I’m not sure when it happened. There once was a time when I could go to the grocery store and get Noah out of his car seat. He would stroll happily through the parking lot, stopping along the way to jump in puddles or run his fingers along the bumpers of other people’s cars. We would walk through the automatic doors, I would place him in a grocery cart, and we would stroll through the store talking about all of the different foods and people.
Then, he discovered the Racecar Cart. That horrible, 19 foot long grocery cart that must weigh 450 pounds and is only designed to be steered in an empty parking lot by giants. I can only assume that one of his little friends at school told him how amazing it is to ride in and gave him pointers about how to make sure that, even though your mother will hate it and will try to convince you that it is not an option, you must ride in the racecar cart.
It started about a month ago. We pull into the grocery store parking lot and, immediately, I hear requests for the racecar cart from the backseat.
Me: “I don’t think they have the racecar cart at this grocery store. That was at the other store.”
[Secretly, I am developing a plan to go in the side door to avoid any possibility of a racecar cart-sighting.]
Noah: “RACECAR CART!!!”
Me: “I think some other little boy got here first and he is using it. We will try and get here earlier next time.”
Noah: “RACECAR CART!!!”
So, naturally, I thought if I just continued with the “the racecar cart is not available” storyline, eventually, the kid would believe me and we could begin grocery shopping. Well, apparently, I enjoy lying to myself and causing a scene.
I got the brilliant idea that, if I get him into a regular cart before I get into the store, he will already be strapped in and unable to make a bee-line for the racecar cart.
[In my mind, it was a great idea. In my mind, my plan would go off without a hitch. Clearly, I was wrong. Next comes the part where I tell you how I let a 2 year old defeat me.]
I lift him up to put him the cart. He immediately goes completely stiff, legs straight, knees locked, fists clenched. I try to bend his little body to force those chubby little legs through the leg holes of the regular cart. He squeals out in pain causing onlookers to start gathering around in judgment of my parenting. I set him down in the parking lot, get down on his level, and very gently and sweetly explain to him that we have to get in the cart so that we can go shopping.
Noah’s response: “RACECAR CART!!!”
Looking back, this is one of those moments where I should have made the calmer and more adult decision. Needless to say, I made the immature, I’m embarrassed, everyone is looking at me kind of decision.
I pick him up again, clearly frustrated, and try to stick him the regular cart one more time. This time he went with the “completely limp, dead weight” method of resistance. Here I am, middle of the parking lot, gawkers staring, trying to maneuver this 32 pound ball of limp baby into a grocery cart. At this point, my purse has fallen off of my arm and the entire contents are rolling under nearby cars, I’m sweating and turning red from the struggle, and I am doing everything in my power not to scream, “GET IN THE DAMN CART!!!”
I give up.
He saunters in to the grocery store. Walks right up to the racecar cart and, after being strapped in and seeing the shameful look of defeat all over my face, he smiles great big and yells, “YAY!! Racecar Cart!!”
I spend the rest of the shopping trip (and every other shopping trip that he accompanies me on) fighting through the isles, knocking boxes of cereal off of the end-caps, and ramming in to other shoppers.
But sometimes, on that rare occasion, I can convince Matt to come to the store with us. Then he gets to push the cart.