Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Simple is the new pink!

Since I rarely log onto my actual blog and rather view all things from the omnipotent Google Reader or Blogger Dashboard I hadn't realized that my blog is loading SO slowly.

Turns out cute isn't always functional.  And I've always been a function over form kinda gal.

When I have the time, and the desire to use that time for this purpose, I will find another fun form that also is functional!  In the meantime - sorry for the slow.

Buyers Beware

In the past few days I've spent more time at stores, grocery and other, than I usually do in an entire month.  I've been searching out some items for a class I'm teaching and have been enjoying the hunt.  Yesterday I felt absolutely dismayed at the state of our human existence after one excursion and I found myself compelled to bestow my opinions on everyone (you, the reader).  Part of me would like to print out this note and stand outside of stores handing it out.

Dear Sirs and/or Madams,

Thank you for choosing to shop at ________.   I am about to shop here as well and hope we both have a good experience.  

I'd like to take a moment to introduce you to some basic shopping etiquette in order to make your time, but mostly my own, more pleasant. 

Let's talk first about shopping carts.  How fortunate we are to live in a country where carts are provided for us, at no charge, in order to make purchasing easy.  It would seem that if a store is polite* enough to provide carts for you, that you should return the courtesy by placing the cart back in one of the designated areas.   This is not difficult as there are usually multiple options for cart return.  If you find this is a problem for you, then park your lazy butt next to the cart return stall so that you can both pick up and return a cart with little effort. Oh, I know it's a fun challenge to your creativity to see how many wheels you can pop up onto the curb to see if the cart will stay or go - but couldn't that same time be spent walking the five to ten feet to the return?  And shame on those of you who fail to even attempt creativity and resort to the assumption that because a cart has four wheels it must be a car and somehow deserving of it's own parking space.  With the exception of a physical disability** there is no excuse for leaving your cart anywhere other than the cart return. If you do have a physical disability - or even if you don't -  ask for help when checking out.  They provide it for free - no tipping necessary!  

Once you've procured your shopping cart, and have a game plan for properly disposing of it when you're done, please take a moment to get off our your cell phone before entering the store.  I know those fancy new bluetooth devices allow us to walk around like robots - always connected to someone, somewhere, somehow.   Still, being on your phone distracts you while you are attempting to shop (and please, don't try to tell me this doesn't happen to you) causing one or both of the following:
(1) greater likelihood*** of purchasing unnecessary items because of lack of focus 
(2) stopping mid-aisle to finish a conversation while appearing to be intently staring at the 
products causing cart traffic jams or others to wait for you to notice them so that they can grab the item your cart is, no doubt, stopped in front of.
(3) a slow, unaware pace as you walk around the store****, leaning into your cart with one hand pushing and the other hand, elbow on the cart, supporting your cell.  If you had eyes in the back of your head you'd see people glaring at you as they try to navigate around you.

Now I realize that we are all-important beings and I myself have wandered around the store, cell in hand, bluetooth in ear, doing my best at multi-tasking.  It doesn't work - for any of us. Not to mention the fact that grocery stores (and stores in general) were once places where you bumped into your neighbors, or chatted with the produce person about the latest arrival of white peaches - none of which you can while phoning.  

If you feel as though this is too strict for you, then at least adopt the following rule:  Do not talk on your phone while attempting to check out at the register!  If you surveyed cashiers I am sure that number two complaint (if not number one, which I am almost positive would be people who haggle over sale prices) would be trying to ring someone up who is on a phone call. Directions have to be given and re-given, questions asked and re-asked (Do you want paper or plastic?  Excuse me, paper or plastic?).  Not to mention the total lack of acknowledgement that often occurs when the cashier is not greeted, thanked or even given eye contact.  

Shopping should at the least be a successful experience, but hopefully fun as well.   In doing the above I believe that your experience, my own, and the other shoppers will be greatly improved. 


