I decided to tempt fate the other day. Bad idea.
It started out fine. I bravely took Wildling and Mellow to the botanical gardens, and we had one of our best days ever. Both girls behaved beautifully. Wildling showed Mellow around the butterfly exhibit: “Look, there’s a butterfly right there, do you see it Mellow? And there’s another, look! And there’s one on your shirt, but it’s not real.” They loved the train exhibit. They enjoyed walking around and looking at plants.
At one point, we saw a father with a two-year-old boy who was having a complete meltdown. I tried to give him a “I-know- what-you’re-going-through-and-I-empathize-with-you” look, but I think it was misinterpreted, because the look he gave me pretty much said “Go away lady. Take your perfectly calm and compliant kids out of here and show off somewhere else.”
After the botanical gardens, I was like “Hey world, check me out! I win at motherhood! I can do anything!” because obviously, I forgot how my kids behave on every other occasion ever. So that’s when I made a stupid mistake. I decided to stop by Trader Joe’s on the way home.
There are five grocery stores within a couple of miles of our house. We go to all of them for different things, and on this particular day I could have stopped at any one of them. But I made the wrong choice. Here’s what sets Trader Joe’s apart from all other grocery stores: They have child-sized carts. Yes, I took two children, by myself, to a store with child-sized grocery carts. I realized my mistake in the parking lot, but by then it was too late.
Both girls ran for the kiddie carts as soon as we got inside. There were two silver ones and two red ones, and of course Wildling had to have a red one, which meant moving the silver ones out of the way, but as soon as she moved the first silver one Mellow grabbed the second one, and that made both girls shriek, Wildling because the cart was in her way, and Mellow because she thought her big sister was trying to take it from her.
Once the color of the carts issue was resolved, Mellow took off with hers and I was narrowly able to stop her from crashing into a giant display of glass jars of coconut oil. Fortunately, I am slightly faster than a toddler and managed to grab the cart and steer it away, so I didn’t have to empty her college fund to buy a hundred broken jars and a mess of oil. Of course, as soon as I touched her cart she thought I was taking it away, so she screamed very very loudly to alert security that a cart thief was in the vicinity.
I thought I’d be clever and avoid some competitive issues by putting an equal number of items in each cart, but that didn’t work. Mellow only wanted two items in hers, so everything I added after that magic number, she had to remove and try to put in Wildling’s, but Wildling is too picky to allow that. Wildling only wanted things she liked in her cart, so it couldn’t contain much more than a bag of apples and some cheese.
Then both girls decided that while walking they should drop to their knees and walk like that, which of course is slower and less coordinated and gets in everyone else’s way.
And it got worse from there. Once I got them walking like upright humanoids, Wildling suddenly shouted “Hey Mellow! Let’s play Cart Smash!” and proceeded to do so. Cart Smash, if you need an explanation, means smashing your cart into your little sister’s cart as hard as you can, possibly knocking her over, and also possibly trying to propel her backwards into that damn display of coconut oil.
So I put a stop to Cart Smash, kind of got both kids to the cash register (walking on their knees most of the way) and, while holding Mellow and attempting to pay, she emptied all the cards out of my wallet.
Fun times. I should have known better than to press my luck.