Thursday, May 29, 2008

Trade Her for Trader Joe?

For those of you not familiar with Trader Joe's, it's a quaint little grocery store with organic (over-packaged) produce, wood floors, delicious samples, and tiny shopping carts that roll better side-ways than forward.  The aisles are tight, but the food selection makes me feel like I'm a better chef than I am.  So Trader Joe's is a favorite for grocery shopping.

With tight aisles and two 3-year-olds, the kids go in the cart only occasionally squishing the tomatoes and Milton's bread.  Trader Joe, that's him over there I think,

has this clever idea to keep kids busy searching for Ringo the ring-tailed lemur whilst Mom is trying to make her cart steer forward blissfully shopping.

"Is that it?" pointing to a paper tree?

"Mom, is that it?" pointing to a box of cookies.

"Is that the monkey?" pointing to, well, a monkey, but not a lemur.  Sheez.  

This game is supposed to help me focus my efforts on my shopping list?  

So when the game is over (we never did find that damn lemur) the kids are awarded a treat at the check-out lane.  The treat:  peanut butter filled pretzels.  Dude, Trader Joe, ever heard of this little thing going around with kids called a peanut allergy?  We pass on the anaphlactic pretzels and opt for a balloon instead.  Does every outing have to end up like Disneyland for kids these days?  Answer.  Yes.  

So the cart is now too full for bagged groceries (yes, we bring our own bags) and two kids, so the kids, holding balloons, walk outside where we are barraged with Save California's Environment or You're Going To Hell friendly requests to sign petitions.  I'm getting annoyed at Save California Girl.  The cart is rolling (side-ways) down the wheelchair ramp, the kids balloons are precariously blowing around, and other (side-ways) rolling carts are threatening to knock my kids into the parking lot.  After managing to shit on the planet and presumably go to Hell, I try to navigate two kids, two balloons, and a effed up shopping cart through lunch-time traffic in an overstuffed parking lot.  

It looks something like this:

Me (holding the cart with one hand, holding Tatum's ballooned hand):  "Tatum and Chase, hold hands."  (A common request that we've practiced in parking lots many times).

(Car waiting ... inching ... waiting ... inching ...)

Tatum makes a fist with her free hand.

Me:  "Tatum, hold Chase's hand NOW."

Chase trying to hold his sister's hand and a balloon.  

(Car inching .... still waiting for us to cross ... cart rolling sideways ...)

Tatum:  (smirking)  "No."

Chase:  "Tatum, hold my hand."  

Me:  (Yanking Tatum's hand and placing it on the cart, I reach for Chase's hand as we proceed to the car.)

As I'm angrily buckling Tatum into the car seat, and holding her balloon string with my teeth  I ask, "WHY were you not holding his hand?"

No answer.  

"Tatum, how would you feel if Chase got hit by a car because YOU wouldn't hold his hand?"  

Tatum:  "Happy."

Me:  "HAPPY?  You would feel HAPPY if your brother got hit by a car?"

Tatum:  (Smirking)

I change gears.  Maybe she doesn't realize that getting hit by a car is a bad thing (I haven't used that term so freely before), but I'm furious now.  

Me:  "You would feel HAPPY if your brother got squished by a car?"  (I don't know where I'm going with this, but I can't believe what I'm hearing.

Tatum:  "Yes.  I would be happy."

I'm boiling.  I know I shouldn't play the game but I'm just too pissed to stop.  I take her balloon, wave it in her face, and release it to Trader Heaven.  

She loses it.  Tears.  Screaming from buckled position.

I feel victory ... for about a half a second.  Then I feel like an ass.  Cruel.  Defeated by a 3 year old.

As we drive away, through Tatum's sobs, Chase says, "It's okay Tatum.  We can share my balloon."  (The empathy I was looking for in the parking lot from the other kid...)

Driving home in silence I can't help but wonder what I'm doing wrong.  Why did I let my tiny daughter get the best of me?  She fell asleep on the drive.  I wanted to be there the minute she woke up to talk it over.  She apologized.  I apologized.  

But how does this game go when she's fourteen?  


Motherhood for Dummies said...

oh you are too hard on your self. You obviously are doing something great because Chase was so sweet and willing to share and comfort. He must have learned that from someone :)

Lori said...

hey one out of 2 isn't bad... just kidding... I'm sure there are days when the scenario would have played out totally differently! Remember they are 3... reasoning isn't always top priority

and you are a good mommy... look at Chase's reaction to his sister's sorrow

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Your head explodes frequently.

