Love, tantrums, and the grocery store

AvocadoMy little love is busy honing her sense of comedic timing. As she was eating a snack at the table this afternoon, I let her know that I was running out to the garage to take the trash out. Right as I was opening the door, she ever so casually calls out, “You go girl.” I immediately start laughing, and without missing a beat she adds, “You got this girlfriend” and continued munching away at her apple, a coy smile on her face.

While I was pregnant, I prayed my daughter would be blessed with a sense of humor, which she has in spades. I’m so thankful that we have a home filled with belly aching laughter, but I’m also beginning to see that as she develops, a challenge will be to help her discern appropriate boundaries for silliness. Like speaking non-stop gibberish to adults or pantsing her mother in public. We’ve got to learn those things are NOT funny.

We’re using a lot of love and logic these days, which is really helping us maintain the fun and laughter, while setting firm boundaries and expectations. I originally skimmed through this book when my sweet girl was about two years old, but am now devouring every word, as my once baby becomes a little person.

By mere virtue of me re-reading this book, my love would naturally provide the perfect venue to put words into action, in public, with onlookers, at the grocery store. I rarely have behavioral issues with her at the grocery store, mainly because she has access to an ever-growing basket of snacks to munch on, all while her foodie soul is happily wheeled around aisles of colorful produce. Yet on this fateful day, we didn’t even make it into the cart.

We were in great moods. She had been regaling me with fantastical stories the entire car ride, and even threw in a “yes ma’am” when I reminded her to watch her step getting out of the car. We selected a cart, I put our recyclable bags underneath and prepared to hoist her up into the seat. That’s when things began to fall apart. She has entered a new phase where she believes that arguing with me in a nice tone is not being disrespectful or disobedient. And she usually adds an exaggerated placating gesture to underscore her point.

Bringing us to our show down at the shopping cart. She backed away from me. Not realizing that we were about to have a full on melt down, I reached for her again, reiterating firmly that it was cart time. My sweet love dismissively wiggled her fingers at me and nodded her head emphatically, letting me know that she was going to stand on the side of the cart this time. “It’s okay mommy,” she reassured me. I was not up for dealing with the potential free-for-all grocery havoc of her proposition. I told her it was in the cart or we go home. Her death stare plus quip that I needed to listen to her sealed our fate. We had to go home.

I quietly lamented that she had made a “bad choice” and calmly put our cart back. She, on the other hand, went ballistic. She put on the full show, hyperextended legs, red face, screaming and shaking all over. And like sharks to bait, we were surrounded by a crowd, seemingly out of thin air, who all had to maneuver around her to reach their own cart. Inhaling, I squat low, and used all of my strength to gather my planking child into the car. She hadn’t done this in quite a while, so I was out of practice, which is probably why she was able to grab the car door, lean her head out and over my shoulder to desperately cry out to please not take her home because we didn’t have any food. She was laying it on thick.

I couldn’t help it. At that point there was nothing to do but laugh. I was acutely aware of what we looked like. A mother stuffing her screaming, and apparently starving child into the car, forcing her to return to a home devoid of all sustenance. I fought the urge to reassure the onlookers not to worry, that our home was always well-stocked with food and that we practically eat every two hours, despite my daughter’s dramatic protestations. Instead, I got her buckled in, stood outside the car door and laughed, avoiding eye contact with anyone.

She quieted down on the ride home, and as we walked inside the house she gave me a hug and apologized for arguing and throwing a fit. We then had a snack and returned to the store, where we successfully made it into the cart and had a silly, fun time choosing our groceries.

For dinner that night, I was craving something comforting, but had little energy left to cook. This recipe for loaded red potatoes fit the bill perfectly. We nixed the bacon and sour cream, but used a lot of avocado, soy cheese, and chives. We had a picnic in the living room, watching Cinderella while we ate, and finished the night with popcorn and ice cream.  As I tucked my love into bed that night, I thanked God that He’s the one that’s got this.

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