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March 29, 2009

Shopping Cart from Hell

Shopping Cart From Hell

By Nancie-the-Gun-Tart

My experience with little people, also known as children, used to be nonexistent. The 10 days I spent with Harley and her three offspring has  elevated my field of knowledge.

Harley decided to give me real world experience. She sent me to the grocery store with the two 6 year-olds. Alone.

I wasn't picking up on the blatant clues. “Good luck,” Harley said as I exited the house and I heard maniacal cackling as the door closed. The next clue was the two hobbits breaking off their conspiring whispering in the backseat and assuming angelic expressions as I backed out of the driveway.

Those of you with children are cackling yourselves at this point. Oh yeah. I’m screwed. 

After we parked the car, those two were battling it out for some reason and laughing hysterically as they tried to trip each other up. “No bloodshed in the parking lot.” I said. They barely gave me a glance as they continue the cage match sans cage. However, a woman overhearing us stared at me, horrified.

The children spied the shopping cart from hell, the kiddie-friendly one resembling a bumper car, and decided we must have this cart. I knew at this point I was violating actual laws: children in my inept care without a permit and no CDL or aircraft carrier operator license. I wasn’t sure what category this cart fell under but I dubbed it the USS Giganitsaurus.

The two little ones squashed themselves into the car-shaped portion. Perfect. I’d have complete control over them if they were in the cart. Bwhaha! I had to maneuver this behemoth of a monstrosity with 40 wheels all turning independently of each other.

The store was kind enough to set up an obstacle course for us with those fragile cardboard displays placed strategically every 5 feet on opposite sides of every aisle. I struggled to avoid the displays and keep little arms away from the lower shelves in their attempts to relocate products to the floor. Due to our abysmal time through the obstacle course and the big dent in the frozen foods case at the southwest corner we failed to achieve recognition in the event.

The cart corral in the parking lot was under some evil mystical force of magnetic energy that can only be described as the weirdest friggin’ thing I’ve ever encountered. Who would charge metal poles to entrap children? The munchkins were sucked into this vortex with such intensity their limbs were instantly entangled. I’d get one released after a struggle and attempt to free the other, only to watch in horror as the first one was pulled back into the forces of darkness. Well, this couldn’t be good. Clearly, I was dealing with something out of my realm. A malevolent supernatural power.

Now what? I imagined if I left with two children I must return with two children and they should be the same two I took with me. 

I finally figured out my inner magnetic force field was the catalyst in this vicious triumvirate of evil and walked away. The children were instantly released and beat me back to the car. 

“So, how did it go?” Harley asked, when we returned. I just looked at her. She nodded. “This is why I plan my shopping trips without the kids.”

“When did I ever question you on this?”

She laughed, yes LAUGHED at me.

Next time I’m going to teach them Slug Bug and other variations thereof -- Cadillac Whack, Dodge This, PT Cruiser Bruiser…

Any I’m missing? Feel free to make suggestions so I can educate a new generation.


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First, it's my lemons. Then, my children. Is nothing sacred? Ah, well, at least the kids aren't mutants.

BTW, I have NEVER driven them in those faux car carts. There are some things that have "fun turns to tragedy" written all over them.

Nancie, you have my deepest sympathies.

I have no children but I would NEVER have done what you did for I am wise in the way of people who palm their kids off on unsuspecting childless adults. Godchildren, nieces, and nephews galore were a good training ground.

They are all grown now. Today, when someone attempts to hand a baby to me I tell them, "Aw, how cute but no thanks." Hey, those little angels spew from both ends on occasion and I'm NOT cleaning it up.

I taught many a child the words to a few songs to be sung gleefully and at the top of their lungs. "The worms crawl in the worms crawl out..." Shari Lewis's Song That Never Ends works nicely on the parents' nerves.

When all else fails you can stuff them with candy, soft drinks, and well, anything loaded with sugar (pixie sticks anyone?) drop your little charges at the front door and leave before the sugar rush hits them. Mwahahaha!

Ha! Harley pwned you!

Oh, NOW you tell me you don’t use those carts. No wonder they went after the thing with such gusto.

