Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Supermarket Sweep

I'm posting today in a tiny sliver of a window of free time as I work on a big pot of homemade chicken noodle soup.  Anyone who claims that a stay-at-home mom can easily be held responsible for the cooking and cleaning while preventing the accidental death of minors clearly didn't have a two year-old hanging on their legs.  Or a three year-old that disappears for a few minutes of time and emerges with six tampons and a handful of Q-tips.

Sunday, when I was at the grocery store buying the chicken, vegetables and other ingredients, my shopping task was made vastly more difficult thanks to Cael and his offensive outbursts.  You see, I am offended by Cael on a daily basis.  He has no respect for personal space and responds to any bodily function with a hearty laugh-- sometimes hearty enough to lead to yet another bodily function, thus perpetuating a burp-laugh-fart-laugh cycle that produces enough energy to power Cedar Rapids for a week.

But the unsuspecting shoppers at Walmart are not used to such treatment.  They simply want to go about their day, purchasing cases of beer and stretching spandex to its physical (and ethical) limits, and don't need a wily three year-old pointing out their faults or shouting racial epithets at them.

Yes, you read that right.  But before you de-friend me on Facebook, allow me to explain.  For the last couple of years, Cael has made a habit of referring to things by color (that blue shirt, a red apple, etc.) as the rest of us would in typical speech.  But the rest of us, being older and having a functioning filter in our brains that tell us what is and is not appropriate to say out loud, use other characteristics to describe the people we see at Walmart.

"Gee, that man with the adult diapers sure has a large rear end."

"My goodness!  That woman's purple hair sure is festive."

But references like that mean nothing to Cael.  He has only one way of identifying people, and it is by the color of their shirt.  Most of the time this is harmless and often silly when my son points out a "green man" or a "pink lady".  But there are two shirt colors that make me sweat when I see them on someone as the walk within view of Cael.

"Mommy!  Look at that white girl!"

Yikes.   Every time he makes a statement like this, I have to scan to the room to make sure no one heard.  If they did, I have to have a conversation with Cael in a loud enough voice to assure the person in question that I didn't approve of his comment.

During this outing, however, Cael wanted to pull out all of the stops.  As we were leaving the produce section with our carrots, celery and onion, I rounded the corner and crashed carts with an African-American man in a black Nike t-shirt hauling several heavy bags of solar salt and struggling to control his shopping cart.  I apologized for the collision and before we could unsnarl our carts, Cael said it.  It was like a nightmare-- like I was being chased but could only move in slow motion, and as the words came out of his mouth my breakfast almost came out of mine.

"Mommy, why that black man hit our cart?  Why black mans are bad drivers?"


I think I stood there, mouth agape, for a few moments before I snapped out of shock and into damage control.  I called out a pathetic "I'm sorry!" to the man who was several steps away now and turned to Cael.

If I break off a stalk of celery and club Cael over the head with it, am I still required to purchase it?

"Cael!  You CANNOT talk about people like that!  That nice man heard you and I'm SURE you hurt his feelings.  We've talked about this before... you say 'the man in the black shirt'.  But why did you say that black men are bad drivers?"

"Because that bla- that guy with the dark, dark, dark shirt hit our cart with his cart."

"I know, but what you said made it sound like you thought ALL people that look like him can't drive well."

"But they can't, Mommy.  When you wear a black shirt, you just are a bad driver." 


It could have been worse, I guess... at least he didn't ask the adult diaper man to see his nuts.  I'm not prepared to teach that lesson, and with the Walmart clientele, you never know...


  1. OMG! Never a dull moment, huh?

    I was cringing so hard,my head hurts,haha.

  2. Oh.My.Goodness. HILARIOUS!!! I love your blogs :)

  3. Pavi- You're not kidding! I spent most of my day in a "perma-cringe" just wondering what he'll do next!

  4. Kari- Thank you! I swear, this thing just writes itself.

  5. I share your pain!! When my oldest(now 41, they do outgrow this) commented in a locker room after a basketball game to the other team "why are you blk guys in here? you know that you guys are all crooks and robbers?" (with my husband, Sherm, my son's father was a cop). Think of Sherm explaining his way out of that one!!

  6. LOL oh I'm so thankful my threenager hasn't done this.. I'm sure its only a matter of time though!

    She has done some pretty funny (and by that i mean embarrassing!!!) things..

    And i love your blog! All the way from Australia! :)

  7. Judy- So it is possible that he will grow up without offending the wrong person? Thank goodness! I just hope no one will think that he's hearing those comments at home...

  8. Katrina- How cool that you're reading from Australia... happy to have you! I love the threenager comment, too.. how appropriate for our opinionated and attitude-filled youngsters!


Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.