What is that smell?
Every time we got in our minivan there was a horrible stench. My husband compulsively checked under the seats for lost sippy cups filled with rancid milk. He scoured every nook and cranny for the source of that smell.
Only I knew that the smell was rotten eggs from that time I lost it in the grocery store parking lot and egged the interior of my minivan.
I blame it on those horrible car-shaped grocery carts. We would pull into the parking lot and my boys, ages two and three, would whine and whimper until we found one. And once they were buckled in the car cart, all they wanted to do was get out of it.
The trick was to not let the cart come to a complete stop. So I found myself pushing it ten feet in front of me while I stayed behind to haphazardly grab what I could off the shelf and then jog to catch up to the cart which was usually about to plow over a senior citizen.
It was after one of these lovely shopping trips that I decided to check myself out of the grocery store and use the self scanner. That had to be better than waiting in line right? There was an open one right in front of me.
But the car cart was actually too wide for the check out area. It proceeded to get totally stuck between the candy and the scanner.
And because the cart had stopped moving my kids decided to get out. But they couldn’t because they were jammed in between the scanner and the candy.
They started to cry.
Trying to focus on getting out of there, I was scanning my items and placing them on the belt quickly but with the crying kids it rapidly turned into forcefully and impatiently. The scanner was not interested in cooperating. It was telling me all sorts of things like “Place item in bag” over and over again. It finally settled on “Please wait for attendant.”
The attendant didn’t come and my kids were really amping it up. Hang in there guys, Mama’s almost done, I assured them through gritted teeth.
When the attendant did saunter over, she gave me a lecture on how to scan groceries in a certain tone that made me want to flee as quickly as possible. My kids wanted to get out of the car cart. I wished I could crawl in it and disappear.
I finished scanning. Kids still screaming. I paid. Kids still screaming. I tossed my un-bagged groceries into the cart. Kids still screaming.
And then I threw all of my body weight into the beloved car cart to get it unstuck. The boys were still trying to claw their way out with tears and snot streaming down their faces.
When we got to our mini-van, I untangled the boys who had now started in on each other and wrangled them into their car seats. Kids still screaming. I slammed the doors (our van wasn’t fancy enough to have automatic doors). It felt pretty good to slam something.
I stood at the back of the van with the car cart full of unbagged groceries. I started throwing them. Picking up each item and pitching it into the back of the van.
The last item was the eggs. I chucked the whole carton into the back where they splattered into the upholstery and all over the rest of the groceries.
I returned the car cart daring anyone in the parking lot to say something to me, got in the car, and handed each of the boys a lollipop because lollipops fix everything. There was finally a moment of quiet peppered by lollipop slurping and a few leftover hiccups.
I picked my head up off the steering wheel and asked, “Who wants to go to the park before lunch?”
I eventually grew out of throwing things. And I eventually got a job because being at home with them wasn’t what I thought it would be. And now that they are seven and eight, I grocery shop alone. And I’m not sad about it at all. But my heart rate does pick up a bit every time I see one of those car carts.
When Kaly Sullivan doesn’t have her nose in a book, she wrangles and referees two elementary aged boys and blogs about her often-humorous efforts to lead a mindful, connected life. She’s also the co-founder of Harlow Park Media and recently authored a book about relocating with kids which will be available as soon as she can decide on a title.