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Hell on Wheels

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I found myself in a stare down with another mom at the grocery store the other day all over a plastic race car shopping cart.

Parents of small children are all too familiar these inventions. They are bulky, cumbersome shopping carts designed to entice your children with their NASCAR looks and sticky steering wheels. They are both a Godsend and a pain in the ass.

People who don’t have kids give you that irritated get out of my way look while your child is perched atop the car cart at a ridiculously high vantage point, giving them the ability to scope out and just barely grasp the strategically eye-level placed toys and candy, thus sending them into a frantic rage when you tell them, “No, you can’t have the [insert name of cheap plastic toy or candy here].”

Add pushing a giant plastic car around the grocery to the list of things I swore I’d never do as a parent. There is nothing that screams, “I am on the downhill slalom to Soccer mom Villa” more than slogging through the produce aisle behind a giant plastic racecar. The grocery aisles are difficult enough during peak shopping times without commandeering the S.S. Dork Parent.

If you are lucky, and I use that term lightly, the car carts are all in use when you arrive at the store with your small fry in tow and they must sit in a regular boring metal cart like we did as kids and begin facing the unjust inhumanities of life. However, this usually causes problems if your child, like mine, is stubborn as hell and refuses to ride in anything but a car cart.

The fun begins before you even get out of your car. Your child will spot the car carts from the traffic light a mile away from the grocery and start screaming, “I want the red cart mama,” “I want the red cart mama,” I WANT THE RED CART!” and you will start praying fervently that the mom in the minivan in front of you is going to pick up dry cleaning and is not, for the love of sweet Jesus, also eyeing THE COVETED RED CART.

The last time my daughter and I navigated the grocery in a car cart I left feeling relatively angst free. I’d only knocked down three jumbo cans of beans and one senior shopper with the car cart. We made it safely to the car; I buckled Caitlin in her car seat, shut the door and wheeled the cart to one of the cart docking stations. I was congratulating myself for escaping without any incidents when I realized my little girl was crying hysterically from inside the car. You see, I returned the car cart without her help.

Those car carts are nothing but pure, incarnate evil. Stephen King is going to write a best-seller about the demon-possessed racecar grocery cart that goes on a freewheeling rampage in suburbia. You just wait.

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