4/8/09

Grocery cart surfing

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Yes, we all "lose it" from time to time; including me - or maybe especially me. The statistics on this JBJ episode that 40% think that parents who "lose it" are being bad parents, but that 95% of parents admit to "losing it" are interesting. I guess that's guilt talking. We judge others in place of ourselves and our own unthinkable bad behavior.
I'm reminiscing now about an incident several years ago, when my three darlings were all preschoolers. I was trying to get the grocery shopping done with them in tow - which is never good. They kept competing over riding the side of the cart, despite the fact that I was repeatedly removing each child over and over from the cart and admonishing them that they should stay off the cart lest they tip it over. Every time I removed a child, there would be a few seconds of unencumbered shopping and then a child would hop up onto the side of the cart to ride along again. As soon as one hopped on, the others were not to be left out or deprived of any fun, and so a second and then third child would hop on the lower rack and latch on to the side of the shopping cart. I would have to stop to admonish and gesticulate as if I were shooing pigeons away from a picnic spot.
After about half an hour of shopping and shooing, I was getting VERY FRUSTRATED with my cart-climbing kids! I just wanted to finish shopping. I didn't want to have to quit and come back later. I was stumped as to why they could not understand my repeated and repeated instructions to STAY OFF THE CART!
Finally, it happened. One hopped on again and a second child immediately followed suit. They began to struggle and jostle for position. I had JUST pulled them off on the last aisle! I knew what was going to happen, but I had "LOST IT" and just let the incident play out. The struggling pair were quickly joined on the cart by the third competitive preschooler. Their collective weight, bumping around on one side of a grocery cart, led to the inevitable: the cart tipped slowly and then CRASHED down on all three of them.
I could see they weren't seriously hurt. The cart wasn't very full or heavy and they landed on their backs and backsides, not their hard heads. Besides the weight and impact of the cart was divided by three - remember?
In my "lost it" state, I wasn't really concerned about any boo-boos they may have sustained, I was just steamed and beyond frustrated!
An older woman on the same aisle came rushing toward us with a loud gasp!
"Oh no! Poor babies!" she exclaimed.
"Poor babies?!? I told them they were going to turn the cart over, but did they want to listen? NO! They wanted to fight over the cart instead and they got what they deserved!"
Yes, I said this to the sweet, concerned, grandmotherly woman. I did. I admit it. I was definitely at the end of my patience and compassion rope. She gave me a open-mouthed look of disbelief and quickly (and wisely) walked away.
I did pull the cart off of my poor little children and made sure they had no swelling or bruising before I made them sit down on the floor (criss-cross applesauce) for a time-out while I regained my composure. Another shopper or two walked by and gave us all a look while we sat there cooling and contemplating, but we got it together and finished the shopping.
I would like to say that they all learned their lesson and never tried cart-surfing again; but alas, they did not. But they did get better at it and that WAS the only time they succeeded in turning the cart over.

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