Lindsey said...

Oh honey, my 4 year old wins a lot. It's day to day around here.

I really dread those teenage anst years. What will we do?

Oh yeah. Drink margaritas and pray. Wait, that doesn't sound so good, does it?

Marie around the World said...

You are never as good as you want to be after a shopping trip with kids. I also had for a while this reaction of shocking my daughter so she could realize the absurdity/enormity of what she just said.
That's ok, you explained to her, you apologized...don't feel too guilty.

Karen said...

At some point we finally, finally learn to let it go. We recognize that at least one of us is over tired and say we'll pick up the fight when we're rested. It helps.

I've been there.

debawriter said...

THAT is my every day.

And you captured the Trader Joe's run perfectly. Except in my neck of the woods, kids look for a turtle.

Should be an exploding head instead, am I right?


Krystyn said...

I think we all have those moments! We treat our kids as older than they are because we have a lapse for a split second.

Hopefully, she won't remember! And, notice that your son reacted, too! You're doing good.

Kristen said...

Oh hang in there Jamie!

You are doing a great job, and hey look how Chase reacted.

I feel like I battle our 3 year old every day every minute, some days. But, I think battling now, is better than battling when 15. Hang in there, consistancy, is easier said than done. And literally, what else were you to do? You had your hands full, not like you could have just walked off and talked calmly to her, right?

You are a GREAT Mom, and Tatum knows that. :)

Melanie said...

Don't beat yourself up. It happens. Next time (and there WILL be a next time) you both will handle it better.

Trader Joe's is for weekends when little dude can stay with Dad! LOL!I do Henry's with him so he can push the mini cart and help me with the bulk granola and yogurt pretzels.

Kathryn said...

Wow. I swear I could have written this. I do this too many times. I constantly try to right a wrong that wasn't really wrong in the first place only to be shown up by one of my precious boys who uses the compassion I should have. MAN!
Parenting is hard.
Hang in there!

OHmommy said...

Do not beat your self up.

I shop alone. Always. Ok... maybe not at Target. But I try to shop alone.

katydidnot said...

oh jamie. i've done it. it feels awful, truly. and it's okay. honestly. chase and tatum are awesome. and so are you. i totally still want to babysit!

Jasmine said...

Hey Jaime- I thought this was a great post. We have all done this as parents and I know I will have many more of these lapses in judgement (as you will too).
Just today I realized I was arguing with Diego over something very silly and I told him "Mommy and you need to take a nap." Mind you, I said this mid-arguement. He agreed. He's actually sleeping right now and mommy is getting some computer time. Alone. Without my three year old. : )
Parenting is hard and even harder to be a good parent, so I would look at Chase as a fine example of the good parenting that is going on in your home. Tatum is great as well, she was just tired and moody. As if you don't get that way!

Denise Thomas said...

sweet girl - i could have written that post. it only would have been a problem if you DIDN'T have that reaction. everyone is right:look how Chase reacted. we are all entitled to blow our stacks every few minutes I MEAN once in a while.....

dkuroiwa said...

So...I don't think that I have ever actually been IN a Trader Joe's...but...we have talked about it in class and many of my students have made a point of going into one on trips made to the States and they always bring me back the shopping bags...Trader Joe's bags ROCK!!

Some evenings, after dealing with my boys during the day, I feel if no one was physically hurt and both both boys were alive and breathing and feeling no bad feelings about things that happened during the day....then I had done my Mommy job. And I deserve a drink (or a piece of chocolate...or something!!)....because, it would all start again in the morning when they woke up.
Your kids are wonderful...they love each other, even though just a few minutes before they hated each other (or seemed to)...and you...are a good mom.

Denise said...

Jamie, I've done it too! Many times. And let me tell you that when they are 14 - you'll win!!

Wendi said...

Oh Jamie...thank you for this little post!
This means I am not alone.
This means there is someone out there having a hard day at the grocery store, the parking lot, and the car.
I thought I was the only one!
Hang in there are a fabulous mommy!

Amy said...

Live it. Daily.
I'm really impressed you took both of them shopping with you. I gave up shopping with more than one kid a long time ago!

Misty said...

You know what? You're a great mother.
Period. And lets not pretend we haven't done the same thing, too, in our own form, because we have, and will do it again. No biggie. Really. I heart you.

Stephanie said...

Don't be too hard on yourself. It was a highly stressful situation with a lot going on and I cannot imagine shopping with 2 kids! I try not to even bring my 1 child with me, because when I do it's a lot harder than going alone. And look how sweet he was to share his balloon - so you are doing something right ;)

4 Little Men & Twins said...

Sounds oh so familiar... kids just don't know what they are saying sometimes. :)


Lisa said...

