The family that shops together . . . ends up with a cart full of junk food

Last time I wrote about our family adventures in the grocery store, it was to praise the unsolicited intervention of “helpful” strangers. On our latest trip to the market, we could have used a helpful stranger – one good at pushing shopping carts instead of friendly advice.

If we are only collecting the products we actually need, one cart is plenty. I am more than equal to the task of pushing it around the store while my wife herds the children in the generally desired direction and hunts coupons on her iPad.

But when Buster scoots down the aisles on impulse power, bringing in every item that looks good to his sweet tooth or salty-snack-craving tongue, we could use a second cart for the pile of groceries that nobody with any money intends to buy.

I don’t remember Big Brother ever adding this volume of groceries to the cart. Buster started doing it because he thought he was being helpful. Back then, it was random items to help us fill the cart. Now, he’s become selective, choosing only products that look good to eat.

Buster's groceries

Buster’s stash of groceries that he absolutely needs.

If the cookies look particularly tasty, Buster is not above bringing multiple boxes to the cart. Any attempts to dissuade him from his gluttony are met with a standard reply: “I need it!” When you are two years old, chips and candy are no mere desires. You need these things to sustain you in your never-ending battle against the meat, fruit, and vegetables that are constantly being pushed at your face.

My wife and I have different philosophies about Buster’s foraging expeditions. I try to discourage him from putting extraneous items into the cart, but my wife doesn’t think it’s worth the public whining and crying. She wins this debate, though she now has Buster nearly trained to put his groceries on the bottom of the cart, which is something of a compromise, I suppose.

At least it keeps Buster from dropping a jug of juice into the basket on top of the bread and eggs. Most times it does; as I said, he is nearly trained.

Here comes the juice

Nearly trained, but sometimes you’ve just got to see how a jug of juice will bounce.

At the last aisle, we have another debate over whether to dump all of our unwanted groceries on a lucky cashier or attempt to put them back where they belong. I win this debate. My victory entitles me to be the one who retraces our path through the store searching out the homes of all our superfluous items while my wife distracts Buster elsewhere.

I feel a little strange going through the store putting things onto the shelves. I bet it’s not really what my fellow shoppers want to see me doing. But, it will be over soon. In the blink of an eye, Buster will have graduated from his hunter/gatherer stage. Then he will be right there with Big Brother, pleading his case: “Can we get those cookies? Why not? Just, please.  Can we get just one box? That’s not fair. We never get to buy anything I like . . .”


20 comments on “The family that shops together . . . ends up with a cart full of junk food

  1. mewhoami says:

    This is a great method. He believes he’s getting what he wants, but in reality he’s not getting much of anything at all. But at the end of the trip, he’s happy living in his fantasy world of cookies and sweets. I have this shopping dilemma too, but it’s not because of my son. It’s my husband. Therefore, I endeavor to always go shopping alone. That way, what goes into the basket is only what’s on the list, nothing more (usually) and nothing less.

  2. Deborah the Closet Monster says:

    Kids have such funny definitions of “ever” and “never.” My 5yo is most fond of demonstrating this at the grocery store, too. 🙂

  3. cookie1986 says:

    Whenever i take my kids shopping I panic and end up with a whole bunch of crap I don’t need.

  4. That’s really cute! My mom would give us things from her shopping list and send us to get them. It was really fun, for us, because we felt “important” and “adult,” getting things we needed. We sometimes even got our own cart to pull around. On risk of loosing this position, I don’t remember ever getting the wrong thing or extra things. 🙂

  5. markbialczak says:

    Wow. I’m surprised that you get away with putting his gathered sweets and salties back at all, my friend, without a real fit being pitched. You are doing a good job with Buster already. Way to go!

  6. yearstricken says:

    Think of it this way, when you retire, you can get a part-time job stocking shelves. 🙂

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