There are two grocery stores in town. One is smaller, compact, and has grocery carts with two kids seats, complete with steering wheels. The other is a super Walmart. Needless to say, I prefer the former.
But sometimes there are things that are only sold at Walmart, and sometimes–most times–Daddy isn’t home to watch the kids, so off the three of us go.
I have learned one thing about grocery shopping with two small children: always park as close to the cart corral as possible. By the time I have gotten Olivia out of the car and strapped into the front of the grocery cart, Josh will be unbuckling himself and trying to crawl into the front seat of the car, asking, “Mommy? I drive? I drive, Mommy?”
“You can’t drive,” I say, plucking him out and putting him in the large section of the cart, right where they tell you not to put kids. “And this is Walmart, it doesn’t have the driving shopping carts for you.”
“NOOOOO!!!” Josh yells. “I NEED DRIVING SHOPPING CARTS!”
“No temper tantrums,” I sigh. Usually, I tell him that we will leave immediately if he has a tantrum, but today that would mean cold cereal for supper.
“I NEED DRIVING SHOPPING CART!”
“They don’t have them here, and Livie needs socks, so you’re going to have to suck it up and deal with it.”
“NO MOMMY! I JUST NEED THE DRIVING SHOPPING CART!”
By now, we are inside Walmart, and the greeter is looking at me strange. I know, I know.
Back in 1927, no kids ever threw temper tantrums. Maybe that is because they didn’t have driving shopping carts then.
I hurry past before she can tell me that my son is yelling.
“Joshua Robert,” I hiss. “Stop it right now. We don’t have driving shopping carts, we can’t get them, and you need to behave.”
“NOOOO!!!! I HATE THIS!”
“You are disappointing Mommy,” I say, “I thought you could be good.”
“NO!!! I CAN’T BE GOOD!!! I NO BEHAVE!!!!”
“I see that,” I say.
I never do this. I swear this is the only time this has ever happened.
“Josh, stop throwing a temper tantrum, right now, or you will not get any M&Ms.”
Josh considers this for a second. “Dey have M&Ms?”
“Yes, and you can get some, if you behave while we are here.”
The lady walking behind me looks at me. “You know,” she says, “You shouldn’t do that. Bribery doesn’t work.”
My daughter is pulling off her sock and stuffing it in her mouth. I pull it out and put it back on her foot while I think about this.
“Thank you,” I say, “I will certainly consider that once we get home.”
“And M&Ms will spoil his dinner,” she continues.
“Well, they might be his dinner tonight,” I answer. I look around. “Don’t you have your own children somewhere to raise?”
Have I mentioned I am not always a very nice person?
The Annoying Lady walked off in a huff, and I turned to my son.
“Listen to me,” I say. “I know you like the driving shopping carts. Mommy likes the driving shopping carts, too, but right now we can’t have them. You can have some M&Ms when we’re done, but only if you behave while we are here. Deal?”
Josh nods. He doesn’t get candy very often, and clearly the offer of candy is worth more than joy of throwing a tantrum in the store.
“Okay. We have four things to get: vegetable oil, hamburger meat, socks for Olivia, and buns. Can you help Mommy remember all that?”
“Five things, Mommy,” Josh says helpfully. “We need M&Ms.”
“Right, and M&Ms.”
We pause by the hamburger buns and I hand him a package. “Hold these, okay?”
Josh nods. He swings them over his head for a moment.
“Mommy,” he says.
“Can I have M&Ms if I hit Livie with the buns?”
“Is that behaving?”
“No,” Josh says.
“Well, then, no, you can’t. So don’t hit Olivia with the bag.”
Josh holds the hamburger buns in both hands, eyes his sister, and sits back down.
“I hate behaving,” he mumbles.
“Three more things, Josh,” I sigh. “And then we will go home.”
He eyes me warily. I hate shopping as much as he does, so I don’t know why he thinks I would extend it.
I pull the cart over the meat section and look at the hamburger. I’m looking at dates, trying to find the freshest one. Another lady comes over and looks at Livie.
“What a cute little girl,” she says. “How old is she?”
“Nine months,” I say.
“How precious,” she sighs. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Josh taking off his shoes and socks.
“Hey,” he says to the lady, sticking his feet out of the top of the cart. “Hey. SMELL MY STINKY FEET!”
“Joshua! Put your socks and shoes back on!” The lady smiles, her smile not quite reaching her eyes, and hurries away.
I am going to have a mental breakdown, right here in Walmart.
“But Mommy,” Josh says. “She wanted to smell my stinky feet.”
“Nobody wants to smell your stinky feet. Now stop it and sit down! What do you not understand about behaving?”
My little boy’s blue eyes fill with tears. He is such a literal little boy, I have to tell him explicitly what not to do, and I have never, not once, told him not to stick his bare feet in stranger’s faces and ask them to smell his stinky feet.
“I being have, Mommy,” he whimpers. “I thought she wanted to smell my stinky feet.”
“I know,” I sigh, kissing his little face. “Mommy is overtired, and you are overtired, and we will go home and cuddle in just a minute. But, sweetie, most people don’t want to smell your stinky feet, okay?”
I put his socks and shoes back on. “It’s okay. You didn’t know. You are being good.”
“I love hamburgers, Mommy.”
“I know. Let’s hurry and get done so we can go home and eat them.”
We hurry through the rest of the store, Josh sitting quietly in the cart.
He got his M&Ms.
Daddy got hamburgers.
Mommy got two aspirin.
And we all lived happily ever after.