Because the weather has been downright lovely the past few days, we (and my mom when Zoey was at her house) have allowed Zoey to do a lot more walking around outside than usual. She loves it. You let her out the door and she’ll take off for parts unknown. It’s her first real taste of freedom since she was too young to really enjoy summer last year and this winter has been so up and down weather-wise–it was either too cold to take her outside to play in the snow or wet from rain. Greg and I are glad that she seems happy outside because we have big plans of zoo and park visitations this summer. So she likes it and that’s great and wonderful and fabulous.
This confidence she is building from being able to walk around outside is starting to spill into other places, like, for example, her brand spakin’ new uncooperative nature when it comes to sitting in the front of the cart at the grocery store. It used to be (up until last night) that all I had to do was arm myself with a sippee cup full of juice and a baggie of Fruit Loops when we went to the store so that Mommy could get her shopping done in peace. It always worked, which is why there is currently a pile of leftover Fruit Loops on the floor in the backseat of the Mommy Mobile (note to self: take bag away from toddler prior to putting said toddler in car seat). But last night, Zoey decided she’d had enough of sitting in the front of the cart within a few minutes of us walking into the store.
Greg and I tried engaging her in the grocery shopping process. Each item we plucked from a shelf was handed over to Zoey for inspection before she turned around in her seat and dropped it in the back of the cart. It worked for the container of deli ham; it worked for the bag of potato chips. It even worked for the box of Crystal Light packets. But then she had enough and started fussing.
That’s when I suggested she hold my hand and walk with me.
Okay, in my defense, the last time we were in the store, she LIKED holding my hand. Sure, she tried to wriggle out of my grip a couple of times, but I simply told her no, that she had to hold Mommy’s hand and she was fine. Greg and I figured it would be the same deal last night–Greg would push the cart and Zoey and I would pick out the groceries. Oh, what a lovely dream world we live in.
Within seconds of being placed on her own two feet, Zoey was wriggling out of my grasp–to the point that when Greg caught up to us with the cart, she was sitting on her butt in the middle of the cereal aisle with me telling her that she had to be a Big Girl and hold Mommy’s hand if she wanted to walk. She was gearing up for some serious upset because I wouldn’t let go of her hand and she refused to let me hoist her up on my hip.
I have this thing about how I want to teach Zoey to hold my hand–or hold onto the cart–when we’re in a store. That’s what I was taught and aside from that one time that I totally got lost at Hershey Park and thought I’d never see my family again (I was, like, eight, shut up), there was never a problem. In this day and age, the danger of strangers is real and I don’t want anything to happen to my little girl.
Plus, I know that kids are programmed to wander away without even thinking about it. They see a cool toy they want to check out or they want to help Mommy by going a couple of aisles ahead to get pickles and then all of a sudden your kid is out of your sight and if you’re anything like me, you would flip the hell out. So teach them young to hang onto you or the cart and eliminate any unnecessary alarm.
Plus, I just never wanted to be the mom of one of THOSE kids. Everyone has experienced one of THOSE kids in a store before. You’re trying to pay attention to your grocery list and there’s this very young kid running circles around you and your cart. You’ve never seen him before, but he’s using your cart for hide-and-seek. He’s chasing his friend and screaming at the top of his lungs and where in the world is your mother?!?! Why doesn’t she have you hold onto her hand or the cart?!?! Does she not know if you are out of her sight, all manner of havoc could happen?!?!
Greg, being quite possibly the most patient man in the world, took over Zoey duties while I continued with the shopping. I knew she wasn’t holding his hand, but it was fine because he was keeping a close eye on her and frankly, for a few minutes they were out of my hair. I got through the pasta aisle and all the way over to the produce section when I heard a thin little whine pierce through the grocery section of the store. I knew exactly what was happening even though I couldn’t see them–Greg had tried to pick Zoey up–probably in an attempt to redirect her from taking something heavy or sharp off a shelf–and she didn’t appreciate his effort.
I looked down at my list. Two more items to get and then we could leave. I heard another whine. Oh dear. I started towards the aisle with salad dressing to get some Italian for Greg. At this point, I knew they were probably looking for me and a part of me wondered if I could hide from them. Another whine-just as I was passing a relatively-friendly-looking older woman. No doubt she was thinking, ‘ugh, one of THOSE kids is throwing a tantrum in the store again’. “Oh boy, that’s my kid,” I mumbled to myself and rounded the corner just in time to see Greg–carrying a very-much protesting Zoey in his arms–coming towards me. Turns out she had done the walking thing fine until she got a little too fixated on a bag of shrimp in the freezer section and then had apparently decided that we needed to buy not one, but TWO bags–when we had not been planning to buy any. She wasn’t too happy when Greg made her put the bags back and they started out to find me.
We finished up our shopping and left just minutes later. What did we learn from the experience? The whole holding-Mommy-or-Daddy’s-hand-while-in-a-store thing is still a work in progress. We’ll keep working on it; it will be fine–as long as Greg always goes with us to the store to follow Zoey around while I do the shopping.