Tuesday, July 27, 2010

This Is Why We Do This

I've come to the realization that there are some things our family does that might be considered rather odd. I guess I've always known this, but it's become more apparent in one particular area lately. The kids have participated in a few "grown up" activities lately. I wouldn't have considered them as such but when we've gone out some community members have made comments about it. Good thing is that they have been comments of affirmation. The bad thing - sad thing - is that these activities are seen as unusual. I really feel that they should be part of a child's regular activity. The activity I'm talking about is grocery shopping. Usually I have the kids do their shopping at the farmers market, but they have certainly helped at the grocery store. The kids have certain things they like to get at the farmers market - tortilla chips, peaches, plums, what ever grabs their attention. TOday though I want to focus on grocery store shopping.

I know there are many parents out there who would rather just get the shopping done, or use grocery shopping as an escape from the daily chaos. I'm just not one of those parents. If shopping is a necessary evil in my life the children should have to suffer the torture as well. Maybe it's those people who approach shopping as torture that make shopping painful for me. It's the people rushing about acting as if all the other shoppers are in their way. The pushy cart people who I swear will one day roll over me. My favorite - the person who thinks their shopping for cookies supersedes my shopping for cookies. Granted if you're that skinny you definitely need them more than me. (see you were expecting a fat joke here weren't you - go read their blog where they talk about me in the cookie isle) It's the rude shoppers who have forced me to drastic shopping methods.

Shopping method #1 - Ignorance is Bliss
Some days I am at the store all by my self. (It's rare and usually when the kids are at some activity that I'm not driving them to and from.) It's a miracle how shopping changes when you are completely ignorant to all the other shoppers. Here's the trick - pull out those ear buds and put them in your ears. You could plug them into your mp3 layer and listen to anything. For me it's a compilation of movie soundtracks, 80's rock, classical, middle eastern (apologies to those in the international foods isle the other day. I just got the urge to belly dance right then. Awesome song.). I think a few of Nate's country songs made it on there too, but I've been deleting as fast as I hear them. Another option is just tuck the plug into your pocket. No one will know that you're listening to nothing. Makes for fun as you shop. You can eaves drop on conversations without anyone being wiser.

Shopping method #2 - Chatty Kathy
Go ahead and get on that cell phone. You can call anyone and talk about anything as long as you're loud enough. People will go down different isles to avoid you. If you add in a gross factor such as child birth, potty training or any disease you are sure to have several rows of people free shopping.

Shopping method #3 - Slimed!
Ever notice that when you have a cold people avoid getting near you. All you need to do is carry tissues and occasional snort that non-existent snot up your nostrils. You could always throw in a good hacking cough to really keep them away. Sometimes people will hand you the item right off the shelf just to get rid of you. Great bonus effect is to blow your nose, look in the tissue, make a discussed face, (repeat a few times for emphasis), and ask if they've ever seen snot that green. Pretend to show it to them and you're golden!

We've all seen them or been them. The parent who is viciously grabbing items off the shelves just to get what they need and get out of the store. There are children hanging off every plane of the cart (fancy math term there to prepare you for the later educational portions of this post). The parent has hair strewn everywhere and may not have shaved that day, but doesn't care. Has dark circles under their eyes, and unmentionable products falling out of their purse. My favorite - the mother still in her pajamas and not wearing a bra. Seriously after that many kids you really should have some sort of support or they will touch your toes. If you don't have enough kids for this borrow from the neighbor. They will be delighted to have time alone that's not locked in the bathroom. If you have well behaved children this tactic is not for you. The best part of this tactic is that when you get to check out all hands are on deck to get you out of the store before they ave to say "Clean up on Lane 12" because little Johnnie busted open the bottle of syrup or worse puked up all the free samples you stuffed down his throat just to get through the store.

Shopping method #5 - Who's counting?
The previous brought this to my attention. This is for the produce and bulk shoppers only. Grapes are the notorious victims here, but I've seen it with many other items. It's easier to do with produce and bulk, but I've seen it with packages of cookies. As you walk through the store - better to have a kid with you - just open up that package and go ahead with snack time. It makes others uncomfortable because they are wondering if you're going to pay for it or not, should they report you or not things like that. If you're really gutsy periodically put a partial package back on the shelf. For bonus effect turn to the closest person and say something like "I'll come back for that later".

And for the last shopping method. The real reason for this post.
Shopping method #6 - Teach them so the will eventually move out, eat their own groceries that they have spent their own money on.
I mentioned earlier that I actually take my children shopping with me. I may have the dark circles, but I always have my support wear on (never leave home without it). Here is how I do it without being shopper #4. I actually have the kids plan the meal ahead of time. Really - I ask them what we should have for dinner. We talk about the main dish and what should go with it. If needed we pull up recipes from the internet. Make make a list of all the ingredients we will need. ****Warning educational content may follow. This is a TEKS based family you know.******** I have them (uh oh! Here it comes!) PREDICT how much it will cost at the grocery store. Are they ever right? No, but they're getting closer the more we do this. Amazingly research shows REPETITION is good for children to learn things. Now I'm compulsive and we take the shopping list ad break it up by zones of the store. If I have it all grouped by where it's located I'm less likely to miss something while my 8yo reads it to me, and the 5yo pretends to read it to me. Funny thing is I never fall for "Cookies" as the next item on the list when we're standing between the potatoes and tomatoes. We grab our green bags and off to the store we go.
In the produce section they do everything. Pick the item, put it in the bag, REMEMBER the PLU from the bin, weigh the item (checking that we got the right QUANTITY), and printing the label. Here's the trick. As they pick each item they have to ESTIMATE the cost and write it next to the item (I did tell them that there was no tax but it was so much easier to do MENTAL MATH in round dollars). At the end of each section they had to SUB-TOTAL that section. When the list was done they had to TOTAL the list. They unloaded the cart and checked to make sure the total was close to their estimation. Usually is. Now this is certainly not the fastest shopping method, but it does keep those church ladies at bay when they see you teaching in the store. They give a polite smile and nod, but go about their shopping. It's the strangers you have to watch out for. They follow you around the store for several isles then approach to tell you how impressed they are with your children and how pleased they are to see such good parenting. They want to know every step of the activity so they can tell other people about it - probably in some weird facebook post.
Another trick to this shopping method is to use kid sized green bags. I will tell you that every time I have used these the bagger gives a look of "REALLY?!?!?!?!" and then proceeds to bag stuff. When they see how much fits into that little bag they get the look of "Really!". Here's why it's a trick to the method. Guess who wants to bring in the groceries that are in the kid sized green bag AKA: "Mine"? The kids! They take complete ownership of the bag and the contents. I've never had so much help in my life.

Now I know what you're thinking -"Where do I get some of these kid sized green bags?" I have taken pictures of the 2 kids we have. Whole Foods carries them (and they are super cute to take lunch in for work), and I found some at Michaels in the dollar bin. Aren't they cute?!

So no matter what kind of shopper you are remember to be a TEKS based family, and teach your kids to do it them darn selves. Eventually you will want them to move out and not eat your food.

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