Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Shop till you drop is an under-statement

I had to type this in even at the risk of sounding like a mother hen, a frustrated, middle aged and menopausal female, or whatever other adjectives you can come up with. I just couldn't let go of this one without sharing! OK FINE.. my life does have a lot of kids in it at the moment..so please hear me out.

YesterdayI ended up buying a bunch of Pokemon cards. Why? Because my kids sneaked them into my shopping cart while at the grocery store and I ended up buying them because I didn't notice they were there until we got home. How could I have possibly not noticed they were in my cart, you ask? Let me explain.

You haven’t lived until you’ve gone grocery shopping with six kids in tow. I would rather swim in a bikini, be a contestant on Fear Factor when they’re having pig brains for lunch, or do fourth grade math than to take my two kids and their(four) friends to the grocery store. I absolutely detest grocery shopping, I tend to put it off as long as possible. There comes a time, however, when you’re peering into your fridge and thinking, ‘Hmmm, what can I make with ketchup, Italian dressing, and half an onion,’ that you decide you cannot avoid going to the grocery store any longer. Before beginning this most treacherous mission, I gather all the kids together and give them “The Lecture“.

“The Lecture“ goes like this…
MOM: “We have to go to the grocery store.”
KIDS: “Whine whine whine whine whine.“
MOM: “Hey, I don’t want to go either, but it’s either that or we’re eating cream of onion-ketchup soup and drinking Italian dressing for dinner tonight.”
KIDS: “Whine whine whine whine whine.“
MOM: “Now here are the rules: do not ask me for anything, do not poke the packages of meat in the butcher section, do not test the laws of physics and try to take out the bottom can in the pyramid shaped display, do not play cricket with oranges and most importantly, do not try antics with the trolley on the escalator again.”

OK, the kids have been briefed. Time to go.

Once at the store, we grab not one, but two shopping carts. The two 'thin as rake' 7 year old boys sit on one cart while I push one cart and my daughter's friend pushes the other one. My daughter is not allowed to push a cart. Ever. Why? Because the last time I let her push the cart, she smashed into my ankles so many times, my feet had to be amputated by the end of our shopping trip.

At this point, a woman looks at our two carts and asks me, “Are they all yours?” I answer with a laugh, “Yep!" Make people feel good about themselves that's my motto!!

“Oh my, you have your hands full.”

“Yes, I do!” say I while the kids give me nasty glares.

We begin in the produce section where all these wonderfully, artistically arranged pyramids of fruit stand. There is something so irresistibly appealing about the apple at the bottom of the pile, that a child cannot help but try to touch it. Much like a bug to a zapper, the child is drawn to this piece of fruit. I turn around to the sounds of apples cascading down the display and onto the floor. Like Indiana Jones, there stands my son holding the all-consuming treasure that he just HAD to get and gazing at me with this dumbfounded look as if to say, “Did you see that??? Wow! I never thought that would happen!”

I give the offending child an exasperated sigh and say, “Didn’t I tell you, before we left, that I didn’t want you taking stuff from the bottom of the pile???”

“No. You said that you didn’t want us to take a can from the bottom of the pile. You didn’t say anything about apples.” The daughter is looking embarrassed to the core.

With superhuman effort, I resist the urge to send my child to the moon and instead focus on the positive - my child actually listened to me and remembered what I said!!! I make a mental note to be a little more specific the next time I give the kids The Grocery Store Lecture.

A little old man looks at all of us and says, “Are all of those your kids?”

Thinking about the apple incident, I reply, “Nope. They just started following me. I’ve never seen them before in my life.”

OK, now onto the bakery section where everything smells so good, I’m tempted to fill my cart with cookies and call it a day. Being on a perpetual diet, I try to hurry past the assortment of pies, cakes, breads, and pastries that have my children drooling. At this point the chorus of “Can we gets” begins.

“Can we get donuts?”
“Can we get cupcakes?”
“Can we get muffins?”
“Can we get pie?”

You’d think they’d catch on by this point, but no, they’re just getting started.

In the bakery, they’re giving away free samples of coffee cake and of course, the kids all take one. A toddler decides he doesn’t like it and proceeds to spit it out in his mom's hand. (That’s what moms do. We put our hands in front of our children’s mouths so they can spit stuff into them. We’d rather carry around a handful of chewed up coffee cake, than to have the child spit it out onto the floor. I’m not sure why this is, but ask any mom and she’ll tell you the same.) At least this time the "mom" is not me! Small mercies.

My kids’ attention spans are spent. They’re done shopping at this point, but we aren’t even halfway through the store. This is about the time they like to start having shopping cart races. And who may I thank for teaching them this fun pastime? My daughter of course. While I’m picking out loaves of bread, the kids are running down the aisle behind the carts in an effort to get us kicked out of the store. I put to stop to that just as my son is about to crash head on into a giant cardboard cut-out of an elf stacked with packages of cookies.

