29 Jan Grocery Shopping With Two
It felt like months went by without leaving the house, and only once had I ever tried it solo with both my three-year-old son, Henry, and my three-month-old, Daniel, and, well. You know how that went.
This particular day, my husband Cory was going to work the evening shift at CWI and I was going stir-crazy. Plus, we were down to just heels of bread. So. Lunatic that I am, I decided I’d try my hand at bringing them both to the grocery store. It was an impulsive decision, but in my defense, I hadn’t expected Henry to actually agree to it. Every other time I’ve asked him to shop with me he’s all but chained himself to the couch in protest.
But I promised him rice milk. As vegans, we’ve done almond, coconut, cashew, flax and soy milk, but never rice. Henry heard about it from his friend Cameron from It’s A Kidz World and he was jealous. Thank heavens, he’s not craving Dunkaroos or Handi-Snacks or Lunchables or whatever kids eat these days. He’s keeping up with the one other boy in his class that has a special diet. He’s begging me for plant water.
But the word rang in my head: Plan.
At the grocery store when I was a kid, my mom would hand us coupons and we’d race to see who could find their item first. I’m pretty sure I always won, being three years older than my sister.
Letting Henry run loose would surely end in a comedy routine: Watermelons knocking people over like bowling pins. But I didn’t expect him to walk by my side making polite small talk about groceries. “Oh, mum, please don’t even LOOK at that celery; it’s not organic. Didn’t you know it’s one of the dirty dozen? Now, we need to find fresh cilantro if we’re making falafel tonight using my favorite Laura Miller recipe.”
I decided to make an illustrated
shopping list treasure hunt. I started off drawing things like Rock Hill bread, Daiya, hummus — and that rice milk, of course. Sanctimommy would be proud. Then we had to draw cartons of orange juice, chocolate soy milk and regular soy milk. Lots of vitamin-enriched beverages in this household. Henry drew some beans.
First we had to actually get IN the store, which proved difficult when I accidentally set off my car alarm in the parking lot trying to lock the door with mittens on. I held my breath and ducked in the car to key the ignition, leaving the baby in the car seat on the pavement and Henry, untethered, near him. I breathed a sigh of relief when the alarm stopped beeping and neither kid was run over by a fellow shopper or abducted into a sketchy van. Henry hadn’t wandered away, never to be heard from again. Daniel hadn’t been pinched or bitten by his brother. So far, so good!
Henry actually proved to be a better companion than I had dared let myself hope, discovering groceries and crossing out each item as we found it. There was only a minor amount of “Can we buy this?” and I said yes more times than I said no, since he wanted to buy a giant can of black beans and a jar of tiny pickles. When I paused to chat with my husband’s brother’s girlfriend’s aunt, Henry shouted, “I don’t like you!” — but she was gracious enough about it, understanding that she was slowing down his treasure hunt.
Daniel blessedly slept the whole time — though I had a heightened awareness of time passing, as if he was a bomb that might go off at any moment. But it was Henry who had an urge of the bathroom variety, at the moment I had a completely full shopping cart.
Until that second, I had only ever used the customer service counter at a grocery store to buy stamps. But it occurred to me that they might watch the cart while I helped Henry. For a split second I considered leaving Daniel in the cart, but thought better of it. They let me park the cart by their desk, and the three of us went to the “noisy potty.” Luckily, no incident there either, and we finished our shopping. Henry even helped put the groceries on the checkout conveyor.
I imagined a finish line at the car, crowds cheering as I pumped my fists in the air, a medal bestowed upon me while I thanked God, my country, my mom and Facebook for all their support. But I settled for a celebratory cup of rice milk with Henry when we got home.