There’s no other way to put it: Grocery shopping with a cranky toddler in tow sucks more balls than a Playskool Elefun. Unfortunately, food falls under that annoying category of “basic human needs,” and as much as I could use the quiet time, I’m not super comfortable with malnourishing my kids until they no longer have the energy to speak.
When I find myself licking the inside of an empty Lay’s bag and upturning the cup holders in my kids’ car seats—hoping to find a few stray goldfish for snack time—I know that I can’t put the shopping off any longer. So I suck it up, toss my tots in the car, and brace myself for the inevitable wailing and gnashing of teeth that will take place as we troll the aisles of the local grocery store for the select few items my children will agree to eat.
Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. And yes, in case you’re wondering, I have come back from a grocery store trip with toddler tooth impressions pockmarking my fingers.
I don’t know what about being pushed around in a shopping cart while Mama frantically sifts through coupons is so damn terrible, but apparently it warrants full-on tantrumming.
Every damn time.
Oh, and as if pushing a screaming toddler through a crowded grocery store doesn’t suck enough, I often find myself accosted by total strangers, presumably trying to “help” with hollow platitudes or overt observations. These people always, ALWAYS, make things worse.
There are some things you just shouldn’t say to a mom when her kid is throwing a fit at the grocery store. Here are seven of them:
1. “Aww, poor baby!” Do not coddle my child. There is nothing “poor” about his current situation. He is getting wheeled around in an impossible-to-steer shopping cart shaped like a fucking racecar while I spend my Starbucks money on Goldfish crackers that will end up either (1) crushed between the couch cushions as cockroach bait, or (2) shoved up my nose when I’m trying to nap. If I’m super lucky, and the kid goes for the second option, the cockroaches will actually crawl up my nose and pick away at what little brain tissue remains after my toddler-accompanied shopping trip. The child is not the victim here.
2. “He’s gonna wear himself out!” Yeah, that’s the dream. Unfortunately, it’s of the pipe variety.
3. “What’s the matter?” Okay, (1) I wouldn’t be able to hear a Boeing Jet take off in the parking lot. I doubt my kid is going to hear you over his raucous roaring. (2) Do you honestly think that asking him this question is going to compel him to stop mid-shriek, look you in the eye, and calmly inform you that (he’s tired, he needs to poop, the racecar cart is red-not-blue, Mama won’t buy the 5-lb gummy bear)? And if, by some miracle of the Grocery Store Gods, he does quiet down long enough to tell you why he’s screaming like a castrated hyena, what, exactly, do you intend to do with that information? (Give him a sleeping pill, slip him a laxative, spray paint the cart blue, undermine my parental authority and buy him the massive gummy bear?) No. You will do nothing, which is precisely what you should have done in the first place, when you were overcome by the moronic compulsion to attempt communication with the human equivalent of a fire alarm.
Oh, or are you asking me what’s the matter? My kid’s screaming bloody murder and I’m being accosted by clueless strangers. And I want a fucking brownie. That’s what’s the matter.
4. “Looks like somebody could use a nap.” Yeah, somebody could. Do you want to push my screaming kid around the store for a couple hours so I can pop over to the pharmaceutical aisle, grab a bottle of Nyquil, chug it as I walk through the parking lot, and pass out in the crumb-covered backseat of my minivan?
5. *Leans in and (pokes, tickles, pets) child* Hey bitch, have you ever heard the term “Don’t poke the bear?” You’ve just taken my kid from Pissed off Panda to Goaded Grizzly. Thanks.
6. “Oh, I remember those days!” OK, this makes you one of two things: (1) a liar, because if you really remembered what it’s like to push a shrieking 2-year-old through a grocery store, you’d back the hell off, or (2) a total twatsicle, because you do remember, and you know how annoying it is when total strangers get all up in yo’ business. You want to take a trip down memory lane? Go hit up the herbal supplement aisle and pick up some Gingko Biloba. And save the reminiscent bullshit for your personal memoir.
7. Anything. For the love of God, just go pay for your fucking cat food and keep your yap shut. And on your way to the checkout, you may want to swing by the pasta aisle, as you clearly don’t know how to use the noodle you have.
Here’s what it really boils down to: If my kid is in full-on fit mode, and I—his own mother—can’t stop it, a random passerby certainly isn’t going to be able to. All you’re really doing is calling more attention to the situation and prolonging the shopping trip. And after putting up with hell-on-shopping-cart-wheels for more than an hour, all I want to do is get home and dig into the box of Cosmic Brownies I just bought.
Related post: The 10 Commandments of The Grocery Store