Costco, Target, and Doritos

Target doesn’t have all of the things we need. This displeases The Gaggle and they let me know of their disappointment when we are at checkout.

I had a productive day with The Gaggle recently. They needed some things to decorate their room and I needed to drive them to the store. The list requires two stops. For me, this was nothing. I often need to go to one or two, sometimes three stores for groceries, prescriptions, or some other necessity. This was just another day for me. For the gaggle, however, the experiences they endured that day were unlike any other.

Costco

Our first stop of the day was Costco. We needed things for The Gaggle’s room and Wife asked if I could pick up some things from the grocery section. We went into the store.

Exterior photo of Costco
Preparing to enter Costco.

“Oh my god!” the gaggle exclaimed. “This place is so big! And why do they have all this stuff?”

“It’s a warehouse,” I explain to them.

I ask if I can offer them some Doritos during this trying time. They are not amused.

We walk around the store seeking and finding what we need. It doesn’t take long. I’ve been shopping at Costco long enough to know my way around. The Gaggle is amazed at the size of the store, the bulk of the merchandise, and the crowd of people there in the middle of the day. The crowd annoys The Gaggle. They take up space and they’re in the way. I see someone giving out samples of Doritos. I ask if I can offer The Gaggle Doritos during this trying time. They just look at me. They are not amused.

A bag of Doritos.
I offered The Gaggle Doritos. They declined.

Target

Our next stop is Target. The Gaggle finds Target (or “Tarjay”, as I like to call it when I’m with them) to be bougie (or boujee. I have no idea which word to use). I use the word “Tarjay” just to get an extra rise out of them.

The trip to Target is a little less productive than we had hoped for. They don’t have everything we need. We are able to find some of the things, but not all. This displeases The Gaggle and they let me know of their disappointment when we are at checkout.

A Bed skirt. One of our finds at “Tar-jay”.

Overall, I would say we had a relatively productive day. The Gaggle doesn’t share my opinion of our efforts and accomplishments, but I would put this in the “Win” column. We went to two stores. We got some of what we needed. Not all, but some things for The Gaggle to set up their room. To show my appreciation, I got some stickers from the nice lady at checkout. I present them to The Gaggle when we get out of Target. She just looks at me. It’s not a happy face most children have when they get stickers. It’s a kind of annoyed face. I remind them of what we got done and the fun we had being together. Their face never changed, and I don’t think the stickers left my car.

Target stickers depicting "Spot", Target's mascot.
Stickers from our visit at Target. I was smiling, Spot was smiling. The Gaggle wasn’t smiling.

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Winter Coats for Kids

All five of my children have super powers. Your children may have powers too and, for all I know, our children could share the same super powers.

I have only recently noticed the gifts bestowed upon the Miracles of Christ. These gifts, however, are not present at all hours of the day and night. It is only on certain days and during certain times of day.

One such power/gift is thick, viscous blood that will keep the Miracles of Christ warm during the winter. This is a curious gift possessed by The Boy and one or two of the Gaggle. The Boy will run around the neighborhood with friends sans jacket or any additional layer over his shirt. He doesn’t need it. It’s not cold. It’s winter and the thermometer is near freezing but that is an issue for mortals such as you and I. He doesn’t need it. Unfortunately, this power seems to escape him when he is sent outside to retrieve something he was supposed to put away or bring back into the house with him. At this point, he will need a coat or a sweatshirt, usually something that is tucked away in the back of his closet upstairs in his room. Way back in his closet, under something. It has to be this particular item of clothing or he won’t be able to get warm enough to do a task that would be done faster than the time it takes to put on a jacket or sweatshirt.

Mantle of mortals

And then we have The Gaggle. One of whom goes to work during the winter in pants and a tee shirt. That’s it. Nothing to cover his arms. His reasoning for this is that he is riding to work in a warm car (I run the car so the heat is on. I love my children) and from the car, he is going indoors where he works his shift. There is also the added burden of needing to remember a coat when he is finished work and he may forget it. Then he will be bothered by the fact that his jacket is at work while he is at home. I try to tell him that seeing the weather outside will make him grateful for having a jacket, therefore remembering said jacket. This mnemonic device is useless to him. He’ll just forget it anyway. I will remind him of a jacket when he climbs into the car and shivers off the cold after closing the door. He tells me he’s, “Okay.” I doubt that.

