Saturday, December 17, 2011

Could've Been Worse (otherwise known as "The Wal-Mart Fiasco")

Originally Posted January 17, 2008

It was the 15th which meant that my fridge was really not impressively stocked with groceries any more. Typically we shop on the 1st and 15th, but that is tricky when the 15th is a week day and hubby has the car and I have the kids. However, we thought it would be a great idea to go straight into the city after work and take the gang to Tim Hortons for soup and a bagel (thanks Mom and Dad P for the gift card!) and then I’d grocery shop with some of the younguns while Chris went to Home Depot to pick up some basement reno stuff. This sounds blissfully wonderful. The baby had even been napping well so she should be fine while we’re out. What a nice night we had in store.

The first harbinger of things to come was when I cut my finger while emptying the dishwasher….ON A BUTTER KNIFE. (I’m not kidding. Who can do this?)

Yet, we continue on in our plans for Family Night Extraordinaire.

We get to the restaurant (although as my speech-impeded daughter once said "Momma, this is not a westawant: it’s a Tip Howrtons" ….it was funnier in person) and 3 of the children want chili (shocking actually), 1 wants veggie and 1 wants chicken noodle. The baby will share mine so she doesn’t get a choice. Up to the counter: sorry. No chili left. Hmmmm.

Okay re-order. Now the littles are saying 3 veggies, 2 chickens. (plus my chicken and Chris’ mushroom).

Up to the counter: Sorry. only enough for 1 chicken.


Okay executive decision: Make it 5 veggie and I’ll take the chicken (because that way no one fights over it) and 1 mushroom. All 12 grain bagels. (that would be 7).

Sorry. Only 6 12 grain bagels

Okay: make it 6 12 grain and 1 whole wheat (I really don’t care at this point).

She gets the drinks and I pay, using my handy dandy gift card plus some of the kids’ Christmas money (I’m sure they won’t mind).

Now I’m waiting for the soup and bagels. Guy beside me says: Wow. Are they all yours?

Me: yup.
Guy: wow, I thought it was a birthday party.
Me: (thinking things I wouldn’t say out loud) Oh that’s funny! (idiot)
Guy: So how old is the oldest and youngest?
Me: (thinking "that’s right, let’s just see HOW MUCH of a side show freaky family we are") 9 down to 18 months (and then for shock factor) and I’m expecting in 5 weeks. Guy: Wow, don’t you know when to stop?
Me: Ha ha ha. Guess not!

And then I slink to my table hoping to disappear only to realize she only gave us 6 meals not 7 in total. Great. Now to go back up and let her know that our family is SO BIG we need more food.

Lady waiting at the counter: Wow, so they are all yours?
Me: yup.
Lady: Boy. Well, *good luck*
Me: Thanks! :-) (rolling eyes as I walk away)

So now here we are trying to eat in peace and my precious dear son knocks his bottle of OJ off the table where it smashes onto the floor (glass bottles….nice) and spills its entire contents all over everything, including his sister. I can’t just sit there letting the whole restaurant see the evidence of our freakiness so I begin to pick up the broken glass and mop up the juice with a wad of napkins. Chris begs me to just sit down because 1) they pay the girls to clean this stuff up (remember, it used to be my job) and 2) the longer the big pregnant woman squats on her haunches cleaning up, the more people are looking. Right. Good point. Besides, I already cut myself on the broken glass because I am just that stupid.

Suddenly we realize that the children are not eating their soups because 1) they somehow all magically have to go the bathroom RIGHT NOW and 2) they all thought it would be fun to use the little salt packets they gave with our meal, forgetting that since their mom hardly cooks with salt at all their taste buds are not accustomed to the canned/dehydrated/overprocessed/highly salted Tim Hortons soup. Still, they add the WHOLE PACKAGE and find the soup inedible. So they ate bagels and juice and a few bites of soup to be polite.

At which point Chris says "Let’s just go". So we go. Now the grocery store I like (Food Basics) is no where near Home Depot so for sake of time and gas and convenience I say I’ll go to the Price Chopper nearby, even though their produce stinks. Chris says, "Well, you could try (shudder) WalMart"…..

You need to know that we kind of hate WalMart. But I have heard good things about the grocery store so we thought we’d try it out. I would take the 6 year old, the 5 year old and the 18 month old. All is well. These kids are GREAT shoppers (and that wasn’t even being sarcastic).

