Shopping With The Kids
Here is another story in the continuing saga of life with three preschool boys..
My list was long... "diapers, make-up, detergent, shampoo, baby wipes, swim
suit, bathroom cleaner, etc." Being the efficiently minded person that I am,
I had my list and corresponding coupons all made out in the order the aisles
go in the store. (Having done this routine weekly for nearly four years now, I
know exactly where everything is located. In fact, I have often helped other
shoppers find items much quicker than store personnel!) I took a deep
breath, loaded my three preschool-age boys into the car, and pulled out of
the driveway. As I looked into the rearview mirror at each of the children sitting
peacefully in their car seats, I felt confident this trip would be a breeze.
Less than two hundred yards down the road, it happened. "Stop hitting me!"
"Gimme that!" "Mom, Noah 'pooped' in his diaper!" "I want something to
eat!" "Mom, Noah took off his diaper!" I once again gazed into the rearview
mirror and realized I might need to call in the forces on this trip. I
reached for the car phone and frantically dialed up the number of a good
friend. In the process of doing so, I instructed (read: hollered at) my boys
to settle down while I made the call. The phone rang three times. "Great,"
I thought to myself. "She is not at home." God was watching over me,
however, as by the fourth ring, she answered. "Christy!" I said, very
cheerfully. "How would you like to accompany me to Wal-Mart today? I have
not seen you in awhile and perhaps we could grab some McDonald's for lunch
Of course, as I suspected, Christy agreed to meet me there. Thank goodness!
I really did want to get together, but, admittedly, deep down I knew I could
not trust myself to handle the three wild animals I had caged in the back of
my car. I hung up the phone, and once again, the call of the wild commenced.
"Are we there yet?" "I'm hungry!" "I want to buy some candy when we get
there!" I sighed as I continued down the road. The store was merely three
miles away, but today, it might as well have been 100.
As luck would have it, the parking lot was full. I circled the lot, not with
a prime parking space in mind, but in search of one of those few available
shopping carts that have the two extra seats attached. Frankly, I do not
know why I bother getting those carts, as I can barely keep the boys in it,
but it does afford me some piece of mind knowing that the carts come equipped
with straps on each seat, should I need to lay down the law in the diaper
aisle! I find a cart and then spot a parking space in an area that seems to
be a quarter mile away. "Boys," I command them. "I am going to park the car
now and then we will get out, hold hands, and run like mad to get that one
cart clear up by the front of the store before someone else gets it."
Fate was on my side and we made it to the cart before someone else got it.
(Actually, my competition for any cart in the parking lot at that moment was
an elderly man and a teenage boy, neither of whom I could imagine would want
the semi-truck-like cart I was after. Nonetheless, it was the thrill of the
Once inside Wal-Mart, I stopped by the McDonald's inside. Of course, being
near the noon hour, I had to wait in line with my three boys. What a
challenge! Wait! I take that back! I did not have to wait in line with
them because they did not stay in line with me. The youngest crawled from
the seat (Yes, he can get out of the safety belt…didn't you know that those
were designed to see how quickly kids could escape from them?!) and into the
back of the cart, resolutely smashing my bag and all that was inside of it.
He was then trying to climb out the back of the cart. Meanwhile, the older
two boys had already circled the front part of the store three times. I kept
calling (shouting!) their names and could only hear in passing, "Over here,
Mom!" With one hand on the cart and two eyes scouring the store, I tried to
keep my boys in sight while I waited to order.
Meanwhile, a middle-aged woman standing behind me asked, "How old are they?
They sure are cute." I responded appropriately while maintaining a visual
field on my troops. She continued to engage in conversation with me, every
now and again advising me as to the boys' whereabouts.
After ordering and receiving our food, I motioned the boys to a table. Of
course, the table I chose was not the table the older boy chose. A mild
threat not to buy a much-wanted toy for that young man resulted in the only
winning battle of the day for me. We all sat down and commenced to eat. My
friend Christy finally arrived with her one-year-old son, who, by the way,
remained relatively controlled the whole time we all were together.
After lunch, the games began. I had to figure out how I could purchase my 23
items in less than an hour without forgetting anything and without
over-purchasing. Thank goodness Christy was with me. While I was clearing
the table, I instructed my boys to get into the cart. After all, I purposely
got the cart with two extra seats attached so they would all have a place to
sit. Once I looked up, I saw that all three of my boys were standing in the
back of Christy's cart, with her little boy sitting on the seat up front.
(My youngest, by the way, managed to climb into Christy's cart from the back
of my cart.) I gave up and sheepishly pushed my overly grown cart with no
kids in it down the aisles while Christy maneuvered her smaller cart with all
the boys inside of it.
As luck would have it, not less than five minutes under these circumstances,
my boys decided they wanted out of the cart. The oldest boy literally jumped
out. He did this by grabbing the cart of someone going the opposite
direction and holding on for dear life. I think he scared that poor lady to
death! The middle boy climbed out. The youngest cried until I picked him
up. Within 30 seconds, the oldest had gotten away from me and was last seen
headed down the sporting goods aisle. Moments later he whizzes by in
someone's abandoned wheel chair. (At this point, all I could picture in my
mind was someone uttering, "Help me! I've fallen and I can't get up!")
Going down another aisle was the middle boy on a brand new bicycle, complete
with training wheels. I did manage to grab some much-needed laundry
detergent before chasing these fellows down. Christy went after one. I
pursued the other. About ready to give up, with my youngest still in my
arms, I found Christy in the office supply aisle with, you guessed it…my
other two boys in the back of her cart. Thank goodness for Christy!
I did finally manage to get all of the items on my list, and then some.
While I was picking up the last of my items, my oldest boy comes charging
around the corner sporting a walking cane. My thoughts immediately went back
to that wheelchair. "Alec! Take that back where you found it!" I commanded,
at which point a rather weary-looking gentleman came around the corner.
Alec dropped the cane and ran. I managed a grin and handed back the cane.
"Oops!" I thought.
Finally in the checkout lane…two hours later and 35 items more, Christy and I
began to collect our breath. Christy was in front of me and noticed that
half of the items she was placing on the conveyer belt were not hers.
"Alec!" I yelled. As I glanced across the rows of all the checkout lanes, I
noticed several people looking bewildered as they were taking various items
from their carts and placing them on the counters for purchase. Now I
figured out where Alec puts the items he does not put back.
We all made it to our cars. Christy thanked me for a wonderful time. "We
will have to do this again," she lied. I thanked her and loaded the boys
into the car. The fighting between the three of them began before I even got
the seat belts buckled.
I saw Christy put her now sleeping child in the car, unload her two bags into
the trunk and drive off into the sunset. I still had 10 bags to put into the
trunk and two other errands to run. As I got into the car, I glanced over at
the car phone. "I wonder what my mom is doing this afternoon?" I mused.
Written by: Ann E. Butenas
Date: May 22, 2000