Combat-Mode Grocery Shopping and My Pathetic Need to Make Everyone Like Me (or at least pretend to).

For the past couple of years (read: COVID-years), Saturdays have been home made pizza/panzo and movie night around here. After I make everyone his/her dinner, I head down to Newmarket to do “the big” grocery shop at 2-4 stores, while my youngest four smalls (all now bigger than me) eat dinner and watch a movie with daddy.

This past Saturday night, I toured the first of two planned store stops, followed my list, and filled my cart. I had three free product coupons that I was planning to use, one for milk (mailed from the company because a bag of milk was sour long before the date on the bag, so I called to report it), one for Pringles (never buy these, but “free” is my tipping point) and one coupon for a free box of Special K. I was also price matching a few items, namely four loaves of Country Harvest bread (2/$5 at Giant Tiger, $3.49 each at No Frills). 

As I approached the checkout, scanning for an open cash, Lane 3 had the light on and no other customers checking out. I hadn’t seen the cashier who was standing behind the plexiglass barrier before but since she didn’t have a queue, I navigated my cart to her lane. I should have known better, but, no. In hindsight I don’t know if she was having a bad day, found my mask-wearing objectionable, resented having to lift the (5) 6-lb bags of apples I was buying (looking at mostly at Paxton for that expenditure), hated price-matchers, or just thought I was a jerk for wearing skinny jeans with running shoes (no argument here), but Grumpy Gertie (herein known as “GG”) was sour from the onset. She appeared to be annoyed when I declined to buy plastic bags and instead showed her the cooler bag stuffed with bags that I brought with me. Maybe she thought I was bragging? Considering my grocery cooler bag is half-torn from the strain caused by me regularly stuffing it beyond capacity with 4-5 bags of milk (20-25L) and forcing the zipper closed, it is hardly what I would lead with, were I trying to show off my bounty of riches. 🙄

Onward we push. Past the apples, through the cheese bars and the black beans (burritos this week, yum!), over the cucumbers (on sale, $0.69 each, yay!) and then, full stop. We had reached the lone bag of milk. She lifted the coupon from where I placed it on top of the bag and breathed out loudly. Almost as though she was trying to balance her chi or find her patience and resist the urge to thrash me. She looked at the coupon for a long time. An uncomfortably long time. I began to feel a bit warm, a mildly prickly heat down my back, despite the fact that I was wearing a lightweight shirt and long cardigan, no coat, and had done nothing more strenuous than lift groceries onto the belt. She looked up and off, far into the distance, perhaps looking to call someone? Maybe she was new to the job and was uncertain how to process this type of coupon? I was about to say something friendly and reassuring when she looked at me with barely concealed contempt, “can I see your i.d.?” This surprised me a bit, but since the coupon had my name printed on it by the company that mailed it to me, I unzipped my wallet “um, yes, sure. I mean, you shouldn’t need to, but it’s fine.” I showed her my drivers license, feeling my cheeks grow warmer. She looked like she’d like to spit on it, but she doesn’t. She scanned the milk into the system and then keyed in the coupon, just like any other coupon. I looked at the Pringles and cereal sitting, oblivious, on the belt and started to feel a bit sick. I’m not one who enjoys confrontation with strangers. With family I’m all over a good argument or debate and am willing to die upon whatever hill I have chosen as mine to defend, but with strangers I begin looking for escape routes at the first sign of battle. On this particular occasion I took a minute to remind myself that I had done nothing wrong, the coupons were legitimate and valid and I was not wrong for using them.

Breathe.

She plucked a loaf of bread off the belt. I showed her the competitor’s ad on my phone. She objected because I had chosen a raisin bread “Not this one. It’s not included. It costs more.” She looks triumphant. “Um, I think they are all the same price? $3.49? And they all weigh 600g?” My words splutter out, making everything I say a question. She scanned the raisin bread. $3.49 appeared on the screen. She scowled deeply and almost growled. She completed the price match with all four loaves. She doesn’t appear to have any issue with the packages of chicken breast that I had chosen, so I started to relax and feel a bit better. She reached for the Pringles. I handed her the coupon. She doesn’t make eye contact with me and spent the next two minutes reading the coupon, reaching out a hand for the phone and jerking it away again before picking it up. The Ghostbuster theme song played in my head. “Who you gonna call? Ghost…” Stupid head. Shut up. Ugh. I could almost see an angel and a devil, one sitting on each of her shoulders, arguing about what to do with my milk coupon. Another, younger cashier appeared beside her. Startled, GG scans the Pringles and punched the coupon value with her index finger held rigid. The other cashier asked to empty the garage and GG looked relieved. I wondered what GG thought the girl was there to do, was she worried that she was about to be told off? Maybe something like “just scan the lady’s groceries and get on with your life, GG!”? But, probably not and in any event, our time together was not quite done. There was still the matter of the cereal. 

