Monday, March 8, 2010

Grocery shopping wasn't so much fun when *I* was a kid.

My girls truly managed to have a red letter day today. TV and computer while Mommy sorted coupons and showered, followed by a trip to the library (this is always a bit like Christmas to them) and then to the grocery store. Milly has done a complete metamorphosis from the kid who detested shopping carts of all shapes and sizes, to the kid who really doesn't mind them, so long as she gets to choose the cart. At the Kroger where we shop most often, there are four types of shopping carts.

1. The Standard, a boring one-seater. This is utterly unacceptable, since placing Milly in the seat means that Rachael must walk, and Heaven forbid Rachael gets to do a thing that Milly doesn't get to do.

2. The Miniature. No seat, and such a cute little cart. Usually seen being steered by young women, presumably those that are single and/or childless. Someday I'm going to go into Kroger sans chicklets, just to pick up a few things, and I'm going to use one of the cute little carts. I'll be grown then.

3. Big Blue. You've seen them - the big, blue plastic double-seater attached to a regular shopping cart. If you want to get all technical, this cart could seat three, since there's still the regular seat in the cart. But no, with my girls, they must sit side by side in the big blue part. This is fine, except for a few small details. First of all, Big Blue is next to impossible to steer, given the sheer length and added weight of the thing. Not to mention that some of the aisles in our Kroger were definitely not designed with Big Blue in mind. Secondly, neither side of the cart has restraints that actually work to restrain a child. In a perfect world, Big Blue has a three-point harness - shoulder straps with a buckle on each side of the waist that connects to a strap between the child's legs to keep her from sliding down or falling off either side. Somehow, though, one buckle on each side is missing. Just one. So, they get buckled in as best I can and told to "hang on!" and I just hope for the best. Big Blue is fine with Milly - she actually talks about going to the grocery store and riding in the blue cart. And I must admit, I do like having the seat area of the regular cart free to hold my eggs and bananas.

4. The CAR CART. The holy grail of shopping carts (to a kid.) It looks rather like a little red Cozy Coupe, only with two seats and two steering wheels (and God bless the person who designed this thing with two steering wheels.) As with Big Blue, our Kroger only has one of these, so there's never a guarantee that we'll get it. (And when we don't, I invariably see it passing through the aisles containing only one child, who is far too large to be riding in it in the first place.) When we walk through the doors and find the car cart parked at the front of the store, the girls make a mad dash for it, as though it may zip away from them at any second - or worse, be claimed by another manic child racing toward it from another direction. The car cart is no piece of cake to drive, either - it's similar to Big Blue in length, only all the weight is at the front of the cart instead of the back. It's hard to call one better or worse, but each presents a navigational challenge. At least with this one, I can loudly exclaim to the children that they need to work on their driving skills whenever I ram it into an endcap.

Soooo, today we mosy into Kroger and...lo and behold, the car cart was there! The children scrambled into it, I crammed my pile of cloth shopping bags beneath the cart (which is, incidentally, smaller than a regular cart, although not as cute and petite as the Miniature) and we took off. Just a few aisles into the store, an associate pops around the corner, having apparently noticed my girls from afar earlier in our visit. In each hand, she carried a large pink balloon, bobbing at the end of a long pink ribbon. She said that the girls needed them, since another little girl elsewhere in the store had been given one, and she wouldn't want mine to feel left out. So sweet. :)  She proceeded to tie a little circle into the ribbon of one balloon and slip it over Milly's wrist so it wouldn't float away. (It should be noted here that Milly is generally distrustful of strangers, and would usually NOT tolerate being talked to by one, much less willingly hold out her arm toward one. However, a stranger weilding a pink balloon is apparently okay.) Rachael's balloon was secured as well, the giver was thanked profusely, and we were off again.

So now...I'm maneuvering this insanely large cart around the store with a balloon floating out of each side, at approximately my eye level. I can't steer, I can't turn, and now I can't see.

And I didn't even mind, because this was obviously THE best shopping trip they'd ever encountered. :)

Okay okay, I minded again when we got to the checkout. Because parking that behemoth and wiggling around it to get all the groceries out, having to walk back and forth to put them on the conveyor (since at this point, the car is between you and the cart) and being smacked in the face with a pink balloon at every turn...well, it's not a lot of fun. It took twice as long as it should have. And my jeans were falling down, but that's another story.

Anyway, we survived it. The cashier was remarkably sweet about my crazy stack of coupons - and as soon as I get a chance to sit down and do the math tomorrow, I'll tell you about the deals I got today. Nothing CRAZY wonderful, but a couple of them were pretty impressive...

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