Tuesday, November 24, 2009

You Never Know What's in Store

"Patience and perseverance have a magical affect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish." -Pres. John Quincy Adams

The most seemingly inane decisions - the ones you think are as inconsequential as belly button lint - end up being the ones with perhaps the greatest impact.

There I was, two ingredients short of what I needed to pull off a successful taco night. The kind of taco night my family comes to expect: delicious, nutritious, and barely superstitious. Two crucial ingredients if you ask me: an onion, and peppers. So I decided to make a quick stop at the grocery store after I picked up my daughter from day care.

Since we were just running in to pick up a couple of essentials, I told her we wouldn't be using a shopping cart. She was alright with that.

So off we went.

Within 30 seconds, we had the onion. Then I remembered I was out of soy milk. That's when our road to Tacoville took a very entertaining detour. She started browsing. Fifteen seconds later, she was holding a tub of Country Crock, asking me what it was. "That's butter, sweetheart."

"Do we need butter, daddy?"

"No. Please put it back."

Then the milk... and all of the multi-colored caps identifying the varying amounts of fat content within. "It's pretty, daddy." I never thought of it that way. She especially liked the purple one. Then the blue one. "Can we get that one, daddy?"

"No, honey, we don't need that milk."

Moving down the dairy aisle to the sour cream, which she also thought was pretty. Luckily, it was on sale and since it was taco night, this was a welcome addition to our list.

At this point I'd like to remind you we went in for two items, and after one aisle we have three... and are still in need of one of our essentials.

Then, my daughter had to remind me of an urgent matter. "Daddy, we need Crunchies," she warned with all of the ambiguous seriousness of a 'check engine' light. "Crunchies" is what she calls her favorite cereal which, randomly, ridiculously, and nutritiously enough, is Special K with Strawberries.

So off to the cereal aisle we go. Big mistake. She wants Apple Jacks. She wants Trix. She wants Corn Flakes. The Corn Flakes, in turn, fall off the shelf and hit her on the head. I remind her that we're here to get "Crunchies," which I locate, and are also fortunately on sale. All is well with the world.

I learn later that evening that my daughter thinks we're out of Crunchies any day when I don't send them to day care for her to have for breakfast. I had made the mistake of packing her Rice Krispies that day.

Just for the record... four items in hand. One necessity still to go.

I strategically managed to steer our course away from the cookies, crackers, cakes, and candies. Remember - she is walking around on her own. Looking and touching and asking and shopping. And my hands are getting full. Thankfully, she is carrying the Crunchies.

We pass a woman whose daughter is whining incessantly, and she points to my daughter as an example of a little girl who is being good because she's not asking her daddy to pick her up. Oh, if she only knew about the pumpkin patch.

As we approach the frozen foods aisle. Yes - I admit - I use frozen pre-sliced peppers when I make my tacos. Forgive me. I work ten hours and have a 2 1/2 year-old and a wife who also works full-time. Something's gotta give. And slicing peppers is one of those somethings.

Before we turn the corner, we are greeted by a display of Disney character pez dispensers. Damn this store and its strategic marketing tactics. My daughter is beside herself. To her, this is the happiest place on earth. She immediately states that she "wants a lot of them."

This is where I use my wife's sage advice. She says sometimes you have to give in to preserve yourself. "Don't say 'no' if it's not going to hurt her," she says. So wise she is.

Again, remember the pumpkin patch.

"You may have one of them." She grabbed a pez dispenser featuring a female character I'd never seen before. "OK, you want that lady?" Then she gave the display a second look.

"I want Eyeore," she had carefully decided. "Really? Eyeore's kind of a buzzkill," I replied, all the while listing to myself all of the reasons I despise Eyeore: no self-confidence, no motivation, he's a drag on society, the economy, and his friends. But they somehow love him anyway.

"How about Tigger?"

"No. I want Eyeore." She wasn't budging. Until...

The top rack was filled with princesses. But my daughter noticed one was missing. "How come there's no Cinderelly," she asked. I was thinking the same thing myself. Here was my chance to replace Eyeore.

I searched for and found Cinderelly.

"I want both of them." Of course she does. "You may have one. So choose... Eyeore, or Cinderelly?" I strategically spoke Cinderella's name second so it was freshest in her mind.

She looked from one to the other, calculating, deliberating, and finally deciding, "I want Eyeore."


"Really?" I then told her, "you always manage to surprise me. Every day. I love that about you." Even if she did it by choosing Eyeore.

We got our peppers and our seven other items. We checked out, dodged some rain drops, buckled in, and she asked for the candy that goes in her new Eeyore Pez dispenser. There's no getting anything past this child.

"When we get home, you may have one piece."

Self-preservation rules once again. She had earned it. She was a good girl in the store. That other mom even said so.

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