Plus I don't become the enemy in the process. In these cases I'm typically the good guy, rescuing them and teaching them something they will forever remember with fondness.
Or maybe this happens.
At Publix tonight, the store we are in no less than 2 days a week and which is as close to the Cheers! bar atmosphere as I will probably get when I walk in each time. I can ask either Jack or Duke to get any regular item for the basket and they will know which aisle and shelf it is on and bring it back. Yes, we are there that often.
And on Wednesday it is usually popcorn chicken for dinner as we grab the few items we need mid week, and enough of course to qualify for the "penny item" for the day, bring the coupon from the paper, buy $10 worth of items, get the "penny item" for a penny!
Tonight however, no popcorn chicken. Oh woe! How can they not have popcorn chicken! It's got to be a mistake, this is not a fair life! At least that was the message being portrayed by said 7 year old to the point I was ready to walk out of the store. However after giving him the look that we have been practicing, he felt chicken tenders could satisfy as a replacement and I offered to let them sit in the cafe (bunch of tables with a condiment cart at the front of the store) and eat rather than walk around with me. I sweetened the deal with a few onion rings and thought how perfect this would be. I had only about 5 items to grab, plenty of time for them to sit and finish and I could check on them each time I came back to the front of the aisle.
Now don't go all Neglectful Parent!!! on me. And Mom and Mom in Law, breathe, I would not do this anywhere, anytime. The store was slow, Mr. Ron was right there in customer service and I told him my plan and at least 2 other employees stopped to talk to them while they first sat down. There were also three other people in the store shopping that we knew. Finally as a last line of defense should anyone try and kidnap my children I guarantee all it would take is Jack opening his mouth and they'd run for the hills. Seriously the kid can scream like a banshee just because his brother is sitting too close to him.
So down Aisle 1 I go and there they are, eating nicely, on opposite sides of the table and catty corner even so no fear of hands getting onto one another. Success! On to aisle 2!
Aisle 2, chicken tenders - check! onion rings - check! Duke's jacket - check! Kids... um not so much.
Do I feel my body get tense, hair prickly, fear rising in my throat!! um not so much. I turn to check the water fountain on the other end of the checkout lanes. Kids - check!
I expect them to turn and walk back, well 50% of me expected that. The other 50% of me expected them to get distracted by the giant Redbox machine next to the water fountain and ogle and coo at the Coming Soon! movies and Now in Blue Ray! deals. The latter 50% won out.
I could walk down, grab them by the collar, drag them back and admonish them for leaving all of their things sitting in the cafe where anyone can walk up and throw them away and bingo - dinner is over. Or - LIFE LESSON MOMENT!
I pack up the jacket and food, hiding them in my cart so when they come and find me, no doubt upset, or possibly even silent, afraid to admit they left all their things and went off and got distracted, I can gently and kindly teach them a lesson about being responsible for our things.
Off to Aisle 3.
But then, as reach the end of the aisle, as I'm expecting to find them headed toward me in one of the two certain states of emotion, instead they are headed back from the deli with two brand new trays of onion rings and chicken tenders.
It seems that independence thing I've worked on since their birth is actually working, yea backfire.
I ask them where they got the new food and they calmly tell me that they told one of their Publix buddies that someone threw away their food, so he took them to the deli and got them more. Seems that "be friendly to the people you see all the time at the store and call them by their first name" thing is actually working, yea backfire.
As I reach them and learn the journey of their newly acquired meals, I let them in on my LIFE LESSON. "Tricker! Mom you tricked us! That's not nice, that's just wrong!" And both end up in tears, upset at ME for taking their things when they were "only getting a drink of water! What?! Are we supposed to just be THIRSTY!?"
At this point I don't know whether to laugh or cringe at the thought of spending now $10 on chicken tenders and onion rings, because I WILL go back to the deli and get them to weigh it and charge me.
My kids can officially outsmart me. Life Lesson Learned.