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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Grocery Shopping with 3 Little Bears



A few people have asked me how I get my grocery shopping done now that I have three little ones in tow. If I were a smart mama I'd probably just go to the store on Saturday or Sunday with my most docile child while B Daddy watched the others. But I'm extremely protective of weekend time with my man - I hate wasting a precious hour doing something like grocery shopping....so I've developed a system that enables me to go to the store with all three precious darlings. It's working for now. I'll report back in a few months or a year when things change.

Here we go -

We back out of the driveway and arrive at Publix precisely five minutes later.  I only go to this one Publix store. Ever. This means we don't have to listen to more than one VeggieTales song and the children generally haven't started screaming by the time we pull in.

We park the car (same aisle every time) I unbuckle the 3 year old, stash my infant in the Moby Wrap and grab the 2 year old (my runner/least predictable child) last. We slowly make our way into the store and grab the only acceptable race car cart. Not the one with the loose steering wheel or the one with the broken buckle. Grab either of those carts and my children will LOSE THEIR MINDS.

Once seated, both toddlers steer their hearts out while I navigate the unwieldily cart down each aisle. Did I mention all children went to the bathroom/were fed/got fresh diapers before we left? Critical component.

I maneuver the race car around the store adhering closely to my list for the week. Along the way I will pick up my keys (dropped by the two year old) six times, re-buckle the 3 year old twice, reprimand the two year old for standing up in the cart once and remind myself of Rule #2 constantly.

Oh yes - the rules. Each time before we begin our nightmare shopping trip I go over the rules:
Rule #1 - Listen and Obey. 
Rule #2 - Be Kind and Loving to Each Other. 

There is a very special privilege attached to following these rules while at the grocery store... receiving the free kids' cookie at the end of the trip. Break Rule #1 or #2 and there is NO COOKIE. No exceptions. No whining. I'm confident the only reason I've successfully managed multiple children at the grocery store hinges on the few times I've had to enforce this penalty. The very first time was oh-so-memorable...

I was making a large deli purchase that day and needed to speak to the guy behind the counter for more than the usual 2 seconds. This was plenty of time for Squirt and Sweet B to start a show for the patrons around us and the other deli lady working the counter. After a minute or two of escalating conflict, I made an obvious show of turning and calmly reminding my darlings of the rules: If you guys can't be kind to each other there will be NO COOKIE. Now sit down and behave. 

I turned back around and tried to pick up where I left off when out of the corner of my eye I saw deli lady's eyes widen. I followed her gaze in time to see Sweet B poking Squirt in the face with my keys. I quickly snatched the keys from her, laid them in my purse (just behind her - still within reach...a mistake I have not repeated) and sweetly reiterated the rules for everyone's benefit.  

As I was reaching for my turkey, not five seconds later, I heard a shriek of, "He's getting her! He's getting her with the keys!" from deli lady. I turned to see my eldest standing up and pummeling Sweet B with my car keys. On another day I might have merely threatened to take away their blessed cookie yet again, but on this particular day I had an audience.

THAT'S IT! I barked through gritted teeth. NO COOKIE! NO ONE GETS A COOKIE! NEITHER OF YOU. NOW SIT DOWN AND DO! NOT! TOUCH! EACH OTHER!!

The wails that followed echoed all the way back to the stock room. 
WAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH! BUT I WAAAAAAAAAAAANT ONE! I NEEEEEEEEEED A COOOOOOKIEEEEEEEE. MOMMY NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. 

Had we not been surrounded by a dozen on-lookers with gape-mouthed stares, some hineys would have been hurting then and there. 

And so....at long last we'll end up at the check-out aisle, my patience always wearing thin. And this is the main reason I come to Publix and to this Publix in particular. The employees at the register will always cater to my children's whims when my strength for a fight is exhausted.

Yes my children would like a balloon! How thoughtful. What color balloon? The only color you don't have at your register of course. Yes my three year old would like you to walk down to register 8 to grab a blue balloon, thank you. And sure you can push the cart out to my car! It's the mini-van (obviously). I'll just walk slightly ahead while you dodge the blue balloon my son is beating against your head. Hold up a minute! Need to grab the keys that my daughter just threw overboard! Yes, you can load the car up for me. Don't mind the double stroller taking up the entire trunk. I'll wrangle the kids into carseats in the meantime. Pay no attention to the screaming! -Big Smile-  No tip? Are you sure? Well ok -see you next week!!

The drive home is mercifully short. Once  there, we all collapse from exhaustion and gear ourselves up for a repeat performance in just six short days.

 
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