I went to the grocery store. And I lived to tell about it.

Today, I was forced to take my children. 
To the grocery store. 
By myself. 

I know. It was horrible. I like, just barely survived at all. To begin with, have I mentioned that I have four children? Four children is not outnumbered. Four children is like, some "This is Sparta" level insanity. You get into the store, and the oldest one walks ahead, zero regard for what you're doing. And the littlest one trails waaaaay behind because he can't be bothered to walk at any kind of reasonable pace, plus he's busy with the Valentine's Day themed lip gloss he got from McDonald's, thank you very much. And the middle two can't follow simple directions, like, "Pleast stop touching everything you see," and "Get off the cart. For heaven's sake, please stay off the cart. I just told you to get off the cart. 5 minutes ago you fell off the cart. Why can you not just stay off the cart. Can you not hear me when I say stay off the cart? This is why you keep getting hurt by the cart."

We finally make it to the seven mile long checkout line, and then we have the same interaction I've been having now for 17 months, in every line at every establishment I have attended with my children.  Someone freaks out about how many kids I have. Or how many groceries I have to buy. And they want to know the kids ages, and to ask once more if they're "all mine". (My grandmother raised twice as many children as I am. I can't even comprehend.) And then they tell me how cute the boys are (because the girls have aged out of cute, and are now "just kids"). And then, without ceasing*, they tell me how adorable and well-behaved my children are. 

And I'm like...

No words. Zero words at all. Like thank you? would probably make sense right now but... no words. Because let's be clear. I just spent an hour saying  stop touching that, and stay by me, sorry excuse us, and stop crawling on the ground, pardon us, and get off the cart, and get out of that guys way, I'm so very sorry sir, and no we don't need that, and no we're not buying toys we're here for food, and stay off that display, sorry everyone sorry sorry, and no we don't need wheatgrass stop touching the wheatgrass, and watch out, get out of that lady's way, excuse us Ma'am I'm really sorry, and put the chocolate back, excuse us, and put that back you don't even know what it is, and for heavens sake stay off the cart.

::Breathe. Breathe::

This response, even though I've heard it enough to expect it, enough that I could have predicted the exact moment she was going to smile down and call my children well-behaved, it still floored me. Because I'm sorry, obviously I'm raising 2 monkeys, a hyena, and a recently escaped mental patient. Not well behaved children. Not. Just no.
Hello! We are the boys. And we have NEVER been well behaved.
But it made me think. WHY in heaven's name do people think that? Why does every checker at every store, or most anyone in any location (except again for the stick-up-her-behind librarian) think my children are well behaved, when I feel like I'm juggling raw eggs and dropping each one on my head? And then, I think I realized it:

Also, we REALLY hate these overalls mom makes us wear!

Now let me start by saying that I don't know what I'm doing, and I don't think I know what I'm doing and I'm not trying to convey parenting advice here, because I was trained in Autism, not in Two Monkeys a Hyena and an Escaped Mental Patient. I. AM. LEARNING. But I think the thing I learned today is that, my stress level sets a standard with the Weirdos. I am straight up terrified of them burning down the grocery store. When one kid gets extra handsy, I snap into crazy mommy mode. Then I repeat that action about every 30 seconds for an hour. And I think, that my crazy, my intense, exhausting vigilance, helps me to save the rest of the world from the madness I'm surrounded by. No one got lost. No one threw a tantrum. No one hit anyone else. No one broke anything. Well. Behaved. Children.

So there it is. The definitive secret to parenting success. Be crazy ass crazy at your children and apologize to the world constantly. And for those of you who are in these same trenches? GOOD JOB. Guys, I totally think our crazy is working. Probably.

Oh and also? I do not buy my kids treats at the grocery store. Because it's dumb. They didn't earn a snack. I EARNED a snack, and I don't get a snack. I mean, best case scenario, I'll buy them the expensive, aquatic vertebrate shaped crackers** if they've reduced the frequency of my need to go insane. And because I love them blah blah blah.

But they're not doing me a favor. I'm doing them a favor. I worked to make money, now I'm using that money to make sure they can eat on a regular basis. You're welcome, kids. And stop touching things.

At the end of our trip, just as we pulled up to the registered, New Addition took a deep sigh and screwed a very serious look onto her face.

"Mom. (Intense, superserious pause.) I am not asking you for one of those balloons." Looks up slowly at me out of the corner of her eye.

 I mean, baby steps. Right?

*except for this one time in the library when my then 2-year-old ran to find me and the elderly librarian had a massive coronary at our general misconduct. Which was mostly RIDICULOUS because since I homeschool the kids, we go during the school day, and the only other people in the entire building were like 3 librarians and 5 homeless guys. And really, 2 year olds have super short legs. It's not like he was trying to be disruptive, he just wanted to show me a book. Hashtag get over yourself you insane librarian.

**Today was a Cheese Nips kinda day.

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