As you may recall, Allyson is not my favorite grocery shopping companion. So you can imagine my lack of enthusiasm this afternoon when she announced that she was coming with me to the grocery store. While I was upstairs searching for a kale recipe--today was our much-awaited second produce delivery from the organic co-op--Allyson was downstairs laboriously writing out a grocery list.
Daddy dictated several items from the actual list, letter by letter. With his help, she also added an unauthorized item at the end: Dora popsicles.
When I was ready to go, she said, "I've got the list!"
"Oh, you're coming along?"
"Yes! I've got the list!" she repeated.
"Okay, then," I agreed, resignation in my voice. "Let's put on your shoes and your jacket."
When we stepped out the front door, the icy wind literally tore the breath out of our mouths. The fact that it had been in the 70s yesterday made the frigid air that much more shocking. Allyson whirled around so that her back was to the wind. "It's so c-c-cold!" she exclaimed.
"Yes, it is. Let's hurry and get in the car," I urged her, the wind whipping the hood of my jacket down over my face and back down again.
"The wind blew your hat!" Allyson laughed. But then she said, "Too bad we have to go outside in this cold wind."
I pounced on the opportunity. "YOU don't have to go to the store, honey. You can stay with Daddy if you're too cold."
She paused for a moment as she crawled into her car seat. "Well, I like to be with Daddy, but I really want to spend some time with you now, Mommy."
Her words warmed my heart even as my numb fingers struggled with the car seat latch. At moments like these, I wonder what I ever did to deserve this sweet child. I thought about the many times she'd been seeking my company today, only to be put off: "Just let me mop the floor first, baby.... As soon as I finish cleaning the toilet.... Sure we'll play a game, after I fold this load of laundry."
Bill and I did take time to ride on her choo-choo train, though. All the kitchen chairs were lined up in the living room, moved out of the way so I could mop. Allyson begged us to come for a ride, and we both relented after the 20th invitation or so. "You have to say, 'All aboard!'" I explained.
"All A-Board!" Allyson hollered, and then she covered her mouth with both hands in a gesture that seems to indicate both bashfulness and pleasure.
When I asked her where to sit, she pointed me to the couch, next to the train. "Are you sure this is part of the train?" I asked, and she nodded emphatically.
"I guess it's the sleeper car," I said as I sank thankfully into the cushions.
"No sleepin', Mama!" she admonished me.
"Yes, no sleepin'," Bill agreed.
Noticing my black leather purse on the front seat of the train, I grabbed it and pulled it into the sleeper car with me.
"No, I need that," Allyson informed me. "The handle makes the train go."
"Oh," I said, handing it over obediently.
Amid Bill's shouts of "Faster! Faster!", Allyson took the train to dizzying speeds. She accomplished this by muttering, "Chugga-chugga-chugga" and pulling the purse handle up and down as fast as humanly possible.
It was probably the most fun I've ever had on a train ride. The grocery trip, however, didn't hold so much promise.
After I pulled into a parking spot, I sat in the front seat for a moment bracing myself for the cold. "I'll hold your hand, and we'll run up to the store," I instructed.
I clutched her warm hand, still small enough to be completely enveloped inside my own hand. Normally, I savor holding her hand, as long as she isn't twisting and fighting for her freedom. But today our hands swung wildly as we raced awkwardly for the door. Due to the height difference, it felt almost like a three-legged race. She was giggling with delight the whole way.
It was actually a very nice trip. Of course, there was no question whether she'd be riding in the cart, so she wasn't able to get into much mischief--other than begging for one sugary treat after another.
"Nope, it's not on the list," I answered each time.
How about the Dora popsicles? Yep, they WERE on the list.
She proudly showed her list to the checker, a quiet young man named Ledio. "Daddy helped me make the list for Mama," she explained.
"It's very nice!" he said, and she flushed with pleasure, both hands covering her mouth.
On the way back out to the car, her shrieks of laughter filled the air as I pushed the cart faster than ever before.
I've never had so much fun going to the grocery store!