Friday morning we went to the Children's Drop and Shop in Essex, MA. It's a twice a year consignment sale of children's clothing and other gear. I never used to need to shop for children's things, in a store, at an outlet, on sale or at a consignment sale because we received the best hand me downs for Pete and Chester from my awesome sister in law and another friend. For the first three years of Pete's life, we basically bought nothing. However, my little monkeys are now super tall monkeys and Pete is outpacing his older cousins and friends, so the hand me downs only help Chester these days and shopping at the seasonal Drop and Shop is the best way to get great clothing at a good bargain.
Having been to the Drop and Shop before, I knew the big ticket baby items would go quickly, but it would be a madhouse right at the 10am opening. So I devised a plan to put Chester in the hiking back pack and use a monkey backpack leash to keep track of Pete while I hunted down a Pack and Play, Halloween costumes, winter boots and coats (The remaining items could wait until later that night when it would be less crowded and I could return to the sale without children.). Sadly a search of the house didn't turn up my monkey backpack leash, so I just had to trust that he would not cause too much havoc or run away while I looked through the nursery items. I explained to Pete what we were doing, and that there were also toys inside, so if he was a big boy and stayed right by me, he could pick out a toy at the end. I got in line with my friend Lia at 9:50am approximately 300 yards from the entrance and groaned, just dreading what a total debacle this was going to be, but without other options, I just had to grin and bear it.
I made it inside, and by the grace of God, the boys shoes and boys clothing section was right next to the toys. I scored slipper, rain boots and winter boots for both boys while Pete debated the merits of a school bus vs. a train set. I also finished the Halloween costumes and then moved to coral Pete to the coat room and nursery furniture room. Then God really smiled on me. He placed a $5 tricycle in our path to the nursery room. While I inspected pack and plays, Pete zoomed under tables of ice skates and baseball cleats. As I sorted through coats, he made figure eights around the racks of snow pants all within viewing distance, and never once running into someone, even in the madhouse full of over-caffeinated bargain hunters.
He rode that tricycle while we waited 30 minutes in line to check out, then he rode it down the hill, into the parking lot and over to our van where he lifted it up himself, to store it in the back of the minivan. I congratulated myself on surviving the Drop and Shop rush, and celebrated my awesome bargains.
Now nearing noon, both boys, of course, fell asleep on the way home, so I carried in my purchases and retrieved our bags and shopping list to head for the commissary while they continued to nap in the car. I'm not really sure why I left the tricycle in the car, but I did, and thought nothing of it while we headed for a playdate and grocry store on the Air Force Base.
When I woke Pete to go into the store, he asked if he could drive his tricycle. I'm not sure who was more surprised when I answered yes. I strapped Chester into the cart and again explained the rules that Pete must stay near me and not crash into anyone in the store. And wouldn't you know it.... he listened! We took a quick trip through the fresh produce, dairy, bakery and frozen foods (there's nothing wrong with craving blueberry pancakes, but I have to settle for frozen blueberries now that they're out of season!) Each aisle we turned down, he waited patiently for permission to race me to the end, then returned, without fail, to my side ready to move to the next aisle. No whining, no running, no begging for snacks or candy. It was the easiest grocery trip I've ever taken with two children.
I have not yet decided if the tricycle will make a second appearance at the grocery store. There is probably a rule against such behavior, especially on an Air Force Base. At the AFB, at 5pm each night, they call attention, play the Star Spangled Banner, then announce permission to carry on. For the crime of speeding, they don't bother to ticket you, the MPs just revoke your driving priviliges on base (and it works, I've never seen anyone speeding). If there aren't already rules about driving a tricycle through the commisary, I'm sure someone is working feverishly on a new directive after seeing Pete riding his around the store on Friday. But driving the tricycle sure did make that trip pleasant, and if thats the trick to grocery shopping without hissing at my children to be quient and stay right by the cart, I may just consider it the best $5 I've ever spent and leave the tricycle in the back of the van for use during every grocery trip.