Visiting the grocery store with a toddler is often an unavoidable reality. Even in the past (when childless), shopping for necessities while pushing a heavy frame of plated steel attached to wheels incapable of taking direction, was a thought that would often cause me to physically slump. Now as a Mum, I try to limit my trips where possible and order the bulk of our ‘bomb shelter’ requirements online while my son sleeps. Too many times have I irresponsibly ducked and weaved through the maze of deli items and cans, racing to complete my handwritten list while my child pokes and prods the items being tossed in alongside him, increasing in distressed volume as I deny him the many sugary delights hanging from shelves like forbidden fruit from trees.
Acclaimed American author, Joyce Meyer, once penned an opinion which read; “patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting” (USA, 1943). Well Joyce, not too well I’d suggest in rebuttal if realistically considering the complex and unpredictable workings of a two-year-old! That quote (whilst insightful and pregnant with philosophy), is of absolutely no value to a mother trying to remedy a tantrum in a check-out line – I wonder if she had entertained all scenarios prior to resting at this conclusion of thought. If I had more time (and let’s face it, more energy), I’d pour my thoughts into a well-crafted letter to the grocery giants, facetiously thanking them for designing a labyrinth riddled with painful bear traps for parents – the worst offenders being the row of Kinder Surprise eggs littering the outskirts of the ‘food treadmill’ as you do your best to stack and pay with a smile.
One trip to said grocery store was so frightening, I remember it vividly like a childhood visit from the Boogieman. My son was not quite one-year-old, and I had foolishly chosen to shop for the ingredients to make his first birthday cake with him in tow. I was prematurely elated when; after selecting some fruit and vegetable items, he insisted on polishing off some green beans. Little did I know, Percy was making short work of crunching the juice from the flesh and cautiously spitting out the lawn clippings from the depths of the steel grid like an old man chewing tobacco. As we edged closer and closer to the dreaded confectionery aisle, I only just managed to catch myself as I slipped on what looked like a squashed grasshopper – upon further inspection I realised it was Percy’s pre-digested bag of greens! There, nestled in pools of saliva, was a glistening trail of chomped beans that seemed to mimic Hansel and Gretel’s path home – we were both on route to a candy house of horror, but this story now required a clean-up on aisle three!
Thinking I’d survived death row in the form of lollies and chocolates, what followed next was the real icing on the not-yet-made birthday cake – a number two from my not quite one-year-old that was so full-bodied and smooth, that it began to cascade over the top of his elasticated character shorts with ease. The rest doesn’t need to be told – it was stressful, a little embarrassing, and it played out like I’m sure you can imagine the worst episode in a bad TV box set would end. Since then, I’ve contemplated my purchases from the comfort of my untidy study whilst in a moment of solitude, and kept the last minute ‘must do’ trips when in his company to a minimum.
If patience really is most accurately evaluated and measured by our behaviour whilst waiting, I’d prefer to be as far away from the supermarket as possible when practicing that virtue with Percy. As for my old friend ‘the trolley’? Well that misguided lump of chrome can stick to carrying items that do rest and behave well – sometimes (but not always), my two-year-old son. And even then, it’s not always worth the push it takes to get back on track.