Superheroes need their rest…. Sometimes. The Boy will be up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning with his keister parked on the couch watching YouTube. He will be well into a marathon of Roblox or a walkthrough of a video game he is either still trying to master or doesn’t even play. No matter. These digital offerings no doubt provide secrets that will unlock the mysteries of the universe. He will need to wake up hours after this on a normal school day. This is where the mystery of his powers comes in. The ability to get up out of bed on his own eludes him. The ability to just get out of bed eludes him. I wake him up three, four times. Still nothing. He is weak. Feeble. It’s all he can do to get out of his warm bed.

Warm bed. This reminds me of The Oppressed. Another child who can run around with no jacket. Another one who is immune to the whims of fickle Mother Nature. Rain? I don’t need a coat. Cold? Bah! I don’t need to put a jacket on. Time to wake up? I’m cold. Let me stay in bed for five (more like 20) more minutes. If I could just warm up a little (she’s been in bed for eight or nine hours), I will be warm enough to face the day. I direct her attention to the array of warm clothes strewn about her room (We’re still learning how to use a dresser) and remind her that, if she gets dressed, she will be warm and ready for the day. Again, I’m talking out of my butt. What do I know? I know nothing about what a child needs, especially first thing in the morning. I’m making them meals but I don’t know what children need. I’m getting them ready for school but I don’t know what children need. It’s a miracle they’re alive, really.

Children need sleep. We all do. We need it to function everyday. Some need more sleep than others. If people don’t get sleep, they can’t do their job. Sleep helps you recharge your batteries and your super powers. If that’s the case, The Gaggle should be faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive. The Gaggle have been gracing us with their presence around 11 each morning. Brave children. Strong children. Poor, mistreated children. Wife and I have reminded them that school is starting again and they will need to be out of bed before some people are ready to have lunch. Sometimes they do and when they do, they look like someone starting their day in a North Korean labor camp. Why must they be up so early? What is there that could possibly be so important they need to be up in the morning? They need sleep. They have to charge their superpowers. This is cruel.

Superpowers need to be charged. You never know when you will need them and when they could leave you like an angry god or goddess. Speed is one of these superpowers. I sometimes need to remind the Miracles of Christ to wash their hands after using the bathroom. They did. They just did it fast. I didn’t hear water running. Of course not. I don’t have super powers. They need to brush their teeth. They did. They just did it fast. I didn’t hear it because I don’t have super powers. The toothbrush is dry. It dried fast. The toothbrush has super powers. Can I see their teeth. No. They’re busy.

We’re all busy, just not as busy as our superheroes. The superheroes and their powers come in handy everyday. They need their super powers or they will be lost or worse without them. One of The Gaggle sits silently still in front of the PS4 for hours without moving. Ever hear of Medusa? She would turn you to stone. If you sit still like stone, she may think you’re already a statue and pass you by. There he sits, like a ninja, in case the evil goddess passes by and then he sees her and then… Well, I guess super powers only take you so far.

Wife and I are not privy to such powers. We are mere mortals in this landscape of titans and marvels. We get our needed rest, put on a coat when the temperature drops in the winter. Eat a meal when we are hungry. One child with a super power of boundless energy would rather run around the house when it’s time to sit down and eat. Time to go somewhere? He’s tired. Super powers are tricky things.

The Family Meets St. Nicholas

(Based on “A Visit From St. Nicholas/’Twas the Night Before Christmas” by Clement C. Moore)

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house. Kitty was purring. She’d just killed a mouse.

My glasses were cleaned and laid out with care in hopes that bourbon and beer would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds while visions of more screens danced in their heads.

Wife on her side of the bed. Me on mine. Wondering how long ’til a child climbs in.

When down in the kitchen there was such a clatter. I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Turned on the light. Blind from the flash. Hand over face to see who it is.

The moon outside shone on the snow gave a luster of midday to objects below.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but The Gaggle, The Boy, The Oppressed in good cheer.

They poured out some eggnog, so lively and quick. I shooed them to bed. Here comes St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came. And I shooed and scattered as I called them by name.

Now Lovie, now Slugger, now Slapshot and screwball. Junior and Dearie, make haste down the hall. Go to your rooms. Get in your beds. Make not a peep. Just rest your heads.

I wanted to throw them, to make them fly.

There was a lack of hustle. They just rolled their eyes.

Meanwhile, I heard a sleigh slow to stop

Eight not-so-tiny-deer resting on top.

A Christmas vision

The sleigh-driver hopped off. Claus and bag, too

I hoped that bag had a bottle, brand new.

Something nice, tasty and strong.

Something enjoyed after homework gone wrong.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

Kitty was watching. She just had to look.