Peg thanks for the suggestions but I must be careful in these sorts of plots. I’m not close enough to just drop by for a few hours, so this could backfire on me since I stay at the house. Timing is everything in these types of circumstances.

Yes Josh, no doubt about it.

I really miss those three kids of hers!

Laughing maniacally myself, Nancie. It's a good thing you're tough, eh? LOL

Harley, I'm in awe of your ability to resist not one kid, but two begging to ride in that ridiculous contraption. That by the way is the inanimate equivalent of Typhoid Mary, I'm convinced.

Karen, tough was thrown out the window whenever one of them came to me and started a sentence with, “My Mom said to ask you…” Sheer terror struck before the sentence was completed and guess who was standing in the background tying to contain both smiling and laughing?

Does anyone know who came up with that cart idea? I’d love to have a chat with them.

BTW, I am working a very long shift today, so I will comment as soon as I return home sometime this evening.

Now, see, I imagined Nancie would only venture to the grocery store with two kids while carrying concealed. But no? You're not as smart as I thought!

Great story. I used to take my nephew to the grocery store with me when he was visiting. It was a wonderful adventure for him, as he was young and knew no better. I made the mistake, though, of agreeing, once, to letting him have control of the list, which didn't work out well at all, particularly because he couldn't yet read. Worse than that, after the first time, I demurred to his later requests to control the list, which led to the infamous "always" argument, well known to parents, I'm sure, but a surprise to me: "But I always (high pitched screech) carry the list."

The grocery shopping trips took forever, and we always returned with several items named "Juicy" something or other, which no one ever ate/drank/slurped. But I have very fond memories of those trips.

I would've paid to see that one! Should have let me come along and film it.... we could be rich right now! LOL

When my kids were small I rarely had a choice about whether or not they went to the grocery with me. So even though it made the trip longer I gave them the coupons and sent them around the store to find the specific products. This started in the cereal aisle because have you tried finding five different brands of cereal lately? It's overwhelming. And naturally my family can't just eat one kind; they need a vast variety so they can MIX them. And since our girls ate ridiculously full bowls of the stuff every morning (and still do), and my husband eats it daily, we ran out all the time. (For the record, I detest cereal. Probably from cleaning too much of it off high chair trays.) They learned to recognize the pictures on the box and match them to the pictures on the coupon, and to figure out the weight specified in the coupon. And I was able to rest my poor eyes.

Now it's just my husband eating cereal, so I let him do his own shopping for the stuff. Ahhhh.

For Christmas - a set of drums for the twins. When one isn't playing them, there will be fighting about whose turn it is.

Songs - 1000 bottles of beer on the wall. It'll drive Harley nuts on so many levels.

I'll keep thinking!

Another CLASSIC story, Nancie! I can hear your voice telling it, too.

My sister has the best grocery story. One evening she took her daughter (age 2) with her to the store, who really, REALLY wanted pink cupcakes - and my sister said no. When they returned home (without the cupcakes) she also discovered they returned without one of her daughter's little (pink) shoes.

She sent her husband back to the store to search for the shoe, and guess where it was? Right in front of the cupcake case. Good times.

Nancie, my heart goes out to you. At least you didn't have to deal with 2 six-year-olds, each careening around the store with one of those miniature carts with the flags on poles labeled "Future Shopper".

Yet another reason I'm glad I had my daughter a few decades ago: those instruments of terror hadn't been invented yet! The worst I had to deal with was the bi-weekly arguments over cereal -- first to attempt to narrow her choices down to the ones with sugar as only the second ingredient, and then to convince her that generic was just as good as the name brand stuff. Argh!

Gee Gun Tart, I thought you would get Sgt. Slaughter upon the tag team of six year olds. Military Man has always worked for me.

My brother and sister would leave their children in my care and were often disappointed when I did not tell them tales of woe.

Field Monster Uncle Dave had no disasters, except the one time his niece got attacked by red ants while looking for dinosaurs.

My niece and nephews are young adults now and they seem to like me. One is actually a U.S. Marine in the middle east.

What I spared Nancie was my oldest child, whose favorite trick is pushing her little brother and sister around in the miniature Future Shopper cart. And yes, there were the days of fighting over The SHopping List and pulling as many coupons as possible from those Coupon Dispensers while I took the opportunity to actually put things in the grownup cart.