Now here was a bright point of the day. The Stuffmart grocery was fairly well laid out, not very busy, and for the most part not outrageously priced (not as cheap as Food Basics, but not bad).

However, did you know that the StuffMart Superstore is about a million square feet big? Keep that in mind as you read along.

Miss 5 year old suddenly discovers about half way through the million square feet that she has to go to the bathroom. You just went at Tim’s, I remind her. I know, she says, but I have to go again. BAD. Okay, I will look for a bathroom while we shop.

Now she is crossing her legs and hopping down the aisles and her eyes are welling up with tears (I imagine her teeth were floating too, but I couldn’t see that part). I’m frantically looking for something that resembles a washroom sign, but alas, no luck. Seeing my daughter’s agony I now abandon my shopping in search of an employee. Apparently StuffMart has only 6 employees to cover those million square feet.

Ah yes, here she is now. A girl in a blue vest.
Me: Could you tell me where the closest bathroom is for my little girl?
Walmart Lady: Up by customer service.
Me: (incredulously) There isn’t a bathroom in the grocery section?
Walmart Lady: No.
Me: I have to walk all the way to the front entry area?
Walmart Lady: Well, not the entry, the Customer service.
Me: Right, That’s actually FARTHER THAN THE FRONT ENTRY (at which point 5 year old starts to actually cry instead of just whine and tear).
Me: Can I at least take my cart to that part of the store?
Walmart Lady: Oh yes, of course (suddenly trying to be helpful).
Me: Fantastic.

Running like Donovan Bailey to the stinkin’ customer service area, I push the cart full of groceries while my 18mo is wondering what is going on. We arrive to see a happy sign saying "No unpaid for merchandise past this point" and as I abandon my cart full of groceries out side the bathroom door I say "So help me if someone steals this cart I will sue Stinking Stuff Mart". By which point, I hear from inside the stall, to where my daughters have run ahead of me:"Mommy I couldn’t get here fast enough and the pee went all over my tights and my shoes" (note: and underwear and skirt and floor….)

So big Prego, now holding the 18 month old baby on hip, and purse on arm, slightly out of breath from the sprint half way across a million square feet of store is squatting again, cleaning up a mess off another store floor and throwing out said undies and tights, because I am not so desperate for cash that I have to stick wet, peed on things in to my purse to wash at home.

And now we have the pleasure of going back to the outer limits of WalMart to finish shopping….

At which point I begin to think it would have just been easier to stay home and fast until the weekend when I could have shopped when and where and how I wanted.

But then at the check out the lady who was serving us (now granted she didn’t realize our family was ‘freakishly large’ because she only saw me with 3 kids) kept praising my children for their manners and patience and obedience and beauty. And then praised me for feeding them well with all this produce, and for obviously trying to raise them well, and how blessed and what a ‘lucky family’ we were and how she hopes we just have a real great evening now, and see you again, and take care, and bye bye sweet baby……


So on the whole, the night really stunk. But it ended so much better and about so much better things. As I push the cart out to the car (telling my daughter of course her legs are cold in the parking lot. Bare, damp legs tend to feel cold outside in January in Canada) my six year old pipes up and says "There’s Daddy in the van. I love how he is so sweet to always park where we can find him and he always helps you by loading the groceries in to the car. He’s so great."

The Bible never promises that the world is going to get our Godly choices: in fact quite the opposite. We should expect to be laughed at and questioned and persecuted when we care about our children's modesty, or innocence, or family size, or getting out of debt, or a million other "weird" things that Christians sometimes do. We get the shame.

And the Bible never promises that just because we love the Lord that the bottle won’t break, our kid's bladders will be huge and strong, and the soup will be plentiful. That’s just stuff. We get the frustration.

But sometimes….just sometimes….the Light of the Lord shines so brightly through our children that the lady at StuffMart comments. And He gets the glory.

Lord, I’m so sorry for my reactions to frustrations like Tuesday night. I’m so sorry that my head is on such trivial things that I care more about how it looks on me that a 4 year old broke a glass bottle by accident than how I respond to the questions and criticisms of the world. What should have shamed me was the number of cuss words that popped into my head over the course of the night not the fact that my precious daughter had an accident in the bathroom. Lord, renew my mind, transform my heart, and conform my will to line up with You. And for Your sake let my children take after their Father and not their mother.

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