I took my daughter Aspen shopping and she insisted on pushing the cart. She always does now. I don't understand it, but for whatever reason, when you are three, pushing the grocery cart is pretty awesome.
For me, not so much. More or less, having Aspen at the helm of the cart is a lot like a bumper car plowing through a grocery store with a visually impaired driver, me doing my best to keep her from sideswiping bottles of pasta sauce.
So why does any parent do this? Well ... there are a few reasons: promote independence, give her something to do at the store, make her feel like she's helping, but the most important, numero uno reason is fit control. I mean, honestly, taking a 3-year-old to the store alone should qualify me to handle wild honey badgers at the zoo.
Before she started pushing the cart, I had to bribe her with a fruit roll up from the produce section to keep quiet. That sucker, more or less, became a ticking bomb. If she finished it before we made it to the bakery for a free cookie, she'd turn into a fit-throwing psychopath.
But honestly, parents are often placed in these kinds of situations where they have to ask themselves what is worse? A fit in the store or letting the kid push the cart.
So I let her push the cart. I stay in front and push her in the right direction from time to time. And every time she screams, "Aspen do it!"
I apologize for the occasional bump in with a shopper. Most just look back with an understanding smile. I pay for anything she breaks, which honestly doesn't happen all that often.
And I know, there is some "perfect parent" reading this, ready to dive into the comments section. If you are that person, stop reading now, because nothing I can ever do will meet your standards, so congrats on being something truly special.
But to the parents out there with a cart-pushing preschooler, I get it. Because you and I both know that once it's all said and done, and you are loading your groceries into the van, your child always looks at you with a satisfied smile, like she really did something right. Like she really helped out the family. And that, my friend, is worth that broken jar of pasta sauce you had to pay for.
This story originally appeared on Clint Edwards' Facebook page. Clint is the author of the funny and insightful No Idea What I'm Doing: A Daddy Blog. He is a staff writer for the very popular (and awesome) Scary Mommy. His work has been discussed on Good Morning America, The View, The Talk, and The Today Show. Everyone from Whoopi Goldberg to Sharon Osbourne to Kathie Lee Gifford has agreed with his take on parenting and marriage. He's also a parenting contributor to the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Disney's Babble, and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book tentatively titled "'I'm Sorry' - Your Husband." You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Cover image via xiao yu / Shutterstock.com