battle littering the floor.
Feeling a tad self-righteous in my defiant decision, I put the kids in the car, tear streaked, sticky, dirt covered faces and all. And thought, ‘Huh! Take that, sadistic marketing person who wants to torture me each time I get in the check-out line with my children! I won’t buy your damn candy and I’ll refuse to pick it up after my children scream and cry and rip it all off the display.’ Ha! That’ll show’em.
So my fellow parents, I encourage you to jump in on this protest with me! Let’s reinvent the “Just Say No!” slogan and let the candy mess stay. Join me as we unite together for the sanity and emotional fortitude of mothers and fathers everywhere! But, um, if you’re not up to the task of a rebellion, I’d really appreciate it if would you please pick up the mess my children left in check-out line, number seven- thanks.