Never Take Your Toddler Grocery Shopping

October 5th, 2015

I suffer from a peculiar form of parenting amnesia wherein I forget from week to week that it’s a terrible idea to take my youngest child grocery shopping with me. Sunday afternoon rolls around and I find myself once again airily offering to take the two-year-old with me on my grocery run, leaving the “big kids” home with dad.

It’s only when we get to the store that I remember the folly of this decision. Our latest trip went something like this.

Upon arrival, she refused to hold my hand in the parking lot, folding her hands tightly into her armpits and scowling, while running as fast as she could. Fortunately, her top speed isn’t all that impressive yet and I caught her before she managed to dart in front of an oncoming minivan.

I stowed her in the front basket of the shopping cart…a seating arrangement that worked well for approximately thirty seconds before she started channeling her inner surfer girl by climbing onto the seat. Yes, we were moving at the time. I strapped her in but that only bought me another ten seconds because she started screaming so loudly I was worried I’d be accused of attempted kidnapping.Rain Boots and Leotard

She insisted that she wanted to walk, so I set her down. That went smoothly for a little while because she invented a new game. She’d run ahead and duck around the end of an aisle. I’d call her name and she’d burst around the corner, laughing maniacally. I should pause at this point to mention that she was wearing only her big sister’s pink dance leotard and polka dot rain boots. Seeing her sprint down the aisles, giggling like a deranged cartoon hyena was quite a visual.

A toddler loose on foot in a grocery store is never a great idea in the long run, though. I turned around from comparing boxes of protein bars to discover that she’d added peanuts, pickles, and a bag of tortilla chips to the cart. She was not amused when she learned those items would not be coming home with us.

We finally reached the checkout line and I foolishly let my guard down. The next thing I knew, she had zeroed in on a box of fresh cinnamon rolls, conveniently placed at toddler height. I reacted a second too slowly to prevent her from sticking her hand inside the box and grabbing a finger-ful of frosting.

To her joy, we added the cinnamon rolls to the cart (I couldn’t very well leave them for the next shopper)…at which point she announced that she needed to go potty. I abandoned our place in the very long line to take her to the bathroom, but of course all desire to use the facilities evaporated the moment she set foot in the stall.

I paid for our groceries and staggered out to the car. She’d been chanting “applesauce” at increasing decibels for the last five minutes, so I gave her a squeeze pack and we took off. One store down, two to go.

This post originally appeared as a column in our local paper in SmallTownUSA.

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