Today we got it.
We got to spend two hours of pure bliss at....
The grocery store.
Our grocery store has FREE babysitting. Right in the store! While you shop! And it's safe! And it's secure! And my kids love it!
Did I mention that it is F-to-the-R-to-the-E-to-the-E?
Thomas Edison, you might want to scoot on over a little bit to the left and make room for the inventor of FREE babysitting at the grocery store. Because the light bulb? That was a cool invention and all, but the guy or gal who invented FREE babysitting at the grocery store? I would like to sit down and have a beer with him/her just to offer up my eternal gratitude. And I don't even drink beer. I'm more of a wine drinker. But I'll make an exception and pop open a frosty one for that occasion.
So I had this long list of groceries that I need to buy for the week, and of course, I needed an Easter ham and all the Easter meal accoutrement. I probably could have gone to the store with Annabel one day during the week while the boys were at school, but I decided that my man and I needed some alone time. And if it had to be for a two-hour stretch at the grocery store? Well then, I'll take it.
There are plenty of things to keep the kids occupied at the babysitting room at the grocery store, such as video games, toys, coloring and crafts. They have a big glass window so you can see your kids the whole time, and the security? Well, let's just say that it is top-notch, at least to my overprotective mommy self. We have to carry a walkie-talkie around the store in case one of our kids had to go to the bathroom or there was a problem. And there better not be any problems, kiddos. It's Mommy and Daddy date time.
When we were first married, one of our favorite things to do as a couple was to go grocery shopping together after a long day at work. We would wander the aisles, talk about our day, plan future meals together and buy ingredients. And then Baby #1 of 4 came along and it was all either of us could do to make a mad dash to the store and pick up a few groceries when we could. Then Baby #2, #3 and #4 came along, and...well...grocery shopping went from being a fun, leisurely activity to a dreaded chore.
For my readers who have no children, or for the readers whose children are still little infants who don't squirm or get out of their baby carriers, let me explain what it is like to take children to the grocery store. Four of them. (Although, as all parents know, having to take even ONE young child---especially a toddler---to the grocery is a challenge.)
- First of all, the grocery store aisles are long. To a little brain, long aisles say, "it's time to run laps!" At least if you are aged 2 years and up. So while you are checking out the price of Chex Mix, your kids are using that as an opportunity to run to one end of the aisle. And then back. And then to the end. And back. And then to the end. And...well...you get it.
- The ground meat is squishy. Squishy meat is irresistible to little fingers. Little fingers like to poke squishy meat, and they will poke it right through the layer of Saran Wrap. Thank goodness for hand sanitizer.
- You will try to corral one or more of your children in the grocery cart, but inevitably they will either grow too large to fit in the basket, or they will see another child running free, and think, "Hmm...that kid isn't strapped in his seat. Look at him! He is as free as a bird, walking the aisles with his mom! Screw this stinkin' grocery cart. I will just sit here and scream and moan and whine until Mom gives up and frees me from the confines of this cart." And of course, you give in. Because you are a sucker. And you cannot listen to the whining for ONE. MORE. SECOND.
- You will end up buying crap that you had no intention of buying. A few years ago, I came home with can of wasabi peas that I did not have any intention of buying, but somehow got placed in my cart. What are wasabi peas, and who buys them on purpose? One of my children decided that he had to have them, my back was turned, and VOILA! Congratulations, Clare! You are the proud owner of a can of wasabi peas. That you will never eat. In fact, I never ate them, because I do not like wasabi peas. Not that I have ever tried wasabi peas. I'm just guessing I would not like wasabi peas. Although, it is fun to say wasabi peas. Wasabi peas, wasabi peas, wasabi peas.
Bill and I dropped all four of our kids off at the babysitting room at the grocery store today, grabbed a cart and began our date.
Chicka, chicka, bow, bow...
Or is it bow, chicka, bow, bow?
Forgive my attempt at "romantic" music. I was just trying to set the scene for you.
As Bill started pushing the cart, he looked lost. I don't think he knew what to do with himself. After all, there were no kids to chase, no kids to corral, no kids to say, "Stop touching that!" to.
I said, "Do you think people are looking at us and thinking, 'Aww...look at that cute yuppie couple! I wonder if they're going to have kids someday? They would make adorable children together, for sure.'"
"Clare, where do you come up with this stuff?" Bill said.
I'm always surprised when my husband is surprised at my vivid imagination.
Anyhoo, Bill and I continued through the grocery store. Did any of you know that a half wheel of Parmesan cheese costs $118.72? I did not know that! Do you want to know why I now know that? Because I was in the specialty cheese section today with my man! I never go in the specialty cheese section! But that is what I did today! Because I had the time! And the freedom! No Kraft Singles for me today, baby. I officially became a specialty cheese snob. Bill decided that when we are retired, we are going to become specialty cheese connossieurs. I agreed. We are going to be snooty about our cheese and have snooty wine and cheese parties and throw around words like, "camembert", "queso del pais", and "manchego". We'll be known as the Snooty Cheese Snobs who frown upon the more pedestrian "cheddar" and "mozzarella" cheeses. For now, however, we'll stick with Sargento and Kraft, and keep our Snooty Cheese Snob dreams to ourselves.
Next, we headed to the card department because I needed to buy two birthday cards. I NEVER go into the card department with my children, because cards are colorful. And bright. And they beckon to be touched by little hands. And picked up. And moved around into different spots. And the cards that play music? Oy. A few months ago, my 3-year old daughter and I were in the card section of Target. She picked up a card with a picture of a hot dog on the front of it, and when she opened it up, it screamed, "WIENER! WIENER! WIENER!" Therefore, she decided that it was imperative that she open it again and again. Of all the hundreds of cards in Target, she HAD to find the "Wiener"-screaming card? Really now, what are the chances?
After the card aisle, we headed to toiletries. Who knew shaving cream could be so interesting when you actually have the time to browse?
Bill gave me a kiss in Aisle 12. But, it's not like we "made out" as the young'uns like to say. It was just a smooch. I guess you didn't need to know that, but I'm telling you because that's what people on dates do. They smooch. People corralling four children at the grocery store do not have the time or energy to smooch at the grocery store.
It was finally time to pick out our Easter ham. As I leaned over the refrigerated case, our eyes locked. I looked at Bill longingly and said as I caressed the pork, "Honey, how many pounds of meat can you handle?"
Perhaps I should give up blogging and start writing romance novels about harried housewives with vivid imaginations who think the grocery store is romantic.
Bill and I headed to the check-out and while he loaded the groceries on the moving belt, I got the chance to skim People and US Weekly to find out why Sandra Bullock is so heartbroken, and why Jesse James is a jerk. Really though, with a name like, "Jesse James," one of the most notorious criminals of all time, is it that big of a shocker? Poor Sandra.
Once the check-out was complete, I headed over to the babysitting room to retrieve my children. According to my 5-year old son, "It was the best day ever." Ahh...to be young, and to have such low standards for a day.
It was win-win for all. The kids had a fabulous time, behaved well, and want to go back soon. Bill and I got to reconnect for two hours and have an adult conversation.
Romance. It's what you make of it.