What happens at Trader Joe's stays at Trader Joe's / by Susie Lubell

My daughter has moved to the dark side. Just when I thought I'd have to close up shop with this blog because my son, while still quirky and challenging (more later about his latest fixation on nail polish), appears to be finally leaving the terrible twos. My daughter is now entering them. It seems I'll have plenty to write about for the next while. This is how we began our weekend on Friday.

I pick up the kids from school and drive to Trader Joe's to buy groceries. My daughter refuses to sit in the front of the shopping cart so I put her in the bigger part and my son volunteers to sit in front. And as we're moving through the aisles getting our goods my daughter decides she must have strawberries. She sees them and starts to do her point and shriek.

So I get her the strawberries (organic, so I don't feel as bad not washing them) and she starts packing them away. Then she stands up in the cart. I tell her to sit down and she looks right at me and says "BAH!" in her biggest voice. So I take her out and put her on the ground. She runs over to the dried fruit and sits down and starts sobbing angry sobs - how dare I order her to sit in the moving grocery cart. The nerve. I scoop her up and put her, flailing, back into the cart. That's when she really turns up the heat. She becomes full-body red, assisted by the strawberry slobber that's all over her face. She starts sweating from her head and her curls start to get pasted to her forehead. Steam is literally coming from her nose. And snot. And she launches into a tantrum the likes of which I have not seen since the IKEA incident. By now we're standing in line. She's coming out of the cart again so I hold her and she's arched all the way back and screaming like she's about to whip forward and bash herself into my face like some kind of Lucha Libre star. Now my son is crying because he gets upset when she's upset. He's also upset because I told him we couldn't have dumplings again for dinner. But he keeps asking and asking until I can't take it anymore so I tell him if he opens his mouth one more time about his dumplings he won't get any dinner. Genius, right? Do I get a parenting award for that one? Then he's mad for saying that and when my daughter drops her rat right in his lap and I ask for it back he throws it over my head into another check-out line. Meanwhile all of our groceries are under the cart (since my kids are usually in the cart) and I'm trying to put them on the counter while holding a baby who's moving every which way to free herself. So I look my son in the eye and tell him no dinner (in Hebrew - lest someone actually understand what I'm saying...). He starts to cry even harder now. I can't contain the baby so I put her down and she crawls over to the black mat where the cashier is standing and starts rolling around sobbing. Now her face is completely black with shoe soot. Then an older woman comes over and asks what's wrong with her. So I politely reply that she is two and sometimes two-year-olds have tantrums. Why do people ask dumb questions? She couldn't think of anything else to say? Some suggestions: "it gets better." Or "I have a damp washcloth to wash her face". Or "here's a check for $100K." Or "I know they're a pain in the ass but I really love your shoes."

I finally collect everyone and a nice kid (who's thinking thank god for condoms) helps us to the car and loads the groceries. I buckle everyone and they're both still screaming so I open all four windows and turn up the music really loud and drive home cursing under my breath.

What am I doing wrong people? (I know the empty threat of no dinner was weak, but besides that). I keep my voice even. I do redirects and create distractions. I reinforce positive behavior. I buy organic strawberries. I know the economy's shit so I'll forego my 401K for a little return on this other LONG-TERM investment I'm managing. Some days I have had it.

All this while I'm trying to convince my husband that we should have a third.