Grocery Store Ettiquette (with a child)

Produce Aisle: You begin your shopping, coupons in hand, with a relatively content child. He is happy to talk to himself and play with your car keys while you squeeze various fruits and vegetables to select the perfect and most economical choices. Of course you swing by the onions, making a mental note that you still need to figure out what a "ripe" onion looks like, pick based on size and pray it isn't rotten. Leaving the produce, passing the bread, you watch your child flirt with all the women he sees. Maybe shopping will go okay today. You are determined to keep the total bill at $100. It can be done. You are confident.

Aisles 1-5: Couponing commenses. You pacify your child by letting him hold your pen, and coupon holder as you search for the cheapest cereals, spaghetti sauces and soups. At about aisle 4, when stopping to pick up the pen and coupon holder off the floor gets tiring, you hand him something out of your cart. Aisle 5 is where the label or packaging disinegrates as he pulls it apart with his teeth and attempts to eat it. He remains relatively quiet in these aisles, although you begin to feel the familiar knot in your stomach as matching coupons to products and sales involves a lot of stopping and searching. He begins to shift in his seat. You wonder if you should head straight for the milk and go.

Middle of the Grocery Store: Also known as the Teddy Graham aisles. This is where you pull out the big guns. As the seat shifting and grunting get more pronounced, grab the small cup of cookies you purchased the last time you were shopping and begin to hand him one at a time. This gets you through about one and half aisles. Then he discovers that he would like to grab the cookies out of the cup himself. He starts to cry out a little. Hold cup open as you go down the next three aisles. Let him pull out teddy grahams. Watch out of the corner of your eye as he eats one and throws one on the ground. Pick up the pace. Find the cheapest paper towels, toilet paper, and garbage bags. No time for coupons, but at least your still being economical.

Frozen Foods: Put lid back on cup and let him hold it and chew on the lid. Randomly grab frozen vegetables and meals. Try to recall what coupons you have and make a mental note to sort it out at the cash register. Stop him from crawling out of your cart and grabbing things out of other peoples' carts. Turn the corner on frozen foods sharply and quickly as he grabs your arm and yells. You are losing him. Apologize to the three people you almost run over as you speed to the beverage aisle.

Beverages, Chips and Dairy: Screaming, kicking and mommy shirt grabbing begins. Coupons are completely forgotten. Grab everything you see that you might want or have ever wanted as if this is the last time you will ever be at a grocery store and throw into your cart. Grab the milk and pray for a good expiration date. You are now breaking out into a sweat and sprinting through the dairy section grabbing random shredded cheeses because you completely forgot what you were making for dinner and what type of cheese it required. Lid of Teddy Grahams is pried off and cookies hit the floor and scatter. You weigh whether scattered teddy grahams left on the floor are more annoying to the customers than the screaming child who is trying to jump from the racing grocery buggy. No contest, teddy grahams stay. Stop long enough to try and kick as many cookies as you can to the side. Somehow this feels like you've made an attempt. Run past the butter, thinking of ten things you forgot to grab in other aisles. The idea of running back to get these items makes you break out into hives. Head for the checkout line. Lose a lean cuisine in one of your final turns. Leave it. There's no time.

Checkout: Throw contents of buggy at nice checkout lady who tilts her head and wonders why you are crying. Grit teeth as your kid smiles and laughs at the bagger. As nice checkout lady scans items, wonder why you are buying 3 bags of pretzels. Hand over five of the 20 coupons you intended to use. Wonder how you just spent $175 on a week's worth of groceries.

Husband later comments: "You forgot to get Cokes." Burst into tears.


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