I remember leisurely strolling through the grocery aisles after work, checking out new products, intently crossing items off my list and conscientiously reading nutrition labels. If I forgot something, I’d head back down that aisle and grab it. Sometimes, when it was busy, I’d settle in and grab a trashy celeb magazine while I patiently waited in the checkout line. Now it’s a frantic sweaty sprint as I flail around trying to grab the essentials before someone poops, cries, tries to climb out of the cart, or complains that they’re hungry for the 83rd time. I get the hot sweats just thinking about a long check out line, because that typically involves lots of embarrassing singing and other desperate toddler entertainment attempts.
Wednesday mornings are for running errands. With three kiddos in tow, it’s no joke. We must function as a well-oiled, (but still slightly whiny) machine. Wednesdays are make it or break it, and when “breaking” is completely dependent on the moods and inclinations of three emotionally unstable mini-humans who lack impulse control, odds for “making it” aren’t great. So around here, Wednesday’s are usually called “cocktails with lunch.”
There are some chronic problems that always accompany running errands, like how most stores don’t have carts to accommodate three kids ages three and under. This is manageable, on a good day, when one of the twins is compliant enough to walk beside the cart. Unfortunately, most stores don’t even have carts that accommodate two kids. I’ve concluded that the grocery industry is, in a very passive aggressive way, trying to tell us that we ought to properly space our children out by at least four years. For this, my friends, this is the only way to efficiently navigate a store with carts that only have one seat.
So you can imagine my righteous indignation when I walk into our first stop to find that none of the double carts are available. That leaves me with two walkers. Not ideal. About two aisles in, one child decides they are no longer physically capable of using their legs and feet in the way the Good Lord intended. I hoist said child into the cart to cohabitate with my groceries and pray that the remaining walker can behave like a normal human being for the rest of the shopping trip.
She cannot. There are too many shiny things, and packaged food items adorned with Anna and Elsa. As I was struggling to explain to my daughter why I would not be purchasing the Frozen themed pre-packaged doughnuts, a woman saunters down the aisle with her one child, comfortably lounging in a double cart. GASP. My blood pressure sky rockets. Really?! You have one kid. ONE. That means you need ONE seat. It’s pretty basic math. When you walk into a store, you do a quick headcount of all the little humans you brought along, and then you choose an appropriate cart. Let me clarify what I mean by “appropriate,” since there’s clearly some confusion here: you do not take a cart with more seats than you have children.
Now that we got that pesky PSA out of the way, I think you know what happened next. I eye slapped her. That’s right, I slapped her with my eyes. She might not have known what was happening, but I did. It was a small slice of justice. I’d like to think I communicated to her how inconsiderate she was, but it’s more likely she assumed I had something stuck in my eye.
My nonverbal act of aggression was quickly cut short as the one child that I did have properly restrained in the only seat available in my cart, got hungry. I can’t say with complete certainty that he was hungry, but I do know that he began to suck on the cart. Yup. The part where everyone touches and infests with their dirty poopy disease hands? My baby was sucking on it. I nearly threw up at the thought of what could be on that cart. Clean up, aisle five! He thwarted all my attempts at stopping his game, and became quite dedicated to the task of licking every available surface on that cart. I talked the germaphobe in my head off the ledge with the notion that maybe later I could have him gargle with some hand sanitizer.
We finally paid and made it out alive. I’d say “by the skin of our teeth,” but I’m pretty sure my little guy left that on the cart. One stop down, Two more stops to go. That’s nine more car seat buckles and nine more car seat unbuckles. At least until tomorrow, since I forgot about 4 things on my list.