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Grocery Shopping with Liam...a Tutorial on Being Inept in the World of a Two Year Old

Updated on September 29, 2014
Sallie Mullinger profile image

Sallie is a retired mother and grandmother who has written short stories for most of her life. Her stories are from her heart to yours.

I recently spent a week babysitting my 2 year old grandson. "No big deal", I said. "Hes two and therefore no big deal", I said.

How wrong I was!

You see, Liam isnt just ANY two year old. He's a pretty smart and savvy and even cunning two year old. His verbal skills are superior for his age. Add that fact to his overall smartness and then throw in a healthy dose of downright cute and I didnt see what hit me!

Fiercely independent, he doesnt want (and in his mind, need) any of the support, help, grandmotherly watching over, that most 2 year olds need. He makes sure that we all know that he can do it himself and there is a clear disdain for things that I, as a previous Mom myself, thought that all 2 year olds still needed and even wanted!

Oh how I was wrong! (I said that already, didnt I?)

It took me a day to navigate around his schedule and so for that first day I felt woefully inept and pretty much stupid. Seriously Sallie...hes TWO! Youre in charge here. Yeah...doesnt that sound easy? I wasnt aware that I was up against Bubble Guppies. who rule and Toy Story, which gets a strong honorable mention. I didnt know that he had a strong love for sausage for breakfast as opposed to my idea of cereal and milk. And I am truly embarrassed to mention that it took me awhile to figure out how to open the Gogo Squeeze stuff that he seemed to love. It is truly amazing how much I found myself feeling completely inept and downright stupid that first day! I was, however, somewhat heartened to realize that PB&J sammies are still the go to for 2 year olds when all else fails. Im an expert at slapping peanut butter and jelly on two slices of bread and then cutting the bread into cute little diagonals.....Finally! Some of my parenting experience paid off and God knows I needed something to bolster my waning self esteem.

Naps were clearly something designed for less active, less curious, less busy 2 year olds and NOT for Liam. But Gramma needed one!

Once I got the hang of his likes and dislikes, I smugly decided to try my luck at an outing. It was his Mommy's birthday and I wanted to prepare her favorite meal for her so that when she got home from work she wouldnt have to cook on her birthday. Plus I had bought her a birthday gift, but didnt have a gift bag to wrap it in. So Liam and I ventured out to Giant Eagle for what I thought would be a piece of cake outing.

Hah! Going anywhere with a 2 year old requires planning, timing, stamina and patience. A LOT of patience. Im a good planner and Im an excellent time manager so I figured I would have this outing down to a fine science and we would have a seminal bonding experience between "Gwammie" and Liam.

Things were pretty smooth as I buckled him into his car seat. Good job, Gramma! I patted myself on the back for even being able to tackle the contortions I had to endure in order to shove my body between the front seat and his car seat in the back. And I think I muttered at least a dozen times that a 2 door Mustang is NOT the ideal vehicle for a 2 year old's car seat.

We wont discuss how long it took me to make sure I had the right buckle in the right slot and that the right harness was in the right place. He sat there watching me and I can only wonder at what his little mind was thinking. I am fairly certain he was wondering why Mommy and Daddy can 1,2,3 this part of getting into the car, but clearly Gramma couldnt and worse, I swear the little stinker had a grin on his face as though he knew perfectly well what needed to be done but enjoyed watching Gramma sweat bullets until it was done!

We drove to the Giant Eagle and I carefully unsnapped and unclicked and unharnessed him from the car seat and we walked, hand in hand, into the grocery store. Im feeling pretty darned proud of myself by this point. So far, so good. Once inside, pride gave way to that familiar feeling that somehow this blue-eyed 2 year old was going to reduce me to a rubble of nerves and possibly even tears..( I figured if I cried he might feel sorry for me). I bent over to pick up his sturdy, and VERY strong little body in order to put him into the grocery cart and was immediately met with resistance. There was NO way in Liam's plan for this outing where he intended to be corralled and incarcerated in that grocery cart. He adamantly refused and would not budge. My back couldnt handle much more in the way of wrestling his little body and my patience (which I thought I had much of) was wearing thin. If there is anything you learn from an outing such as this one, its that YOU are not in charge and that the two year old IS!

We compromised. He agreed to being put in the basket part of the cart, but sideways and would not give in to his feet and legs being in the openings of the basket. This solution, in my mind, beat him running all over the place and slowly the image of me pulling my hair out, chasing a 2 year old around the grocery store, faded from my mind.

The rest of the grocery store experience was uneventful except for the fact that I realized as I pushed the cart thru the store that shopping with a 2 year old was vastly different to what I was used to. He captured the attention of every female in the store from age 17 to 70, I am sure. They all clucked at how adorable he was (he is), how smart he was (he is) and how well behaved he was (ummmm). I couldnt help but feel proud of him and tried to give him some cheek kisses, but those were decidedly met with a firm turn of his head. He had no time for kisses. His mission, while at Giant Eagle, was to take in everything around him and explore as much as that cart and Gramma would allow him to explore.

This experience prompted me to right some rules for all of you other "Gwammie's" who find yourselves in a similar situation. I would advise you to print these rules out and keep them handy, at all times. You never know when a trip to Giant Eagle with a 2 year old might occur and God knows, we Gwammies can use all the help we can get.

Rules for going to the grocery with a 2 year old when youre a grandma and havent done it for 100 years:

1. Take snacks (for yourself as well as the 2 year old. You might get nervous and feel like bingeing)

2. Take a drink. Apple juice for the 2 year old and vodka for you. Youre going to need it.

3. Dont go down the toy aisle.

4. Dont go down the cookie aisle.

5. Dont get the cart too close to ANY item on ANY shelf unless you want to end up paying for odd things like watch batteries or hairbrushes.

6. Did I mention not going down the toy aisle?

7. Dont let the 2 year old bring toys with him to the store unless you dont mind bending over and picking them up every 2 minutes or having them thrown at the lady in the meat aisle who clearly was not amused.

8. Let him have the samples of: (in this order) sliced cider...cranberry apple bread...philly cheese steak sandwich....cookies. Do this to preserve your own sanity and to keep him from screaming and dont wonder why he doesnt eat much lunch later. And anyway, Grandmas are supposed to give their grandkids crappy food once in awhile and the philly cheese steak sandwich WAS really good.

9. Try to pick the fastest check out lane because by this time, theyre melting down pretty fast.

10. Give lots of kisses to the 2 year old (if he allows) for being so good in the store and dont forget to send up a silent prayer to God that you both made it thru this adventure.

11. My heartfelt thanks to Buzz Lightyear, Woody and Bullseye for helping me get thru that week and especially for being with us during the Giant Eagle trip. I couldnt have made it thru without you guys!

P.S. I think Liam survived. Jury's still out on me


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