Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Daddy-Daughter Grocery Day

I do my grocery shopping at Publix every week, usually early Saturday or Sunday morning. Sometimes, Marla comes with me. I don't force her to come, either: it's her choice. (I'm so proud!)

I can't imagine grocery shopping is all that exciting for a kid, so why does Marla actually want to come with me? Well...I try to give her incentives. One incentive is to get to ride in the "green cars". I don't have my own picture - taking pictures at the grocery store when you have a 3-year-old with you is a) difficult, and b) not a priority - but they look like this:


Kroger has kiddie cars, too, but the kiddie cars ride along the ground rather than up top; Marla has a lot better visibility in the Publix ones. Also, these cars have more room to put groceries than the Kroger equivalents do, and they are easier to maneuver. (As if I didn't already have enough reason to make the longer drive to Publix.) Riding in the green car loses its novelty after three straight weeks of it, though, so usually Marla will lose interest in going to the store, only to gain it back again a few weeks later.

Also, I let her pick one item of her choice off the shelf (with limitations), whether it's food (i.e. candy, chocolate-flavored cereal, cereal with marshmallows, or chocolate-flavored cereal with marshmallows), or one of those random cheap toys. I've never really thought about those cheap toys they put in random locations in the aisles, but now I know why they they're there: to take advantage of 3-year-olds with sucker parents. Seriously, though, I'd rather spend $3.49 on a toy xylophone than on a box of Lucky Charms.

After about 15 minutes in the store, though, it's, "I'm bored". Especially when I spend 5 minutes in the baby aisle getting all the different flavors of baby food Amber asked me to get for Bruce. (Bruce will eat just about anything we give him! Except prunes.) And, when Marla starts grabbing things off the shelf when you're not looking...that's not good either. I just have to be vigilant as to where I put the cart: not within arm's reach of anything that looks interesting. Also, not within arm's reach of the touch pad at checkout. And if she does grab something and ask if she could have it..."Well, you can't have that thing and this other thing. One thing only, remember?" That actually works pretty well. Haven't had any major meltdowns at Publix so far! (Which is saying something, because at home, even a simple "No, you can't have that thing / do that thing right now" can sometimes spiral into a major tantrum.)

Speaking of checkout...Publix gives kids the hook-up. Crayons, coloring books, stickers...it's almost overwhelming. I don't have the heart to tell the cashiers that we already have six packs of Publix crayons from prior weeks, because the cashiers are so nice. Last week Marla even got a free balloon. And not just any balloon, a helium balloon!

I also enjoy the occasional "teaching moment" at the grocery store. After a few weeks, I was able to teach Marla the concept of "aisle numbers" - where the aisle numbers are posted in the store, and the idea that such-and-such can always be found on aisle 14, for example. Publix has a feature on their website where you can enter in your shopping list, and it will tell you which aisle in the store everything you need is on; that way, you can put your shopping list "in order". (You can also access your list from your smartphone when you're there, but I still think it's easier to look at a paper shopping list than a smartphone shopping list once you're in the store.) But I'm thinking that after a few more trips, Marla will be able to tell me herself which aisle the cereal is on, for example. ... Actually, that's silly, because there are so many other things - useful things - we could be teaching her. No need to clog her brain with the layout of the local Publix. For now I'll just settle for the fact that when I ask Marla what the name of my favorite store is, she says excitedly, "Publix!" (That's not the first grocery store name I've taught her, by the way: "Piggly Wiggly" was the first. Piggly Wiggly was easy to teach - the logo is a pig, and I have a shirt with a giant Piggly Wiggly logo on it. The name Publix was much harder to teach.)

Also, taking Marla to the store helps us explain during the week - to give an example - why we're out of juice boxes, and how long it will be before we have more juice boxes. Now she understands the process by which we buy food, so she doesn't ask us about it all week leading up to it. ... Actually, she does keep asking us about it, but she accepts our answer of "next time we go to the store" more so now than she used to. Even when Marla doesn't go to the store with me, she knows that she can find more juice boxes in the cabinet after I get back, without us telling her. (Good thing, or bad thing?)

Marla and I don't have much one-on-one time away from the house, but for now, we've got our Publix trips. Father-daughter bonding at its best if you ask me.

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