The first weekend we stayed out at the house, I went to Stop and Shop after I put the kids to bed at about 9pm. I thought it was magical. I strolled leisurely through the empty aisles of bread and yogurt, making sure to walk up and down each and every one. I even walked through the pet food aisle which I have no use for whatsoever. Why didn't anybody tell me grocery shopping in the burbs was like taking a vacation?
At home in the city, we do one of three things. We order food online from Fresh Direct, we make harried solo trips to Trader Joe's or Whole Foods where the goal is to get on line as soon as you enter the store, and we make quick trips to corner bodegas on our way home from work.
I can count the number of times we've taken Mazzy and Harlow to a grocery store on one hand.
Stop and Shop seemed like a whole activity in itself. I thought my kids would fall in love with all the wide open space. It was not a grocery store. It was a SUPERMARKET. They even have those carts with the plastic cars on the end and I knew both my girls would go crazy for them.
So I loaded up the kids in the car and told them we were going some place fun. I told them it was the biggest grocery store they had ever seen. When we arrived, they were indeed, beyond excited about the car carts. They were equally excited when they saw rows and rows of flourescent-lit groceries as far as the eye could see.
"WHOA" said Mazzy capturing the moment perfectly. I had done it. I had wowed them with a new experience.
Unfortunately, it all went downhill from there.
Turns out, the supermarket is not a fun activity at all. It is a minefield filled with frosted rice krispie treats, jumbo chocolate chip muffins, boxes of sugar cereals and bags of artificially flavored chips. When your children have never come face-to-face with these items before, they assume you are going to share in their excitement. When you don't, the whining starts, which can escalate into tears (the fake kind), and then lead to very public parenting choices.
I realized quickly I had to avoid certain aisles like the plague (I'm talking to you, CANDY AISLE), but Mazzy would find treats she never knew existed on the end displays. The worst offenders being the treats that were shaped like her favorite cartoon characters.
"MOM! LOOK!!! PURPLE FROSTED SOPHIA THE FIRST COOKIES!!!!!"
Then I'd have to say things like, "Wow, that's amazing! LOOK! BROCCOLI!!!!"
She wasn't fooled.
"I WANT THE SOPHIA COOKIES!!!!"
"We can't get everything we want."
"Those aren't even real tears."
Then my favorite— the foot stomping.
"But a want *stamp* Sophia the— LOOK! MOM!!!!!! MY LITTLE PONY RAINBOW SPRINKLE DONUTS!!!!
At least she was easily distracted?
Making things harder was that it was nearly impossible to navigate my huge car cart away from the offending treats fast enough. I don't think there is one person at Stop and Shop who made it out of there without the back of their ankles scraped. (My apologies! I'm new around here!)
Finally, Mazzy and Harlow broke free of the car cart and decided they could conquer more grocery store territory on her own. Plus, the lower shelves seemed like they were built just for them.
That's when they discovered the toy aisle.
WHY IS THERE A TOY AISLE IN THE GROCERY STORE???
Oh, I know. So that moms who have been denying their child Spongebob Squarepants Sponge Cake and Hello Kitty Ice Cream Bars can feel good about giving them a piece of plastic crap that won't wreck their food preferences forever.
Mazzy fell in love with a miniature Minnie Mouse rocking a purple cat in a cradle. Necessary I know. Then she saw a display of Bubble Guppies stuffed animals. "Harlow, loves Bubble Guppies!!!" She handed one to Harlow which sealed its fate. Harlow was not letting go of that thing for anybody. In fact, she grabbed three more and made a run for it, like she had momentarily confused grocery shopping with looting.
"Alright, you can each have one toy."
Then I hightailed it to the check-out line before I started saying "yes" to other things too.
But we weren't out of the woods yet!
Harlow discovered the impulse candy rack and there was nothing I could do to divert her attention. She studied her options closely and then hugged a Snickers bar like it was her new best friend.
I put it back. Then she decided to bypass me altogether by handing a package of Reeses Peanutbutter Cups directly to the cashier.
HOW DOES SHE EVEN KNOW???
When we got home, Mazzy grabbed an old stuffed dog and offered it to Harlow in exchange for her Bubble Guppies toy. Harlow honored the exchange and then Mazzy ran up to me excitedly, "Look Mom! Instead of grabbing the toy away from Harlow, I traded for something else just like you always tell me to!!!"
She was right. I do always tell her to do that. "That's great, Mazzy. You tricked me into getting your sister a toy and then you tricked your sister into giving it to you."
"Yeah! I have two new toys!"
I will never take my children to the supermarket again.