Today, we had to go to the grocery store. Now, I’m not talking about the kind of trip where you breeze in and grab a dozen eggs, some Altoids, and a magazine for poops and grins. No, my friends, this was going to be EPIC. I have fed my children chocolate chip cookies for breakfast three days in a row, and their lunches have consisted of raisins and some slightly questionable cheese which offered no visible expiration date. (I checked, OK?) One could argue that such grocery expeditions are not best had with two children in tow. ”But Janica,” you ask, “why not tend to the grocery shopping on one of the two mornings when both of your children are happily tucked in preschool?” Because, you childless smartass, those precious 8 hours a week are not directed towards such sensible, productive activity. I have hot baths to take, webs to surf, and a seeerious amount of Project Runway to catch up on! Mind your business.
And besides, I had a plan, and that plan was the snack bar! Without fail, each Target trip, Parker and Bailey beg, whimper, and plead for their own share of neon yellow popcorn or a cup of the ever-revolving, soda-flavored sugar bomb known as the Icee. And without fail, I refuse, mumble something about high-fructose-laden-junkery, and we hurry past. But today, I knew I needed to pull out the big guns. I knew I needed a distraction. I knew I needed…nachos. (washed down with 100% fruit juice, mind you, I have some integrity.) The kids, undoubtedly thrilled with their good fortune, dove in without hesitation, and as they munched happily in their seats, I charged towards the produce.
The shopping went swimmingly. My children faintly reeked of msg and partially hydrogenated oils, and our red plastic chariot was filled to the brim with our dearly-missed staples. (yogurt! bananas! tampons!) I triumphantly steered to the check out line and began unloading.
It was then that I started to realize that something was amiss. Parker was dutifully placing items on the conveyer belt, but Bailey was NOT on all fours, pawing wistfully through the inevitable display of Little Pet Shop figurines which gives children the opportunity for one last-ditch whine for overpriced crap/treasure. No, Bailey was still seated in the cart. I took it as a sure sign of maturity and continued to (anally) unload the cart. All the frozen goods together, boxes lined up tidily along the back, produce grouped alphabetically – and then I heard the whimper. Which quickly turned into a moan. Which escalated to an all-out sob. I’m not big on letting my children wail in public, so I quickly scooted around to her to see what could possibly be causing such distress. My frustration instantly turned into concern when Bailey slowly looked her glassy eyes up to mine. Her cheeks were flushed with fever and her chubby little arms hung limply in her lap.
“My tummy huuuuurts”, she slurred pitifully.
Egads. We were SO close to getting the heck out of there. I (gently) slung her over my shoulder and returned to the task of cart-unloading with newfound vigor and speed. The cashier was fumbling awkwardly with the reusable bags that I provided (“So wait, do you want them in the plastic bags first?”) and we were only about halfway through the cart. Bailey let out a little cough, and I couldn’t help but notice that it sounded a bit…um, wet? My keen observation was confirmed by the sudden spread of warmth on my left shoulder. I quickly surveyed the damage. Yep, a little of Bailey’s tummy juice was evident on the back of my shirt, but it wasn’t major. I figured we could still scurry out of there without much of a scene.
Well, Bailey isn’t one for subtlety, bless her, and the eruption that soon followed ENSURED that we were, in fact, the very center of attention at Target check-out aisle 12 (and 11 and 13, for that matter). Time sort of stood still for a few moments. I was vaguely aware of Parker’s husky little voice squeaking in horrified excitement, “Bailey did a frow up! Bailey did a frow up!” and I was definitely experiencing the warm seep of nacho-fragranced vomit as it slid down my cleavage and took no detours as it began to settle in the crotch of my pants. The miserable creature in my arms, however, demanded my immediate attention, so I forced myself to assess the situation. Folks, it was grim.
Baiely and I were both literally drenched in vomit and so was the surrounding area, including the poor cinnamon bagels that had not yet been liberated from the cart. I tossed a few “for the love of God HELP ME” looks to the surrounding faces, but only one young Target employee came forward to offer assistance.
Bitch handed me a napkin. ONE, sandpaper-ish, 4×6 inch, single-ply napkin. I didn’t know whether to tsk-tsk her poor soul for being such a raging idiot, or to simply deliver an upside-the-face slap. I defaulted to option 3 and instead offered my blubbering gratitude as I dabbed at Bailey’s face.
These people were worthless, but I knew I could handle this. I took a deep breath and started handing out orders. Parker was to finish the cart unloading. Cashier #1 was to stop gagging and to scan and bag, scan and bag, scan and bag. I then turned to the Napkin Princess and asked if she could kindly grab me the closest, cheapest shirt that she could find, size medium, if you please. She redeemed herself slightly by enthusiastically bolting towards the women’s section. Meanwhile, I stripped Bailey down from her stench-soaked clothes and used a baby wipe to give her an impromptu sponge bath.
My “here’s a single napkin” friend soon returned, waving a white tank top in the air. ”It’s only $8.99!” she squealed, obviously pleased with herself. I yanked off the tag, handed it calmly to the cashier, and asked her to please excuse us while we took a moment to tidy up in the restroom. Once the kids and I were in the safety of the handicapped stall (don’t judge), I peeled off my devastated shirt, gave myself a baby wipe bath of my own, and threw on my brand new (only $8.99!) tank top. Well, “threw on” sort of insinuates that there was an ease to the motion. Folks, my moist torso and this (grossly mis-labeled) size medium shirt were NOT a good match. I grunted and wiggled and tugged and then stepped out of the stall, quickly glancing in the mirror. Now I will admit, 99 out of 100 times, the sight that met my eyes would have brought me to my knees with laughter. But on this 1 in 100 kind of day, humor was escaping me. Not only was this naval-revealing garment plastered to my body, but it was completely see-through. Transparent. I’m pretty sure the gal washing her hands next to me was actually counting the freckles on my abdomen as she rinsed. Did I mention that it was red bra day??
Naked baby on my clearly exposed hip, the wet badge of puke on my crotch, and clutching the hand of a completely bemused five-year-old, I slunk out of the bathroom and returned to claim my cart. I threw down my credit card to finally end this forsaken transaction. An angel in a blue cardigan had witnessed the entire incident from afar and had arranged all of my bags into a new cart and was eager to help us walk out to the car. The end was in sight.
As I tucked the children into their respective car seats, I profusely thanked the blue cardigan lady and was fully prepared to throw my arms around her in gratitude, but I think her stank tolerance had been exceeded because she vanished just as suddenly as she had appeared. I slammed the rear gate shut, climbed into the driver’s seat and let out a shaky sigh of relief. Mercifully, our ordeal was over.
I threw the car into reverse when, without warning, another sob burst forth from the back seat. Oh NO, Parker was going to get sick, too!
“Parker, baby, are you OK?” I asked worriedly.
“Mom…Mom!” he sputtered, “I just REALLY wanted those bagels!!”