Sunday, March 2, 2014

Chicken Nuggets and Diapers

On Saturday, we took all five of our kids to Costco. It was crowded and rainy and just before lunch, but all we needed was two things: diapers and chicken nuggets. We figured we could be pretty quick and stop for lunch in the food court. We sat in the parking lot discussing whether or not this was really a good idea until finally we decided to just do it. I believe the last thing my husband said before he pushed the button to open our van door was, "It'll be an adventure."

We started out with a plan. I had Jane (3 months) in my wrap so my hands were free. We put Edison (1) up front in the cart's kid seat next to Eloise (3). Then we had Hazel (6) and Charlotte (5) walk with one hand on the side of the cart, leaving plenty of room for our diapers and chicken nuggets.

Our plan started to fail immediately. Edison wanted to sit in the big part of the cart which was still empty and welcoming. Hazel and Charlotte were fighting because they kept running into one another as they insisted on standing on the same side of the cart, within inches of each other.

Then my husband had to go to the bathroom.

After I asked if he really had to go right now at least two times we parted ways and agreed to meet in the produce section. I stopped in the toy isle because I was looking for a birthday gift, forgetting that doing so was equal to tossing my kids into a pool of candy and telling them, "Nope! You can only look! Then I remembered an idea I had heard and told my kids that if they saw a toy they liked, I could take a picture of it so they could save their money for it. I felt like a genius. As we got to the end of the aisle my six year old asked to take a picture of a basketball. I reached into my pocket and quickly realized there was no phone. I had left it at home.  Fail.

We found my husband in produce and quickly fell into what I refer to as the Costco trap. It starts with "Well, while we're here we might as well get...."and ends with you spending $500 on a six month supply of peanut butter and canned chicken, in addition to the diapers and chicken nuggets.

The sample tables are tricky with a big group such as ours. We quickly worked out a system where David would grab two for the kids who were whining the loudest for a sample. Then he'd move forward a bit and I'd come along and grab another two for the other kids who were just now realizing that they didn't get one. I'd deliver those and then go back a second later for one last sample for David and I to share, emphasizing out loud, "Oh, just one for me, thank you!"

We now had a full cart and had yet to get the diapers or the chicken nuggets. I sent David after diapers with the three girls and I took Edison with me and Jane to get lunch meat. This is where things got tricky. When you buy lunch meat at Costco, you get a few pounds of it, so that impaired one arm. I reached out my other arm and called for Edison.

And that's when I heard his little voice say, "No." I looked back at him and I knew this was going to be ugly. He was holding really still, ready to break into a run as soon as I reached for him. I called out to him in an extra sweet voice and he shook his head, taking a step backwards. I waited a second and then lunged forward and caught him with my free arm, swinging him onto my hip. He arched his back, nearly knocking me off balance so I held him on my hip in the barrel hold.

On the way back to the diaper isle, I saw that strawberries were on sale. "While we're here, we might as well get...." I grabbed the giant container of a thousand strawberries, which meant I now had both of my arms full, a baby strapped to my chest, and an angry tired hungry toddler who was free and he knew it.

He ducked behind a crate of pears and after some firm commands, a little bit of begging and an attempt to force him out with my feet, I tried the "walk away" approach where I pretended I was going to leave him there with the pears. He followed me part of the way and then stopped in the middle of a crowded isle and started to cry. People from all around swarmed to him, looking for the negligent mother who would leave her child unattended. There I was, fifteen feet away, with my lunch meat and strawberries, feeling deflated and unwilling to claim him quite yet.

My husband showed up with diapers and one child in tears. I pointed with my elbow in Edison's direction and we re-grouped, ready to locate chicken nuggets and flea to check out. We finally had the nuggets and found apple juice and canned diced tomatoes along the way, none of which we needed but "while we're here, we might as well get."

The check-out line was at least ten carts long. While my husband stood in line with the kids, two of which were crying loudly now, I grabbed Edison and sought out some Ritz crackers and granola bars. As I was making my way back to check-out, I see my two oldest running towards me shouting, "Mom, Eloise PEED!"

I made my way to the front of the line where I spot my husband standing next to the cart holding Eloise who was staring down at a huge yellow puddle at her feet, giggling. We both looked up at each other, speechless. Directly below her dripping shoes in the bottom of the cart was the bag of frozen chicken nuggets.

The rest is a blur: Edison trying to wiggle out of my arms and weave in between carts, a Costco worker explaining to David that they can't mop up the pee because of sanitary purposes, the line of faces behind us, a roll of paper towels being handed to my husband and finally--the real kicker for me--seeing him stand there with at least thirty pee-soaked paper towels, asking if they had a trash can.

I fetched David's wallet, pinned Edison between myself and the check out counter and swiped our debit card.

EXPIRED. Yesterday.

I burst out laughing. I heard my husband who was still bent down on the floor say, "Are you kidding me??" They pulled our items which were now spread between two carts (because no one wanted to touch Eloise), to the side. We returned to the van, David holding Eloise over his shoulder and Edison on his hip and me with the baby and the two girls still talking about the pee puddle. I returned with my wallet, which was luckily in the car, and waited while they re-scanned every single item. I sighed with relief as I pushed my heavy cart out the doors.

Needless to say, we ate lunch at home. I made Orange Juliuses for everyone since they had all been looking forward to Costco's fruit smoothies. I changed Ellie's clothes and my husband crashed on the couch for a much deserved nap.

As I sanitized our bag of frozen chicken nuggets, I couldn't help but feel pride in the fact that we are NOT normal. Our life is crazy and messy and there are a lot of us. But years from now when I think back on this day, I'll be glad I was the mom with all the wild kids and expired debit card whose husband was mopping up urine on the floor. Because otherwise, I'd just be the person standing in line behind THAT family. We are THAT family, and we're awesome.

Peed-on chicken nuggets and all.
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  1. This is a fabulous piece of writing! You should submit it somewhere to be published. I love how real this experience really only a mother could know.

  2. I'm laughing so hard that I am literally crying. I love you guys so much. And you really should write a book. I'd buy it and read it over and over.

  3. janelle this is the funniest story EVER! laughing out loud and especially hitting a chord with me today because i went to costco with my two littles today. i would have cried. at least you laughed! and the kicker - david standing there with the pee-soaked paper towels - i can just see it and his awesome smile. i love you guys.