When I was a childless gadabout I dreamed of one day taking my child to the store. An unusual dream, sure, but there it is. I took a child development course in college and listened with rapt attention, convinced I could use this class to become the Best Parent Ever. My professor was a great advocate of children in grocery stores because it was a stimulating place for children to observe the world. I imagined taking my child down the produce aisle and discussing the names and pointing out the different scents and textures of various fruits and veggies. Of course in this fantasy I was a SAHM who didn’t have the pressure of the clock or the exhaustion from working an eight hour day.
I think Isobel was about two weeks old when we took her to the store for the first time. I was still recovering from the C-section so getting out of the house was as much for me as it was for the baby. I was trying to rebuild my strength and stamina. Our car seat was huge and unwieldy so I always opted to walk around with her in the sling. I loved having her so close to me and she loved it, too. She would take in her surroundings with interest before passing out completely.
Wearing my tiny baby so close to my body recalled both the good and bad parts of being pregnant. I loved having her so close to me but I fatigued easily. Still, I insisted on baby wearing until she was old enough to sit in the child’s seat of the grocery cart.
I still use my sling for different outings but I use it as a hip carrier instead of a cradle. The weight distribution makes it slightly easier than carrying her normally, plus I get the use of my hands. Sweet! Using a sling in the grocery store now, however, is off-limits. Now she must sit in the cart and we must keep the cart moving. If we pause too long she immediately requests we put her down so she run around, can explore the packages of bread, and climb on others people’s carts. Taking her to the store these days requires a good amount of distraction.
Something happened recently that has led Isobel realize hey!… this store we always go to? It is full…of food. Now when we go to the store she excitedly does her baby sign for “more” while saying, “Mas? Mas?!” whenever we pass something she thinks might be good. Which is constantly.
Isobel is greatly entertained by people-watching and she spends a lot of time saying hi to unsuspecting passers-by. I still look forward to one day naming and examining produce with her but for now whenever we walk past the produce excitedly starts saying, “Apple! Apple!” Usually to the onions.
I like to save the very best methods of distraction for the checkout line. That’s the worst, especially if there’s only one of us with her. If Anthony is with me we’ll tag team it and I’ll walk around with Isobel while Anthony waits with the cart. If I’m there solo then I’ll pull out my keys or my wallet for her, but that it a last resort.
I hope to foster a love of cooking and eating by introducing her to ingredients on the shelves and making her a part of my shopping process. One day I’ll be able to introduce Isobel to the delights of the delights of the produce aisle, but for now I’m satisfied if she stays occupied in the cart.