Ah yes, errands. What used to be a simple and sometimes enjoyable task has now transformed into a scene straight out of Gladiator. There are no more quick trips to the store. Heck, we’ve even forgone the term running. Because with two little girls, three and 10 months, nothing is quick. Our errands are now calculated down to a science. We practically make a map of stops, strategy brief and then cross our fingers that all goes as planned…and it rarely does.
First, you have to get out of the house. This is sometimes a feat in itself, as there have been many trip cancellations in the past three years of dad hood due to unforeseen circumstances. From melt downs over having to wear shoes to not being sure of what toy to bring, if you make it to the car without both kids screaming, hey, you’re already one leg up. Now the drive to the store can be touch and go. Luckily, we have a Blu-Ray player that does an excellent job of directing our three-year old’s attention to a 6″x8″ screen (they sure didn’t have those when I was a kid). When they’re smaller, dropped toys and drinks are the norm, and us dad’s quickly become masters of being able to reach into the back seat and pick stuff up while driving. Dangerous, I know, but having a toddler scream about Baby Alive falling down at the top of their lungs while you drive is arguably even more dangerous.
Once you’ve made it to the store (and for this blog we’re talking grocery store) the moment you walk in the front door you’re tasked with your first challenge — what kind of cart do you get? Do you go with the standard or the deluxe? Now, this is not a big deal per say when you’re child is little, but once they understand what the race car or “big carts” are, you’re in trouble. So when you have that first year of just propping them up in their car seat and they just stare up at you and smile (or sleep as Camryn did), enjoy it. First, you have to hope they have one because Heaven forbid you have to tell them they’re all gone. The worst part about these carts is that they’re practically like driving an 18-wheeler. Driving, let alone turning these things is absolutely exhausting, just ask my wife. She’s come home with horror stories of crashes and knocking stuff off shelves around. You know that scene in Austin Powers where he gets stuck trying to turn around in the tiny hallway? Yeah, it’s exactly like that. Not to mention the dirty looks you get from people as you try to maneuver around them. I sometimes want to stop and just say, “Look lady, this makes my kid happy and even though you may not like this giant hunk of molded plastic, she loves every minute of it.”
Once you’ve started your mission through the store, you literally go through aisles like rooms on Legends of the Hidden Temple (PS. that show was THE BEST. Always wanted to be a Silver Monkey if I made it to the show). Checklists are a must, as it’s your kids number one job to see how distracting they can be and without one, you will forget something. As you work your way down the list, nine out of ten trips to the store you’ll hear those dreaded five little words, “I have to go potty.” It’s almost a certainty that once these words are spoken you will be at the statistically furthest point in the store from the bathrooms. How come they can never time this when you’re right by the bathroom? There’s tons of back tracking and that means more time. It’s nice to get compliments from strangers about your cute kids and stop for small talk, but on the inside, you know it’s adding to your total time, which means the “meltdown” clock is ticking. Every second counts…focus you must (Yoda voice).
Now if you make it to the checkout and you’ve still got both kids smiling and happy, you’re well on your way to victory. But before you pat yourself on the back and wait for the Gatorade bath from the employees, remember, the final test awaits. We’re talking bout the candy, small toys, rides, and strategically placed gum-ball machines. These are like kryptonite and kids gravitate to them like a bug to a bug zapper. When you give in once it only sets you up for further headaches as they’ll never forget. However, the fact you can now use it as leverage when you walk in the store is nice because your kids now actually look forward to this magical place at the end of this adventure. Luckily, we’ve mastered this little paradise of goodies and Camryn has began to appreciate it and behaves well so she can look forward to a little something at the end.
Depending how you faired in the store this next portion of the journey can be equally tough. Let’s face it, these trips are exhausting on both you and your kids. Remember that nap they refused earlier in the afternoon, yep, now they’re out cold. Once kids are in the car and you head to the next stop or home, it’s like you put them in a sleep chamber. Now depending on the length of drive, this is both good and bad. It’s good because you get a few minutes of peace and quite, as well as uninterrupted driving. It’s bad because now you have to wake up a sleepy kid and ask them to do it all over again. If trip one wasn’t bad enough, heading into stop two with a groggy kid is like Mad Max walking into the Thunderdome…TWO MEN ENTER, ONE MAN LEAVES! No one, not even I, can prepare you for that battle.
Even though this blog has painted a pretty bad picture, I wouldn’t change any of it. It’s all a part of parenting and for all the bad, there’s even more good. Even though errands can be tough, we have lots of good trips too…but who wants to hear about those? Those are the ones you get home and high-five your wife and nod like, “Yeah, we did it.” It’s the little things any more. If errands do anything to a mom and dad it makes them stronger because the only way you make it is as a team.