She scanned the cereal and I handed her the coupon. “Another free one?” She’s barely able to push these three words out past her clenched teeth. “Yes, ma’am. Last one, I promise.” Smiling. I was almost certain at that moment that if she had a vaporizer and didn’t need her job, she would have ended me there and then. As it was, she didn’t and she did, so after she entered the coupon amount and told me the total, I paid and started to pack up my offensive groceries as quickly as I could.

An older mother and daughter pair were next to be served and while I packed my bags, I was mildly aware of the conversation going on between them and GG. It sounded friendly and congenial. They were talking about the 30lbs of apples I had yet to secure in my mess of cloth bags. I looked up, surprised because GG sounded nice and conversational but not surprised by the topic of their chat. It’s a given that my weekly apple and produce haul always elicits commentary, guesses and judgement from cashiers and other shoppers about what I’m doing with it all. Am I baking pies? Running a daycare or school? Am I a hoarder who can’t stop herself? I’ve heard just about every guess people have. I have given up trying to justify my shopping to strangers so I usually just smile and shrug apologetically and say “the apples are for one of my sons. He goes through about 30lbs of apples a week.” The shock value along usually gets me out of the conversation fairly quickly. This was the explanation I offered GG and the other two women that night. GG’s jaw dropped. Success! Instantly I could see she thought I was probably enabling some 700-pound grown man to eat himself to death. She didn’t say a word. I continued with “well, it’s better than endless bags of chips or junk food, right?” I sounded about as perky Elle Woods and I made sure to smile sweetly. GG let her mouth to close while ever so slowly she nodded her head in agreement. I loaded my final bag into the cart and began to push it towards the exit. I could feel GG’s eyes on me until I got outside into the parking lot.

My first job, as a young teenager, I was a cashier at IGA. I know what the job is like. I get it when you have customer after customer being ugly or unreasonable, taking frustration out on you over things that you, as a lowly cashier, have no power to change or control. Allowing those people to change the way you approach and serve all customers is a lose-lose situation. It causes bad feelings for the cashier and the customer. In that spirit, I hope that GG is having a better day today and that she can find some tiny morsel of hope or goodness that will help carry her through her future shifts. I will shop there again because they tend to have what I’m looking for, and if GG is working again next week, I’ll go through her cash again. Even if I’m price-matching or using coupons. And I’ll be friendly and ask after her day and wish her a good evening/weekend. If I do this every weekend, week after week, eventually she’ll like me. I just know it. And no, there is no end to my pathetic need to feel like people don’t hate me. It’s on my list to work on. Right after finding my six-pack abs and mastering the art of baking the perfect baguette (and yes, I’m aware that those two goals are counter-intuitive).

~A.
xoxo

All I can hope for is that he uses his talents for the greater good one day.

Paxton is now at that stage of development when all of his baby teeth seem to fall out at once. Case in point? He has lost four teeth in the past three or so weeks and most of those have been lost in the past week.

These newly liberated chiclets have been conspicuously absent from his bedtime routine though. Turns out that Pax has a theory. He theorizes that the more teeth he antes up the more cash he will net per tooth. So, he has purposely been saving them up in the hopes of a large windfall.

But, like happens with most of the best laid plans, disaster struck. He lost the fourth tooth at the after school program earlier this week and forgot to bring it home with him (this was not a surprise). Staff, thinking it was just a wad of bloody Kleenex left on the table (go figure!), they tossed it out during clean up (the staff remain blameless and still candidates for sainthood because ewwww – kids can be gross!).

So, last night, having only three teeth, not the missing four, to offer up to the Tooth Fairy, Pax got to thinking.

