You may have heard this tone with particularly effervescent kindergarten teachers. “I am going to pick up the toys, who wants to help me? ” The voice is enthusiastic, slightly sing-song and most suggestive of acquiescence. At the end of this sentence, there is a scuttle among the noble children, all aiming to please. Miraculously, those who were moving to the red side of the margin see a chance to redeem themselves and everybody is happy to be helping with the toys. The classroom bursts into song: “Everybody clean up! All the children do your share!”
I confess it was something like this response I was expecting when I announced that I was leaving for the grocery store. “I am going to the grocery store! Who wants to come with me? I am going to pick up splendid snacks for our trip!”
There was no scuttling to please me, no daughter trying to get back into my good books after deploringly questioning me at the mall the previous day whether I had crossed items off my list, as I made to wander off to look at some pretty and shockingly expensive clothes in a forlorn store. None of the repentance one likes to see. The children looked (a) uninterested in going to the grocery store and (b) they practically held my hand and stopped me from buying any snacks for them.
I was going to make a quick stop at Traders Joe, that splendid store of organic fruits, vegetables, beautiful flowers, eggs from happy hens, milk from peaceful cows, yogurts using contented bacteria and p cows milk, fragrant soaps and hand-washes never tested on animals: this is the kind of shopping the husband likes. Most snacks the children like, can be traced back to this store, and yet there weren’t ready to come. I was confused and muddled.
It must’ve shown on my face for the daughter, forthright as always, said, “The thing is: you will buy healthy snacks.” She emphasized ‘healthy’ in a rather distasteful tone of voice and continued, “Then, you’ll get mad at us when we stop somewhere to buy something we can eat. Of course, you won’t eat it too because though it is healthy, it is still a snack right? Then you’ll tell us all about starving children and how they would love to have healthy snacks and then we all feel guilty and can’t completely enjoy the stuff we buy with Appa on the way. So, just don’t buy snacks okay? We’ll go with Appa tomorrow to Traders Joe and buy something for ourselves.”
I was aghast and turned to the husband for support only to catch him casting admiring looks at her. “Wow! I wish I was that brave!” he tried not to say.
The husband can be relied upon to be convinced by the children. “But Appa…it is organic. See?” they say as they show him chips, cakes and ice-creams, and he melts, along with that chocolate mousse they are handing him. As soon as they get home, the children disappear upstairs, secure in their knowledge that their father blessed their choice, while I gasp at the contents.
Well, say what you will: I am going to take that packet of baby carrots for myself.