Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Chicken, The Fox and The Bag of Grain – Grocery Store Remix


You know this riddle, right? 

A farmer is standing on one bank of a river, with a fox, a chicken, and a bag of grain. He needs to get to the other side of the river, taking the fox, the chicken, and the grain with him.

However, the boat used to cross the river is only large enough to carry the farmer and one of the things he needs to take with him, so he will need to make several trips in order to get everything across.

In addition, he cannot leave the fox unattended with the chicken, or else the fox will eat the chicken; and he cannot leave the chicken unattended with the grain, or else the chicken will eat the grain. The fox is not particularly partial to grain, and may be left alone with it.

How can he get everything across the river without anything being eaten?

This is how I feel about grocery store visits with two kids now.  It is a nonstop, honest to goodness, chicken, fox and bag of grain riddle. 

And I generally suck at riddles. 

A woman is standing outside the local Kroger in a thunderstorm with a five year old, a five month old and a week’s worth of groceries.  In her left hand she holds her car keys, in her right, the bottle of Advil she ripped open in the check out line so she could down three before completing her transaction.  At the bottom of her bag lies her crumpled receipt and 75% of the coupons she had intended to use. 

She has to get everyone into the car and home in one piece before she can rest.  Crap. Did I say rest? I meant before she then has to put everything away and make dinner. 

She can get to the car with everyone, but who to put in first?  She can’t leave the five month old in the cart alone…people call the police over stuff like that. Plus he’s really really adorable and someone could kidnap him and keep him for their own.  And she definitely didn't tote around a heart monitor for a month just to have that happen. 

If it were Christmas, there might be a chance she could give her Salvation Army donation with the condition that the bell ringer provide 45 seconds of babysitting.  But alas, the bells have been put away for the year.  Nothing but upselling girl scouts and there is no room for heavy Samoa negotiations in this week’s budget.  

She can’t leave the five year old in the little car attached to the buggy that just HAD to be green. That’s where the chocolate milk is.  Also, she’s pretty sure he’d defect to the girl scout table and then this riddle would further complicate itself by blowing the don’t-make-eye-contact-to-avoid-cookie-purchasing technique she intended to use. 

The groceries, left unattended will surely get soaked, and she doesn’t want to have to go back to the grocery store, well, ever again really. 

So how can she get everyone into the car and home most effectively?

It’s quite simple really.

She can do it by making an ill planned and poorly executed mad dash to her car in the rain while screaming for everyone to hang on.  She haphazardly throws her sweater over the five month old and prays he can still get oxygen and that she doesn’t trip and fall on her face.  She then slams the cart into the back of the car and begins running laps around her mom-mobile grabbing little people and flinging them into car seats as fast as her under-exercised legs can take her.  It’s a fairly impressive maneuver and she is proud of the fact that she only pauses once to check Facebook. 

She throws her purse and keys into the front seat and sprints to the back of the car where she begins hurling groceries into any available crevice in the trunk.  Things spill over. Cans end up on produce. Cokes get shaken. She knows at this point, that the bread is not going to make it.  

Last but not least, she precariously balances the milk and cokes at the very edge of the trunk before slamming the door.  She says a quick prayer that they won’t fall out in the driveway. 

Another mad dash to the cart return that she, yet again, failed to park next to, and she is on the home stretch.  She walks triumphantly back to her car.  Not too cocky though, she still has to make it to the car without getting hit by the gigantic SUVs that have appeared out of nowhere.

She gets into the driver seat of her car and takes a few minutes to catch her breath and her sanity…well okay, to catch her breath and check Facebook.  It’s not long before the five year old begins to ask why the car hasn’t left its space and the five month old begins to scream. 

She cranks the car and victoriously heads home.  It’s a glorious moment until she realizes that she has forgotten the garage door opener and she has to do this all again in 2.5 miles. 

She bursts into tears.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Hug Your Fish Tight, You are Not Promised Tomorrow.

