Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Taking the Kids Grocery Shopping

Going to the grocery store is always an interesting event in our family. My wife hates doing it. I don't mind so much but, once I'm back home, I don't want to go out again. I don't care what we might have forgotten. I can only take so much of crowds and insane people.

If I can, I'll try and take one of my kids with me. Part of it's just to have some company; part of it's an excuse to spend time with them. I've got this terrible little secret, you see. I like my kids. I like being around them and doing things with them. I like talking with them and listening to them talk about their lives. The trouble is they don't do that very often at home. Too many distractions, I guess. If I can get them out to the grocery store with me, though, I can grill them about their day.

Okay, it just occurred to me that the term grilling might be misunderstood in a food blog. I don't mean that I cook them over hot coals (although the idea is appealing when they're misbehaving). I just interrogate them. Gently.

“How was your day? Really? What made it a good day? How's school? Are you getting along with your teachers?”

Stuff like that. No barbecue sauce is required.

This is important to me. First off, it lets me in on bits of their lives I don't normally get to see because I'm not with them every moment of the day. Somebody's gotta bring home the bacon.

Erm ... you know what I mean.

It's also important for me as a Mormon. Part of what the LDS church teaches is taking an active role in our children's lives. If we, as parents, don't do our best to prepare them to live a life in line with gospel teachings, we'll be the ones to get into trouble.

Doctrine and Covenants 68:25 And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.

We also believe that, through certain ordinances and covenants, we can be sealed together as families for time and all eternity. Let's get real, here. If I'm going to have a family relationship with my kids into eternity we all better learn to get along with each other or eternity's going to seem like forever.

(I keep doing that!) Never mind.

So, I take them with me to the grocery store. I chat with them, make them do the math when it comes to checking the prices for deals, and so on. Not only do I want them to be spiritually prepared, I want them to be able to take care of themselves after they grow up.

Sometimes they don't want to go, though. As Darth Vader might say, “The power of Nintendo is strong with this one.” Pulling them away from their electronic games can be difficult.

So I bribe them.

Not with actual money, mind you. It's just become a pretty well known fact that going somewhere with Dad means getting a treat. Usually it's just a soda or something. Sometimes it's soft-serve ice cream or frozen yogurt. The deli bar at our local grocery store stocks more than meat and cheese, you see. This weekend it was raspberry and vanilla frozen yogurt twists in a sugar cone. Yum.

It's tough to take my youngest, though. Once the ice cream is gone and the sugar rush kicks in, she's done sitting in the little seat at the back of the grocery cart. Oh, no. None of that for her. She wants to get down. She wants to explore! Which means I either have to fight with her (a.k.a. beg, plead, and distract her) to stay in the cart or I'll have to chase her around the store for the next twenty minutes trying to figure out where she's gone.

It's not like my kids and I go just to talk, get ice cream and play hide and seek in aisles, though. We do actually buy groceries and take them home. Usually this involves making a grocery list, which gets promptly ignored after we get to the store, and then hauling bags of groceries to and from the car.

With the exception of the few things we keep in the kitchen, most of our food storage is downstairs. Once we get home, we divide the groceries into things that stay upstairs, and things that go downstairs, either to the pantry or the larger freezer.

My kids are just like me, though. They're lazy. Most of the time, after asking them to take the groceries to the pantry, I'll go down to find bags of groceries on the floor instead of on the shelves. Sometimes they'll remember to take out the frozen things and put them in the freezer but, it's not a sure deal. Now I've learned to say, “Okay! These things need to to the pantry. These need to go into the freezer. Please make sure you actually put things where they go on the shelves. Please close the freezer door (I actually have to tell them that.) Thank you, dear.”

In spite of the trials (especially with my youngest), I continue to take them with me. It's great one-on-one quality time. The real reason I keep doing it is simple. It's fun.

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