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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

How to Grocery Shop with Children

Plan poorly for the holidays. Plan so poorly that for the vegetable portion of supper on Christmas night, you ask each child to "pick a can, any can."

Early the day after Christmas, you will need to go to the local Harris Teeter, of course. The cat will be wailing plaintively from not being fed at 7 am on the dot, and the dogs will no longer be coming inside when called, tired of being rewarded for their obedience with flour tortillas. Animals aside, think about the children, who this morning didn't seem to enjoy your flour tortilla French Toast overly.

Realize you have to take the children with you since your husband is at work and your babysitter is at Disney World. Consider waiting to go alone when he gets home that evening. Consider waiting until she gets back from Disney World in five days. Quickly realize these options, while attractive, aren't actually feasible unless you want the children to acquire a taste for canned foods. Plus, you've run out of flour tortillas. So just before lunchtime, go to Harris Teeter with the children.

When you get to Harris Teeter, decide to send the oldest for the dog treats and the cat food. Tell him you'll meet him in the soup aisle. He'll go, leaving you picking apples and carrots. Don't be lonely; for company, you will still have the youngest, sitting happily in the seat of the cart.

Fresh produce! You will be almost giddy after only one day on cans.

When you get to the soup aisle, the oldest will walk up with one small can of cat food and a package of gourmet dog treats costing $12. For four treats. Remind the oldest that the cat eats dry food and your dogs would bankrupt you inside a week if you fed them $12 treats. Send the oldest back to the animal food aisle with these items, telling him to this time get DRY cat food and CHEAP dog treats. Tell him you will meet him in the cereal aisle.

Put three cans of soup in your cart and go to the cereal aisle. Remind the youngest he likes granola bars now. Try not to scream when he denies any such thing and demands Pop Tarts instead. Hope nobody is looking as you put Pop Tarts in your cart instead of the more healthy granola bars. Resolve to be a non Pop Tart Mommy in the New Year. By this, mean that you resolve to stop sneaking them from the pantry for yourself, not to stop buying them for the children. Grab two boxes of Cinni Mini Crunch and put them in the cart. Try to shush the youngest, who is now chanting POP TART POP TART POP TART.

Watch in disbelief as the oldest walks toward you with an enormous, stuffed dog toy and a bag of Senior Cat Formula. Before he even gets to you, start shaking your head. Remind him the dogs do not need any more toys. Remind him they do, however, need treats. CHEAP treats. Remind him the cat is barely two. Show him the place on the bag where it says this food is ideal for cats aged ten and up. Send him back to the animal food aisle with the toy and the old cat food. Tell him you will meet him at the free cookies, just in front of the deli.

Rush through the meat section to pick up more flour tortillas; you're short because of the dogs. And the French Toast. Which nobody ate. Wonder not for the first time why flour tortillas are in the meat section and not the bread section. While you are doing this, grab a loaf of wheat bread on the way to the free cookies.

Notice that now Harris Teeter gives you a choice: regular sugar cookies or low-fat sugar cookies. Pretend you don't see the low-fat cookies. Take a full-fat cookie. You get one bite - the rest is for the youngest, who is watching his brother struggle towards the cart. Rush to help the child as he gasps, "I got everything you asked for, Mom." Ignore the woman just beside you who is now shooting withering glares at you, the go-get-my-groceries-son-while-I-eat-free-cookies Mom.

Look down at what your son has brought. Realize that he was struggling because along with the small bag of cat food and the small bag of treats, he was carrying a gigantic box of Goldfish crackers. Say loudly for the sake of the withering glare lady, "I see you got yourself a gigantic box of Goldfish crackers, dear! How splendid!" Then head to checkout. She will get in line just behind you in a few minutes. Use those minutes to practice indignant looks. When she shows up, shoot her a good one, then promptly relax your face and assume no expression whatsoever.

Go home and unpack the groceries. Realize you forgot to buy the following things: milk, toilet paper, and deodorant. Put away the things you had no intention of buying: Pop Tarts, Goldfish crackers, and the enormous, stuffed dog toy, which somehow made it into your cart after all. Decide to wait to go back to Harris Teeter until your husband gets home that evening.
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