Material Girl

Parenting a toddler is a lot different than parenting a baby. I guess I knew that it would be. Overall, I like having a toddler a lot better than a newborn. She understands things, communicates, can do more fun stuff, and in general is just easier for me to figure out. But I admit that sometimes I look back and think, damn, it was kind of simpler when I didn’t really have to know how to “parent” and all I had to do was keep her alive.

The thing about these little people is that you might say or do something and not think it’s a big deal, but then later it comes back to haunt you and you suspect that you probably should have handled it differently, and by that time it is too late because you are really embarrassed in the middle of the grocery store checkout line and there is no going back.

In case you were wondering whether or not it really matters what you do and say in front of a toddler, let me go ahead and clear this up for you right now. They are watching you. They are watching you, and they are waiting for just the right moment to proudly show off to the world what they have learned, in a way that you never intended.

Let me back up for a second.

I have this pink Coach wristlet-wallet-thing. Caroline loves it, probably because it is shiny. She loves all things shiny, in fact. She is definitely a girly girl. Every time she sees the wallet, she grabs for it, and I say “oh, Caroline, is that your Coach?”

So, the two of us are in the checkout line at Stop and Shop. We are alone because Tyler is in South Africa for three weeks, by the way, which sucks big time. I’m trying to put our groceries on the conveyor belt while also trying to keep Caroline from climbing out of the cart and/or stealing seven copies of People magazine. I hand her my wallet to keep her calm, because that never fails, right? She shows it to the lady behind us and declares, “Coach.”

The lady (who seems to have a stick up her butt anyway) looks at me disdainfully and says “you taught your baby to say Coach??”

Me: “What? No.”

Caroline: “Coach! Coach! Coach! Coach!”

Sigh.

Then she manages to unzip the wallet and pulls out my credit card. She waves it around, yelling “I got! I got!” and then she starts slamming it against the credit card machine like she is trying to swipe it. How in the heck do they learn these things?? I take the card from her and she melts down, of course, so I pull her out of the cart and put her on my hip while I attempt to continue to purchase my groceries like a normal person. She twists around and grabs for the magazines again, and the magazine stand teeters and comes crashing down, narrowly missing the uptight lady, and hits the candy/gum stand so that that also crashes to the floor, like dominoes. It was like they were toppling over in slow motion and I was diving for it (with Caroline still on my hip) yelling in a deep, slowed-down voice, “NOOoooo…”

So. I am mortified. Caroline squeals in delight. The lady behind me heaves a big sigh and looks at us like we are something disgusting she just scraped off the bottom of her shoe. She starts packing her groceries back into the cart so she can head to a different, less disastrous, checkout line. I wildly start scooping up candy and gum while apologizing profusely to the cashier, and she rolls her eyes and says “we’ll get it. Just go.”

I decide that this is the best course of action (before my child somehow manages to burn down the store, killing everyone inside) and go to stick Caroline back in the front of the cart so I can actually push the thing. She stiffens her legs and locks her knees, which she has NEVER done in the entire history of her life, which is the entire reason we are starting physical therapy, and refuses to get back in the cart. So I am awkwardly taking forever to stuff my kid in the cart while my ice cream is melting and the maintenance people are coming to clean up the huge mess and I am still apologizing.

I did get out of there eventually, in case you were wondering. Thank you for asking. I may or may not still be beet-red from mortification, though. And I am pretty sure we might have to switch grocery stores.

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  1. by jCam

    On May 23, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    HAHAHAHA oh my gosh this was an awesome story!

  2. by MJS

    On May 23, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Oh my gosh! Julia, I kept wishing myself into your story so that I could HELP you! People are such jerks to stand there and not only just watch without an offer to help, but to actually treat you like you're creating a problem on purpose. C'mon! You're doing the best you can in a difficult situation, how dare they actually act rude/mean about it. I feel annoyed on your behalf. You're a great mom and person, and that is what matters. (So there.) :)

  3. by Erin

    On May 23, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Look on the bright side, at least she is starting to straighten and lock her legs. And I really don't think it's so bad that she can say Coach. That is a great story and when Caroline gets older she is going to love reading it!

  4. by Merks

    On May 23, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    She is seriously the smartest baby ever!

  5. by Victoria

    On May 23, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    oh my gosh I'm literally LOL'ing! Don't worry, we've all been there :)

  6. by MM4ver

    On May 24, 2010 at 1:57 am

    I am sitting here laughing… oh my word. don't worry about it you will most likely never see that lady again, at least your daughter has good taste…

  7. by Kelly

    On May 24, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Fabulous story! Can't believe the lady didn't offer to, I dunno… help. In any way possible. What a ___. (I probably shouldn't say that word because Caroline could be reading.)

  8. by myranda

    On May 24, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Hilarious…but I would have throat punched that lady for giving you the sigh and judgy-ness! Seriously? I am guessing she does not have children, or she has never taken them out in public!

  9. by Kylie Mc

    On May 26, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    that is so cute that she says coach! and you're so right, they are always listening and watching. just wait until she's a bit older and starts inquiring about differences b/t boys and girls. that's what my little guy openly discusses these days….yeah. ;)

  10. by edmo

    On May 29, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    Excellent story. Boston is amazing – I cannot believe the things he can do just watching us do it once. He already knows how to unlock our deck gate and get out to the driveway. Way too observant.