It starts with thinking that goes something like this: 
I just need a few things. I’ll take the kids to the local market and we’ll grab dinner at the cafe there. It’ll be fun. Efficient. I’ll have two helpers and bribe them with a treat. Plus, I have a list.

On the list: avocados, snap peas, clementines, tomatoes, strawberries, ground turkey, milk, cheese, almond milk, almonds, coffee, mac ‘n cheese, canned peaches, granola bars.

This is magical thinking, really. You see…

On the receipt: Smart Puffs, fifteen bucks’ worth of granola bars (three boxes), Sea Salt Caramel gelato, frozen broccoli, cheese, almond milk, a frozen pizza, a green Camelbak water bottle, a magazine purchased for $5.95 (because its coverline promised less stress), a discount for remembering shopping bags, a $2 donation to the Humane Society.

And here’s how it all might have gone down:

5:58 pm: Arrive at store.

5:58 – 6:02 pm: Children scuffle over who gets to push the cute, kid-sized cart; a decision is made to simply take two. (Everybody wins!)

6:02 – 6:04 pm: Like drunken mad men, two kids steer two mini carts in two different directions—one toward racks of wine; the other into shelves lined with spice-filled glass jars.

6:04 pm: One cart is “returned”— as close as possible to the Do Not Enter [from this way] automatic doors. (Apologies!)

6:05 – 6:09 pm: You run into a friend and make small talk; the kids conspire to collect random items into the cart.

6:10 pm: You allow tantruming Kid #2 to go ahead and carry the green water bottle he is coveting through the store (with no intention of actually purchasing it).

6:11 – 6:15 pm: Bathroom break #1 (chronologically and otherwise).

6:15 – 6:20 pm: Kids select dinner, then precariously balance cafe trays stacked with veggies, rice, sloshing soup and chocolate cupcakes.

6:20 – 6:35 pm: You and Kid #1 eat dinner.

6:35 – 6:50 pm: You and Kid #1 play word games while Kid #2 “finishes his dinner”—more slowly than anyone has ever eaten seven grains of rice before.

6:50 – 6:55 pm: You allow the children to consume treats before any real shopping happens.

6:55 pm – 7:15 pm: Kid #1 consumes his cupcake in less than five minutes. Kid #2 continues to lick, smash and smear chocolate all over his face, the table and the chair for another 15.

7:15 – 7:20 pm: Clean up! While discussing what goes into the compost, the recycling, and the dish bin, you twice fish a metal fork from the trash.

7:20 – 7:30 pm: Bathroom break, #2 (chronologically and otherwise).

7:30 – 7:42 pm: Haphazard hurried shopping. You concede to purchase approximately 40% of items proposed, 99% of which are entirely unnecessary.

7:42 – 7:45 pm: You pay for all items, including the green water bottle you intended to return and two extra boxes of granola bars that mysteriously appeared. A $2 donation is made to the Humane Society after Kid #1 shuffles a bunch of cards with cute cats on them.

In the car: You realize you forgot to buy wine.