Saturday, January 7, 2012

8 Timeouts in the Pasta Aisle

I usually make one big trip to the grocery store each week, and we'll make smaller additional trips if necessary.  When you're a mom, you just do whatever you have to do and don't think about how crazy you look--until the people at WalMart stare.  When I go shopping with two under two, it probably looks something like a 3-ring circus.
Walt (who has one pound left before he most definitely, legally has to graduate from his infant carrier) sits atop the cart in his carseat, and Janie gets buckled in to the front seat.  The diaper bag is down below, I have my list in hand, and I have to be as efficient as possible.  On a good shopping day, I get about a half an hour before a meltdown threatens.  

We made it to the pasta aisle when Janie's tantrum began.  We had already blown through the cookie from the bakery two aisles ago, and Jane was in no mood for shopping.  My usual attempts to sing songs, point out things that we saw, make funny faces, etc. were having no effect.  

She was having what I call a typical toddler bipolar moment.  She wanted out of the cart.  She wanted her coat off.  Why was I unzipping her coat?!  She wanted to grab everything in site.  She was thirsty.  She wanted nothing to do with her sippy cup.  Coat launched onto the ground.  Sippy cup nearly takes out the woman across the aisle.  

We had 8 timeouts in the pasta aisle before we were ready to move on.  Each time, I took her out of the basket, sat her on the ground facing away from me, and declared it was a timeout.  She instantly went silent.  When the timeout was over (usually a minute later), I brought her up to her feet.  We had the same conversation each time.  

"Timeout's over.  What do you say?"  
"Sorry, Mama."     
"No (insert behavior, i.e. throwing things out of the cart).  That makes Mommy sad.  I love you.  Give Mommy a hug."

Mothering is so humbling, but I'm learning to care less and less about the humiliation.  I don't care anymore that I'm the person getting the looks at WalMart.  I'm learning that it's worth the humiliation of doing 8 timeouts in the pasta aisle to teach Jane that I'm consistent and that the rules don't change just because we're in public.  Some people stare, roll their eyes, or shake their heads.  Most people who watch me discipline Jane in public nod approvingly or even go out of their way to say something encouraging like, "You're a good mom!" 

Thank goodness Walt's such an easygoing baby and he almost never makes a peep.  We were able to get through the rest of our list in record time and without another meltdown.  

Unfortunately, making it to the checkout aisle is no guarantee of a victory.  I make it a point to select checkout employees who seem kid-friendly.  Unfortunately, the kid-friendly employee was also the slowest employee ever.  As sweet as she was, she insisted on opening every single bag of produce to identify it even though I would offer my help with, "That's one bunch of cilantro" or "That's three sweet potatoes."  Even though the code was directly on the produce, she insisted on double-checking it with the list by the register.  Yup, 4011 is bananas.  She was thorough and precise, but we were already delayed due to the 8 timeouts, and lunchtime was upon us.

I managed to get all of the bagged groceries back into the cart under Walt's carrier, the employee gave us our receipt, and God gave me a "take a chill pill" moment.

A sweet elderly couple in the aisle next to us saw that Jane had thrown her hat out of the cart.  I was planning on ignoring it until we were ready to leave.  When I was getting the receipt, the man had picked it up and was handing it to Jane.  I turned around to see them looking at the babies, making them smile and laugh.  

"What beautiful babies," the woman said.
"You're working overtime!"  said her husband.  
Thinking about the 8 timeouts, I wanted to say something like, "Oh!  You have no idea!"  Instead, I said, "Oh, they keep me pretty busy."
That's when the man said, "Well, you're very blessed.  Have a nice day!"

He was so right.  I had a cart full of food for our family, two perfectly healthy babies, we were on our way out to our car, and then we were going to our home in a safe neighborhood to have lunch and naptime.  We are so blessed.  8 timeouts in the pasta aisle is small potatoes. 

Welp, that was a nice thought.  We parted ways and I resumed my frenetic pace to get us home for lunchtime when we were slowed to a crawl.  Another elderly couple blocked our path.  God really wanted to hammer His point home.  The man pushed his wife in a wheelchair.  I couldn't hear what they were talking about, but I could hear their laughter.  They were happy to be out and about in each other's company.  

I gave God another begrudging, "OK.  I get it."  

Slow down.  
Enjoy the babies.  
Keep giving them timeouts.
Keep giving them hugs. 

We sang our ABC's all the way home because Janie wanted to.      

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