Life Happens at Safeway

I was told tonight by someone, a lovely stay-at-home-mom, that she would never dream of bringing her children to a supermarket. Her children never entered a supermarket until they were 8 and 10 years old. Bringing them to a supermarket, she said, would have just made “everyone miserable, cranky, and mad.”

I had to bite.

“What did you do with your kids when you shopped?” I asked.

“My nanny watched them,” she explained.

And then I remember my own early stay-at-home-days, running up and down the aisles of Safeway, screeching for my toddler son to stop running away. God he was fast. The second I turned my back to reach for cereal or flour, he unbuckled himself, slipped under the bar of our double-wide stroller, and bolted as fast as possible. Sometimes I ran after him, dragging the stroller behind me. Sometimes I just left my infant daughter sitting in the middle of the aisle. I knew she was safe: no one but me could maneuver that stroller out of the store.

The lovely mom tonight also told me she would never dream of bringing her children clothes shopping – for herself, or for them.

And then I remember the time we went to the Gap and my son spotted a Darth Vader tee-shirt. He couldn’t have been older than three.

He took it.

I found it much later. While I returned it to a sales clerk with absolutely no sense of humor, my son and his little sister hid under a rack of clothes until a stranger heard them giggling. I lectured them about running away, and about hiding, and about stealing. A man passing by remarked, “wow, they look a little young for jail.”

And then there was the ill-fated time we went Christmas shopping to LL Bean at the mall and my son decided to hide. To this day, I don’t know how he disappeared into the crowd so fast. I ran around, panicking, yelling his name, and soon other shoppers were doing the same. When the store management heard, they started screaming “Code Adam” into their microphones and told me they would lock down the entire store.

That’s when an old lady showed up, dragging my little boy behind her. “Does he belong to you?” she asked. For a moment, I considered saying no. Then my son looked at me, put his arms out so I could pick him up, and started to bawl. I scooped him up, and he [hardly] ever ran away after that – at least in large public places.

I don’t know, I guess it might have been nice to pay a nanny and go shopping by myself a few days a week. To have lots of help. But I don’t know, think of all the moments that would be lost. My children singing in the car. Pointing and asking, “What’s dat?” Explaining why Cocoa Puffs are not okay. Sitting quietly and reading a board book while I pick out shirts for school. Talking. Hugs. Lessons and love.

Life happens in the most unlikely places.

9 thoughts on “Life Happens at Safeway

  1. Iv had lots of fun with my 2 toddlers in supermarkets , on buses and in the local town .The bus is the best when 1 or sometimes even both decide to cry for the whole journey much to the dismay of the elderly people on the bus I’m sure their very happy when I get off .It would be nice to be able to afford a nanny but I’m a single mother of 5 and rarely get 2 minutes to myself but I’m sure I would be lost without them .

  2. I was fortunate to be a stay at home mom, and a husband that would look after them while I slipped away to the store. Which was usually really early Saturday morning. Just as soon as the store opened. I think that’s when I learned to make my list according to the layout of the store in order to get in and out quickly. I wasn’t able to always do that, and I have a bunch of stories of rides in the car, tantrums in the store, bickering in the car, and two of them running different directions in a parking lot while I was packing the youngest. We sat in the parking lot for quite a while that day as I explained over and over how short they were, and that cars couldn’t see them. Especially when they move as fast as they can. Little stinkers, but I’m grateful for the stories.

      • Interesting that I forgot the tantrums! Now I’m remembering when my daughter absolutely refused to let me strap her into the car seat. For months. She would arch her back and block me out of the car, screaming like I was torturing her. Strangers stopped to watch.

        I was a stay at home mom for nine years. I’m glad for it, and I hope my post didn’t sound judgey. The more I think about it, though, the more I wonder how a kid can make it to eight and never step foot in a supermarket or mall. When we live in the city.

  3. I’ve seen this t-shirt online, for babies, that says, “My mom doesn’t want your advice.” I always wanted that shirt for my kids. 🙂

    I don’t enjoy taking my kids to the store with me, but I do it nonetheless. And I do love the conversations we have in the car– they are the best.

    My daughter got lost in the mall the other day and she ended up approaching a police officer to help her. They just slip out of sight so quickly sometimes.

  4. I still have scribbled love notes from my children who entertained themselves with the deposit forms while I was waiting in line at the bank. It is funny now how those notes have made those moments timeless whereas if they had been with a babysitter, those moments would be lost forever.

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