The worst thing is the Costco Sample Phenomenon, whereby every single sample is the best thing they've ever tasted and we buy the thing and get it home and I prepare it and they look at me like I'm nuts. "Yuck! We're supposed to eat THIS?" Yesterday it was a 48-pack of chicken apple sausages. And I'm a vegetarian.

I'd make a comment, but I'm laughing too hard....:)

The game is called Catatonia.

Whoever can stay rigidly still and silent, while breathing the least, is the winner after leaving the store. Passing out is a disqualifier, btw.

And you award a gargantuan No-Prize (or The Emperor's New Clothes) upon leaving the parking lot.

Nancy, CCW was no solution 'cuz lil' varmints is faaaaast. You can't hide a zoologist's net cannon under your jacket.

I can picture this so clearly---through my tears of laughter! The grocery store is no place for kids. If they offered a "no kids under 18" store it would be my first choice. Lovely children, and I am sure Harley's fall into that category, become Satan's Spawns once they go through the door of the market. Their little heads spin around, their sweet little voices that were just this morning singing "You Are My Sunshine" Or "Jesus Loves Me" become high pitched, full volume, glass breaking squeals inside the grocery. The same hands and arms that could not pick up socks can now reach, from the middle of the aisle, anything and everything. They may have received an "A" in citizenship just last week but in the grocery they are aliens from another planet.

I have taken my friend's children and my four nieces, separately or all at once to the grocery store. I think it was once. For each. Then I learned not to be tricked.

Now I go through the store holding my own list, pushing a normal cart and feeling just a bit smug as I pass those hell on wheels carnival ride carts full of screaming children, germs and moms who look like they might bolt at any moment. Nancie: you are a TRUE friend. And Harley, well, I hope you had a stiff drink waiting for poor Nancie when she got back! Maybe something with lemons............

Nancie-Next time teach them the Mama Mia Papa Pia Diarrhea song, on loud...I could have KISSED my sister for teaching that song.

I too have committed the crime of children giving on unsuspecting adult of the childless variety. It never ceased to amaze me that people would offer to take the kids who, to give them credit, would appear angelic with only demon eyes to those unsuspecting adults.

I would have done anything, even accept the guilt associated with said foisting, to have those few hours of childlessness. It's heaven serve hot, got to love it.
(Oh, and the drum is a nice suggestion, but make it two--fighting would not happen, but have you ever heard simultaneous out of harmony drum beats--I have.)

LMAO! Cyndi, we think alike, I was going to say the exact same thing about the drums!
What kills me is the screaming little tazmanian devils having tantrums and mama floats around like she OD'd on valium while the rest of the store gets their eardrums pierced! (smack her!)
While working security in grocery stores, I've seen it all. The little darlings that remove all the upc price tags from shelves, grrrrrrrrrrrr.

Tom, we zoologists don't always use net cannons. Don't forget there are tranquilizer guns . . .

Send me that tranquilizer gun, Kerry. Not for my children, for me.

My finest moments as a parent are the times I've picked up the (worst) offending child, said, "c'mon" to the other 2, and left the store. Once, frozen foods were involved, so I returned (child-free) the next day to offer to pay for them, but the offer was kindly rejected.

I apologize here and now, to all grocery store workers who've had to reshelve the stuff from my cart on those occasions.

This is why, around here, I am frequently known as Mean Mommy.

"Don't forget there are tranquilizer guns . . ."

Kerry, believe me when I say the grandvarmints in this family are faaaaaast.

Nets first, for wider range. Tranks second, after they're immobilized.

Nancy, I have a new AR15 available and would stand "Guard Duck" the next time you foolishly volunteer to repeat your experience. Squirt, my guard dog, would be happy to accompany you, also.

As a former 7th grade school teacher,
a former 12th grade school teacher,
a former substitute school teacher,
a former youth services librarian,
a current AV Team Supervisor;
I applaud all the Mean Mommies everywhere.

Mean Mommies have penthouses in Heaven,
with automatic spa treatments at their

Well, pray for me this summer when I take my grand-nephew and niece (12&14)on a 5-day roadtrip up the CA coast. Their grandmother, my sister says at least they are not fighting as much... sometimes. Funny, their parents gave me no such warnings when I offered.

