Monday, October 7, 2013

Adventures in Shoplifting

Yesterday was the worst day of the week. I don't mean that in the literal sense--it wasn't really a bad day overall--but I mean it in an official sense. Yesterday was grocery-shopping day, which officially makes it the worse day of the week from a parenting standpoint, regardless of how the week actually pans out.

For those who don't have kids, or have not had kids recently, or somehow manage to shop alone, let me make this simple:

1-year-old + rows and rows of food = spontaneous hunger-induced, stare-provoking meltdown

Looking so innocent, right?

It doesn't matter how many snacks I feed Drew in the car on the way to the store, he always sees something that he wants to eat. Immediately. In the cart. Usually I distract him by talking in an excessively chipper voice about the thing he's interested in: "Are you hungry? Does that look yummy? Should we bring that home? Okay, just a few more things and then we'll open it, okay? We have to wait."

Yesterday, however, while I was looking for the napkins in the paper goods aisle, Drew solved the problem of spontaneous hunger himself by reaching into the cart, plucking an apple from the bag, and chomping into it. Which pretty much amounts to shoplifting when it comes to groceries.

I generally think of our family as law-abiding citizens, but this was not our first incident of shoplifting. There was the can koozie that Jacob stole from an outlet mall in Florida when he was 16 months old. (We returned it when we discovered his crime.) Last week I prevented a lollipop theft from Walgreens, which the boys had attempted together, not realizing (I hope) that we had to pay for them.

This was the first incident, however, that I allowed to happen. I thought Drew would take just a bite or two of the apple and then be done with it. I would put it back in the bag, and he would have stolen no more than a mouthful of apple. No biggie.

Well, Drew ate about two thirds of the apple. Which left me in the predicament of what to do with the remains.

I thought about throwing the core away when we found a trashcan, but I would feel bad. It would mean we had stolen an entire apple from Walmart. Part of me wanted to just consider it payback for the store's continually aggravating decision to put candy in the check out lane (come on, Drew wasn't born yesterday. He knows what's in those packages, and he wants it. Badly). But still, I felt guilty about stealing an entire apple.

So, I did what any other typically law-abiding mother would do. I buried the partially eaten apple underneath some other apples in the bag. At least then we would pay for the rest of it, and since the apples were in one of those white paper bags, it really wasn't too hard to hide the evidence. You would think.

When we got to the check-out, I watched nervously as the bag of apples inched down the conveyor belt. I may have been holding my breath while the cashier put the bag on the scale.

"They're gala apples!" I quickly offered as I watched her looking at the outside of the bag for the label, not wanting her to notice the half-eaten apple inside.

"Oh, I know, but I need the number so they ring up at the right price," she said to me.

Finally, she rang them up and bagged them, and I thought that we had gotten away with it--Drew and I together.

Then Jacob opened his big yapper.

"Someone ate part of this apple," he announced, pulling the half-eaten apple out of the bag in the cart and waving it in front of the cashier.

The cashier looked understandably concerned. Maybe she was thinking that this nice family had accidentally just bought a contaminated bag of apples. Maybe she was wondering who the mysterious apple-eater was and why they left the evidence in the bag. Maybe she was thinking she should offer to get us a new bag. I could have played it cool and let her think any one of these things.

But then I opened my big yapper.

"Oh, Drew ate that," I blurted out, feeling totally dumb. "He just grabbed it out and started eating it when I wasn't looking."

Yeah right. Like he would have eaten almost a whole apple without me looking.

"Well, they're the perfect size for him," the cashier said briskly and moved on.

I have no idea what she was thinking. All I knew was how ridiculous I felt. Sheesh. That's what I get for trying to get away with shoplifting in front of my kids.


  1. Thank you for sharing this. Though sometimes we can;'t avoid it. Specially when we don't have an idea that it happened.


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