Not to be deterred by his predicament, really rather not interested in suffering potential financial hardship, and completely unable to accept that it may be the result of unfortunate (albeit avoidable) circumstance, Pax decided to make the Tooth Fairy a card to explain the situation and make his pitch for mercy (and money).

He probably could have spent a bit more time, but he was on a mission to write the actual message inside.
Only this kid would show up without the goods and ask for MORE compensation in return. Lol.

Generally the children who board here receive $2 per tooth. I wonder if Paxton’s strategy worked? And if it did, maybe it’s one that I should explore further… (in some other way that does not involve losing my teeth!)
~A.

P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.
xx

Subtly, slowly, my life is changing. Oh, and Pax turns 10

One of the alarming thoughts that wakes me from my deepest sleeps in the middle of the night has come to fruition. To some, this may sound stupid and I accept that but I am sharing this anyway.

The past few days I’ve been grappling with the fact that my smalls are considerably less small than they were when I started blogging and as of today, I have but ONE child left whose age is summed up by a single digit. The rest have all joined the double-digit club and I’m struggling with this reality.

My youngest son turned 10 this afternoon and his mother is, as usual, a virtual mess of emotions.

I am beyond happy that they are all growing, healthy, smart and strong. At the same time, I feel incredibly sad that they are no longer small and scrumptious. They are, obviously, still young, they are still children and will always be my babies, but even I must admit that there is not an actual baby among them anymore and that makes my heart hurt in ways that I feel stupid for admitting.

So today, I try really hard to keep my head in the birthday game. Baking and (poorly) decorating cakes, preparing the requested birthday dinner, hunting down the perfect birthday gift, attaching the specially chosen helium balloon to his chair and telling myself that tears are NOT appropriate today. Today is for happiness. Today marks one of the very best and happiest days of my life, the day I finally came face-to-face with his perfect little self.

So why then, does it feel like a very long chapter of my life is closing and moving me, not so gently, onto another stage of life? A stage of life for which I feel ill-prepared and completely not interested in entering.

I have to Scarlet O’Hara this issue and think about it tomorrow. Today, the only thing that I know for sure is that today is NOT my day. This is not my day to show sadness, sorrow or pain. This day is decidedly NOT about me. Today is my Paxton’s day to smile, giggle, eat hot dogs and cake (with luck, not at the same time) and open presents and burst with excitement when he sees what hides beneath the wrapping paper. Today is his day to feel the pride of being 10, to feel all the very big feelings of being bigger, older, faster, and smarter than he felt yesterday (that extra digit can do that to a kid), but also, because today he is all of those things.

And today, like every yesterday and every tomorrow, I hold dear to heart that whatever else is going for me, he just makes my life happy. ❤️

~A.

Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including mockery.

Guys, I think I’m making a pig’s ear of this parenting gig

Preamble:
Kids need to play outside. I mean, fresh air, physical activity, rosy cheeks and bright eyes, right? All good things that help promote healthy mental health (awkward, much?) and all that super popular back-to-nature stuff that I keep seeing posted on Facebook, right?

So, being a ‘good parent,’ my kids are outside. All bundled up and ready to frolic and play in the snow, fight with their siblings until eventually one of them breaks and tears and fists fly. Yes, I can see their mental health getting healthier by the minute outside these four walls.

So, out they go. Except one resister. My nine-year-old. He’s active and full of energy. Brilliant, funny, and cuddly as all get out. Unfortunately (for him) he was not built for winter (just like his mama, so believe me, I feel for him). He finds very little joy in sub-zero temperatures and being outside in the snow, just for the sake of it (again, I get it. I’m sitting bundled up in my kitchen and decidedly NOT outside improving my mental health) and while he won’t be openly defiant about going outside, he will delay the trip as long as possible. Someone else may let it slide and let him stay in. But I’m not that mother. One of the few perks that come with this title, is that I get to toss the kids outside to play every day and they have to do it. It’s in the rules.

So, now that I have (I hope adequately) set the scene, here is the exchange P and I just had at the door.

The exchange:
Me: No gloves? Here, at least take this one. I don’t know what you’ve done with the other one, but at least one hand won’t freeze. (Notice how much adulting I’m doing here. It’s breathtaking, yes?)

P: Nah. I don’t need any. I’m just going out to play dead.

Me: Um. Huh. Dead? That doesn’t sound like an awesome game, but okay. Take the glove. (Clearly, this kid is in dire need of outside play time. His mental health needs a boost. It’s okay. I am on it like he’s a cheesecake and I’m, well, me).

