Supermarket Sweep.

Our second week into Sam’s school year and it feels like we’ve already had more days off than on. We had a national holiday on Monday, two mornings at school, and then finished up the week with two teacher “work days.” We made the most of the first day off and spent a long weekend in the North Carolina mountains with Daddy, but the kids and I were left butting heads for the last part of the week. I was very glad to take up the invitation to get out of the house and hit the McMullen greenway with Andrea, her two children and the double joggers this morning.

We set out to do a five mile run. Two and a half miles out along the flat leafy corridor, then pull a u-ey and back the way we came. As usual Andrea set out strong and maintained a solid uniform pace with Heath twisted around in his seat, starring back over the handlebar and yelling stuff at Sam through Andrea’s braced arms. We could barely catch what he was saying but mainly I think it was determined pleas and bargains to be allowed to share the treasured green monster truck that Sam clutched to his person and brought along for the ride.

I randomly trailed behind, picked up the pace, stopped to scold the children for pulling the sunshade down in front of them and trying to trap each other beneath it, plodded on a bit more, stopped once more to dole out drinks and snacks, back tracked to reunite an ejected sippy cup with its owner, kept on track for a full mile at a decent clip and then just mentally gave up. My running with the double jogger is just getting more and more miserable. Today was especially unpleasant in that every time I tried to break into a run I would also start to feel a nagging ache in my hips. Not wanting to push anything with a long training run scheduled for tomorrow, and then the big Blue Ridge Relay coming up next weekend, followed quickly by my first marathon on the horizon I buckled and just took a fast paced stroll instead. Sam wasn’t at all impressed with this and kept spurring me on to try to catch up with his friend. Of course, rather than telling me directly and using his words, he expressed his disgust by bashing his sister over the head with his monster truck.

Eventually we made it out of the greenway and then the fun really began. We found Andrea with her stroller already collapsed and stowed in her car. She was clutching bags and shopping list, and ready to redirect her two wayward children towards the grocery store. Heath was more interested in prising monster truck from Sam’s clutch and eventually wore his friend down into agreeing to two minutes of time share.

We needed to get a few things too and so without aid of a sheep dog Andrea and I shepherded the troops into Trader Joe’s. It didn’t take long before Sam escaped from his perch and was cunningly replaced with a bottle of apple juice. Yes I noticed.

Like partners in crime Heath and Sam then ran amok throughout the store. Andrea immediately lost her shopping list and we both desperately tried to focus on remembering why we were there in the first place. The boys were terribly helpful and good at suggesting all manner of items. As I cruised the dairy products I turned around to see Sam struggling across from the fruits carrying a honeydew almost as big as his head. He plopped that in the seat next to Bea too. After all that effort how could I resist? Yes, the melon came home with us. I stood my ground with the handfuls of pecans, boxes of unnecessary cereal, miscellaneous frozen items, cake, and whatever else was thrust at me by those big wide eyes and mother softening smile.

Loud music blasting over the store speakers was foot a-tappin’. Heath led the movement and started a dance party in the aisles.

His rhythm was infectious and soon his little sister and Sam were shaking their stuff next to the coffee too. A member of the Hawaiian shirt wearing employee brigade came up to me and I was sure I was going to get busted for not having the children under control, but instead he didn’t blink and tried to start a conversation up about trail runs instead. I forgot I was wearing a race tee and was totally confused.

Coffee was really the only important thing on my list so I stood chained to the coffee grinder unable to drop the canister while the machine whirred away doing its thing while small boys and girl rampaged. I consoled myself that at least Bea was still strapped into her stroller and nicely contained. She and Stella were happily yelling “Monkey!” and in total awe of the Curious Joe stuffed primate that was dangling from the display above my head. Safe and angelic enough.

Or so I thought. Beans ground I turned around to quiet where once there had been cackling. Quiet and an empty space. Bea’s stroller had been hijacked by maurading boys. It was under Sam’s direction, pulling a wheelie and was now sailing backwards towards the dairy section! She was not impressed.

Bea safely retrieved, it was time to make a hasty exit. The next aisle housed all the wine. We had managed to avoid too much pillage but disaster certainly loomed amongst the stacked glass bottles. Andrea and I had already experienced our hearts leap into our mouths and mentally written giant cheques as the happy exploring boys were found playing xylophones with the pyramid display on a previous visit. Without further to do we paraded to the cashier and left Trader Joe’s, and its patrons, in peace. Until next time.

Just when I thought I had survived the trip, packing groceries and stroller back into the car was interrupted by wails and screams and the sounds of two small boys fighting. Damage limitation was put into effect. The boys separated and the reason probed. Monster truck’s fault again. An ownership dispute had led to fisticuffs and Sam declaring that his good friend with whom he had shared such recent fun times was no longer his friend in the slightest. “It’s a bad morning!” he pouted in between sobs.

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