Monday, January 26, 2009

Grocery shopping

As I child, I used to LOVE to go to the grocery store with my mom. In retrospect, I now wonder how "helpful" I was to her on those trips.

For better or worse, Busy-Mom-E and I take the boys with us most everywhere. After all, the store is a great place to learn about different foods, numbers, and money. Thus, I present to you Busy-Dad-E's handy-dandy formula for calcuating the time needed to complete a shopping trip with small children:

Time needed = Time it usually takes Mom-E &/or Dad-E alone +
(30 minutes x # children under age 5) +
15 minutes (if only one parent goes)

And so, if it usually takes you 1 hour by yourself, then with 2 kids under 5, it'd take you 2 hours if both parents go, and 2.25 hours if only one parent goes. Let me explain how I "scientifically" arrived at this formula (aka, I'll describe our trip yesterday, which was par for the course.)

We get to the store (see to calculate the time it will take you to get ready to go to the store).
Big brother decides he wants to ride in one of the shopping carts that has a built-in car for kids to "drive." These are initially great, except that 1. it makes the actual cart so small that it only holds about 3 items, and 2. the novelty wears off in about 5 minutes. We get both boys situated in the cart, and head inside, reminding Big Brother no less than 5 times not to put appendages (i.e., head) outside of the "vehicle". We go towards the produce aisle first, and immediately Big Brother has to go potty (THE FIRST TIME).

We go potty (of course we have to pretend we're cars racing to and from the bathroom) and come back (without crashing into anyone). By this time, Little brother is already tired of riding in the cart, and so Mom-E is carrying him in one arm, while trying to push a cart that is about 15 feet long with the other arm (which pretty much leaves her with one leg to pick out items and put them in the cart). Big brother has now decided that driving the cart has lost it's appeal (see 2. above). Instead, it's more fun to grab onto the side of the cart, and pretend to "stop the train" (there's a scene in the movie 'The Polar Express' where the boy pulls an emergency cord to stop the train for another passenger.) At home, Big brother will "stop the train" ad nauseum, but we put a stop to this in the store, given the safety of trying to ride the cart like a surf board.

We get through about 4 aisles, and Big brother has to go potty again (THE SECOND TIME--this time it's #2). Ten minutes later, Busy-Mom-E has trudged through another aisle or two. By now, little brother is getting tired of being carried, and so we put him down and let him walk a little. After a few steps, he engages in his favorite in-store hobby: trying to knock over items on the bottom-most shelf. In a role reversal, Big Brother thinks this is a fun behavior to emulate. Again, we quickly put a stop to the destruction, and pick up whatever has been knocked over. We continue to trudge along. Meanwhile, we see friends who came to the store 15 minutes after us, and are already in the check-out line.

Fortunately, the last few aisles bring a few favorite food selections (yogurt, toaster waffles, and tater tots), which "speed things along" (in the relative sense). Amazingly, we manage to avoid some distractions, namely all of the "junk" toys that are scattered throughout each aisle, placed right at eye level of a child riding in a cart (boy, if I met the person who pattented that idea in a dark alley, I'd...I'd...probably have to buy something they were selling).

The highlight of the trip is the frozen food aisle. No, I'm not talking about ice cream. I mean the big bin of plush, oversized stuffed animals (the ones that are bigger than Big Brother and cost about $1000 apiece). Little brother LOVES stuffed animals--he calls them "babies." "Baby! Baby! Baby!" he shrieks with excitment. And so, just for fun, we actually put Little brother into the bin for about 30 seconds. He is in heaven. He smiles ear-to-ear, tries to kiss and hug a big white dog, and then begins to sink deeper into the bin.

We "rescue" Little Brother from the quicksand of bears and puppies, and head to check out. We no sooner get into a line and start to unload, and Big Brother has to go potty again (THE THIRD TIME). We make the last trek to the bathroom, finish unloading the cart, remember to give the cashier the coupons, pay, and head out (sneaking past the movie rental machine). It was an overcast afternoon when we came in to the store, and now, 2 hours later, it is dusk. We load up the car and head home.

As we're pulling out, I ask Busy-Mom-E "did we remember to buy stamps when we checked out?" Ah, man, shoot! Well, I guess you know what we'll be doing for another 2 hours tomorrow.


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  1. My computer is so slow...this kept me entertained as I was working and waiting for my computer to do each command (i'm at work). I can only imagine how difficult that would be. I have a hard enough time getting through the crazy crowded grocery store by myself!

  2. I am picturing little brother hugging all the puppies and bears and sinking further into the pile. I guess he was definitely in stuffed animal heaven. Sounds like a wild shopping trip to say the least! Maybe you could order your stamps by mail???

  3. Oh my! This cracks me up! You know what? I went to the store to get all of things we forgot yesterday (including stamps). Well, it wasn't until I read this post that I realized that I forgot the stamps AGAIN! I guess all we can do is laugh!