Luce, take heart. Before I was Mean Mommy, I was Wonderful Aunt and took 4 of my teenage nieces to Europe for 2 weeks. They were fantastic. They must've been threatened with military school by my sisters, their mothers, if they didn't get along, but they did get along.

Nancie? When are you taking the kids to Europe? Because they're free this August.

Dave, I once complimented a mom in the supermarket for waiting out a tantrum rather than giving in. I thanked her on behalf of all her daughter's future teachers. A colleague had just been telling me about her lesson on the "terrible twos" from her child development class. Of course, once mom had a new friend and the little darling was getting no attention for the tantrum, she settled down.
Congratulations on survival Nancie! Singing and telling stories can also help . . . .

This morning, as a happy baby periodically pierced eardrums far and near with her shrieks while I was sitting in an outdoor cafe, I chose not to glare at her parents--there's no reason to suppress a baby's spontaneous joy. But, I strongly applaud the 'Mean Mommies' of the world, Harley, for their wisdom in not letting the older tykes drag their parents around by the hair.
Storyteller Mary, your comment made me remember a few weeks ago when I was in line behind a woman whose child turned into screaming demon spawn at the checkout counter . . . I was about to be cranky and irritated with her lack of control of the three- or four-year-old, but chose for some unknown reason to murmur something about how tired kids 'just lose it'--the mom's look of exhausted gratitude at my comment will stick with me for a long time. I guess there's always the first time one's little angel suddenly throws a fit. But for those who allow repeat performances, get a clue!

I have returned and you folks are going to keep me busy on the keyboard for a while, but that’s what I was hoping for, so here we go.

Nancy, uh no, I wasn’t carrying and I’m not all that bright as this proves. Harley will get me numerous times over before I figure this out.

Bea, we didn’t have a list and I managed to remember the items I was sent for while devoting all brain power to the mechanics of keeping the cart in the center of the aisle. I even impressed myself on this one.

MAM, look you're just going to have to follow me around with a video camera at all times to catch the bizarre stuff I do, get into and manage to accomplish without much effort. I can't tell you when it’s going to happen because I never know what day will be a gravitational challenge, or what I’ll say yes to when I’m half-assed listening, or just standing there looking stupid so I get volunteered for something. If we can make money from this stuff then get the camera, get it figured out and get taping.

Ooh Cyndi, my new best friend, drum set. HA!

Kathy, I did manage to return the kids in their shoes, or at least I think I did. Oh wait a minute…we did lose a shoe at one point in the backseat. Chaos was ruler of the moment until shoe was located. The things the mind blocks out.

Kerry, I watched the three of them in the park, on bikes, going in different directions, while hanging onto two dogs, also not agreeing on the same direction. I know Harley was watching from the house laughing at me but she won’t admit it. This was her suggestion after all.

Cinema Dave, next time I’m bringing the Ex-Drill Sergeant with me. He’ll have all the kids in the park lined up in formation within a minute.

Sorry for the brief interruption-dinner was ready-we now resume the program in progress.

Now wait a minute here Harley, I think your facts are a little skewed. You asked the oldest if she wanted to go with me and she wisely declined. I think she had already figured out I was completely inept at this and it was painful for her to observe. And are you preparing me for chicken apple sausages next time?

Yes William, go ahead and laugh I don’t blame you.

Tom, exactly how big is the zoologist cannon and are you sure I can’t hide it under a jacket?

Lynn, no drink, she was too busy laughing at me and with her broken wrist she was just useless at that moment to offer me anything. I didn’t have any demonic child symptoms, but I think they were breaking me in slowly on this outing thing.

Dot, I KNEW this was a crime. Harley didn't do this for a few childless hours though because the list was only three items, so it was clearly for sheer twisted enjoyment on her part.

Rita, I’ve worked retail and know exactly what you mean. And that makes two votes for drums.

Chris, I know the foolish volunteer experience will repeat itself but it will occur in other avenues of life.

Luce, the warnings won’t be forthcoming even if you ask and then it will be a watered down version. I, obviously, have no words of wisdom to offer except, good luck with that trip.

Harley, if you’re paying I’m free in August for a Europe trip.

