Three little birds at the store

Normally I like to feed my family healthy, fresh food.  In the summer when local produce is bountiful and beautiful, there is nothing better that the smell of a red, ripe tomato so fresh off the vine and into the store and then onto our plates.  And with the unstructured schedule of summer break, there is actual time in the day to prepare gorgeous salads that require tedious chopping and an abundance of ingredients.
I love all of that.  The food, the time, the preparation, and most of all, I love the eating.
In my dreamland, it would happen every single day.  We would saunter up to the market and handpick the greenest of beans and the reddest of watermelons.  Each child would have a nutritious recipe to prepare and a smile on his or her face as they watched their food take shape from the beginning to the very end, where they would all devour their creations.
But that’s dreamland, in the reality that is having my three lovely children home with me every day during the summer, it’s doesn’t quite turn out that way. It’s not that I don’t enjoy every second of time we are able to spend together, because for the most part I do.  But the bits of time that I loathe more than anything else is taking them all the grocery store.  It usually plays out a little something like this…
I finally get them all organized and dressed and remind them that they have to wear shoes in public places and by the time we actually get to the store, I am so flustered that I have left my organized list at home. 
Once we have dodged the dangers of trying to maneuver three kids who aren’t paying attention through a parking lot, we enter and I quietly remind them to please not take up the entire aisle and that they may not all stand on the front of the cart so I can take them on a joyride through the freezer section.  They politely don’t listen to a word I’m saying and immediately start asking for snacks and fighting over who gets to pick out the ice cream, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t on the list.
“Focus,” I tell myself.  “Focus on the task at hand.  You need food.  You have been cleaning out the freezer and the back shelves of the pantry for days and besides that mystery frozen baggie from last year, there is literally nothing left except mustard and pickles.  Focus, focus, focu…”
“Hey mom, what’s for dinner?  Can we get something to hold us over?  I’m hungry.”
And so it begins, the mental challenge of trying to concentrate with three little people doing their very best to distract you in any way possible.  You tell yourself that you will not yell or raise your voice, but in a matter of minutes you turn into that mom you never said you would be: The mom who smiles and grits her teeth and at a distance appears to be grinning lovingly up close to her child’s face.  But truthfully, she’s clenching her jaw and whispering things like, “if you don’t start behaving I will…” (You can fill in your own favorite punishment.)
My dear husband doesn’t quite understand what it’s like to shop with the kids.  The best way I can describe it is that it’s like instead of children, they are actually three tiny little birds. They are all sitting on your nose and no matter what you do or how many times you plead, they just peck away and inevitably drive you completely bonkers.  It’s not like they are trying to make you mad, they are just birds.  Cute little birds that do what birds do best and that can’t help the fact that they were drug along to the store.
Tomorrow’s dinner: mystery freezer baggie.


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