*I realize that the stores reasons for providing a shopping cart may have more to do with increasing the amount of goods purchased rather than pure politeness.  But still courtesy is involved.   
**And yes, being prego counts as a temporary physical disability in my book.
***such a fun word to type but it always looks wrong...
****much like the way you drive your car when you talk on the phone.  And yes, there were a lot of footnotes.  This will be my last one I promise!

Thursday, August 07, 2008


One of my favorite splurges of time is to read Feminist Mormon Housewives.  Regardless of how I feel about a topic I always leave with something to chew on for the rest of the day.  Today I made my first comment, which I realized after hitting the send button, looked more like a blog post than a comment.  I can be a bit wordy (sorry FMH readers).

Well, I'm turning lemons into lemonade!  Since I haven't been in much of a blogging mood, preferring to stick to blogger stalkdom, I'm cutting my comment into a blog post!  Genius! Ok, maybe not genius.  

I did expound on one point below which is indicated by color.   And here is the post I am responding to - which in a nutshell talks about what freedoms we allow our children, in the midst of parental paranoia and parenting peer pressure, in order to help them grow into the adults we hope they will be.  

Perfect timing for this post. Yesterday my boys and I went for an adventure. We walked passed our in-perfect-working-order car, up the hill and three blocks to the local bus stop. We were just going to the library, a mere 3 or 4 mile jaunt, but taking the bus made the difference between errand and adventure for all three of us. (Not to mention killing some time with is high on my priority list)

On the way home we sat at the bus stop for what I realized was longer than I was comfortable with. The library is smack downtown of my uber-Republican, SUV driving, little town - and the bus stop is right in front. As I watched cars drive by with people who glanced out at us I started wondering what they were thinking. The voice of my insecurity (which sounds a lot like me when I was 14) started popping up. Then I looked at my kids. They sat proudly, eyes wide open watching for the #284, grasping onto their $.50 bus money, all while chattering away about what they might see on the bus ride home. It pushed all my own socially driven voices away.  In fact, I found myself hoping that these early experiences will somehow shape their attitudes later in life regarding the same subjects.  

Not to mention that we walked away from the 'adventure' today having only spent $2 ($1 each way for my fare), used public resources, AND learned some math, literacy and social studies.  The boys (on our 3 mile walk later last night) saw bus signs where they recognized the #284, realizing the bus route could take us from the city where we listen to music in a park ALL the way to our own library.  They learned that four quarters equal a dollar which equals the fare.  They learned to listen for the station name to be called out so they knew when to get off.  It still amazes me what we got in just those twenty minutes total on the bus.  

My driving factor  as a parent is that want my kids to be able to strong, independent, capable people (especially in their teens and beyond). I want them to know their own personal boundaries, recognize their own discomfort in situations and respond, to know their own voices, and trust themselves. This means I have to keep my own anxious, unreasonable voice quiet so they can hear themselves. I practice this now by letting them climb on the playground equipment without following them around like some underpaid bodyguard. Even though I want to be the bodyguard. It’s taken me some time, and still does on a daily basis, to realize that the chance of the things happening in real life that I play out in my head are relatively slim. Still I too need to trust myself, differentiate between anxiety and real concern and act accordingly.

Pollyjk (a fellow commenter on the site) made a good point - that there are differences in parenting based on situation, location and circumstance. It’s always hard to look across the grass and wonder if what you are doing is right or wrong in comparison. What I got most from mfranti is that as parents we seem to have lost sight of our own instincts as parents. We cater to the demands of our kids, the voices of society (tv/video in particular), and the all too familiar adult peer pressures. Where our parents, or even generations back, might have been considered too lack with parenting (slumber parties galore) we’ve 180′d to an overprotective place. This place doesn’t serve us or our kids any justice since it teaches us to be driven by fear.

For the time being I’m grateful that my kids are 4 and 3. The issues we face now will set the groundwork for later emotions, esteem, etc - but overall rank minimal on the fear scale. Soon enough the larger issues will be here - and I hope that we’ve both laid enough groundwork and that I’ve learned to trust myself and them by that time.