Sunday, January 02, 2005

Costco with Kids

Let me start off by saying right up front: I don’t usually take the kids with me to Costco. I wait until someone – my husband, my mom, some random stranger who came to the door handing out Watchtower magazines – can watch the Denizens while I bounce over to fill up our freezer, garage shelves and storage shed with bulk goods.

But every so often…I forget, and I say to myself something inane like, “Aw, it’s OK. I’m just going to be doing a quick fill-in shop anyway, so I’ll just go ahead and take them with me rather than waste any of that precious hubby-time on it…”

So. After getting the DH and the visiting BIL off for the day, I ran upstairs and took a nice hot shower. That was the last peaceful moment of the day. There then followed the usual rout of getting four kids up, dressed, hair and teeth brushed and little faces washed.

Finally, I threw them all in the van and we did the hustle, first to Eldest’s (age six) school and then waaaaaaaaaaaay across town to drop Danger Mouse (age four) off at her too-darned-short preschool program. Rushed home with Boo Bug (age three) and Bacon Bit (five months), cleaned about half of the house, fed the baby, told Boo Bug three times that yes, we were going to get McDonalds today and no, I hadn’t forgotten that I promised, dropped everything, rushed back, grabbed Danger Mouse and fled to McDonalds. Threw the Happy Meals over my shoulder at the kids, and made for Costco.

OK, now, let’s pause here. Going to Costco with three small children along is just plain mental. And I say that as a mom who has four really good kids. These are kids who will respond to things like a Glare of Doom and a quietly menacing, “Stop that this very instant…or…ELSE!” I don’t have kids who will scream and cry for everything they see (ask incessantly, yes; scream and cry, no). I don’t have kids who take advantage of the fact that most of us are reluctant to beat them in public to act out. They usually behave about the same out as they do at home, which is 90% Angel and 10% Pure Evil.

But I’m looking at their shining little happy faces and I think to myself, “Shoot yes. I can get through this before anybody gets tired/irritable/otherwise obnoxious.”


Got twenty minutes into the shopping experience only to hear the dreaded cry of, “I have to go poooooooottttttteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

Aw, heck. I asked her if she had to go potty 1) before we left the preschool site, 2) while we were in the drive-thru at McDonalds, AND 3) before we started shopping. All three times, she acted insulted and replied, in tones implying I was the rudest person alive, “No!”


So, we rushed to the potty and returned to find our cart was gone (I suspect some overzealous employee grabbed it and did ‘go backs’ on all my stuff!).

Well, spit. So, we start over. Procure a new cart, and off we go.

About three-quarters of the way through all this, I suddenly remembered that today was a MINIMUM day, not an EARLY RELEASE day. Pickup is at 12:40, not 1:30. While most of the time such random acts of memory are just irritating (like remembering my high school sweetheart’s phone number while trying to balance the checkbook), this one was pretty timely.

I now have precisely half an hour to finish shopping, pay, load stuff into the van and get my butt to Eldest’s school…fifteen minutes away.


As I’m loading the groceries, Bacon Bit decides he’s had enough and begins screaming as though someone is driving red-hot nails under his toenails. Time check: 12:35. I have five minutes to drive fifteen minutes.

I began meditating and telling myself that I will be far from the last parent to toddle up for offspring-removal. I remind myself that none of my children have ever actually died from pissed-off crying in route to anything. Besides, since we’re going to be kinda late, maybe the pickup line won’t be so bad…?

So off we bounce, me answering an endless stream of questions from the far regions of the van:
Mommy, do spiders drink blood?
Mommy, does yarn come from yams?
Mommy, how many sheets do we have?
Mommy, can I have a cookie?

What, again?! Swell. Let’s check the scoreboard, shall we? Children Screaming: 2. Children NOT screaming: 1.

Ah, here’s the scho-HOLY SHHHHEEEEEEEIT, I have not seen this many cars stacked up and goin’ nowhere since that time we went to a Nascar race at Sears Points many years ago and got stuck in the ‘exit’ traffic for, like, almost two and a half hours!

Boo Bug starts crying because, well, nobody likes to feel left out of a trend. Screamers 3, Mommy 0.

I turn up the radio.

They scream louder.

Finally, we’re pulling up to the school. I see lots of kids with large boxes marked, “Community Fund Raiser”. Ah yes, the infamous annual fund raiser. Eldest will have such a box.


“Hey, Eldest,” I say as she swarms toward the van. “Did you have a box today?”

“Danger Mouse!” she screams, ignoring me. “I got candy at school today and I saved ya some!”

“Eldest! Do you have a box?”

((blank stare from offspring))

Now, there’s a huge line of cars behind me, and they are all just as glad to be there as I am – which is to say, not one little bit. We all just wanna go home and lie down with a cold cloth on our collective foreheads and maybe a nice little martini (or two). And my child is staring at me as though I’ve just asked her to define the word ‘mnemenic’.

“Box, box, did they give you a box at school today?”

Box? Box? I have NO IDEA what that word means. Finally, after much contemplation, she says, slowly, “Noooooooooo. No box.”

Hmm. But, I’m blocking the pickup lane big time, so I jerk my thumb at her chair and instruct her to sit down and buckle up.

You see it coming, right?

Of course.

About halfway home, wedged in amongst the other cries, questions and comments, comes a sudden wail: “Mommmmmmeeeeeeee! I forgot my box! It’s on the LAWN at school!!”


Repeating the phrase, “She’s just a child, she’s just a child, she’s just a child” in my head, I assess the situation.

I have perishables in the van from Costco.
I have a screaming infant who is going to pop like an overripe cranberry if his needs are not attended PDQ.
I have a preschooler making those little urgent sounds preschoolers make when a potty accident is nigh.
Boo Bug is kicking off her shoes and whimpering, not sure why she’s crying but not wanting to be unfashionable.

“Oh well,” I say. “Let’s hope someone picks it up and puts it away for you.”

Screamers: 4. Mommy: 0.

But, we made it home in time to avert Potty Disaster, got Bacon Bit taken care of (it was a diaper issue causing all that ruckus, for those of you keeping score at home) got the perishables put away and yes, her teacher found her box and put it away safely for her.

Just another day in the Den of Chaos.


wrnglrjan said...

I love it! I've got a blog set up somewhere here, too, but haven't managed to get anything interesting posted there yet.

BTW, what is the definition of 'mnemenic'?

takes the shopping cart into the restroom at Costco, just to be

Mother of Chaos said...

Mnemenic, adj. - Relating to memory.

These are the words people come up with when they find flipping through a dictionary a good source of cheap entertainment.