Last Easter, I had a crazy mom response to an Easter egg hunt that was being thrown at my grandmother's assisted living.  The problem(s)?  The lack of sportsmanship. The refusal to cap the number of eggs each child could collect to give the little kids a fighting chance. The kids old enough to shave who were knocking my four year old out of the way to collect all the eggs. And mostly, said shaving kids' parents who were letting it happen in front of them.

After all the eggs were found, Samuel walked over to me with a nearly empty basket and burst into tears. I had a physical reaction. I could feel my anger rising.  If I had been Jacob Black, I would have turned into a gigantic wolf.  If I had been Lou Ferrigno, you would have seen me grow muscles and turn green. Suddenly, I found myself staring in the face of a difficult learning experience for my child.  The kind where you probably have an obligation to hold your child's hand and walk with him as he faces one of life's harsh realities. It was a tough love moment. So what did I do after I finished consoling my heartbroken child that would help him grow as a person?  Why, I enlisted the help of my mother and sister and in under ten minutes, we had planned our own Easter Egg hunt. A better Easter Egg hunt. An Easter Egg hunt with 12 colored eggs, one golden egg, one prize for finding the golden egg and, of course you guessed it, one Easter egg hunter.  Learning experiences are overrated...my baby was going to get eggs.

What does this have to do with a fish?  The prize Samuel won that day at the First Annual Samuel Turner Invitation-only Solo Easter Egg Hunt, was his pet fish, Ziggy.  

Last night, Ziggy died, and I found myself standing in the middle of yet another life lesson for my son.  He would have to be told that his beloved fish died.  But first, I needed the emotional support one can only find from a spouse.  I went upstairs to tell my husband. 

"Honey, Ziggy's dead." 

He looked up at me suspiciously, "What happened?"  

I stared at him.  "Heart disease? I don't know he's a fish.  He lives in a bowl.  You feed them and then one day they die. He's dead. He's floating in his bowl downstairs and dinner's ready"  

"Did you feed him?"

"YES. I'm the ONLY one who fed him. Come get this dead fish out of my kitchen"  I walked downstairs. 

The truth is, I was probably the cause of Ziggy's sudden demise.  You see, in addition to frequently expressing my wish that the fish would die before I had to go buy more food pellets, I washed his bowl and changed the type of food he was getting the night before. I felt guilty and I was defensive.  A sure sign of guilt.  

Even my mom stated how vibrant and healthy Ziggy had looked only the night before.  Really, mom?  REALLY?

So, I decided to tell Samuel today after school.  He is a wild card about stuff like this and I had no idea what his reaction would be.  Truthfully, he barely acknowledged poor Ziggy.  Feeding him was supposed to be one of his chores but usually I would do it.  Also, I might add, once every week or so I found myself hunched over a sink, cleaning out his bowl and wondering why we had this fish that clearly added nothing to our lives.  Samuel barely took notice of him...as evidenced by the belly up fish that floated dead in its bowl for most of yesterday without him so much as looking in that direction.  

Samuel came home from school today and I called him over to the couch.  "Honey," I said as gently as possible. "You know how pets don't always live as long as people?"  Sam nodded.  "Well, Ziggy went to heaven yesterday" His head whipped around to look for the fish bowl that was no longer there. He looked back at me. "Ziggy died?" He sort of whimpered. Oh no. The tears are going to come and I don't think I'll have the willpower to not get in the car and go buy him a pony. He sort of leaned into me and asked, "Why?" I answered honestly, "Honey, fish just don't live that long." I put my arms around him and pulled him into me. "I know it's hard to lose a pet." He lingered there for a moment before pulling away. He looked at me and sighed "Okay, can I watch Spongebob now?"  

Is that it?  Is this shock or are we truly done mourning Ziggy?  Poor Ziggy. Even in death...unappreciated. 

It was a Rudy Huxtable moment.

A few minutes later, he looked up from Spongebob and said, "Why do my pets always die, mom?"  I stared at him. "This is the only pet you've ever had, Sam." 

"Well, you know what mom?"  Sam was nodding at me and waving his hand in the air as he said, "If I were to get a dog...and you didn't feed that dog either, he would die too."

It was then that Andy confined himself to the closed pantry where I could hear him laughing.

"SAM, I DIDN'T KILL ZIGGY!"