A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,

Toys for everyone. Jills and Jacks.

His eyes—how they twinkled as gifts were dispersed!

He sung to himself a nice Christmas verse.

His droll little mouth carried the tune

As the Christmas Star rose high over the moon.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

Made me grateful he wasn’t vaping. What a relief

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

He was gen’rous and kind, a right jolly old man,

With a bottle of single malt scotch in each hand.

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

I asked him to stay for some Christmas cheer.

He politely declined, then waved to our Dears.

The children had been right there standing behind us.

By the time I looked back, Santa had left us.

The Miracles of Christ stood there and smiled.

The Boy pointed and asked, “Is this one my pile?”

But I hope you enjoy your own Christmas night.

Happy Christmas to all. Daddy’s tired. Good night.

Happy Christmas!

Prince of the Road

Being a foster parent gives you numerous challenges everyday. There are things to deal with for school. There are doctor and dentist visits. Meetings with social workers. Another wrinkle being a foster parent can bring is a change in the order of milestones.

Our children range in ages from 17 to six. We will be celebrating a driver’s license before we will celebrate graduation from elementary school. We will help prepping for a high school final exam before dealing with middle school orientation. Things like these are perfectly normal for a family that doesn’t exactly do “normal”.

One of the Gaggle has their learner’s permit. This person has made Wife and I proud. They have shown initiative in their life and work. They looked for and got a job. They sought out how to get their permit and they are looking into driver’s ed.

The child and I have been out on the road getting practice and experience whenever we can. They do well most of the time. Then again, there was this one time…

I fancy myself an amateur craft beer and bourbon critic. One time nearly became a “Four-finger Night” as a neighbor likes to say. We were driving around town. The Gaggle had a few rounds behind the wheel under their belt and kept improving. We were making our way home. On our right was one of those glaring-red stop signs. Painfully obvious to me right away. Somehow, the Gaggle didn’t see it until we nearly passed it. Being the diligent person and stickler for rules, they slammed on the breaks as soon as they recognized their folly. I exclaimed an expletive and put my hands up to shield myself from the dashboard in case the seat belt didn’t work.

The Gaggle apologized. I reminded them to keep their eyes open when driving. They promised to do so and thanked me for the advice. As we continued our way, the route called for a left-hand turn. Unfortunately for our driving novice, this was one of those clearly visible streets that somehow remained hidden until you were halfway by it. Most people would continue on and make the next turn and make their way back to it. Not the Gaggle. Our driving dynamo saw the nearly passed street, slams on the brakes, and cuts the wheel for a hairpin turn that would make Vin Diesel proud. If they ever start casting for “The Fast and the Furious 17”, I think I’m signing the Gaggle up for it. Wait. They haven’t made part 17 yet. Have they?

We continue. We’re almost home, much to my relief. I think the car’s relieved, too. I instruct the Gaggle to make a turn. Maybe they were thinking about the turn they almost missed. Whatever it was, they make this one a little premature and we’re on the left side of the road, practically on someone’s front lawn. I thought I heard a mailbox scream and a lawn gnome reciting a prayer. I tell the child the laws haven’t changed and we’re still driving on the right side of the road. He apologized and literally rights the situation. We get home. He apologizes again before we get out of the car. We get inside the house. People inside ask how it went. We both say it went great. I poured a bourbon.

Brothers and Sisters

As of right now, we have five children: two elementary-aged children and three teenagers. Wife says she doesn’t have teenagers. She has five small children.

The three teenagers will start their day with some breakfast. One may take some coffee with breakfast. Another will start their day with a body check as they walk by one of their siblings. After delivering the body check, they will run around the kitchen trying to avoid whatever retribution the checked is trying to deliver. This will go on for a couple of minutes with both children who are wearing socks on a hardwood floor. What could possibly go wrong?

After breakfast and the accompanying cardio, it is time to begin the fun adventures of homeschooling. Sometimes, all three children will be in the same room looking over the assignments and offering whatever moral support they can. This usually comes in the form of, “You’re such an idiot!” or “Will you shut up?!” Meanwhile, Wife is downstairs dialed into a meeting with other business professionals making sure her phone is on “Mute”.

After a rigorous morning, it’s time for lunch. The Gaggle will try to fit one more hit to the back or push someone to the bed one more time before running like Hell downstairs to be the first to the kitchen and first dibs on whatever it has to offer. After pushing, shoving, and reminding each other how stupid or “sus” they are, everyone finally finds something to eat and sits down at the table. A meal is shared over how easy the other’s subjects are and if one had the other workload, they would have been done with the day already. This, of course, prompts another to yell, “Liar!” across the table and they could have been done with everything already if they really wanted to make them all look bad.

