In-between time
Saving grace

Kids these days

Today I went grocery shopping with Raphael alone. When I arrived at the store, he’d fallen sound asleep in his car seat. I heaved him out of the van and patted his cheek, but he was out. He’s getting so big, so heavy and long, that it was all I could do to hold onto him in his slick winter coat. But I managed to haul him into the store, where I laid him down in a shopping cart. He turned over on his side, hooked his fingers through the side of the cart and slept on.

I walked the aisles of the store, unencumbered by any child’s attention, and carefully stacked groceries around Raphi. I piled them in the child seat, I balanced a great load of them on the underneath part of the cart, where Max always wants to ride and brush the floor with his fingers (it makes me crazy, he’s always sneaking down there, and when I notice what he’s doing it gives me a heart attack. I just know he’s going to break a finger some day, and the ER doc will think I’m a terrible mother. Yes, it’s all about me).

As I made my way through the store, I watched people. I’m usually keeping an eye on three little boys as I shop, simultaneously keeping tabs on their whereabouts, gauging their direction, and comparing prices. So today, with my only attending child slumbering peacefully, I had a surplus of attention to go around. I scanned the faces of the people shopping alongside me. I surreptitiously looked in their carts and decided who was cooking for a family and who was on their way home to do some binge eating (I mean, cookie dough, potato chips, diet coke, and a box of discounted Christmas chocolates?).

I don’t know if I’ve never noticed it before or if today was a bad day in Denver, but people DID NOT seem to be enjoying themselves. They squinted down aisles, glared at their lists, and generally stomped through their shopping. I tried smiling at people, but I couldn’t get hardly anyone to make eye contact, much less exchange a weary smile.

As I rounded the tortillas I saw a boy coming down the aisle toward me. He looked to be about 15, with classic teenaged “you don’t get me” uniform on. Sagging shorts (HELLO, IT IS JANUARY IN DENVER), torn t-shirt, a lime green Gilligan hat pulled down over his ears. As he passed me he glanced in my cart, where he saw Raphael. He paused a moment, right there in the aisle, then looked at me and chuckled.

Of everyone in the store, moms and dads, checkers and baggers, he was the only person who looked around him long enough to notice a sleeping boy amongst the groceries. And he not only noticed, he appreciated his silly beauty there in the cart, surrounded by broccoli and spaghetti.

I don’t know what was up with the patrons of the grocery store today - I hope their week lightens up on them a bit. But I know this: I like that kid.



I only have a few early memories of my life before age 6. Most of them involve the days surrounding the arrival of my baby sister. One non-sister memory, though, was of me laying underneath the cart ala Max. And sticking my finger into the wheel mechanism. Yep. That cured me of riding in the cart that way.


I like him, too. And I like you. And your kids. And your writing. :)

Mary Jo

I never look at people at the store. I always think they won't like me or something crazy like that. I mostly shop with Matt though so I look at, and talk to him.


It sure was a crap ass day. Just got finished reading your archives, I'm going to be tired as hell in the morning, but it was worth it. Your Raphi sounds like a good match for my Stinkerbutt, she's trying to take over the world, one playground at a time.

Englehood, CO ;)


What's not to like? When you see a teenager like that, don't you find yourself processing oxygen just the TEENIEST bit more efficiently? Because you have THREE of those hormonally-swamped, moody, foreign creatures coming, and I have TWO coming, and the good ones just...oh you know, give one hope for America. *grin*


Heh...yep, sometimes it's the ones we don't get...that get us, totally. Great post!


I love it when teenagers turn out to be real people.


Hey, to some of us cookie dough, potato chips, diet coke, and a box of discounted Christmas chocolates is an actual meal! Besides, its diet coke!


Ah, what a lovely story! You've brought me some cheer on a gloomy, rainy day.

And here's hoping MY teenager is like that one. :-)


You make me exicted to be raising a son (only 4mo now) & look forward to the years to come. Thanks for sharing your precious little boys!


Tenns can be great. They can. Last Sun night, Haydn was upsett hat I was carrying David to te van b/c he wanted me to carry him. So there I am, feeling guilty as if I am showing favoritism by carrying the child that cannot walk. One of my husband' youth boys tossed Haydn onto his shoulders and walked us to the car. Made Haydn's night. They let him play ball with them, play chase with him all over the church... they even buy him presents just for the heck of it. Teenagers have a bad rep, but I think they rock.


Teens like that give me hope!


Don't know why I never caught on before that you are in Denver. I miss Denver. I love you Denver!

And I agree with Rich. My last grocery trip consisted of donuts, sprite, ice cream, hot fudge, celery and potatos.


Last night we made a special trip to the store for 4 deoderant tubes (our idea of buying in bulk) and a package of cookie dough. When we got home I baked what was left of the dough.

For what it's worth... I think you had a glimpse into your future with that teen. Observant, friendly, very unique... sound like any boys you know?


Hey, I read all the time and never comment. That was a really sweet story.

I have to tell you, though, I let one of my kids ride on the bottom and one of her gloves fell on the floor. She went to grab it and her finger was pulled under the wheel and the finger nail was pulled out all the way. We had to go to the ER and have it reimplanted, and she was stitched and splinted for two weeks. It gives me shivers still to think about it.

So, no more riding on the bottom for us, and I tell everyone that I see at the store the story. I would hate to see any other family go through that.

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