It’s time for the kids to go back to school.
That’s my takeaway from an early afternoon trip to the market. I no sooner set foot in the door then I wanted out.
It was a madhouse — not my preferred time to shop, but you do what you must do. The inside of our fridge was starting to look downright anemic, and well, if I could just get that chore out of the way, I might get an hour or two of clear sailing.
Instead, I’m wishing it was wine-thirty.
The parking lot was my first clue — jam-packed with every kind of minivan, station wagon and sport utility vehicle they make, the 90-degree heat coming off the cars’ hoods in waves.
Inside the store were kids of every age. Everywhere.
And their beleaguered parents and grandparents.
I spied one woman I know from Jazzercise, her face pinched and hair on end while her grandchildren chatted away in the cart, trying to show her something, trying to tell her something. We shared a smile, then a hug and a kiss while she confessed in a whisper, “I can’t shop with them.”
Aisle after aisle it was the same story. Kids hanging from the carts; kids racing the carts, threading their way around corners and between the slower-moving retirees.
Kids talking their mothers’ ears off. Kids playing silly hand games and mouthing sing-songs.
Kids begging for things. Kids whining.
Faces set in expressions equal parts resignation and irritation, their mothers pushed carts bulging with Popsicles, Goldfish, Nilla wafers, Cheerios, Pop-Tarts, watermelon, grapes, baby food and every snack-sized treat made by Nabisco.
The whole time I shopped, I heard this refrain echoed by mother after mother:
I count myself lucky to have made it out alive.
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