“Oh my God, Bruh. You’re so sus!”

During lunch, Wife and I will check in on the future of our country. Things are going great for one (pick one). It’s the other two (pick two) that are having trouble. Then again, they wouldn’t have so much trouble if they weren’t so dumb. This is where one will try to climb over the table and assault the other, who is trying to hide under the table from the attack. The third is preventing them from hiding under the table so they may have the proper retribution. Wife and I step in and direct everyone back to their corner – I mean, seat – and instruct them to finish their lunch. They will have another class starting soon.

Lunch ends and they go back upstairs. This is hastened some by someone trying to get one more jab at someone and then run. One or two will run after them. They are usually directed to their own rooms. Two go to one room. One goes to another. More schooling. After the day comes to a merciful close, we are reminded again by all of the Gaggle how smart they are. Each maintains they are the smartest. Each one is reminded by the other of their stupidity. Wife reminds everyone she doesn’t have teenagers. She has small children.

Dinnertime approaches and we sit down to find out about each other’s day. One of the Gaggle talks about his ever-growing list of girlfriends and how it’s so hard to keep track of all of them. Another calls Casanova “Sus” and reminds him of his looks. They tell him the list of girls who are repulsed is longer than his list of “girlfriends”. The first laughs and says how foolish his sibling is for thinking that.

Dinner is over. Some people hang around in the dining room, especially if there’s a fire in the fireplace. One of The Gaggle finds Kitty and spirits her away to the bedroom because Kitty “loves” them the most. I have a drink and unwind from the day and the verbal barbs that accompanied it. Tomorrow is another day sure to be filled with more sibling love and tenderness.

Fun and Games

School is out. Children all over are rejoicing. Home-schooling parents are rejoicing with them.

Now is the time for a glorious respite from the routines of math, English, and science. Attentions have turned to swimming and riding bikes. I have been looking forward to this time. It means I can stop being a taskmaster making children fix an inverted letter or number and start doing things and having fun.

Or so I thought.

I wake up to the same routine I had when we were home-schooling. I get my coffee, check mail and comments from adoring fans and readers, do a little writing and enjoy the time I have to myself before the Miracles of Christ make their appearance. Inevitably, they do and we begin the daily routine.

One of The Gaggle is usually the first one up. This child proceeds to find a screen to satisfy their minute attention span and begin their morning. Alas, the battery is dead or dying and the child comes to me with the disturbing news. Can I plug it in? I could but the child knows where the plugs are and could plug it in on their own. This, of course would require some effort and there is a smart TV plugged in and ready to be watched. Could I plug it in for them. I could but I am in the middle of something and, as I said before, everyone knows where the plugs are.

The Gaggle walks away huffing and rolling their eyes. I had the audacity to tell this poor, innocent child to do something on their own. The humanity. Who does that?

I return to my reading and writing for a few seconds. The Gaggle returns. Where is the remote? I have no idea. I don’t watch the TV in the living room. Can I help find it? I ask if they have started looking for it. “Well, I don’t know where it is.” I tell them to try looking for it. Another eye roll. More huffing. I hear muttering complemented by blankets being thrown about the living room. No one helps. No one cares.

I get up from my work to check on the latest Amnesty International case. I ask what the problem is. “I just asked if you could help,” is the answer. I direct The Gaggle to the arm of the couch where the remote has been the whole time. After the program has been selected, they ask if I can get them breakfast. I direct them to the pantry where the cereals are. “But I’m watching something.” That’s nice. This is a state of the art remote control complete with a “Pause” button. They can pause the show to get their cereal. Another eye roll. Previously, this same child was able to move a stool and get whatever they wanted on the top shelf of a cabinet or the pantry. Now they are helpless.

That’s The Gaggle. Let’s move on to The Boy. The Boy is in elementary school and this is the time I have been waiting for. No strollers. No high chairs. Summer is here and that means hours of throwing batting practice. Maybe a game of catch. Baseball or football. I don’t care. He can pick. A break for lunch and then some more playing.

Wrong. We play catch for a couple of minutes and then he is inside. He needs a break. He has to use the bathroom. He needs a drink. Whatever it is he is doing, the call of Roblox or Minecraft has captured his attention. Baseball can wait. Outdoors can wait. He has all day. We have all summer.

The backyard is to the right but The Boy has found something a little more interesting straight ahead and to the left.

