Today my mother and I went out of town shopping. Nothing special, as we were low budget. Just some grocery shopping. We took along our keen little helper, who turns 17 months in 2 days. She has been walking since November and so she has cruised the grocery store many times. But today was different. Today I got a workout that was run by a 2 1/2 foot tall, laughing, climbing ball of energy. In one store I even asked the cashier if it was really hot or if it was just the exertion I was experiencing.
Pick her up. Turn it into a ride to keep her distracted. Put her down. Run! Try to persuade. Pick her up. Turn around and go back where her Oma is with the cart. Try to read ingredients. To her insisting, let her "read" the ingredients instead while I try to nonchalantly read another package. Put her down. Get her to put it in the cart. Run! Tell her not to try to get garbage from under the shelves. (A bead! How did you see that?) Run. Pry the ball out of her hands. Distract! Weee, this is fun! Redirect. Take her off the pile of large flour bags. Distract. Redirect. Distract.
Yes, it would have been easier if she stayed in the cart. But she did her time on her bottom as we drove an hour and a half to get to the mall. And we would be doing the same to return. We had no agenda. How often does she get the pleasure of unimpeded time? No getting home to dinner. No trying to flit from one place to the next in a slotted amount of time (and forgoing tasks because it just isn't going to ensue as stated on the to-do list). Just a few items we had to get. Like diapers, wipes, socks. Oops. I didn't buy socks.
Her self control was impressive but unpredictable. Often she would leave the shelves alone and just run around. Stop and stare at an item, reflecting on what it would be like to hold it in her little hands. A few items were understandably too irresistible. Balls. Balloons. Bird yard ornaments.
She admired the bird ornaments and we continued on to the other side of the store. When I put her down the search was on. She knew what she was looking for. She was distracted by balloons on the way but soon back to her objective. Her eyes fervently scanned the shelves as she peered around every corner. And to my surprise she made it all the way to the other corner and found the birds. After all that hard work she was not going to assent to any don't touch. Distract. Distract. Distract.
I once distracted her with a lovely book I knew she would love. It partnered one at home that she had recently acquired. Unfortunately, I misread the sign and even though I told her that she could have it I changed my mind when the price tripled. Good thing she doesn't understand, or she has such a short attention span, and she didn't notice the book vanish. Or the whirligig, the stuffed bear, or the septic tank cleaner.
Soon, she will remember promises I've made. She'll know that it's a drive-thru window we are stopping at and they supply food and we are not sharing. She'll notice what I keep and what I discard. And she'll want me to buy things so she can keep them instead of just saying "Hi!" to them in the store.
For now I'll just enjoy letting her run around. For now, she loves the grocery store. Plain and simple. No expectations.