Monday, July 8, 2013

What Parents Want When We Take Our Kids To The Store

It was one of those days where you wake up and realize that you're screwed but you just go with it anyway because you don't have a choice. I looked in the refrigerator and saw one baby cucumber, some half-rotten mushrooms, and gobs of wine and beer but you can't really give that to the kids, right? (The half-rotten mushrooms, to clarify.)

I had to go to the grocery store, but it was Nate's work week so if I wanted my family to have something for dinner, I had to take the boys. 

No one ever really wants to take multiple small kids to the grocery store by themselves, or to any store, really. Or out in public, whatever. I usually avoid taking them shopping with me, but left with no other choice, I packed them in the car and drove off, trying not to think about what fresh hell awaited me.

It wasn't even five minutes into the trip before I was ready to lose my mind. Brandon did his usual freak-out about being placed in the seat section of the cart (NO MOM! LET ME RUN AROUND LIKE AN ESCAPED MENTAL PATIENT), Ethan and Connor were wound the fuckity fuck UP and touching everything in the produce section, including putting all their weight on a produce scale to "see if they were as strong as Superman" because obviously, that is the way to tell. Then they proceeded to play superheros, performing their best moves on each other which would have been fantastic in the large, deserted grassy area of a park, but not so great in the narrow, populated aisles of a grocery store. I'm sorry about your sudden fear for your balls, random, unfortunate passerby.

In the wine section, a woman was pointedly ignoring my crazed barbarians as they flailed about dangerously close to all the wine bottles, and I very nearly cracked to her that I wished I could open a bottle right there and chug away. Something told me that her sense of humor wasn't quite on the level it needed to be for such a remark, so I for once kept my mouth shut.

At one point, we passed a mom with a very young son and daughter, and I heard her say, "I have NO idea why you are fighting. You have nothing to fight about right now!" I felt sorry for her for so many reasons, but mainly for her inability to yet understand that THEY NEED NO REASON.

I would have made some kind of "I get your pain, lady" remark to her but I was too busy bitching at the boys for something that I don't even remember anymore.

Later though, we passed each other in the frozen food aisle. I was once again bitching at the boys for something heinous that they were doing, and she suddenly blurted out how insane she was to think she could take her kids to the store and not have any problems. I watched her spiral down into a babbling mess of parental despair as she blathered about how she told her husband that she could DO IT, she could handle taking the kids to the store and she actually had the CHOICE to leave them with him but didn't and now she was basically ready to kill herself or something disturbing like that but I don't actually know for sure because I was too busy staring in utter fascination and adoration at her, my mind an amused blank.

I loved her.

I loved how she just let it rip to a total stranger who was clearly as distressed for the same reason as she was. In those moments, her pressure valve felt some release, my pressure valve felt some release, and a two-minute-long kinship was formed. Also in those moments, a trillion-dollar idea formed in my head.


How about you corral off a section of the store for the kids? Then staff it with a qualified childcare provider (i.e. not a child molester)?

I guarantee you, you will make the childcare providers' salaries BACK, plus some.

I don't know about you, but when I grocery shop with my kids, my main objective is to get the hell out of the store as fast as possible. I'm positive that I've read nine jillion studies or references to studies that show that the longer a person is in a store, the more they spend. I can guarantee you that when my kids aren't with me, I spend seven times longer in the store (and therefore, seven times the amount of money). Sometimes, I'm gone so long that my husband asks me if I went to the Safeway/Trader Joe's at the other end of the county. No, I didn't, I was just concentrating. And dicking off. And buying more than we really needed.

Also, if the kids were corralled in a "kid zone" section of the store, that creates a more pleasant shopping experience for the other customers. Hey I'm not just thinking about myself, here. They don't have to deal with kids darting in front of their carts, or staring into their carts and commenting on what they are buying, or screaming, or whatever kids do to annoy the people there without kids.

Next, if parents had to chose between spending money at a grocery store with free (or extremely cheap) childcare or a store without childcare, GEE, WHICH ONE WOULD WE CHOOSE.

And, when I shop with my kids, I make a minimum of three errors in what I buy because I can't think for longer than four seconds and am so desperate to get out of the store that I grab what I think is the right item, but it's not. And that's just bad. Food waste is always bad. So is suffering through fat-free Ranch dressing because GODDAMMIT, as I reached up to grab the regular, normal people Ranch, one of the kids shrieked and as I turned to see who was on fire, my hand moved slightly to the left and I grabbed the wrong one. Bad, bad, bad.

HEY WHY DON'T YOU JUST SERVE WINE, TOO. The casinos are onto something, you should be, too. Tipsy people spend more money! Alcohol lowers inhibitions and reasoning ability! Why yes, yes I DO need seventy-five boxes of rice because they're only sixty-nine cents! (And NO, I wouldn't drive home drunk. Because you'd only give a few ounces, AND I would buy a sandwich! MONEY IN YOUR POCKET.)

The Kid Zone wouldn't just be for kids. People could drop off their cantankerous spouses, too. Who doesn't love a bounce house? Oh, you're 90? Here's a cot. Take a nap.

Everybody wins in this scenario. Everybody.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to make a trillion dollars. 

*Disclaimer: My kids aren't always utter freaks in public. This was a special exception. In fact, two days later, I was again out with the boys by myself, and a couple next to us complimented me on how well-behaved they were. You just never know.

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