Sometimes I forget to lay down the rules (yet again) before we head into the grocery store. Those are never fun trips.

Yesterday was one of those days.

First it was “No, you can’t have a cookie. We haven’t eaten lunch yet.”

Then it was “No, Mommy doesn’t like to buy the mini-cartons of Goldfish Crackers…it’s not a good deal. But I’ll buy the big carton next time we’re at Costco, m’kay?”

Followed by “Honey, please put that down. We have ‘Spectifyers‘ at home you can play with.”

And “You can’t just disappear like that! It’s dangerous! You have to stay next to me at all times or I will make you ride in the cart like a baby. Is that what you want?”

And “Please. Stop. TOUCHING. Everything. You are going to bruise that fruit, honey!”

And “I don’t care that Daddy buys you those things. There is no way I’m spending $3.99 on a stretchy green lizard that Ike will end up eating before the end of the day.”

And by the time we were in the checkout line and I had to physically prevent him from opening a bag of M&Ms that had been very strategically placed right at his eye level, I thought poor Bucket Head was going to lose. his. shit.

“PLEASE MOMMY! I really want to buy something! How about something yiddle (sic) from those gum ball machines!!! (placed right next to the checkout) PLEASE?”

“Sweetie, you know those things are junk. Let’s save our money for something we really want.”

“But MaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhM, I really WANT a toy.”

“No. Final answer.”

That’s when Francis, the elderly checkout lady who has watched Bucket Head grow from the time he was a fetus, reached into her work apron and pulled out two quarters.

“Here sweetie. Miss Francis has some money you can have. He reminds me of my grandson! That HAIR! Is it okay if I give him some money?”

Fucking great. That is one Bad Ass Ninja Grandma move right there…ask the mom permission AFTER you tell the kid he can have it.

Bucket Head looked at me with these pleading puppy dog eyes like: Please! Don’t ruin it, Mom (like you always do). Let her buy me something!  

I just couldn’t fight it anymore. I was completely spent.

{Giant sigh of defeat and shoulder slump} “Sure, Francis. That’s awfully sweet of you.”

So we walked over to the wall of gum ball machines, Bucket Head with a renewed bounce in his step and a sparkle in his eyes.

He picked the “Feelin’ Ducky” machine. Okay, that’s cool. At least it’s not one of those “I hope you know the Heimlich, lady” pharynx-sized gobstoppers.

“I want a green gyow-in-the-dart Ninja duttie!” (sic)

“Well honey, you don’t get to pick. You just get what you get and don’t pitch a fit, right?”

“Right! Get whatcha get, don’t pitch a fit. Got it.”

This, dear reader, is what we call foreshadowing.

Oh, wait for it.

Of course he wanted to do it himself.


In went the money. Crank went the handle.

Oh boy, oh boy, oh BOY!


Francis, Jimmy the bag boy, Bucket Head, and I were all teeming with excitement, practically holding our collective breath…

Bucket Head took one look and quickly handed me the impenetrable plastic ball of doom.

What? What’s this?

A sticker?

Wait! That’s not a duckie! That’s a sticker of a duckie. A fifty cent ducky sticker. A MOTHER FUCKING DUCKY STICKER.

Uh oh.

Instinctively, my body tensed up. I knew what was coming next. It would be loud, and embarrassing. My ears don’t like noises like that. Especially in public.

The tears. The wailing. The gnashing of teeth. It would be a doozy.

I couldn’t blame him. Holy bait and switch, Batman! We were mentally prepared for it to not be the green glow-in-the-dark ninja rubber duckie. We could have handled that. We were NOT expecting a sticker.

Francis, fully accepting her role in Bucket Head’s meltdown, quickly reached into her apron and pulled out two more quarters. “It’s okay honey. Let’s try again!”

Oh sweet Jesus. No more. I can’t take it.

I glanced over at Jimmy, the teenaged bag boy. He looked scared, bless his heart. I feel ya, dawg.

“Maybe Miss Francis will have better luck…” She inserted the quarters. Turned the crank. We all held our breath, and BOOM…

Another. Motherfucking. Sticker.

But worse.

A glittery “girl” sticker…with flowers.

Jesus H. Christ on a cracker. Why doesn’t this gum ball machine just go for it and dole out cat turds?

Now we had two duckie stickers, zero rubber duckies, and one sobbing child.

Thanks, Francis, you dirty whore.

(No, I didn’t. But I was THINKIN’ it.)

Other patrons were turning to look. What is that God-awful noise? Is a child being kidnapped? Is that woman beating her child?

Nothing to see here, people.

I swooped him up and carried him toward the door, motioning with my head to the bag boy to grab the cart and follow me out to the car.

On the way past the customer service desk, still holding my wailing child, I hissed at the manager “Nice job on the gum ball machines. Really helps to end my shopping trip on a good note.” (Asshole.)

And my husband is mystified why I never seem to enjoy grocery shopping with the kids.

This is why, honey. This. is. why.

Oh look, it’s wine o’clock.



Addendum: due to popular request, I’ve set up a way for all the well-meaning grannies in the hizzy to just go ahead and give Bucket Head some money. Whether or not I spend it on gum ball machines is none of your business.

Linking this to Yeah Write (formerly known as Love Links)…first time there! Hi guys!

Addendum #2:

Please don’t comment until you’ve read my new house rules for commenting.

Also, huge heartfelt thanks to Erica and the entire Yeah Write community for the incredible support and fabulous awards!