After standing in the cereal aisle for an hour and a half while the kids perused the various cereals, comparing the marshmallow and cheap, plastic toy content of each box, I broke down and let them each pick out a box. At any given time, we have a minimum of 5 open boxes of cereal in my house.

The shopping trip continues much like this. I break up fights between the kids now and then and stoop down to pick up items that has flung out of the cart. I desperately try to get everything on my list without adding too many other goodies to the carts.

Somehow I manage to complete my shopping in under four hours and head for the check-outs where the kids start in on a chorus of, “Can we have candy?” What evil minded person decided it would be a good idea to put a display of candy in the check-out lanes, right at a child’s eye level? Obviously someone who has never been shopping with children.

As I unload the carts, I notice many extra items that my kids have sneaked in the carts. I remove a box of Twinkies, a package of cupcakes, a bag of candy, and a can of cat food (we don’t even have a cat!). I somehow missed the box of Pokemon cards however and ended up purchasing. As I pay for my purchases, the clerk looks at me, indicates my kids, and asks, “Are they all yours?”

Frustrated, exhausted from my trip, sick to my stomach from paying the bill, dreading unloading all the groceries and putting them away and tired of hearing that question, I look at the clerk and answer her in my most sarcastic voice, “No. They’re not mine. I just managed to take them away from their parents because I thought it was a fun thing to do.”

So, up for auction is an opened (they ripped open the box on the way home from the store) package of Pokemon cards. There are 44 cards total. They're in perfect condition, as I took them away from the kiddos as soon as we got home from the store. Many of them say "Energy". I tried carrying them around with me, but they didn't work. I definitely didn't have any more energy than usual. One of them is shiny. There are a few creature-like things on many of them. One is called Pupitar. Hee hee hee Pupitar! (Oh no! My kids' sense of humor is rubbing off on me!) Anyway, I don't think there's anything special about any of these cards, but I'm very much not an authority on Pokemon cards. I just know that I'm not letting my kids keep these as a reward for their sneakiness.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Answer the following and stay sane!

I didn't post last night because I couldn't get an internet connection until 11:00 pm and I was too ticked off to write.

Something happened to my router. Or maybe it was my ADSL. Or something. Anyway, I couldn't get online. I learned something about myself when I couldn't get online. I have an addiction. When I couldn't log on, I started hyperventilating, freaking out that I was missing ...I don't even know what I was missing, but I was sure I was missing SOMETHING! Something big and important and terribly exciting! My heart was beating 200 times a minute and I started twitching. I, the person who used to say that computers were evil, was going through withdrawal because I couldn't connect to the cyber world. Aparna will identify with me here..shes been through this lots of times!

Anyway, that wasn't even the frustrating part. The mind-numbing, maddening, irritating, aggravating, annoying, exasperating, infuriating, riling, troubling, trying, vexatious (thank you thesaurs.com) part of my little extravaganza tonight was the two hours I spent on the phone in a maze of voice menus. TWO HOURS!

Welcome to Omantel
For English blah blah blah number one
I see you're calling from xxx-xxx-xxxx. Is that the phone number listed on your Omantel account?

ME: Yes.

Thanks. I'll just look that up. Now, in a few words please say the purpose of your call. You can say things like "I want to pay my bill", or "I want new phone service." To speak to a service representative, say "agent".

ME: I can't get online.

It sounds like you'd like to make a payment. Is that correct?

ME: Umm no. Duh. I have internet problems.

Lets try this another way. If you're calling about payments, say "payments".

ME: NO! Not payments. Internet service!

OK which service needs repair, phone, internet, tv, or none of those?


I think you said you're calling to repair your dial up service. If this is correct, say "yes".


My mistake. Please say one of the following: phone, internet, tv...

ME: INTERNET! It's always been internet. It's still internet!

To get you to the right place, I need to know where you're calling from. Are you calling from the same number as your high speed internet line?

ME: Yeah.

I think you said, "phone services." If this is correct, say "Yes".


To get you to the right place, I need to know where you're calling from. Are you calling from the same number as your high speed internet line?


Just a moment while I look up your account.

ME: You do that. @@

I'm sorry, I do not understand. Let's try this another way.
To get you to the right place, I need to know where you're calling from. Are you calling from the same number as your high speed internet line?


Main menu: please say the option that best describes the issue you're calling about. For set up, password or connectivity issues, please say "tech. support". For billing questions or account services, say "billing". To hear these options again, you can say "repeat".

ME: GRRRRRRRR!!! You've got to be kidding me!

I'm sorry. I did not understand. If you're having problems with your high speed internet and would like tech support, say "yes".