Other members of The Gaggle are playing with Kitty and hanging in their room watching YouTube. The Oppressed has my phone and is trying to explain to me why most of my music is, at best, questionable.

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Rightfully Mine

I find myself losing more and more to a certain child in my home.

One of “The Gaggle” has been with us for a few months and this child has since infringed on things, animals, and people that I hold dear. This person is a nice person: Helps when we need it, asks for help when they need it. They even ask when they need or want to use something. But sometimes…

Kitty and I have taken a liking to each other. I had always been a “Dog Person” until Kitty came to us. With The Wife at work and the Miracles of Christ at school, it was just me and her. We hung out. She kept me company while I folded clothes, washed dishes or cooked. I would wake up with her on or next to me. A couple of confirmed kills in the Mouse Department have cemented her standing as a beloved member of our household.

The Gaggle will run into the house, sometimes body-checking me out of the way. She will yell, “Kitty!” and find her and pick her up. She will cuddle Kitty and make sure I see them in a moment of tender cuddling. The Gaggle smiles. Kitty and I are not amused.

Exhibit A

I once got a Nintendo Switch for my birthday. I use it when I can. The Miracles of Christ have a new found interest in video games. God forbid The Boy plays Pac-Man or Space Invaders with me. (He’s still learning and I try to keep it simple for him.) Everyone, including The Gaggle wants my Switch and “The Legend of Zelda”. It was nice when I wanted to kill a few minutes with the game. I constantly hear a knock on the door. “Do you have ‘Zelda’?” “Can I use it?” “Can I use it now?” “Are you done, yet?” Now, I can barely get my hands on it. It got so bad, Wife bought me another Switch and is considering buying another copy of “Zelda”. I would rather defend what’s rightfully mine. It’s gone so well thus far.

Exhibit B

My cat. My Switch. My wife… Yeah. My wife, too. At the end of the day, The Gaggle and Wife will sit down to some insipid, mind-numbing television show that has since been cancelled (big surprise). I used to get some time alone at the end of the day with Wife. Now, she has decided to kill brain cells with The Gaggle while The Boy and The Oppressed explain to me why they need to sleep in my bed.

Film Lesson

Monday through Friday is for schoolwork. You’ve read about the drama. You’ve read about the running and the yelling. The blood, sweat, and tears that produce a sentence with a word-count that fits on one hand.

On Friday, we celebrate the end of the week with Movie Night. Movie Night happens on Friday and Saturday Nights. We have spent the past few weeks working through the “Avengers” franchise. Good movies. The Boy picked Pokémon. I didn’t think it was terrible. Some members of the household have respectfully disagreed.

My turn to pick a movie is coming. Some members of The Gaggle have dreaded this. I have discussed movies with them from time to time. I love movies. I love talking about them, referencing them, and quoting them. I love all types of movies. On Halloween for example, The Oppressed and The Boy love watching “Frankenstein” and “Dracula”. They are old movies, but the children love them nonetheless.

For one of The Gaggle, a movie being old is reason enough to not watch it. Anything made more than 10 years ago is too old and not worth her time. She says the main problem is me being too old and that is why I can’t pick a good movie. Movies that I think are good (“The Magnificent Seven”) are really bad, and if I pick a terrible (“old”) movie, (“Chinatown”), she will go to her room and not come out.

This has been a point of contention between the two of us. Everything about me is old: My movies. My music. I’m old. She calls me, “Boomer”. Delightful child.

I could educate her about movies but that would mean stepping away from the daily house and homework duties. Wife is working 20 hours a day and the children think this is one big vacation for them. Their daily chores only get in the way of that. A break would be nice. I guess there’s always Movie Night.

Dish Duty

The Oppressed got moved to laundry. We ran out of clean clothes. Another of the Gaggle took over dish duty. Aaaannnd…

Like every other house, things have been pretty busy here during Coronapalooza. We decided everyone here should have some extra chores to do since me, The Wife, The Oppressed, The Boy, and The Gaggle are all pretty much inside the house 24/7. Speaking of blessings, I’m not sure if I mentioned this but an additional child from the neighborhood comes and stays with us during the day while Mom is at work.

The first round of chores went rather well. I was on dish duty. One of The Gaggle did laundry and she was very efficient with it. After a while things got changed up to break up the monotony. The Oppressed got moved to laundry. We ran out of clean clothes. Another of the Gaggle took over at dish duty. Aaaannnd….