See how easily I get sucked into these things?

Nancie, you were a true friend to Harley, and this blog proves it, without a shadow of a doubt.

I just finished reading A Date You Can't Refuse, and detected your fine hand in certain scenes. What a great read!

On the subject of screaming children: Please don't be too quick to judge. My nephew has not one but two autistic children, and I cannot believe how quickly the little one can turn from adorably cute child to demon spawn when she has sensory overload. At a family venue last fall I was trying to help out while nephew and his wife were occupied, and I was totally and completely overwhelmed trying to control a two-year old. And it was a public place and people were looking at me as though I were trying to murder this little kid. It was exhausting, and I only had charge of her for 15 minutes. I can't imagine parenting such a child, let alone two of them.

" . . . exactly how big is the zoologist cannon and are you sure I can’t hide it under a jacket?"

It's a genuine BFG, as Kerry will attest. I'll put in calls to Milt Sparks and John Bianchi on your behalf tomorrow. But I'm pretty certain an IWB (Inside the Waist Band) model is out of the question.

Storyteller Mary, I could sing, but I really don’t want to traumatize her children for life, and any story I would tell isn’t quite suitable for this age group. Harley hasn’t sent me to my “room” yet but that would do it and I always hated being grounded.

Laraine, they didn’t throw any fits or even ask for anything because they were busy hanging on for dear life as I drove that crappy excuse for a cart. They did seem to like the ride out of the store, which is where I hopped on the back and we hauled ass through the parking lot, or at least I assumed those were shrieks of laughter and not terror. Huh, I’m really not sure. Don’t tell Harley though she might ground me.

Karen, truthfully, I had the best time with her and the kids. I quizzed her without her knowledge and she was certain there were three so I couldn’t sneak one of them home with me. I’d take all three but I knew she figure that out in a hurry.

Tom, that’s great. I can think of several uses for this gun, especially at work. I’ve thought up numerous plans for this item since I read your comment.

Karen, Yes! A Date You Can’t Refuse is a great read and I had a lot of fun helping Harley with certain parts. She even came out to the range to do a little shooting and check out some guns for the book.

I'm guessing that was before she broke her gun hand into a bunch of pieces?

That sounds like too much fun, to go to the range with the one and only Gun Tart.

Yes, she came out over a year ago and she is one hell of a good shot. You ever get to Phoenix and I’ll get you out to the gun range, always a good time!

Karen, THANK YOU -- not just for the kind words on the book, but on the subject of screaming children. It's easy to forget how hard it is to deal with kids that little. I'm already forgetting, now that mine are 6, 6, and 9 -- in another month all three will have reached the Age of Reason (not that that guarantees anything) and can be bribed or threatened far more easily than when they were tiny and inarticulate.

And autism? Lord have mercy. That is one tough challenge.

Nancie, I may take you up on that. I have beaucoups relatives in Phoenix! And my recent CPA experience made me remember how much fun shooting is, and that I used to be a decent shot.

Harley, it's easy to forget, isn't it? It's even worse when I hear people complain about well-behaved children just acting their ages. Little kids are still learning. But oh, my goodness, you must be happy to have everyone able to put on their own clothing, read and write their own names, and be able to reach the sink to brush their own teeth. All these little milestones!

NANCIE!! You should have told the kids me, Margie's fairy tales! bwahahahahaha!

I have always been game for taking the friend's children places. The one friend would give me all three, with the youngest being the terror...who would only behave for me. The eldest is now old enough to be my movie and reading buddy. :)

Another best friend will routinely give me her two for an entire day. Took them to Build-a-Bear once where they ooohed and ahhhed, but didnt ask for anything. I had to force them to pick! Then lunch with my girlfriends and book shopping after.

I don't have my own, but seem to have an affinity for them that encourages them to behave when in my care.

Mini Spinny...a fun new game to play each time you see a Mini Cooper. Spin in circle if possible.
A better version than say...Cooper Pooper....where one toots each time one sees a Mini Cooper.

I tried it too; that is why I have premature grey hair. Another problem with those "cool cars" is that the kids can jump out laterally and take off. At least, if they are in the basket, they might hit the floor and be stunned long enough to catch.

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