ME: I'm having problems with this stupid voice menu! Can I talk to an actual person? Do you have any of those there???

It sounds like you want to pay your bill. Is this correct?

At this point, I whipped the phone across the room and grabbed a beer.

I tried calling the customer service line for my router, thinking that maybe someone there could help me. I was on hold for 42 minutes. That's not an exaggeration. FORTY-TWO MINUTES! I heard Rhapsody in Blue, Moonlight Sonata, Beethoven's Fifth, Barcarolle, William Tell Overature, and Danse Macabre. I started comparing the pieces to the way my kids play them. I never did talk to anyone there.

I tried two more times and each time, after navigating their system for several minutes, I finally got through to an actual person. Of course, when I finally got a person on the phone, they didn't speak English! I guess they might technically have been speaking English, but it was so broken that it might as well have been Arabic, Greek or Ubbi Dubbi. Why? Why is this? And why do these people act so annoyed that you're bothering them with your obviously stupid questions? Where's the customer service? From the cashier at the grocery store, to the floor help at the clothing store, to the customer service rep. on the other end of the phone, more often than not I encounter someone rude, annoyed, or seemingly bored. What, can no one smile? Can nobody be helpful? Can't anyone at least pretend to care about your needs?

It's so rare to find a person who will not only help you with a smile, but who will go out of their way to give excellent customer service. Whenever I encounter such a person, I make sure to let them know how much I appreciate their help. I also try to find a manager so I can praise the employee that took the time and effort to give great service.

Anyway, at 8:30, I completely gave up, ran out to the City Centre, hoping to get there before they closed, and bought a new router. Voila! Problem fixed. I got back online at 11:00 pm.

It's been a fun two days here. I also learned that my youngest hasn't turned in numerous assignments at school. He's grounded until the second coming. Today the youngest of my neighbour's kids, who has been totally potty trained for over a year, decided to poop in the garbage can. Why? Why do they do things like this? For the love of all that is Holy, WHY??? I made her dump it out into a garbage bag. Then, apparently offended by the stench of her own poop, she figured she'd spray some air freshener around. Unfortunately she grabbed a can of lemon-fresh Pledge instead. She sprayed furniture polish into the air and it landed in a waxy coat on the floors. They are now more slippery than the ice skating rink.

Speaking of kids they have holidays for a week starting today. What are the chances they'll let peace reign? What are the chances I'll stay sane if they don't?

Monday, November 8, 2010

facebook, a pre teen and same old me

I have been elusive again and here's the excuse..

As I was sitting at my computer, staring at a blank screen, waiting for inspiration, I updated my Facebook status. "I hate when I stare at my computer screen and my fingers don't automatically start typing the brilliance that's in my head."

It's true. I always have awesome stories in my head, but when I go to write them down, the lure of solitaire or mahjong pulls me away. Sometimes I'm too distracted by the to-do list that plays a never-ending, continuous loop in my brain. Oftentimes, I'm too busy doing mom-stuff like reading to the kids, helping them with their homework, driving them here and there, signing papers, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and not to forget the editorial bit blah, blah, blah and can't sit down for more than five minutes at a time(wonder how I manage to keep my weight from falling!). But most of the time, I just have a hard time getting started.

So, tonight as I sat staring at my blank screen, Facebook called me to play. After I updated my status, Toshali commented on it, "maybe because you have a cookie in your hand :D"

Okay, so yeah, I had a cookie in my hand, but she didn't have to write it on my wall, for goodness sake! I mean, isn't there some kind of etiquette for these things? Everyone was supposed to think I was a tortured artist waiting for inspiration, not that I was too busy stuffing my face with choco chip cookies to type.

Toshali and I continued our conversation on my Facebook wall. I told her, "Be quiet and do your homework." We exchanged barbs online as I sat at my desk writing and she sat a couple of feet away on my bed, working on her homework. And you know what? I loved it. She could've worked in her room. She could've hung out in the family room, researching. She chose to hang out with me for a bit. Now I know she's a pre-teen and as such, prefers the company of her friends to dear old mom, but still there are those times when she'll come by me, plop down, and just chat. Sometimes we don't even talk. We'll just hang out. Other times, she'll make fun of me on Facebook. And it's all good. Keeping those lines of communication open is SO important even as our kids get older. Especially as our kids get older. Keep talking to them. And, maybe even more importantly, listen to them. They might just surprise you with what they have to say. I mean, I had no idea my daughter had been working so far ahead in her first year French class that she'd already learned to converse in that language and also sing a couple of french songs. Of course, I also didn't know she'd a whole new list of friends for her up coming birthday. See? Talking to your kids opens whole new worlds of information. So that adds to my to-do-list now doesn't it? Getting to know these bunch of new kids who have stormed into my girl's life in the past year!