She needed a little bit of a learning curve. That’s where I come in. I am an expert when it comes to easing children into work and responsibilities, so you can imagine the train wreck you’re about to read about.

We started easy. I gave her the things to put in the dishwasher. I washed. She dried. We both put things away. She had to put a plastic cup in the cabinet. She said she couldn’t reach. I reminded her it was closer than the candy she can get at the top shelf of the cabinet. I saw the lip stick out. I saw the look of hope disappear from her eyes. Her bottom lip was quivering. Her hands went up in the air.

“Oh my God!” she exclaimed. “No one else has to do this. Just me!”

The gaggle enduring her daily torture.
The never-ending pile is behind her.

No one else was doing laundry, I explained to her. At this point, no one was doing laundry. No one else was cooking, but that wasn’t the point. The point was, the children I did love were assembled in front of the TV playing with the Nintendo Switch. My Nintendo Switch, which I haven’t laid my hands on in about two months… But I digress.

There are other things to go into the dishwasher, but they are under things that need to be washed by hand. I wash. She dries and puts them away. She’s about to put away something that still has water on it. It’s running down the side. I tell her to go over it one more time. More crying. More lamentations. Tears of my children. The ones I love are enjoying themselves. She is a slave. No one else is doing this.

She throws herself around the kitchen. She falls to the floor in the direction of the open dishwasher. Her face misses the corner of the door by millimeters. She yells. I pushed her. I punished her for not working. She wipes her face on the towel. I have washed five dishes during this episode. There are more things to dry but she needs a new towel. “You wiped your face on that towel,” I tell her. “You need a new one.” She throws the towel in the air. She has to get a new towel. Where are the towels? I tell her they are in the same place they’ve been for the past six month. She goes to the drawer for another towel, muttering to herself about her lot in life. Her mistreatment. The shame of it all. The humanity.

Shopping and Fun

We have a lot of people stuck in the house during Coronapalooza. Luckily, there are enough screens to go around for everyone. Luckily, the weather is improving and I get outside and do some work in the yard.

Sometimes an errand needs to be run and I will try to bring one or two of the children with me as wife is stuck at home working in the midst of all this.

One day, I had to go to the grocery store. There are a lot of people here eating three meals a day and the stores need to be replenished. This time, I had to go with two of the older children. I’ve been dealing with elementary school children most of the time. Now, I will have teenagers with me. What could possibly go wrong?

The three of us get into the car armed with a shopping list and the necessary gear for food shopping: facemasks, gloves, sanitizer. I never thought I’d be wearing a mask into a store, but here we are.

The two teenagers, a brother and sister, start arguing as soon as we leave the house. They’re arguing over something dumb and sophomoric. I’m starting to think it may have been easier to bring the elementary school children with me. They continue to argue all the way to the store. I pull into the parking lot and remind them we are about to go into the store and everyone needs to start acting normal (That’s the Number One rule the kids have when we go somewhere). The sister immediately rolls down her windows and yells, “‘Allo, dawlin’s. Do ya fancy a spot a’ toy?” She sits back and rolls her window back up. She’s proud of herself and her message to the masses. She can’t understand why I’m watching her the whole time from putting the car in “Park” to the time we get out of the car. She also can’t figure out why I lock the windows when she’s in the car.

We get into the store. I get a carriage. Both children (again, teenagers) argue about who will push the carriage. Once one gets a turn, they don’t want the turn and want the other to push. The other suddenly doesn’t want to push. I push the carriage. We go down the aisles that have what we need. They ask why we can’t go down this aisle.

“Because there’s nothing there we need,” I explain.

“But it’s fun.”

Of course it is. That’s exactly why I go to the grocery store. It’s fun. Sister can’t understand my judgmental look.

Someone in another aisle sneezes. Sister yells, “Corona!” I stop the carriage and offer another look. She turns to see her brother picking something. She doesn’t want that and tells him to pick something else. She is about to grab another kind when he sticks his hand out to prevent her from reaching for the item. She says, “C’mon! Stop it!” I ask them why the teenagers have to make a commotion in the store while there are four-and-five-year-olds setting a better example.

We go to another aisle. Sister picks something. Brother tells her its the wrong kind. Sister tells him to shut up. It’s what she wants. I try to wheel the carriage away from them but they see me and catch up.

We get to check-out. They continue to argue. I tell them to go ahead and wait for me while I get rung up and pay for the groceries. They’re still arguing. I still don’t know what they’re arguing over. Probably something most pressing, I’m sure. I’m finally done and we leave the store. They ask when they can go shopping with me again.