This is a story I wrote years ago when all my kids were younger…I think the ages were 3, 5, & 7 – ish.

Ah, Bi-Mart.  I have a love/hate relationship with this store.  I love the fact that I can find a quick gift for a forgotten birthday, cold-medicine, a coffee maker, garden seeds and dog food all at one stop.  It’s great!  I don’t think I have ever left that store with less than 10 items and I only needed 2 of them.  However, I hate this store.  No.  I loath it.  Let me share why I have such intense feeling on this matter.  First, they offer you tiny carts.  No, really, they are smaller-than-average shopping carts.  Not only do you fill the cart with one bag of dog food, but it is impossible to find a place for all three kids on that cart.  If you have read my shopping games story, you know about my “hands on the cart” rule.  It’s nearly impossible with these carts to have enough room for the kids to hold on let alone hang off or drape themselves over the edges of the cart.  And they tip over easy.  Don’t ask, just take my word for it.  Now, I have come to the realization that they had to get smaller carts because their aisles are only 2 ½ feet wide.  With so much stuff in the store they had to scrimp on aisle width the get it all in there.  I have taken out an entire shelf of Christmas decorations with the hind-end of my eldest child as he tried to hang on to the side of the cart.  We’re easy to find, just follow the path of destruction.   The next interesting idea these people had was to put little pipe-like aisle dividers between the check-out lanes.  At least, that’s what they look like to us.  To a kid, they look like jungle gyms that haven’t grown up yet.  They are just the right height to allow a child to hang from, swing on and attempt to flip over.  This is usually not appreciated by the customer in the aisle next door, which is always someone without kids.   Now, if the kids loose interest in attempting to medal in the mini-jungle gym event they can turn their tiny attention spans to the check out scanner.  Yeah, what fool put the counter with the scanner two feet off the ground?  My youngest is three and she can ring up my entire cart…repeatedly.  If you don’t watch the receipt those can be some really expensive shopping trips.  And just when you think you’re in the clear, you see the soda display between you and the door.   They have stacked the cases of pop against that raised-up employee area where they monitor the store (and our many misadventures).  Yep, when your child has just scaled the Mountain Dew display and looks eye-to-eye with the store manager seven feet off the ground, it makes for a hasty exit.

On one such fated trip to Bi-Mart, I had all three children in tow (when don’t I?).  We were there for dog food only.  Well….dog food and any bargain I might find on my way to that aisle.  The plan was to meet Mike at Ixtapa (pronounced IXXXXXTAPAAAAA in our family) for dinner after we picked up our supplies.  Do you think the kids could behave for the ten minutes it took to get from the car to the dog food aisle??  Of course not.  So, what did I do?  After several warnings I pronounced it a “No Ixtapa” night (see the No Santa For You story for more on this particular dilemma).  Now, not only did I sentence myself to public humiliation at the moment,  but I did it at the farthest point from the checkout counter.  Not smart.  Now, I had to literally drag three intensely upset children ALL the way through the store to the front check out.  Yeah, good times.   Of course, there are lines at all the check-outs so I pick one and stand ready to face my humiliation.  Like a woman in the stockades bearing witness to her faults for all the community to see, I must now stand with my three little scarlet “A”s voicing their opposition to my decision.  Now, my kids all have very healthy lungs…VERY healthy…EXTREMELY healthy.   Enough so that each and every person in the store knew how much they liked Ixtapa and really really really wanted to go there.  I actually picked my youngest up and turned her around to the masses waiting behind us (those actually in line and those who had just been drawn to the front by the sound of humiliation).  “Do you see all these people?” I asked her. “They ALL know how much you want to go to Ixtapa.”

Once we were clear of the store and safely out of earshot I informed my children that they had just made every person in that store glad that they were not their kids.  I know because on the rare occasions I have been in a store without my kids and heard a kid screaming like that, I have said to myself “Man I’m glad that’s not my kid”.

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