P: But I’m going out to play DEAD. I don’t need gloves.

Me: Well, when you decide that you’re not dead anymore, won’t it be nice to have at least one hand not get frozen in the snow trying to get up? (I’m on my June Cleaver game today, people. I’m owing this parenting thing).

P: Fine (taking the glove). But I’m telling you, I’m only going to be lying dead in the snow, Mummy.

Me: Okay, baby. Have so much fun!

He trudges outside with his sister who has been waiting patiently for him to get ready and I skip away, into the kitchen to wash pears and marvel at just how obvious it is that I was born to parent. When it dawns on me. “Um, did he just say dead?”

To make a short story long and back to short again, I am making a pig’s ear out of this parenting gig. Pray for my small humans. And someone, please. Start a GoFundMe to cover their future therapy bills. Those clinical hours add up quickly and the bills are going to be astronomical.

~A.

If you need to know what love is, feel free to ask my eight-year-old. He knows the answer.

A friend on Facebook, who has a small army of young, adorable children, recently posted a list of questions to ask your kids, typical stuff like “what’s your name, age, favourite food, etc.” The last question on the list was “What does love mean?”

I do not usually do these with my kids and when I do, I won’t post their responses, but for some reason, this time I did ask them the questions, privately, without the other three listening in. And for the most part, their answers were not surprising, I like to think that I know my kids fairly well (well, except for finding out that my twelve-year-old believes that my favourite thing to do is wash dishes, but I digress). Overall though, their answers were not shocking. Until that last question, that is. Ugh. My heart is pulverized by the sweet, tender, kind, loveliness of it all.

My oldest small and my youngest both answered ” That you care about other people” and “that you care” respectively. My second youngest son answered “kiss!” with a giggle. And my youngest son, well, he had some thoughts on the subject and I took them down while he dictated. He propped up his head with his fists under his cheek bones, thought for a few minutes, then looked at me with his deep blue eyes, took his time and slowly answered:

How does my eight-year-old know and understand the answer to this question so completely,  but the people in positions of power, who are threatening to destroy every ounce of progress made toward equality and human rights over the last century cannot connect the dots?

For me, being one who is prone to great, big feelings, able to go from feeling great big happiness to great big sadness in a matter of moments, I needed to hear this today. It gives me hope. It makes me think that maybe things really will be okay.

#BeKindAlways

P.S. I post more nonsensical blithering and updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s worth ‘Liking’ ‘Following’ or just checking out The Keswick Blog on those sites as well. Because on too many days right now, micro-blogging is all that I can manage to pull off.

 

We bought a new toy

and I’m giving it a test run.

And I can honestly tell you that a Playbook is not the quickest way to blog 😉

So, we’ll keep this short and sweet today. 

Pax is turning four today, so the rest of the day will be mostly Pax-related, you know cupcakes, presents, cards and pizza-type stuff 🙂

It was a beautiful day four years ago in the ‘wick and it’s a beautiful day here today.  More birthday fun and updates coming later this week.

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p.s. in case you think that I’m just being a lazy cow, this tiny, silly post has taken the better part of an hour to complete. If I kept going we’d be celebrating the kids’ wedding by the time I was done – argh!

And That Makes Your Life Happy

These are the words of my three-year-old.  When he does anything that is funny or sweet or sometimes really, really weird he says “and that makes your life happy, Mummy.”

And you know what?  It’s true.  Watching him, and his brothers and sister, learn and grow and change does make my life happy.  Even when they are driving my insane and I just want to run and hide from them.  Or sell them to the circus.  Or whatever you’re supposed to do to save yourself from your kids. At the end of the day, each and every one of them makes my life happier.

And I have so much to learn from these little people.  From Paxton, my little Rigatoni, I am learning to just be happy.  And just because I want to be.  And just because I choose to be.  Just like he does.  When he’s sad, his plaintive cry “I wanna be happy!” breaks my heart and makes me smile all at the same time.  So I tell him “then be happy, Paxie.”  And you know what?  He gets happy and the craziest, sweetest, little elf smile spreads across his face and our worlds are right again.

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And this makes MY life happy.

At least until the next time, and I reach for the yellow pages to look up “circus recruitment.”. *grin*