Never again will I judge that poor woman in the store attempting to contain her melting down child while she does something that has undoubtedly been on her to-do list for way too long: buy groceries for her family. Never again will I judge another mother who happens to have been given the short stick for that very moment.
See, I was her. And, it was not pretty.
AK and I were making a routine trip to the grocery store. It wasn't one of those shops that I dread for days, it was a medium sized shop containing items from our very new Curtis Stone (holy buckets, he's hot, but that's a different story for a different day) repertoire of recipes. A few 'simple' things that husband and I wanted to try out. But, these 'simple' things required some ingredients beyond my usuals.
We started in the produce department as any good healthy person does, right?! Just kidding - I took an immediate detour to the cookie aisle to secure some snacking items for AK and I. It worked if only for a minute. I guess I should have known that it was going to be a tough run when she really did start a progressive melting process just a few minutes into our trip. But, I had less than 25 items on my list, how bad could it be? The answer is very bad. Very bad indeed.
Produce sucked, but we made it out. I then realized I had a limited amount of time remaining, so I did my best to continue to appease her with food items - some healthy, some not so much. But, a kid can only eat so much. And, she got full. Seriously, people, I only had 25 items.
I started half-running through the aisles, extremely aware that I must be missing something - where on earth do they keep the mango chutney sauce? WHERE THE HELL IS IT?!
Somehow, we made it to the check-out line with a bit of sanity remaining. Soon to be completely removed. I couldn't have picked a worst line to join. Isn't that the way it always is? The poor guy at the register looked like a deer in headlights. Like he had been doing this job for about two-and-a-half minutes before I joined his line.
My first step was to covertly hand him the half eaten bag of "cheetos" (I put "cheetos" in quotes simply because it's the last remaining bit of dignity I have concerning this story - they weren't real cheetos, but it's what AK calls them) and ask him to please please please scan this very sensitive item and then immediately bag it. If she catches even a whiff of these goodies, it's all over. So, what did he do? He scanned it, looked blankly at the world in front of him and handed the bag...to her. "Cheetos! Cheetos! CHEETOS!"
The downward spiral was upon us. Standing up in the cart, cheetos thrown on the floor, at a voice level that would most definitely not be considered an "inside voice."
With that, my friend at the cash register had a question about every single item. He needed to look up the code for every single piece of produce. Listen, on any normal day, my patience would have been quite sufficient for this. I understand that not everyone can memorize 367 codes for fruits and vegetables. I get it. But, at this very moment, this was not OK. For me or for AK. I really wanted Dora at the register next to him. She was fast. And, she had checked me out a million times. But, she also had way more people at her line. There's a reason for that, I tell myself now.
This story is painful enough. And, it ended about as bad as one can get in the grocery store.
I left half of my order on the conveyor belt and I did what any parent concerned about others would do - I ran my screaming, cheetos-covered daughter out of the store to more seething, stinky looks than I could even explain. Not one person patted me on the back or even gave me a look of "I understand." And, I got her out before the going got really tough.
As soon as we exited the store, AK calmed down. I apologized profusely to her for putting her through that way too close to her bedtime. I think she forgave me pretty quickly.
Should I have left even earlier and, instead of the conveyor belt, abandoned my cart? Maybe. And, most likely what I will do so next time. Or better yet, maybe grocery shops are just a little too much for AK these days and she will stay home with Daddy.