Sorry for the delay in posting, people- this week was one of those weeks where I felt like I was behind the eight ball the whole time…
…including grocery shopping. (sigh)
Instead of my normal meal planning and Peapod ordering- and by the way, if you have never tried ordering groceries online via Peapod, I highly recommend it- I ended up picking a few things up every few days. Not ideal.
So on Friday afternoon, my 2pm caffeine rush suggested to me that it would be a good idea to pick up some necessities at BJ’s in preparation for the weekend. BJ’s is our local wholesale store, which is where people with oversized families like ours go to purchase their 7 gallon pretzel tubs and 4lb ravioli bags.
Which is also where, families of our size go to provide entertainment for fellow BJ’s shoppers. Or so I learned.
I blame the feel-good rush of my afternoon coffee, because on my way to picking up the three older kids from school, I decided that I should go shopping at BJ’s… with ALL SIX KIDS. On a FRIDAY afternoon.
I blame the Starbucks. It makes me do crazy things.
Now, this is the type of trip that I wouldn’t have hesitated to attempt with the kids prior to #6 being born, because I was typically fearless about venturing out in public with the whole brood. But since I’ve been juggling an infant with the older five, I’ve been more gun-shy about being out and about on a regular basis.
When you take a group of this number out, the first thing to determine is how to transport said group throughout the venue. Fortunately, BJ’s offers shopping carts that seat two kids in their front, which worked out well for #s 4 and 5. #6 was placed in his infant seat stroller- which his brother #3 insisted on pushing, and #s 1 and 1 walked alongside us- criticizing #3’s steering the entire way into the store.
Now if you shop at BJ’s, you might be familiar with the free sample booths that are scattered throughout the store. I had heard mention of these, but had not seen them myself the few times I had shopped there. But on this trip, there they were.
Down every.single.aisle. Dammit.
Note to self: Schedule weekly trip to BJ’s on Friday. Bring kids. Avoid cooking dinner.
Kids loooove free samples. And every booth we passed, my kids begged, “Mom? Can we pleeease try that? Puh-leeze?”
And it’s not as if the samples were, say, hummus on pita chips. Oh, no. Try:
- Fudge (sugar)
- Atkin’s snack bars (sugar)
- sprinkle-coated popcorn (sugar)
- cinnamon sticks (sugar)
So the game plan –> Load ’em up on sugar, and let ’em loose. It would serve BJ’s right.
A great example of why shopping with many kids is unique. Can you imagine the look of horror on each booth operator’s face as we wheeled near??
The compromise -> We agreed to sample two booths, with three sample containers/cups/pieces divided amongst the five kids. (sugar)
Then, of course I opted to wait on the deli line, because after you’ve sugared up five kids and promised to look at the Christmas decorations when we’re done, it’s a perfect time to STAND on a line and WAIT.
But I have to say, I was proud of the kids. They hung in there, and were well behaved. Other than #3’s spinning in place. And #4’s shrieks of indignation when #1 got too close to her. Or #5’s tossing of the coupons to the floor.
Here’s where shopping in public with six kids became significant. A fellow deli counter customer eyed our cart/stroller. I could tell she was sizing the situation up, gauging what the deal was. I waited. She asked. A.K.A. Question #1.
1. “Are these all of your kids? Or… are you…babysitting some?”
(I might be crazy enough to take my OWN kids to BJs… who takes OTHER PEOPLE’S?)
This is typical. I get this a lot. And when I say they’re mine, the next question is:
2: “How old are you??”
I get this, too. Because I don’t look quite my age, and don’t have the air of having six kids. (Meaning, I feel and act like I’m about 22) Although when I told her how old I was, her response was, “Wow! You look fantastic! I wouldn’t have guessed you were that old!”
But she meant well. And like most people that I have had the fortune to come into contact with, she was genuinely impressed and curious.
So was the coffee sample booth lady.
And the lady shopping for pork chops.
And the man by the milk refrigerator.
And our checkout clerk.
In short, we were the afternoon’s entertainment.
And in my conversations with one of them, I was asked Question #3…
3. “Are you done now/yet/finally??”
I hate this one. I really do. Especially when it’s asked by someone I’ve literally just met. I know they don’t mean any harm by it. But it’s… awkward. Personal. I never know quite the right words in which to respond to it. Should I be done? What number is exactly the right number? What if, say, #4 never existed? Or even #2? Is there a precise, perfect number?
The shopping trip went incredibly well. I was so impressed and proud of my little people. They were polite, well mannered, and mature. They made me look good. I received a chorus of well meaning, “God Bless you!” from curious onlookers. And this made me realize that I can often be harder on myself than others might even be.
Because when you have six kids out in public, you KNOW that people will be watching. They will assess your mothering skills, and your ability to maintain control over your kids. They will examine how your kids are dressed, how they behave, how you respond to them. How they respond to you, and to each other.
In fact, they may even be harsher in their judgment. Some want to assume that six is too much, a mistake. Some look for the flaws; the proof that it’s out of control. And sometimes, I worry too much about what people think. I give the mom with one or two kids misbehaving in public more leeway than I’d give myself. As the former single chick who aspired to be a crazy cat lady with no kids, I mentally judge myself for embodying the stereotypical “mom with a bajillion kids who needs to buy in bulk… because she has a bajillion kids.”
But my kids were amazing. A bit because The Captain and I have taught them to be that way (pat-on-back, thank you). But also because they are their own amazing little people with amazing little ways of being kind and decent human beings just because they want to be.
The trip was a great experiment in worrying a little less about what people think, and enjoying just being in my kids’ company out in public a little more.
After the shopping, I only had one lingering question in my mind.
What the HELL is olive loaf, anyway?? And who buys that??
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