Grocery Shopping

It must be late August.

I went to the grocery store today—gloriously without children, allowing me to people-watch instead of children-watch.  And I know it must be late August because we live in a college town and the students are back.

Some of them were shopping with their moms.  I wish I could recreate the perfect worried-mom accent for you, but since I can’t, you’ll have to read this out loud with a slightly nasally, overly anxious tone to get the full effect.

“Oh, honey.  We should get you some Ziploc bags.  Which size do you think you’ll need?  No, I really think they’ll come in handy.  Gallon?  Or sandwich…. no, sweetie, nobody uses quart bags; let’s go with gallon.”

Some were new roommates shopping together.  I can spot them a mile away; they seem sort of disgusted by each other, but shy about it, and can’t agree on anything, so they politely argue.  My college roommate and I barely hid our disdain for each other (and by barely, I mean that her friends used to literally SIT ON ME when they came over in the middle of the night), so we really didn’t shop together.  Like, ever.  Had we had to live together a second year, I’m sure we would have just had assigned times we could be in the dorm room.  The only thing we ever did together was leave a container of yogurt out for an entire semester and occasionally joked that it was a science project.  (Really, it was just lazy.  Or stubborn.  I guess I don’t remember whose yogurt it was… which means it was probably mine.  I’m gross, y’all.)
I love watching new roommates together because it reminds me of Kullervo and I when we first got married.  Our first grocery trip was a disaster.  Butter or margarine?  The wrong answer could lead to an annulment.  He actually thought full fat mayo was better.  Hello????  I won that battle.  Later on, Friends would back me up on my decision.  “You know what?  It tastes the same and my pants fit better!”

I’m pretty sure that Kullervo and I both left the grocery store wondering if we’d rushed into this marriage thing (we did), and if we were going to make it (we have).
I stood in the grocery store today watching these people and wondering if they were going to grow into being the kinds of friends who finish each other’s sentences… or if their sole good memory would be a smelly standoff that grossed their actual friends out more than it did the other.

When I was in the produce section, I ran into the old-friends roommates.  These are people who have made peace with their butter-lovin’ friend, who have accepted that the other actually thinks Pepsi is better, and so they spend their time at the grocery store throwing food samples at each other.  Because, college.  I only got hit with one piece of cantaloupe, so I considered my artful dodging my workout for the day.  There was also the pair who were bickering in the snacks aisle.  Megan has been on a juice cleanse for three weeks (!!!), and Jenny was loading up her cart with Fudge Stripe cookies because they were her friend’s favorites.  They told me so.  I laughed and told them they were my favorite people at the grocery store today.

And then there were the not-really-cooks.  One set was a (presumably) newly-married couple, another was a set of roommates.  These were not people who cook or bake very often, so they sat in the flour aisle trying to determine if they needed dark brown sugar or light brown sugar.  IN THE WHOLE AISLE.  And the couple stood in front of the spices, cart sideways so they blocked the way, trying to find smoked paprika.  And, did she think they could just use regular paprika?  Did it really have to be smoked?  What does that even mean, anyway?

Flour wasn’t on sale, so I just turned around and avoided the whole scene.  Although the newlyweds were kept crossing my path through the whole store, and the husband kept apologizing.  I hid in the baby food/tampon/diaper section.  Newlyweds NEVER go down that aisle, and I’m always amused that those items are kept together.

It was entertaining to be able to enjoy the grocery store (which, disappointingly, was not playing Richard Marx or Chicago today, so my usual method of clearing an aisle by warbling along with the canned music wasn’t working), and to experience the variety of scenes of new college life in one place.

Thank goodness I left the kids at home.

Special Nights

Tonight was Hazel’s ‘special’ night.  She gets it once a month.

I read about this on a blog at some point—I wish I could credit it with a link, but it was just a passing blog post in the sea of too much information.  In any case, it wasn’t my idea, but we have adopted it as our own.

The idea is this: we have a lot of kids.  It’s hard to give all the kids individual time.  And as they get older, it will become even more challenging with sports and social lives and more sports and life.  And as much as I think our kids benefit from each other’s company (most of them are much better than I am at playing pretend), I know they also crave alone time with Kullervo and me.

Enter: their special night.  On the date of their birthday each month, the kids get to stay up late.  And if that date happens to fall on a Friday or a Saturday night, they get to stay up extra late and watch a movie or play a longer game with us.  If their date falls during the week, they’ll stay up long enough to read an extra chapter of whatever book they’re reading with me, or to play a short game, or hang out while we do chores.

Even better—Oliver and Hazel’s dates are always a week apart, so their weekend, extra-late nights always fall in the same month (which makes delayed gratification that much easier).

I didn’t realize what a game changer this would be.  The kids look forward to their date with a ferocity that surprised me.  So much so that it isn’t something we take away even for the worst of behavioral offenses—for them, right now, it’s too big a deal.

Last weekend, when it should have been Oliver’s night, I had had a really long day full of people and activities and I was totally spent.  So we agreed to postpone his night until this weekend.

So, last night we watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with Oliver.  He loved it.  And getting to snuggle with my boy as we watched, and getting to watch him squirm with the emerging romantic interests in the movie, and hearing him make connections and tell jokes and play off of our jokes is fulfilling in a parental way I hadn’t realized existed.  This is a kid who is growing up, and it turns out he’s clever and he’s funny.  And we stopped the movie partway through to discuss and make connections about Harry Potter stories and Christianity and the lessons we can learn as Christians from the books and movies.

Tonight we watched We Bought A Zoo with Hazel.  We’ve actually seen it before—it was the very first movie that our kids ever saw in the movie theater.  Hazel didn’t remember it (she was two), and watching her watch the movie brought me so much joy.  She still hides her head under a blanket during any intense parts (and if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll realize there really are none… but she hid anyway).  She still gets all giggly whenever there is romance.  And she loved that the child in the movie was her age.  The most cringe-worthy moment in the movie happened when Matt Damon (can we get a collective ‘ahhhh’?  No?  Just me?) was talking about how his daughter still believed in the Easter Bunny… and Hazel said. “Um, I still believe in the Easter Bunny!”… and the daughter in the movie steps out and asks, “What’s the deal with the Easter Bunny?”  …awkward silence…


The kids really look forward to their special nights.  But I don’t know if they realize that I do as well.  And I imagine that as they grow older, these nights will become even more significant in their lives—and in ours—and in the relationships that we want to have with them.

So, if you have a bunch of kids (or, you know, one)… try having a special night set apart for them!  Again, I didn’t come up with the idea, but I wholeheartedly endorse it.  Especially if your kids are as cool as mine.