shopping cart with childI ran over a man last Sunday. Even though I saw him standing in the opposing lane, I crashed right into him. Of course, my boys (ages 6 and 4) were in the front “driving,” while I struggled to navigate our yellow-and-red behemoth through the store.

To be honest, I blame the manufacturer for the accident. The vehicle was almost impossible to steer, and the front end was too high to see over. It took the strength of 10 bodybuilders to turn the darn thing, and one of the front wheels wasn’t even touching the floor. It just hung there, spinning like a 3-year-old at a Wiggles concert. 

Before you ask, the man was fine. I may have bruised his shin, but I sped off apologizing profusely and smiling awkwardly.

Yes, even in the grocery store, mothers are tested. Not by their children, but by those menacing “truck,” “race car,” and “fire engine” shopping carts. What twisted loon came up with this brilliant idea? 

At first glance these shopping carts seem cute—whimsical even. Do not be fooled! Your kids will beg, scream, and cry to board these titans of terror. My advice? Just say no. Ignore their pleas and lie shamelessly as a last resort. Trust me: Childbirth has nothing on these carriages of destruction.

First of all, the safety straps are always broken. And the side door rail falls out of its slot at the slightest touch. And did I mention that the fire engine cart actually weighs as much as a real-life fire engine? A fact lost on your cherubs who fight nonstop over who gets to steer. (And that’s another thing: What childless imbecile couldn’t guess that ONE steering wheel/horn/gadget would guarantee a melt-down every time two kids hop on board?)

On to the produce aisle—>


Anyway, as I proceeded through produce, I wondered why life-sized vehicles are allowed in stores with aisles that barely accommodate two grown adults walking abreast. Who thought putting trucks in the mix would be a good idea? What’s next? Flame throwers? Equestrians? 

By aisle 7, the muscles in my arms burned. My white knuckles blazed and my thighs bulged as I navigated the turn into the frozen food section. The chilled metallic door handles bounced off the sides of our plastic truck, and I silently prayed for no oncoming traffic. Simultaneously I loudly warned my charges, “Keep your hands inside the vehicle or they’ll get smashed!” Yes, I had become a Hersheypark ride operator. 

As I wandered down aisle 16—that’s right, SIXTEEN—I grabbed three gallons of milk, balanced two cartons of eggs Jenga-like on top of my mountain of groceries, and contemplated whether we needed orange juice. 

This conundrum existed because, as every mom knows, the repository in the back of these carts for actual food is woefully small. So small, in fact, I couldn’t fit enough food in it to feed just me for the week, let alone my children, for whom it was designed. 

Before long, I was trapped in the checkout lane. Confined. Caged like a wild animal! These “whimsical” carts allow no room on either side for a body. Two weeks ago I actually lost my son on the other end of the fire engine. He raced ahead; I was stuck behind. I shouted helplessly at my little man, “Hold on! Mommy’s coming! Just stay right there. Be a statue. BE A STATUE!!” 

After I unloaded, paid and re-loaded, I used my last ounce of strength to shove the monster towards my car. I did not look both ways or even raise my head to cross into the parking lot. I just went. Who could miss us? We were the size of a parade.

When I wheeled the abomination to the cart jail in the middle of the parking lot, my addition of a life-sized truck to the corral entirely disrupted any semblance of order that previously existed. The cart retriever kid in the blaze-orange vest shot me a venomous glare as he schlepped over to the chaos.

I feel your pain, kid.

Jane Suter is one funny mom. To share some of your own parenting experiences with Jane, email her.

Have any of your own grocery store stories to share?