Happy second birthday, my sweet girl! Today you are firmly planted into the world of toddlerhood. I can’t believe you are such a big girl now.
Jenna, I have been trying to think of the right words to describe you, and the ones that keep coming to me are these: All in. When you are happy, you are delighted and silly and nothing can keep the smile off your face. When you are mad, woe to the next person who crosses your path as you fling yourself onto the nearest surface and pout. When you’re sad, there is no toy or snack or treat that will pacify you (sometimes not even the pacifier…). You are all in, all the time. You commit to everything you start and every emotion you feel. Sometimes that’s terrifying. But mostly it’s inspiring. You don’t quit for anything.
I love to watch you play when you don’t know I’m there. You love to wear jewelry and carry purses, and you carefully select each bracelet and necklace to wear and each little item to place into your purse. And as soon as you’re done, you take it all off and dump it all out, and then you start again. There is a method to your madness that I am not privy to, but I love to watch you work.
This year has been a fun one for you. You learned to walk, you learned to talk in sentences, and you learned how to outsmart Mommy and Daddy at least half the time. You are constantly scheming, trying to find a new way to get a toy from Josh or convince us you need just one more snack. What you lack in subtlety, you make up for in strength. Nothing can stop you from dragging a full suitcase behind you or from walking around in Daddy’s steel-toed boots. You barrel your way through every situation and don’t stop to look back until you’ve accomplished your goal. It sounds silly to admire a toddler, but I really do admire you. You decide what you want and you go get it. You are going to do great things when you grow up.
Jenna, I just love the little person you’ve turned into. You love mischief and giggles, you love trains and Minnie Mouse, you love to sit in any lap that appears within a fifty-foot radius. You must touch every item in the shopping cart before it goes to the register, and you will do just about anything for a cookie. You change shoes about six times a day and have a very specific sense of fashion – even though you wind up in just a diaper by the end of most days. You’ve learned a hundred new words and you chatter away all the time. This age has been so fun, and I can’t wait to see what else your next years have in store.
Happy, happy birthday to my silly, crazy, Ritz-cracker loving girl. You keep me on my toes but I love every step.
Hello, again. It’s me, Kristen. You both know me well enough by now, as I come to you both for such important things: Wal-mart, for your all-encompassing empire of every item I need, from groceries to home goods, at low, low prices; Target, for your almost supernatural ability to put me into a trance and to fill my cart with all sorts of crap I don’t need. We are all such good friends, aren’t we?
However, lately I happened to notice that you were both lacking something that I very much need. I would even call it essential to my shopping experience. You have probably guessed it by now: Shopping carts with seats/space for more than one child.
You see, I happen to have two children. And while one is technically capable of walking, he often finds himself unable to use his legs while he is lying facedown on the cold tile floor, sniffling pitifully after mourning the opportunity to throw his mother’s keys down for the eighth time. And so I find myself in need of a space for my second child. Well, actually, he is my first child, but he is the second one in the cart because I let him walk at first. See the previous sentences for further explanation. ANYway, this child needs a space, but, much like Jesus on Christmas Day, he finds himself with no room. So I allow him to sit in the larger part of the cart, where the groceries (also) go. While I am aware that this is highly frowned upon, as demonstrated by the creative stick figures drawn on the front of your carts, I don’t see a lot of other options.
Except for one: Child-friendly carts. This is the kind of cart that allows you to secure your children far enough from the groceries as to not “accidentally” open every fruit squeeze they see, but close enough that you can see the children and the groceries and your purse and all is well. You have been slacking in the child-friendly cart department, Wal-mart and Target.
Until recently. Recently I noticed that you both have joined America in celebrating multiple children and have employed carts that will allow two children to be strapped in at once! And while I want to be satisfied…well, I just can’t be until I point out a few minor design flaws. I know I sound picky, but let me explain:
First of the all, look at the sheer size of this thing:
There are fully-grown sharks that are smaller than this. Turning this behemoth into an aisle would require a seven-point turn and a rearview mirror. And, if I did finally manage to turn it into an aisle, I imagine it would put me so close to the edge of the shelf that I, being without rocket-powered brakes, would find myself running full-force into a shelf of glassware (Wal-mart, you do have everything), which would then trigger a cartoon-like effect of all the shelves being knocked down in turn.
If I do somehow manage to make it into a cart without reenacting a scene from The Mummy, I can only guess how long it would take me to reach the end of the cart to get the item I needed and get back to the front to rejoin my kids. What were left as two toddlers, waving goodbye as their mother disappears into the mist on a search for Diet Coke and pretzels, would likely be in middle school by the time I was able to finish my miles-long trek back to where my journey began.
And while we’re on the subject, let’s discuss the size of the space between the children’s seats and the shopping cart itself. I’m no mathematician, but I would estimate that distance to be exactly the length required for an emergency room visit if a child fell out of the seat and towards the cart. “But we have seat belts attached,” you say. Oh, Wal-mart. Oh, Target. You dear, dear little lambs. Do you really think a mere seat belt can contain my children? My daughter, who I once caught gnawing ferociously on an empty rib bone, impeded by fabric? My son, who has used only the steely glare from his eyes and sheer force of his will to bring down grandmas and grandpas around the world, stopped by shoulder straps? Oh, no, no, Target. Think again, Wal-mart. My children specialize in escaping confinement. My son is so skinny he can fit underneath a door. My daughter’s fine motor skills are unparalleled in the tri-state area. They will escape. And when they do, they will get the pleasure of either smacking their little heads on the plastic bar of the cart, or, a fan favorite, the comfy metal grating of the cart.
Sure, sure, I should be watching them. But I’m still on the Never-Ending Journey down the aisle, remember? I won’t be back for years.
My final complaint is this: Lack of entertainment. Right, I know – kids these days with their entertainment and their lack of ability to sit and think about stuff. And there is no way in my right mind I would give my kids a phone or tablet to play with while I shop (not because I am against it… it’s because I can’t afford to replace a phone or tablet every time I shop). However, at other stores with kid-friendly carts, the carts are a bit more, shall we say, whimsical. My kids can be police car drivers, or firefighters, or hot pink taxi car…I’m not totally sure what that one is, but you get my point. They turn the fake wheels and honk the fake horns and everyone leaves with a smile on his or her face.
Without these things, my kids have only one thing left to turn on: Each other. (DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN) I might get to about the third item on my list before the hand-slapping begins. Item seven will bring pterodactyl screeches and “NO, BABY. BE NICE.” Soon, shortly before item 15, they will each begin to emit a low whine that will rise steadily in pitch until only dogs can hear them. And me. Somehow I can always hear them.
So you see, Target and Wal-mart, some elements of your new carts require some modifications, just as soon as you’re feeling up to it. But, speaking as the mother who is trying to convince her two-year-old that the big part of the cart is “totally super cool,”…please hurry.