Flour Power

Posted on June 14, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Yesterday, while walking through the grocery store (one place I truly don’t like to go, but somehow manage to end up at almost daily), another mom earned my sympathy. She was shopping, two kids in tow and one in the baby seat of the cart, and constantly saying “No – don’t touch that – stay here – quit bothering your brother,” and probably a dozen more of the usual terms that come from the mouths of moms while shopping on a busy Saturday afternoon with her kids.

Anyway, I immediately felt a bond with her, having been there, done that, and knowing all too well how stressful stocking up on juice, food, and a weekly supply of tissues and cleaners can be. There’s enough to think about, like where do I put these eggs so the kids don’t break them,  without constantly having to worry about who’s going to cry next — Mom or one of the kids. As I went up and down the aisles, and backtracked again like I always do for the one thing I’ve inevitably forgotten but remembered at the last second, I came across the family two or three times. The last time, I was honing in on the coffee creamer, which I don’t use, but which I knew I’d be trekking right back to the store for in the morning when my husband poured his coffee. 

At the end of the aisles, they display sale goods, towering them from the floor to someplace far too high for any average shopper to reach. This leaves shoppers with only one option — to pull an item from the middle of the display, right?  Now, the one thing I know is that a mother never designed or approved these displays. We know all too well what can happen.

The towering display at the end of aisle 8 was 5 lb. bags of flour. I remembered, like it was yesterday, my husband grocery shopping about 15 years ago with our oldest. No, he didn’t do all the shopping–he just bought the things he wanted the most. Anyway, he and Sam were walking through the store and lo and behold, there in the main aisle was a towering pyramid of flour bags. He stopped and looked at it, turned and said, “I don’t know if we need it. We’ll let Mom worry about that.” Well, Sam wanted to be considerate. When he turned, she grabbed a bag from somewhere about waist height (which for her was pretty close to the floor) and said, “Here daddy, buy it for mommy.”

He thought she had dropped her bag of flour, but what happened was a chain reaction that created a huge mess and one that, as a mom, I’m glad he got to experience. When she pulled out the bag of flour, the one above it fell, causing the ones above and around it to come crashing down. Amidst an explosion of white powder, he grabbed her arm and ran down the aisle, rushing to another aisle for fear of being fingered for the flour bomb. They even left their cart behind as they scurried to the front of the store and the safety of the car, but I’m sure they were had, all covered in white flour they were a walking billboard that proclaimed guilt. They never went back to that store – Ever.

I was comparing price versus ounces on the creamer when the Mom told her son to grab a bag of flour. I saw it coming, really I did. I tried to say something, but it happened too fast. Flour crashed and exploded, putting a white film on everything in sight, especially on the mom and her kids. The poor little boy started crying, thinking he did something wrong, and when I rushed over to help the frantic mom, the white powder on his face was being cleaned by streams of tears.

I felt for all of them – the embarrassed mom who was being stared at by what seemed like half the town, and the kids, who were suddenly subdued and obviously frightened.  I pulled a roll of paper towels from my cart and wiped the boy’s face, handed the rest to the mom and said, I think these are on the store. As a couple workers responded to the clean-up on aisle 8 announcement, I told the mom that my husband had been through the same thing, providing her with the ammunition to defend herself against a poorly designed sale display. I looked at them and laughed, saying someday, you will laugh about this. Someday was today, and she looked at the flour left in their wake and laughed, so much so that her kids started giggling, too, proving that laughter is stress reliever number one for parents.

I wonder if they’ll ever go back to that store again, but I’m glad they went yesterday. Our flour power experience was one I’d forgotten about, and recanting her tale to my family last night triggered other memories and a night of laughter.  Remember when… came from one mouth after another as we sat around the fire pit in our back yard.

Thank you, frazzled mom who I don’t know. The memories your child created yesterday reawakened ours. And all because of one bag of flour.

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