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Things to do with a baby: take him on a quiet stroll

"So," Dan says, walking into the bedroom where Zion and I are playing. "Rascal wants to go for a walk, Harvey wants to ride his tricycle, and you want to go to Whole Foods. Any way we can combine these things?"

I stare at him blankly. It is absolutely freezing outside, I have a million things to buy, and he wants us to walk a mile to Whole Foods.

"Dan," I say, "You've seen my list. I'm shopping for the WHOLE WEEK. I'm shopping for Bible Study on Wednesday, I'm shopping for batch cooking. There's no way we could put all that in the stroller."

"We can take the wagon too" he says, always solving problems.

"Five heads of broccoli," I say reading the first few lines off my list, "Seven apples. Two heads of kale. A gallon of apple juice. TWO WHOLE CHICKENS..."

Dan stares at me blankly. What kind of a hippy am I? Am I just going to drive the car to the stores like all the other moms? Am I really THAT lazy? Do I even CARE about the impact of my actions? Do I want my children to still have an environment when they grow up?

"Okay, fine, let's go before it gets any colder."

Harvey on his tricycle, Dada pulling Zion in the wagon

the great procession

Dan holds Rascal and pulls the wagon, while I monitor Harvey and push the empty double stroller. It's cold, but Harvey is warmed by his pedaling and Zion is warmed by asking every ten seconds if we are REALLY going to Whole Foods.

"Ho Foo???"

After a minute Harvey stops, gets off his bike, and picks up a dandelion. I feel like the best parent in the world! We are walking to get our food! Our child is getting exercise and exploring nature! A minute later he stops again to pick up a broken nip bottle that someone has thrown from the window of their car. I feel like the worst parent in the world. I am exposing my child to exhaust pollution and now biohazards to boot because this is the SIDE of the ROAD more than it is the sidewalk.

We pass over the brook and they throw sticks in the water. Again I am a good parent.

Eventually we make it to Whole Foods.

I pick Zion up and discover he is wet from pee. We go to the bathroom and Harvey whines he doesn't WANT to be in the bathroom he WANTS to get a muffin. We make it through the diaper change and get into the store which is packed bumper-to-bumper with carts. I throw in the five broccoli and Harvey reminds me he wants a muffin. I locate the apples and Zion screams that he wants a cheese sample. I tell them rather harshly that I need to pick out vegetables or nobody gets any treats. "Sorry Mama, sorry" says Harvey because he is a good sweet child or because that is his newest form of manipulation. (If so it works like a charm. He always sounds so contrite, and so they do get their cheese and muffin.)

45 minutes later (yes, it took that long and I was going QUICKLY) we head outside to pack the wagon with our groceries. Zion notices a box of blueberries at the top of one bag and he grabs for it despite wearing his mittens. The box drops and spills a million pricey organic blueberries all over the sidewalk. I say I'm fed up with food shopping and Dan yells at everyone to the.stroller, and Harvey cries because he can't eat a chocolate chip muffin with mittens on.

Boo. Hoo.

Amazingly, the groceries just barely fit in the red wagon plus stroller, and we manage to make it home. I feel like a good hippy parent, though I wish the adventure itself and not just the concept of it had been more life-giving. Dan reminds me that it would have been just as harrowing had I gone by car.

The thing about living out our values with kids is that some seconds are beautiful snap-shots worthy of a "this moment" photo still, while others prove the depths of our sinful nature, and these seconds just follow one after the other. Trying to process it all makes me tired.

Though that doesn't capture how nice it was when he picked up the dandelion.

Maybe I just shouldn't hit the shops on a Saturday.


Me, on reading this post: "I thought that you liked it more than that."

Leah: "I did, that's just how I write."

But yes, it was cold, and Zion yelled about blueberries and Harvey yelled about chocolate chips. Rascal would have yelled about waiting outside the store for so long, but he is a calm and patient soul. I mean, he can't talk.

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