I don’t know how I made it out alive.

As I sit here with my glass of much needed and well deserved wine, I feel like the old lady from “Titanic.” I went into that grocery store at a mere 28 years young. Sadly, I drove away at an alarming 84 years old.

My last memory was that I was in the checkout line. The kids were fighting over who got to put what food on the conveyor belt. I have a vivid memory of sweat beading on my upper lip as I tried to demurely redirect their behavior because, after all, we were in public. I thought, “Damn it, guys, I actually showered today. Do not make me sweat.”

Then it happened: Tucker put the pink strawberry applesauce on the belt.

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I’ve been told or have read somewhere that before a WWII bomb would hit, you could hear it whistling. My own daughter – my flesh and blood whom I carried for nine months and fed from my own body – didn’t even have the decorum or decency to at least whistle before she exploded. She sincerely must get that from her father. (If you know me and my family, you know that might be a lie. If you comment any differently, I will sic my daughter on you. And son, just for good measure. I’m traumatized, here.)

My daughter has a bright future as a soprano opera singer. Truthfully, she’s been scouted as a dog trainer because her screams can reach frequencies that only dogs can hear. Okay, that might be a lie, too, but not by much.

If I had to use my five senses to build the scene it would go something like this: I saw a pink clothed body hit the floor, a piercing wail brought the store to a halt and I heard the glass window at the front of the store shatter. I tasted salt from my dripping upper lip. I smelled fear (my own) mixed with embarrassment (also my own) and my head began to throb in pace with my pounding heart.

Then I blacked out. The following account is from eye-witness reports (again, maybe a slight fabrication):

  • my daughter rolled and kicked on the extremely dirty grocery store floor.
  • she screamed that she wanted to put more things on the conveyor belt. I gave her something off said conveyor belt. She threw it. Not back on the belt, oh, no, onto the floor, where she seemed to be making herself extremely comfortable.
  • I tried to pick her up. Her back arched, her grubby little fingers batted at me, and her feet kicked wildly. (Feet, mind you, in tennis shoes that I purchased. No decorum, this one.)
  • my son said, wide-eyed and shocked, “Mommy, everybody is staring at us. I don’t like it.”
  • I put her back down on the floor. At this point there was somebody, who clearly had no regard for his or her own well-being, in line behind us.
  • my daughter, on the floor, pushed the cart (in her seeming possession) and it rolled over my sandaled toes.
  • “Paper or plastic, ma’am?” Who has time for bagging material options?!? The bagger could’ve started throwing the groceries back on the shelves for all I cared.
  • I grabbed scanned and un-bagged items, throwing them in the cart. This part is not a lie. By this point in the game, literally everybody in the front of the store was staring at us (side note: this was one of those super Kroger’s, with clothes and stuff. So, a ton of people).
  • I tried to nonchalantly wipe the sweat off my face, hyper-aware that, again, everybody was watching.
  • I was now also hyper-aware that the bagger was not feeling quite the same sense of urgency as the scanner and I. He was smiling at me, almost robotically, putting things into bags at a snail’s pace. I think the light was on but clearly nobody was home. If somebody had been home, he’d have heard that shattering scream and starting bagging for his life.
  • time to pay. Come ON, chip reader. Then that pink-clothed terrorist took off. Away from me. Away from the entrance.
  • I curse the fact that I bought her those damned tennis shoes and ever encouraged her to run in the first place. How dare she use my kindness against me?
  • my son once again commented on all the people staring.
  • I counted to one, loud enough for her to hear.
  • Lucifer, in his hot fiery domain, laughed at me.
  • I puffed out my unsupported chest (this led to more embarrassment – of course I wouldn’t be wearing a bra when shit hits the proverbial fan) and, with a facade of confidence, calmly counted to two.
  • Lucifer once again laughed. Then he upped the ante.
  • my son pushed the cart with the *finally* bagged and paid-for groceries not even two inches in the opposite direction that my daughter had just ran.
  • in what was clearly her mission from Satan himself, my daughter decided to scream louder and to use words, finally. “MOMMY IS LEAVING! DON’T LEAVE ME, MOMMAAAAAAAAA!” and came running back.
  • an extremely generous older gentleman bagger approached us.
  • I ignored him and quickly bee-lined for that door, much to everybody’s approval.
  • he asked me if she wanted a sticker. I didn’t make eye contact with him because the salt from my sweat was now making my eyes sting. (Looking back now, I wish I hadn’t been so curt.)
  • He asked again.
  • I told him, very rudely (if that gentleman is reading this, I’m so sorry), “No, she doesn’t deserve it.”
  • and then I broke free. Sort of. She was still crying and screaming. She wanted to be in the cart, she wanted to hold her pink applesauce, she wanted to hold the oranges, she wanted to walk. But at least now we were on my turf in the open parking lot and without a captivated (albeit terrified) audience.

Now here I sit, 84 years old, working on my second glass of wine and ashamed of my behavior to a man who is probably the same age as me (again, now 84).

While this all happened, I prayed that there was some other mother in my piqued-with-interest audience who could relate, who felt sympathy, who didn’t judge.

I’m now left with a daughter who thinks she is, quite literally, a princess, or an “Evil Queen,” as she’s been saying since we’ve gotten home, vocalizing her need for a wig and other accessories so we can go incognito on any subsequent errands.

This article was previously published on Molly’s Tales from the Crib