Month: December 2015

Like A Kid In A Grocery Store

With 2015 coming to an end, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the year that was. And with all of the reflecting, I came to an unexpected realization……

Shopping with children kind of sucks sometimes.

Back in the day, pre-kids, there wasn’t much to it. If I had to make a trip to a store, I could do it whenever I wanted.  I would grab my wallet and go. I’d get what I needed, and be back in good time. #nodillydallying.

Nowadays, though? Going to the store alone isn’t always feasible. At least some or all of the family usually comes. As such, quick trips are now time-consuming “outings” requiring significant planning prior to going.

Say it’s a few years ago, when B or J were babies, but K and I needed to get some stuff for the house. Well, we had to work around feedings/naptimes/bowel movements. Then, once the timing was acceptable, we would load up the diaper bag and head out, fingers crossed that there would be no crying outbursts/poopy diapers.

Here’s the other catch – as challenging as it is trying to shop with babies, it isn’t much easier with little kids! At least babies are immobile, you see. Small children are not. They have legs and are not afraid to use them.

Or their arms.

Or their brains.

Or their brains to come up with some impulsive, poorly thought out idea for their legs or arms to execute.

As such,  B and J require a different type of scheduling now, than when they were babies. For real, to minimize in-store incidents, I gotta scout and come up with a gameplan before leaving, like I’m Bill Belichick preparing for the Super Bowl (OK, so the lightbulbs are in the third aisle near the back, but the milk is on the other side of the place. If I come in through the left, go deep down the produce section, grab the milk, Hail Mary it out of dairy, and run a reverse through the candy aisle to avoid the toy display, I can snatch the bulbs after. Hut hut hut!).

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison

You’re welcome, Coach Bill, for the free play.

I really can’t stress the importance of this pre-planning. Failure to do so never ends well.

Lemme give you an example. The other day, we nonchalantly decided to go pick up a few things at the local Fortinos supermarket. While there, the following happened:

  • Upon arrival, B’s energy level, which was mellow in the car ride over,  went through the roof. He was uncontrollably hyperactive. Whoever said “like a kid in a candy store” never saw a kid in a grocery store.
  • B immediately ran over to the bakery to get free cookies for him and J (because hyper people obviously need a sugar rush). He gobbled his up, while J sat in the shopping cart slowly savouring hers.
  • Even though the cookies were small, with a few chocolate chips, J somehow got it smeared all over her. Remember when Augustus Gloop fell in the river, in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory? She kinda looked like that.
  • While we looked at fruit, B attempted to load the cart up with raspberries and blueberries. Why? Because he thought they were a great buy, courtesy of the sign near them that said ‘Great Buy!’
  • We restocked the berries. As we walked away, B ran off. He unexpectedly sprinted back toward us, slid on his knees about 10 feet and just missed colliding into our cart.
Like Hall of Famer Sam Rice, B would have been safe.

Like Hall of Famer Sam Rice, B would have been safe.

  • We told him to stop running. He started to dance and strut bow-legged through the store.
  • While carelessly busting a move, he smashed into a bread stand, knocking baguettes all over the floor.
  • He pretended to fall in the organic section, so he could roll on the ground.
  • Ever try to talk to someone, but you can tell they aren’t listening, by their body language? Picture that, but with the person’s eyes darting manically, while standing crouched as if they’re a tiger about to pounce. That was me trying to calm B down.
  • Since things were getting out of hand, I decided to hold his hand. Shockingly enough, Mr. Non-Stop Frenetic Energy suddenly didn’t move. No really, he dropped and refused to walk.
  • After a stern talking-to, he did behave……for a few minutes. As I was browsing in the canned goods aisle, I turned around and saw B on the ground, again (He spent so much time on the floor, I doubt Fortinos had to sweep that night). This time, his shoes were about 15 feet behind him.

B – “Well, I was running so fast that I lost my shoes!”

  • J wanted out of the cart, to take part in the fun. Her and B then entertained themselves by running their hands along the items on the shelves. How no glass jars ended breaking is beyond me.
  • When shopping with kids, be prepared to be asked by them about whether they can buy something. Typically, the something is really random. In J’s case at Fortinos, she asked for two packs of underwear that she found in the clearance section. We said no, and told her to put them back. She, of course, didn’t. She hid them in the shopping cart, instead. Imagine my surprise when going to check out, and finding little girl panties behind the frozen pizzas.

Anyway, you get the idea. It wasn’t our greatest experience in a grocery store.

Please don’t get it twisted, though. More often than not, our shopping expeditions are pretty enjoyable. Quality family time.

On occasion, however, they are pure, unmitigated, ill-advised disasters.

To conclude, let’s take heed of the words of a wise man, who once stated the following, in fancy writing:


Alright, alright, the wise man was me. I just made those words up now.  At least it sounds like a quote a real wise person would say.

Regardless, Happy New Year, y’all!

