Would you let a three-year old girl go shopping by herself? That is what my mom unwittingly did when I asked her if I could go to the store. I don’t recall that particular conversation (she insists she was distracted and thought I was going with a neighbor), nor do I remember the ten-minute walk to the shop, but I can still see myself getting a cart and pushing it down the aisles. I could barely reach the handle with my outstretched arms! I had two goals in mind: to get jars of baby food for my one-year-old brother, and cereal for me.
As I was making my way around the store this extremely tall lady stared down at me in disbelief (at that age everyone looks huge!)
“Where’s your mommy?” she asked me with eyes as big as quarters.
“At home.” I said. Where else would she be?
“And she lets you go shopping by yourself?” Shock was written all over her face.
“Yes!” I answered, as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
I have no idea if she kept an eye on me after our little exchange, but I happily went on my way. I was heading for the check-out counters when I decided I didn’t have enough cereal, and so went back to add seven boxes to what I’m sure was an already large collection. Not wanting to be selfish I also got more baby food. My intention was to simply push the cart out of the store. Who cares about minor details like money and paying?
Meanwhile, as you can well imagine, my parents were in full panic-mode. They checked with all the neighbors. They called the police. Finally, my conversation with mom came back to her consciousness from the far-recesses of her brain, and dad rushed to the store to look for me. He found me patiently waiting in the check-out line. To my great dismay he had me put back on the shelves all the food I had so painstakingly collected. I cried loudly and profusely to make sure he knew how I felt. To no avail! And so ended my first independent shopping trip.
I’ve always wondered how the cashier would have reacted if I had made it to her. It’s probably best that I never found out!