so, until ruth was around 2 and a half, i never took her near a grocery store. i would rather go hungry or eat a box of plain expired noodles with ketsup for sauce and call it spaghetti than to brave dealing with her in a store. at around 2 and a half, however, things turned around. don’t ask me what, probably a few really subtle things that translated into being able to scrape through by the skin of our teeth the first time. an interest in riding in the cart, helping pick out the food. perhaps she started listening instead of revolting completely when i told her she couldn’t do something (like get out of the cart). somehow, it became a little interesting, a little fun for her and i jumped on it. now, she is my constant shopping companion. she likes to pick out produce ( a lot of it ending up on the floor, bruised. and yes, i keep the ones she drops. i’m not that much of a jerk). but still, sometimes, i can tell, it’s not really that fun for her. i try and keep up a line of convo going the entire time, but sometimes, i’m too distracted to pay her much attention. sometimes she asks to get out of the cart the entire time. sometimes it’s just too much. then, i do feel like a jerk. like a neglectful parent jerk.
like the other day. she just wasn’t feeling it. that’s when we took a turn down the frozen food aisle, and, wouldn’t you know, she knew just where the ice cream was at. “i want ice cream!” she yelled, pointing. thinking this would make the trip more exciting and buy me the five minutes i needed to finish up, i said ok, and that she could pick out the flavor. big mistake. up until around this age, ruth’s judgement was scattered. you could never tell in any given situation what she was going to like. however, as of late, her tastes have taken on a definite theme and she went straight for the super scoop. “i want the rainbow one!” she said, excitedly. “oh,” i said, realizing the trap i had set up for myself. i pulled out the box and, i’m not joking, this shit was like glow in the dark, toxic waste land red, yellow and blue. think superman times 5. i think i started to suggest that perhaps she would like a different flavor but she began to balk so i tossed it into our cart with a thud. “ok,” i said, “this time, you can pick it out.” (parents learn to think on their feet and spit legal jargon like sam burnstein. everything has to have a loophole. loopholes can save lives).
after that, she was all happy and talking about how she and dad (my two snack-attackers) were going to eat it together that night. “oh, ruth, um…i dunno if dad likes that flavor,” i said, trying to soften the potential blow that might occur later. “but we can try,” she replied. “yup, you can try…”
greg loves ice cream. he can down a whole half gallon in one sitting and so, he was thrilled when i had ruth tell him that she picked out the ice cream flavor as we haven’t had any in our house for a few months probably. i caught his eye, “yeah, greg,” i said in a “pay attention to subtle nuances tone”, “she was really excited for you guys to eat some together tonight.” she got all excited and asked him if he would have ice cream with her. out of the corner of my eye, i watched as he prepared their bowls and spoons and reached into the freezer and pulled out the box. his face fell. i jumped in again, “yeah, dad, she was really excited when she picked it out and couldn’t wait to share it with you.” “oh, sweetie,” he said, “i love this flavor. thank you!”
i felt a little bad as greg scooped the nuclear waste into his bowl, but greg isn’t too too picky, and after all, it’s ice cream. it’s cold and sweet and if you close your eyes….nope. you can still see what color it is burning through your eye lids. it’s that bright. you should really only eat it with sunglasses on. and perhaps some sun screen.
lesson learned: bribery is a great, great thing and gets you out of many uncomfortable situations and helps you avoid guilt. however, word your bribes carefully, weigh out the possible outcomes beforehand, or you could end up with an entire gallon of super scoop.