I went shopping tonight. Lots of food on sale--good sales--at various stores around town, but I needed to refill Caleb's asthma prescription, so I went to WalMart and decided to match all the ads there.
So I loaded up one cart with tired preschoolers (3 kids and the oldest is 4--the rest stayed home), and one cart with:
32 lbs of strawberries
20 lbs of peaches
25 ears of corn
5 lb of bananas
5 lbs of pears
5 lbs of nectarines
5 lbs of grapes
1 large watermelon
1 package of cardstock
1 refilled asthma prescription (10 minutes flat to refill it--they did really well this time!)
At that point, Jack's diaper started leaking AND he had a melt down (I didn't let him eat the plastic he ripped off the bag of nectarines while he was trying to get at the nectarines, and apparently that's the end of the world when you're 7 months old and hungry). So I stopped shopping and decided to get milk and mayonnaise and snacks for our upcoming trip to Utah at another time.
I took my two full carts to the checkout, still juggling the screaming baby, and started matching ads.
That's when the lady came up and asked if she could take a picture of my cart full of strawberries. I said yes. She said her dad would get a kick out of it because he's 81 and she hates strawberries. Okay?
It was a good thing she thought it was funny and liked the kids even though Jack was screaming and the other two were quite literally running in circles, because after I matched all those ads to get all that food (for $65--they were good sales), the computer rejected it. Said that the difference between the sales items I claimed and WalMart's prices were too great, and a manager had to come over. I learned a long time ago that even though WalMart can't require you to produce the actual ads in order to match them (their own policy), it's a really good idea to have them on hand and show the cashiers while you match the ads. That was a lifesaver this time. The cashier had to call the manager because the computer was accusing me of lying, but she could vouch for every single ad price I gave them, so they had to do some kind of rigamarole with managers keys and secret codes typed into the computers and they finally let me pay for everything.
"Is it fun to have three boys?" the cashier asked as Jack finally calmed down. I guess she couldn't see that his leaking diaper had soaked the front of my shirt with pee? I know she could see the little ones running in circles, though.
"I have six boys," I answered absently. Then I kicked myself. The right answer was, "Yes!" I didn't need to make myself more of a spectacle!
The cashier said, "Six boys and one girl?" And I couldn't figure out how she knew that one girl part. Maybe I was babbling earlier and mentioned that? Probably. I talk to cashiers. Anyway, they kept insisting I needed help out to the car, and I kept insisting I didn't, even when the cashier ran after me and Jack started screaming again and I was juggling two full carts.... I never want people to help me out to the car because I don't really need them looking into the back of the van, where I have a bin of coats and blankets (for hiking), a double stroller that isn't folded because why go to the trouble when it fits, three baby backpacks, two camp chairs, and a giant rock Benji rescued from the river. It's kind of a tetris game to get the groceries in safely where nothing will fall on them, and I don't like to play that with someone standing there waiting to "help"--it just means I can't work slowly and put the kids in the car first, and I always feel guilty about feeding them unwashed grapes to keep them quiet while I load the groceries, and it really is just easier for me to do it myself at my own speed and in my own way.
Then on the way out to the car, the people who parked next to our big old van asked if I was a canner? (Uh--have you EVER seen someone can strawberries?!). No. She always wanted a big family, she said, and she saw all those berries and thought I must have a big family and then she saw the van, and she knew, but her husband won't let her have a big family (he was quietly loading the groceries into his car and nodded vigorously at that)...
And I realized everywhere I turned in the store, people were looking at me and my cart full of strawberries.
Next time I'll just wear a sign that says, "I have seven kids and they eat this much." Or maybe "I freeze them and use them instead of popsicles for my kids."
32 lbs of strawberries isn't so much. I've bought 50 lbs before. And I regularly buy 25-lb boxes of peaches and nectarines. And 25 ears of corn isn't SO many. Is it? I mean, we ate them all for dinner. That seems a pretty reasonable amount for 9 people.
One more reason to shop in the middle of the night: I'm a person then, not a circus sideshow.