I went to Walmart yesterday with both kids. Now, the baby often falls asleep in her car seat so in a desperate attempt to not wake her I usually put the entire seat into the back of a shopping cart. Of course, this leaves very little room for actual shopping items, but whatever, it’s the best I can do. Anyway, so I am at Walmart with both kids when the screaming begins.
This was no ordinary screaming. This is the kind of screaming that is so loud it takes you a moment to even localize the sound. This is the kind of screaming you feel in the pit of your stomach and the dark recesses of your soul before the sound even registers with your auditory system. After a moment I realize it’s my baby screaming at the top of her lungs like someone is stabbing her through the heart with a rusty nail. In a panic I fling the garden hose in my hands aside and get her out of the car seat as fast as I can.
As soon as I pick her up she stops screaming as if I have bumped some sort of “off” switch or turned her upside down and then right side up again (like those old fashioned dolls that used to cry). She immediately starts smiling at all of the customers who were previously scowling at our disruptive, blood curdling aisle entrance. This baby girl is no dummy. She starts using her charm to smooth things over and before I know it complete strangers who were, moments ago, giving me death threats with their eyes are now cooing at her and telling her how lovely she is.
Anyway, I now have to hold her because putting her down somehow reactivates the scream machine she possesses inside her tiny body. Putting her down also turns up the volume. I just want to buy my random junk and go home before I get banned for life due to creating obscene noise pollution. I look at my semi-filled cart, squish the baby to the side of my body and attempt to push the cart with one hand, but it will not budge. I look around and there is the six year old, legs planted, pushing against the front of the cart like a Superman reenactment.
Me: Move! I need to drive one handed. You’re in the way.
We take two steps when suddenly the cart stops moving again. I look down and now the kid is hanging off the side of the cart with her feet dragging behind her.
Me: Come on! Get up. I need to get to the bread so we can go home.
We take another three steps or so when suddenly the momentum slows. There she is on the other side of the cart trying to jam her foot in front of the back wheel. Her foot obviously wants to be run over.
Me: Look, this is your last warning. Stop it or we are going to leave this store and you will have to have soup for lunch.
*She hates soup. It’s her Kryptonite.
We make it to the bread section. I toss some into the cart. By this time I am sweating because moving this cart around Walmart with one hand is no easy task, and people are in the way, and the baby is grabbing things off the shelves as we go by. The six year old is walking in front of the cart as slowly as possible and I day dream about giving her a flat tire. Or, if I am honest, running her butt over, hopping in the cart, and riding it straight to the longest check out line in the world…because this is Walmart and they never have enough cashiers. But, I don’t because that is not how good moms behave. At least not in public. Then I notice that my kid is now lying on the floor, on her stomach, practically begging me or any other shopper for that matter, to run her entire body over.
So, I walk over and hiss, “Get off the floor right now and behave yourself. I’ve had enough of this!” She gives me the big, sad eyes and says, “OK, Mom.”
We finally get through check out and I strap the baby back into her car seat, pile bags of groceries around her head and aim my cart towards the door. Finally we are blowing this popcorn stand when out of nowhere I see my six year old daughter flying through the air next to me with her hands stretched out ready to capture some invisible tiny bird. She crashes to the floor with her hands inches from being run over by the back wheels of my shopping cart. I find myself staring down at her completely at a loss for words. I want to ask her what the hell is going on, but I read once that you should never swear at kids. So I count to one hundred instead and then say as sweetly as I can through clenched teeth, “What are you doing? Did you hurt yourself?”
She got up slowly, dusted herself off, and said, “I’m just pretending to be a snail and so I needed to slow your cart down. Snails don’t move that fast.”
To which I replied, “Stop being a snail right now. You can play that game when we get home.”
She got up and we exited through the automatic doors and her eyes lit up as they gazed upon the beautiful, shiny Redbox machine. The whining for a movie began and I reminded her that we could watch Netflix at home. I told her if she just kept walking at a normal, non-snail pace that I’d put any show she wanted on as soon as we got home. I’m happy to say we made it to the car without further incident. Then we watched some dreadful Barbie cartoon I never knew existed.
I’ll spare you the details.