That, my friend, is why being a mom is the hardest job ever. Because you love them & care so much it's hard to let it go. We've all been there....sorry your day had to be today.

PS - I've heard Trader Joe's has cheap boos. Hope your cart had some of those inside too!!!

Lisa said...

Sorry you had a rough time--at least Chase was sweet!
On the plus side--did you get any yummy treats--those always help me after grocery shopping. I'm a total Whole Foods gal but I am intrigued by Trader Joes--esp. that two buck chuck I hear so much about!

Cecily R said...

My kids get the best of me ALL. THE. TIME. Never feel like you are alone on that score.

And I bet, on a different day, the roles would reverse and Tatum would be the one offering comfort and a balloon. At least that's how it works in my house. Good kids that sometimes act stinky.

Have I told you, by the way, how much I enjoy your writing??

Nap Warden said...

For me...kiddos and shopping don't mix. It's so hard. I think it always ends in a tantrum:(

Jasmine said...

Oh, also, at our Trader 'we' (meaning mommy) look for a monkey. I can never find it as well. Also, they have stopped with the yummy pretzel treats which are heathier (and Diego is not allergic to) and now give cheap-o lolly-pops! Yuck! So not the thing I like to give a 3 year old boy!

CC said...

They just made a new BIGGER Trader Joes. Thank goodness. I can actually fit in the aisles with the cart now! But we only go about 3 times per year because it is such an event.

And I've learned, never ask an open ended question like that when the answer could be disastrous!

Trish said...

Did you try "pocket?" :-)

I love that little stinker - and her brother!


Chrissy said...

I think the games stay pretty much the at least you have time to experiment with different reactions. See? Time is on your side!

So@24 said...

Interesting read! You rarely hear about these stories in parenthood.

But, you're right... the balloon had to go.

Jennifer H said...

We've all been there, and I think that a parking lot after an outing with two kids is ripe for a meltdown. So don't be hard on yourself. We've all had eerily similar moments.

Hang in there. You'll need your energy for 14. :-)

JCK said...

What a refreshingly honest post about being a mom!

Love that Trader Joe's!! Spend MUCHO time there. Could probably pull up a cot. What IS up with those horrible sideways carts, anyway?!

Laski said...

You are a great momma. Both kiddies are alive and well, right? Job well done :)

I think once kids hit their teen years the cuteness factor disappears and it is a lot easier to NOT let them win :) I'm just thinkin' . . .

No Trader Joe's. Not even a Target . . .

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

Dude, every day that you wake up and still have twin terrors is a day that you done good.

Our grocery store keeps kids busy by having a little daycare. You drop the kid off, they give you a pager, and they actually think you will return to get them in an hour or two. Quite the assumption, don't you think?

Cheri said...

1. Tatum is totally writing her tell-all memoir as you read this.

2. I'm not judging you. Publishers are already lining up to purchase the three tell-all memoirs my daughters are writing.

3. That wasn't my car that got too close to Chase, this time. I was down the street at Harvest Ranch spending $2 on a small bottle of water and $47.95 on two marinated chicken breasts.

Cindy said...

I love this post. You are so honest and make me feel better. Sometimes I swear my 5 year old can make me feel like a child sometimes.
Tomorrow will be a better day.

Kellan said...

Well ... it just gets worse and harder and you feel even more like a jerk! You are not alone in your feelings of defeat, if that is any help.

Have a good afternoon - see you soon - Kellan

MamaGeek said...

1 out 2 is SO not bad. Don't be to hard on yourself gir. They ARE just preparing you for the teen years.

Amy said...

Isn't it sick how they know how to play us? Thankfully she's darn cute, right? Hope you had a great weekend. =)

My Ice Cream Diary said...

No need to wait for 14, just wait till 6-7. Why do you think I stopped homeschooling my daughter? It took me 2 years, and the separation provided by school, to finally figure out her game and how not to play it, and I still get caught up in it if I'm not prepared. I could tell you horror stories of the way she is able to turn a simple event into me loosing my mind and coming away feeling like the worlds stupidest and meanest mom in the world, all while she is smirking.

But I won't tell you how I've learned to "win" here because, unless you've been through it, it sounds so wrong.

Angela said...

I would say we all have days like that. I guess we just have to be glad they are born smaller than us

Kimber said...

I love your honesty. i must confess..I would have doen the exact same thing!