I hate grocery shopping. There isn't one thing in the entire experience that I enjoy. The conundrum begins when I first walk into the store. Do I go with the large cart and put my 2 year old close to me opting to give up the seat space for bread and other fragile necessities like
I go loaded with snacks because my two year old has the attention span of a gnat. If I trusted her with the IPad she would be OK for hours in that tiny, cramped, two steering wheeled area. Hopefully we avoid all contact with other carts because I would need the jaws of life to extract her. I find one that still has the straps intact. It's a miracle. How do those get broken anyway? I put her into the car, she beeps the horn a few times, I check our mirrors and pull out. Two minutes in and she is scrambling out of the clown car. Fuck. I just lost my precious cargo area and must put her in the tail-gunner seat!
I begin the shopping in the produce since this is what my kids eat the most. Heidi likes to "help" which means I hand things to her things and she says "Whoa, HEAVY!" and casually tosses them over her shoulder. Some of the time it ends up in the cart but oftentimes it doesn't and I never hand off blueberries for fear of pissing off the grocery stocker. I should probably just ask one of the teenage kids gathering carts outside with their wheelie shoes to follow our path of destruction. Clean up on aisle everywhere!
Because of nap schedules and afternoon activities I usually go around 9 a.m. which is prime time for every old fart in the Chester County area to head to Wegmans for some grapefruit and prune juice. Some old people are cute but most of them at the grocery store have no clue what they are doing even though they buy the same 5 items every week. Grandpa, pick up your bran and clear the aisle! I have a two year old that is losing interest in the cookies I bribed her with and my cart has only just begun to fill. I know I am in trouble when she is fumbling with the belt strap and trying to stand up. She says "Carry me Daddy". So my cart is heavy, it turns like a Mack truck and now she wants me to push it with one arm while carrying her? I consider MacGyvering the belt strap and the gum that I have furiously chewed to no flavor, to mount her to the roof rack of my cart. Instead, I crack open a banana and hope the produce police won't pull me over. I have been known to head to the bulk candy section or rip into a box of teddy grahams just to buy time and I hope my wanted poster isn't hanging up at the service desk anymore.
The cart is loading up. I know that I am not going to be able to fit it back in once it is on the belt and I am not looking forward to that. My cart is overflowing now. It's the world's worst game of Tetris. Everything in my cart is hinging on a head of lettuce somewhere in the bottom; it is load bearing lettuce. I hope it holds up. I head to the checkout with no room to spare and pick an older woman to scan my bazillion items. You can't go with teenagers because they really have no concept of how to bag properly. In five minutes they are headed to the break room to listen to their iPods and eat Hot Cheetos with an Energy drink with some crazy name. You can't trust them to bag like I would. I cringe when they put too many cans and don't double bag it. I dislike it when the eggs don't get separated or when the bread is sandwiched between jars of pasta sauce. Besides, they just don't give you the personal touch that a seasoned pro who has actually shopped at a grocery store would know, that if you don't rubber-band those blueberries they are becoming compote on the bottom of your minivan floor.
The checkout woman asks "Do you have any REUSABLE shopping bags?" and lingers too long on the words reusable. I probably shouldn't have told her that I use the bags to isolate the stinky diapers that I change at home because the little shitmaker in my cart sometimes poops like she is a zoo animal. I recycle lady. I just NEED those plastic bags. I know it is not environmentally friendly but neither are the organic diapers I have to buy from Whole Foods because my daughter is allergic to every other type that we have tried. I look at my cart and think "Crap. I need this much food to keep the kids going for two weeks? What is it going to be like when they are teenagers?" I know I'm screwed unless I teach them about Ramen noodles early. I use coupons. Yes. I use coupons. Checkout Lady tries to tell me that I don't have said item in my cart and I rattle off everything in there. I don't know if it was my uncanny ability to actually know what was in there or because my daughter was hanging off the side of the cart like the pictures tell us what not to do, but she eventually gives it to me.
Now checked out and the cart is too full. Wheelies kid is trailing me out to my car. I tell him thanks and proceed to unload the cart into the Swagger Wagon, starting with the two year old, right through the lift gate like a sack of potatoes. She heads straight for the driver's seat and pushes every button on the console. That might explain why my car was recently set for all Spanish stations. Back of the car is loaded. I head to the front to stow the precious cargo. "Stop it. I do it myself." she says. Please climb into your carseat, Daddy needs to get out of here! "Like this?" She pretends to get in, even though she knows EXACTLY how to get in. Five minutes later, she is in and buckled. She begins to cry. Daddy turns up the radio. I still have to unload and put away. I hate you grocery store. You are the devil.