Ok, Fred Meyer, you win.
When I was pregnant with Sam and when he was a tiny baby, I was jealous (yes, JEALOUS) of all of those lucky moms that got to shop with a preschooler. How fun! Looking at colors together! Pointing out numbers! Admiring the produce! How could anyone leave their precious child in the lonely corner that is the Playland? They must be the lazy parents, the parents that didn't care about their child's social development. I wasn't going to be like that. I would actually enjoy shopping with my child, darn it!
Fast forward two-plus years, and you would not find me doing many of the above things. Instead, you would find me plying Sam with a variety of snacks, distractions, and finally angry pronouncements to keep him from jumping out of the cart and killing himself (because he simply won't sit in the small basket with the buckle anymore), all while I was trying to stretch our grocery budget, weigh produce and not forget the milk. I began to dread shopping so much that I actually sent Mark in the evening with a list once. After he came home with the most disgusting (and not surprisingly cheapest) deli meat I've ever tasted, I thought there'd have to be a better way.
Enter Playland. Sam ran in and I filled out the forms and kissed him goodbye, and spent an entire hour by myself smelling produce, comparison shopping and generally doing all of the things that are impossible to do with him there. Granted, I gnashed my teeth the entire time enough to give myself a headache and obsessively checked on him, and when my name was called over the speaker I ran the fastest sprint with groceries ever recorded (he just had to go potty and I had to take him), but all in all, it really beat the alternative.
I guess I have to accept that there are times in his life that it will be ok for me to take some help from Playland and be happy relaxed mommy rather than rush through an hour of shopping with him and turn into crabby, burned out, much poorer mommy. And once I got over the stress of wondering if the other kids would be friendly, if there was enough supervision for a two-year-old, and if he'd come down with the Hanta virus, it was really kind of nice.
8 months ago