Shopping with the Sin-dicate

Categorized as 02/18/08 Goshen News article

Over time I have personally come to believe that there is something in the electric eye at the very doors of the store that triggers a dormant mutation in the brains of my offspring. Any scientists who are reading this right now and are sniffing in disdain through long, skinny, professorial noses or laughing outright have clearly never been shopping with anyone under the age of 12. As proof, I offer you the tale of an outing with my three oldest. It is only now, after weeks of intensive java therapy and facials, that I can even bring myself to speak of it.

It was a dark and stormy night…well, actually it was a Thursday night. The cupboard was bare and the small fry were threatening to mutiny if the peanut butter and jelly supply wasn’t replenished. My husband, looking to play the part of the hero and do the “hard thing,” volunteered to stay at home with Little Houdini, the toddler, and “let” me go with the three oldest. Ha and double ha!

The way I remember it, it all went south over by the meat case. That’s where I ran into our next door neighbors and made the grave mistake of turning my back on the mob. Mistake number two, as I soon discovered, was letting them all three have their own carts. (What is it with boys and wheels, anyway?)

In any event, once I was done catching up with the neighbors and was ready to get serious about the shopping, the little mob had disappeared, leaving me alone with no cart. Muttering to myself, I started on the list, keeping one eye out for any glimpse of the boys. Catching up to them in the chip aisle, I deposited my load, which they proceeded to divvy up amongst themselves, and tossed in a bag of Doritos. Immediately a fight broke out with the youngest one proclaiming exclusive chip-carrying rights. At this juncture, the senior, wanting to demonstrate his authority and superiority, snatched them up out of his little brother’s cart (cart C) and horked them into his own cart (cart A). In the melee that followed, son number two saw his chance and darted in to pilfer the grapes from Little Brother and smuggled them into his own cart (cart B). Not even stopping to find a phone booth, I donned my “special suit,” a Nazi uniform, and in short order quelled the uprising that was imminent. Then, leading the small sin-dicate in 1-2-3 order through the cereal aisle, I exercised my right as a parent to frustrate them utterly and said “no” to chocolate flavored sugar bombs, “no” to Fruit Roll-Ups, and a loud “no” to a plea for Pop Tarts.

I lost them again in ethnic foods. I didn’t actually notice until I was cantering through fruits and vegetables, carrying seven cans with nary a one of my three able-bodied sons – or their carts – in sight. Spotting the neighbors at the end of the aisle, I gave them a weak smile. I would have waved, but I was too busy juggling my seven cans.

By now, my blood pressure was soaring. When I caught up to them again in dairy, they were still playing hot potato with the Doritos and tying Little Brother up in absolute knots. As son number one, cart A, made the umpteenth grab and streaked past the fish tanks, I heard a lady standing close by snicker into the yogurt, and when I announced to those remaining that I was seriously considering adopting out the whole lot of them, there were outright guffaws.

Recalling my paranoia in earlier years regarding the kidnapper of the old urban legends (you know, the one who steals your daughter, bolts for the bathroom, cuts her hair, and dresses her like a boy when your back is turned for two seconds), I laughed out loud. Where, I said to myself, is a good, old-fashioned kidnapper when you really want one? I turned my back for an extra 90 seconds just to give him plenty of time if he happened to be lurking in Meijer that day. When he didn’t appear, I reluctantly collected the three hooligans, trailing grapes through the baby food aisle, and headed for home.

Now you understand why I voluntarily “admit” myself to the local coffee house for regular “therapy” sessions. Twice a week is just flat not excessive; in fact, it’s the bare minimum. As for the sin-dicate, there will be an altar call when I get back from “therapy.” All little sinners are expected to repent forthwith. Furthermore, regarding their father, next time I will “do the hard thing” and “let” him take them shopping for once.

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