Traveling to the grocery store with any children, in general, can be like a scene from the movie Braveheart... As you drive to the store, you're already mentally preparing yourself for what will or could unfold once arriving. That is, assuming the ride to the grocery was peaceful and filled with the sound of Veggie Tales, Paw Patrol, or something like that, and not a melt down. You find a parking space after driving up and down every isle to find the spot closest to the door, AND right beside a cart holder thingy (or whatever those are called). Inhale, exhale. Turn around and give the speech that will set the tone for the next 1-2 hours. "Today, we will conquer this grocery store... We will not miss one thing on my list because you will be well behaved and stay by my side through this entire journey. I believe in you! Now lets go get some toilet paper!!... Yes, Johnny, you have to wear your shoes; you will burn your tootsies on the pavement."
The tone is now set, or so you think. You manage to get little Johnny into the store with shoes on his feet, but immediately after entering the shoes are thrown into the cart. It's not worth the fight. After all, you are here to win the war. Inhale, exhale. You have this grocery store mapped out. You are a prepared parent! To enter a store without knowing the layout is to walk to your own demise. First things first, the potty break. Every seasoned parent knows the power of the potty break. It can save 20 minutes off a grocery trip. That is, of course, your children actually have to go! It's a risk, but one worth taking. Everyone but little Johnny goes potty, and after much negotiation and a very persuasive speech on his end, you believe him, so, onward with the grocery trip!
You move quickly, with one skipping with the occasional dance leap, the other in a near full run. Exercise is good for their health, so you continue. The quick glance back to see if they are still on your tail, and not running into center isle displays or other shopping warriors. By isle 3 you are nearly half way done and the sense of pride starts to trickle in. And then abruptly interrupted by the all too familiar phrase, "I need to go potty!" (Insert your glance) "But I weally weally need to go!!!" You remind him of his previous declaration of not having to pee. Then the hand goes to the, well, you know, legs crossed. Other shoppers at this point noticing the poor chap's circumstance. Not wanting to be that parent, you whip your cart around and head back to the restroom.
20 minutes later...
After the restroom experience, where little Johnny has to do everything himself and allowing each child to pick up some random toy left by other parent shoppers, no doubt, to keep them busy and hopeful to adding it to their collection of random toys on the floor of the car, you are off! Picking the pace up even more and deciding what items to scratch off the list because you forgot them in isles 1-3, your warriors behind are starting to slow down. Some "encouraging" words later and you make some ground. Then... hunger strikes, ironically, in the isle where the smashed fruit in those fun, kid-friendly, squeeze containers live. I honestly think they are placed halfway through the store on purpose, just so the kids will beg and the parents think, "Hey, it's healthy right?! Win, win!" Off screws the cap, temporarily satisfied child.
You are now in the home stretch... one child reluctantly now in the cart, surrounded by groceries, trying his best to persuade you to let him out of the cart. Ha-ha, not this time buster! The other, practically crawling, due to sore legs from skipping and dance leaps. You grab the bananas, take a quick look at the list to see what you missed, other than what you took off the list already, and... bam! Toilet paper! How did we forget the toilet paper?! You question whether it is actually needed, after all, real warriors don't use toilet paper... Are napkins a good substitute? (they're not, first hand experience) Not able to fully convince yourself, you throw the crawling kid on top of some canned goods and high tail it to the back of the store.
You will be victorious!!
Another shuffle at the check out line, and more persuasive talk about the random toys long forgotten about in isle 8, but is now the center of their world! You quickly put them on a nearby shelf and hustle the groceries out of the cart before a mysterious item finds it's way on the conveyor belt (happened to me more than once!). Not forgetting that now empty fruit smash pouch and finding little Johnny's shoes, him now in the cart with dirt-stained feet, you don't even bother. Before slipping out of the store, you grab yourself a Starbucks, a little victory treat on the way home. Dora, Veggie Tales or whatever sounds really good about now! You walk back to the vehicle, hair a little undone, make-up (if wearing any) a little smeared, you give out a sigh. It is finished!
Now... enter in a special needs child into that scenario... I don't think any movie made is an acceptable metaphor! Generally, with my Sky, unless I am blessed to get one of the carts made for special needs persons, I use two carts. One to push, one to pull. (Oh, Sky can walk, but that usually turns into an Olympic race and not a grocery run.) Since pulling the heavier load is the easiest, weighing in over 100 pounds, I pull Sky. That lasts for about a whole 10 minutes until he discovers he can kick my hand with his AFO's and shoes covered feet! Ouch!! Sky has been known to clear shelves, so I must park him at least 3 feet away from ANYTHING. I can control where he is, but not other shoppers. The first look I get is, "why is there a, nearly, teenage boy riding in the cart, while your 3 year old is walking?" Some have even said this out loud. But, usually after getting a quick slap, hair pulled or some groceries flown out of their cart, they get it and I fall over myself in apologies. Move Sky's cart, him now near a food shelf, then I have another problem on my hands. One day Sky knocked over half a Juice Barrel display! Guess he was thirsty! Ha ha ha...
Check out is really the struggle. A narrow lane with goodies on one side, and a conveyor belt that can easily be climbed onto on the other. Me unloading groceries, girls begging for random toy, Sky deciding its time to unload himself onto the conveyor belt... The worse is the card reader, or the spinning bag holder. More than once have I gotten the fifth degree about Sky spinning the bag thingy! Some joyful tears were shed the day the self checkout stations came to my hometown!
As wild and crazy as most of you reading this understand the grocery trip to be, in the end we are the blessed ones. How boring would it be to have an uneventful shopping experience? (insert fake laugh) Our life experiences give us a sense of humor, and many memories. We always have a story, although not funny at the time it happened, later on we chuckle and wonder how we lived through it. But, we do.
We are the mighty shopping warriors!
We may be the crazy ones to many others, in reality, we harness a love so powerful it makes us brave.
Until next time... don't forget the toilet paper.