Small cart, big dreams

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I went to Wal-Mart yesterday while the kids were at school and glanced longingly over at the new, fun-sized shopping carts lined up outside the automatic doors. Have you seen them yet? They’re about half the size of the regular carts and they have an upper and lower deck.

If shopping carts were cars, this new cart is the cute convertible – easily navigating around those tired old minivan carts we usually drive down the aisles. It’s the perfect cart to use when you’re popping into the store for “just a few things.”

cute cartI grabbed one of the “cute carts” about a month ago during what I thought would be a quick errand. I zipped down the bread aisle and tossed in a loaf. Then I hung a sharp left and picked up a box of Cheerios. But while I was in that aisle, I remembered we were low on the cereal bars the kids like for breakfast. Those were next to the fruit chews, so I picked up a box of those, too.

The next aisle over reminded me we only had one roll of paper towels left, so I tried to squeeze a big package of those on the lower deck of the mini-cart. It stuck out but I made it work. Next aisle over was the baking aisle, and since it never hurts to pick up a bag of sugar, into the cart it went.

My cute cart was already getting full, and I still had to go to the back of the store for milk. On the way to the dairy case, I spotted a few other necessities I didn’t even know I needed. By the time I got there, I had to rearrange the contents of my cart just to find a spot for the milk.

Since the cart was full, I figured it was time to go. I headed back toward the front of the store with every intention of going straight to the check-out lane. But along the way I spotted a display with all the ingredients for smores. My inner 10-year-old stopped for a closer look. “Oooh, s’mores! The kids would love s’mores this weekend.”

So I stacked a box of graham crackers on top of the boxes of Cheerios, fruit chews and Nutri-Grain bars. I put the chocolate bars on top of that and then topped it off with a bag of marshmallows. Then I attempted to drive my cute cart across the store without toppling that teetering tower of treats. I had to stop a few times just to steady the stash threatening to spill out of the cart.

The experience taught me that, at least in this phase of my life, I’m not a cute-cart-kind-of-girl. Try as I might, there is no “quick trip” to the store. And “just a few things” is an urban myth. It’s a lie I tell myself so the shopping trip will feel less daunting.

For now, I’m the mother of three kids ages 15, 12 and 10 – kids who can plow through groceries like a ravenous swarm of locusts and walk out of the kitchen having grown a half-inch taller right before my eyes. These are kids whose new jeans are just a bit too short every time I turn around.

Maybe a single person or an empty nester can wheel around with a cute cart, but I’ve got to make peace with the lumbering, full-size version that always seems to have a bad wheel. What the old carts lack in zippy cuteness, they make up for with space – space I obviously need, since a quick trip to the store is always longer than I thought and ends with a cart that’s fuller than I planned.

Oh, well. At least we have s’mores.

gwen rockwoodGwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.



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