Monday, April 29, 2013

The Grocery Shopping Addendum

Once a week I pack up my monkeys and head to the grocery store to replenish our supply of fresh stuff. As much as I would like to procrastinate I don’t, because I love fresh fruits, veggies and cooking meats on which I’m not taking as gastric gamble. Since I assumed the esteemed mantle of stay-at-home mom, I also took on some of the domestic chores we once shared; fair enough. So, after five years of training I know the grocery shopping as well as Jeff Gordon knows a race track.  I know which aisles I need and which products are where. I follow the same basic route each trip, with mental red flags on particular aisles for non-routine items, such as toothbrushes. As much as I dislike shopping my big girl Boots loves it. She asks with much enthusiasm on the days approaching Grocery Shopping Day, “Is it Grocery Shopping Day today?” Knowing her imminent disappointment I try not to reveal my enthusiasm that it is not Grocery Shopping Day, and reply, “Nope, just two more days.” Then she’ll tell me what she’s planning on getting for her grocery shopping toy-of-the-week.

Boots and her toy-of-the-week collection.
The toy-of-the-week agreement started innocuously enough. When Boots was in particularly squirrely phase, I instituted the rule that she could pick out one item during a trip to the grocery store. We’d head to the toy aisles and she’d pick a Hot Wheels. She was content holding her new toy for the rest of the trip.  Gone were the tantrums that used to arise from every shiny toy or sweet that caught her eye. Her expectations were set, and were both happy for the price of one small car that cost less than a dollar.

Things have changed. Our simple toy-of-the-week agreement has evolved over the years to become quite a lengthy:

The Grocery Shopping Toy of The Week Agreement

A Each well behaved child may select one small toy during a trip to the grocery store.

Addendum A (2009)
The price of the toy may not exceed five dollars U.S.

Addendum B (2009)
You may not purchase a toy that is the same as one you already own.

Addendum C (2010)
An exception to Addendum A occurs when there is a Schliech horse that the child wishes to purchase. The official ruling that they are small and cool overrides the five dollar limit, up to and including eight dollars U.S. Notable exclusion of Schleich Unicorns, which are also cool, but vastly exceed this amount.

Addendum D (2012)
If you do not wish to buy a toy (e.g. there aren’t any available that you don’t already own) you may opt for a cash payout of five dollars instead. You may save up subsequent cash payouts for the purchase of a higher value toy. [For the purpose of learning money management and delayed gratification.]

Addendum E (2013)
Five dollars is a limit, not an allowance. The one toy limit of the original agreement is still to be respected even if more than one toy can be purchased for under five dollars.

Addendum F (DRAFT)
Any younger siblings must show interest in their selection of the week without the influence of an older sibling.

As I push a lumbering race car grocery shopping cart through the aisles, Boots excitedly says, “Lets go straight to the Schliech animals! I want to see if they have any new horses.” for the third time since we got out of the truck three minutes ago.

I reply, “OK, but just the Schleich animals then we’re off to do our shopping; we have Gabs today so we are on a clock.”

I have learned the hard way that my toddlers have an internal sand timer that flips as soon as they are confined to any kind of vehicle that inhibits their freedom.

 My girls are wildly spinning the steering wheels as I whip the cart back and forth a moment before crashing into displays and aisle corners saying, “Eeerrrrch! Roooowwwrrrr! Who’s driving this thing?!! Whoa watch out!” We make our way over to the toys, buzz the horses—no new ones today. On the flip side of the aisle all the summer toys are on display so I tell Boots we’ll do a drive by to see if anything catches her eye. We stop and look at the plastic buckets and watering cans. Boots picks out a big blue bucket and Berzo gets stuck with a red watering can that Boots insists she wants. (She doesn't, but Boots wants it so she’s exploiting a current loophole in our Toy-of-the-Week Agreement.)

Berzo: "Say, cookie please."
Now that the toy-of-the-week selection has been made we fly up and down aisles, where I grab and toss with nary a loss of speed. Once we are within sight of the bakery my little beggars insist we make a pit stop for free cookies, then we hit the gas and we’re off again.

 Produce is the best part of the trip; both girls are set loose, tasked with selecting our cucumbers, apples, carrots, avocados, etc. Boots is careful to weigh—everything. Then it’s back in the cart and we make a dash for checkered flag.

 In checkout after I have both girls put back the candy they've nonchalantly slipped onto the belt, Boots spots a package of balloons. “Mom, how much are the balloons?” she asks innocently.

“It doesn't matter, you already have your toy of the week.” I reply, while frantically unloading the cart and simultaneously trying to keep Berzo from stepping on the groceries and/or falling out as she tries to put them on the belt.

“But if it’s like, only a dollar and my bucket was three dollars, then it’s only four dollars and I have five dollars to spend...”

Darn you Kindergarten—learning up my kid!! “You’re right; it is less than five dollars, but it doesn't work that way. I’ll explain on our way out. Put the balloons back.” I’m buying time as I mentally write Addendum E in my head.

We pay for our food and I wrangle the girls back into the race car cart. As we roll out to the truck, I begin to explain, “You get to pick one thing up to a limit of five dollars. Five dollars isn't an allowance for you to spend... “


As exasperating as constantly being challenged can be, I also kind of love it. I love that my girl sees a boundary, and she has to run up and down to see how far it goes. She looks for cracks in the mortar and holes big enough to crawl through. She tests her strength and the flexibility of the wall by pushing to see if it’ll move. If she finds a door in the wall she works really hard to see if she can unlock it.

 I’d never want her to cower before a barrier; afraid that it might suddenly dump boiling oil on her. I’m also glad she doesn't pretend she doesn't care about the wall only to tunnel under it later and return sweeping away her tracks. I’m glad her strong will makes my life difficult. It has taught me how and when to be firm and when it’s appropriate to negotiate. My hope is that I can help strengthen that will of hers as she grows up. She’s going to need it.

1 comment:

  1. Great story, Amy, I love it!

    And what better way to prepare them for dealing with the IRS? :)