May your trips to the stores in 2016 be more peaceful than mine!


Things Strangers Say To Parents With Small Kids That Make For Awkward Conversations

I’ve noticed that, when it comes to conversations, babies and children are great ice breakers.

If I’m out and about with my kids,  I am regularly approached by people I don’t know who want to talk about them, or to them.  It’s pretty cool most of the time. Typically, there’s just some polite, complimentary chit chat about B and J.  No biggie.

I do believe that these individuals always have good intentions, when they come up to me. Occasionally, however (as the long-winded, awkward title of this post suggests), people have said thing which ended up making our talks…well, awkward.

Here are some examples, from my own experiences!


This is a valid question, under most circumstances.  B has a lighter complexion than me.  I could be an uncle, or a babysitter, for all you know. Ask away.

However,  when I’m at a playground with B, and he is loudly calling me ‘daddy’, can you please not feel the need to march over and ask me if he’s mine in an interrogating tone, like you’re Chris Hansen trying to catch a predator, and then try to engage in friendly banter afterwards, as if you didn’t just passively-aggressively imply that I’m a child abducter? K, Thanks.  #ByeFelicia


J is even lighter in complexion than B, so being asked about her ethnicity happens on occasion.

What made this particular example awkward was the disappointment in the women’s voice after, when I told her that, alas, J is not Greek. She even said ‘Oh’, all sad panda-like. If she’s reading this, I’m sorry that some little girl you didn’t know wasn’t the nationality you wanted.


This was said at one of B’s basketball games last year, by a lady sitting beside me.

What a nice compliment, right?

Except…….the boy she was talking about wasn’t B. It was some other dark-skinned lil dude.  When I sheepishly corrected her and pointed out B, she sheepishly blurted ‘He is trying hard!’.

Eh, she meant well, anyway.


Said to J when she was a baby, while she was dressed in baby girl clothes.  Other parents tell me something like this has happened to their girls before, too. Awkward, but an honest mistake!


Said to B when he was a baby, while he was dressed in baby boy clothes.  Other parents tell me something like this has happened to their boys before, too. Awkward, but an honest mistake!


Said to B and J when they were five and three years old. Other parents tell me something like this has happened before to their two kids who don’t really look or act alike and are different sizes.

Hey wait a minute…..


Aren’t they so identical?!


For real, I thought the idea of a creepy looking old stranger offering candy to little children was some sort of bad joke…..until it happened to B.


Crudely drawn image of what the gentleman looked like.

To make it even more uncomfortable, after I came over and told the man no, instead of walking away, he tried to upsell me on his candy. Went on and on about how great it was. Look, I enjoy homemade butterscotch as much as the next person, but not when it comes from someone’s dirty trenchcoat.


This one again depends on the context. We’ve been out, and had people with media credentials request a picture of the kids.  Fine.

Conversely, we’ve also been out and had a random woman who was wandering around aimlessly by herself with a camera ask us for a photo. No credentials, no real reason given. Again, I like to assume that people mean well, but what is someone doing with pictures of strangers’ children?  Kind of weird, no?



Store lineups are prime bantering spots. The problem with them, though,  is that you are kind of trapped if the banter gets uncomfortable; you just want to pay for your stuff, so you don’t want to waste time by leaving the line to avoid a conversation.

Anyway, J and I were waiting in line at the grocery store. A frail, older gentleman with a heavy accent (Polish as I would soon learn) came up behind us. In an Adorable Grandpa type voice, he started playfully talking to J.  Cutesy stuff. He then turned to me, and in an angry, bitter voice, yelled “SHE IS SO BEAUTIFUL. YOU NEED TO GET HER OUT OF THIS COUNTRY.”

He proceeded to go on a short rant about how Canada has gone downhill over the last 30 years. After ranting, he noticed J was holding grapes, so he went back into Adorable Grandpa mode with her, joking about the grapes. Not long after, Bitter Grandpa returned, as he vented to me about how Canada was built by people like me and him, and how he hated it here now.  He told me that I need to move, so J could grow up to be a “princess” somewhere else.  By this point, we were at the front of the line. The cashier  just rang my stuff through with his head down, probably out of fear that this guy was going to shank us all soon with the bottle of tomato sauce he was buying. Adorable Grandpa then suddenly re-appeared, to laugh and play with J. He asked her if she liked ‘mozzarelli’ cheese, and told her that his four year old grandson laughs when he says ‘mozzarelli’. But then Bitter Grandpa returned to me,  complaining about how his grandson’s mother has breast cancer and had to go to the USA to be treated, because she couldn’t get treated here.  Finally, I was able to pay for my stuff.  J and I fled the store.

The other examples were pretty harmless, but this last one…..what happened to there being a time and and a place for everything??

Anyway, to conclude, there’s nothing wrong with giving compliments to strangers and their children. They’re always appreciated.  Just watch how you say them, to keep things in the awkward-free zone.

And, as the old expression goes, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!