Today was a fateful day. A dreadful day. One of those days that you know is coming, but avoid the very thought...allowing the anticipation to build slowly and stealthily in the background, somewhere just beyond your conscious notice. One of those days that are simply too horrific to envision in advance.
One of our twice-monthly grocery shopping trips.
The hell begins, fittingly, before we even leave the house. You see, my children hate oatmeal (apparently they'll lift this rule if ~L~ both makes and serves it for them, but me making it or even ~L~ making it and me serving it doesn't do the trick), and this was pretty much all that was left in the house to eat (I said I dread the shopping trips...). So the children are *hungry.*
Toddlerness wants to wear a particular shirt. But doesn't want to wear a skirt. Or pants. Or underwear.
After a screaming fit that lasts half an hour and means unlocking and reentering the house twice for alternate clothing, she happily locks herself - now wearing an ENTIRELY different outfit (both shirt and pants pronounced "princess") - into her carseat.
Unlock the house again and get the cell phone.
Um, repeat for the wallet.
The laundry is done, might as well haul that in before we leave.
Shit, the kids got out of the car.
Well, we eventually get ourselves, all of ourselves, clothed and with all the necessary shopping supplies, into the van and off towards the store. We find a package of crackers - unopened even! - in the car, and the kids dig in. We even listen to a new CD - "Live, Live" Sister Hazel - on the way. I arrive with only slightly elevated blood pressure. And get a parking space near the front of the store!
Toddlerness decides that the cart isn't very princess. Luckily the carts at Winco are roomy and I can stick her in the basket even while she is kicking and screaming. Double-lucky: the patrons at Winco tend to be the sort that understands this bit of necessary expediency, and smile knowingly as I stuff her (still kicking and screaming) into the cart. At this point I become happy that I can't afford to shop at Whole Foods.
Shit, they don't do the sample thing at Winco. Nobody will notice if she eats a few grapes on the way, right?
We are (predictably) on the exact.complete.total.opposite.corner of the store when Toddlerness begins to hop up and down in the cart "I NEEDA MAKEA PEEEEEEEEEEE". Daddy with a baby in a mei tai (I guess there ARE some crunchies in Winco...) looks at me like I'm the oddest being on earth when, instead of scooping her up and RUNNINGLIKEMAD, I let Girliness continue to write the numerical labels for our bulk food items while Toddlerness does the potty dance.
He doesn't see Toddlerness stop potty dancing and start grabbing magazines as we high-tail it through the check-line to the restrooms. So he gets to take a quick but knowing glance at us once more as we arrive in the meat section.
Cheap roast! Cheap pork! Score! Let's go get some chick...what's that smell?!!!...OMG FORGET THE CHICKEN.
Boyness and Girliness start to play tag and run into an old lady, who looks totally bewildered at this turn of events. I yell and separate.
We positively dash through the final portion of the store, halted by Girliness' pathetic request for some bread (so I can make some sandwiches maaaamaaa we never get bread anymorrrrre).
Winco does not carry ANY BREAD AT ALL that doesn't have milk in it. Oh, no, not a single loaf. A whole aisle of bread. A whole...hell, it felt like half an hour, maybe it was really 15 minutes?...of label reading. No bread.
Meanwhile, the kids decide to amuse themselves by seeing how fast they can run circles around the cart.
I begin to contemplate buying large volumes of alcohol. That's on the opposite side of the store. I judge it not worth it.
We go through the checkout. Boyness begins a game where he runs full-speed from one end of the register belt to the other, tags Girliness' hand with his foot, and then repeats.
I separate and yell.
The label has fallen off the vegetable oil. The checker asks "was it $2.18?" This sounds too high but if it gets me out of the store...whatever.
I tell the kids to just use the damn plastic bags.
We leave. I put on Linkin Park, eat a bagel, and try to breathe.
We arrive at Trader Joes (yes, we do require two stops).
The kids whine and ask to stay in the car. This will probably take me about half an hour. NO.
The kids throw 10 (not kidding) boxes of cereal in the cart. I threaten not to buy any cereal at all. They return 5 boxes. *Breathe* I can handle that *breathe.*
Trader Joes doesn't have milk-free chocolate chips in stock.
The kids begin to play a game of tag. The store is crowded. They run into someone who runs into a display and boxes go flying.
I pick up a six-pack of amber ale.
I tell the children that whoever is the quietest gets the first cookie when we get home.
They stare at each other, completely silent, for about 10 seconds. Boyness snorts. Girliness yells that Boyness has lost. Boyness yells that Girliness is being louder. They begin a full-blown-punching-kicking-slapping fight in the checkout aisle.
I separate them physically, placing them on opposite sides of the cart, and tell them that if they look at each other again before we get out the door they can forget everything they've ever known about dessert.
And then I put some chocolate in the cart. No, kids, it's for me.
We obviously survived, since I'm here typing. The kids have done some crazy thing in the living room for the past half hour, I don't care anymore.
Thanksgiving Letter to the Family 2016
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