My 3 Sons: The Chocolate Thief

Did you pay for that?
Did you pay for that?

Originally published on Athens Patch on July 21, 2013.

Grocery shopping with little children can be challenging.

Shopping with each child individually isn’t bad, but when together they form a little army destined to take down daddy. There’s the constant begging for whatever food product that features Spongebob on its packaging (why couldn’t they do that with vegetables?), the nagging over how long the shopping trip is taking (it would be much shorter if they stopped nagging!), the desire to turn every item into a toy (“look dad, I can juggle apples!”), and the reminders that “mom wouldn’t buy that” when I put ice cream or barbecue potato chips in the cart. And of course, there’s the constant fighting between them, whether it’s over pushing the cart, deciding what flavor of juice to buy or who gets to unload the cart at the register. I can’t help but thinkevery other shopper and store employee is judging me as a parent.

On a recent shopping trip I was in the bakery aisle browsing some cake mixes. When I finally settled on a traditional yellow mix with chocolate frosting and went to put the items in the cart, baby Matthew’s mouth and hands were covered in chocolate, and chocolate chips were scattered all over the cart and on the floor. Apparently I parked too close to the shelves, because Matt innocently grabbed a bag of chocolate chips, somehow opened it up (not sure how he did that, because to this day he cannot even put on his shoe), and starting cramming morsels into his mouth.

I was mortified. “No Matthew!” I said, taking the bag away from him.

“I like chalk-lit,” he replied, showing me his chocolate-covered hands.

Surely the police would be called, baby Matthew would have a criminal record, I would be reported to DFACS and we would be banned from our favorite grocery store. Instead, it was quite the contrary. I told a store employee about the mess and through the melted chocolate around his mouth Matthew flashed one of his million-dollar grins (or in this case $2.79 — the price of the bag of morsels), and she laughed and said she’d take care of it. At the checkout with the torn bag, I explained the situation to the cashier, cued Matthew who gave his token smile. She took the bag, tossed it and told us not to worry.

I was obviously thankful, but Matthew was even more verbose in his gratitude, blurbing “tank you” to the cashier.

Delighted I escaped certain imprisonment, I quickly pushed that cart out of the store and  loaded the car. I went to pick up Matthew from the cart and noticed him something scrunched up in his hand.

“Candy daddy!” he said holding up a pack of Skittles he grabbed from the checkout counter.

Maybe we won’t be going back to that grocery store.