This is how it works: On Sunday night or Monday morning, I plan the meals, usually with Micah’s help (since this, I believe I have mentioned, is my least favorite chore). I take stock of our inventory and make a list. Monday is (usually) shopping day. We do not own a car, and I always have Simon with me when I go. The store is about two blocks away, so it’s not a long walk by any means. Simon used to ride on my back, but lately I have been letting him walk (and hoping that I can carry him and the groceries home if I need to). When we get to the store, Simon chooses the basket (I always get a basket so I know I can carry it all home). He usually picks up the first one and is really excited about it: “Purple!” and then sees the one underneath it and is even more excited: “Blue!” Last time we went to the store Simon chose a green basket, but had second thoughts while we were in the produce section and went back for a blue one.
He likes to “help” me carry the basket for as long as he can and he puts most of the groceries in the basket after I get them off the shelf. This prevents tantrums. The aisles in the store are narrow, often with a large pillar blocking half of it off, so it is essential to keep moving or stand to the side and let other shoppers through. There isn’t room for tantrums in the store. The cereal aisle is tricky. It also houses the baking goods and peanut butter and jelly, and we usually need to go down it. But Simon loves raisin bran and often gets upset if he doesn’t at least get to hold a box of it for a minute, so I try to have something else up my sleeve to get him through: “Hey, Simon, let’s go get some crackers. Hold my hand and we’ll go get some crackers.”
Once we’ve navigated the aisles and our basket is full, we check out. Most of the cashiers recognize Simon and smile at him as we approach, both holding the basket. I unload our things onto the conveyor belt and Simon — and this is a new development — looks for a place to put the basket away. Next to the baskets of juice at the entrance of the checkout aisle is no longer good enough. He needs to put it “away” as he reminds me several times in ten seconds (the child shows mild signs of anal-retentiveness, despite not having any real experience with potty training). But after that issue is resolved, it is time for his favorite part: pushing the buttons on the payment keypad. This also amuses the cashiers and they beam as I tell him which buttons to push.
And then we’re on our way home. These days I take a little nylon backpack and put as much stuff as I can in it so I have a free hand for Simon. He wants to carry a bag as well, and sometimes I let him hold on to one as long as the contents cannot be damaged by being dragged for a bit. But he gets tired of it after a minute and is happy to let me do the carrying. By the time we get home I’ve usually got groceries on my back and in my hands, and Simon on my hip.