The Destroyers

 Just the other evening I was doing some grocery shopping with my
toddlers. The Destroyers. Of course, you know that’s what George
Thorogood calls his back up band. And I know it’s a fitting name for
my soon to be three and four year old girls. I was telling a friend
that he doesn’t really ever see them at their best. That’s in the
morning when they’re fresh. Well, 5:30 in the evening, they’re not
exactly fresh. And neither am I.

Anyone who knows anything at all about me knows I run on about five

hours of sleep a day. Apparently, that’s the way I’m made. I don’t
like it, but that’s the way it is. I’m just not funny when I get more
than five hours of sleep so it all works out.

Those who also know me know that I don’t leave the house unless I’m

fully accessorized. I don’t even get the mail without lipstick. No
lie. And yet, something happened the other day. Now, I didn’t go all
crazy and leave the house with no make up on. That would just be

But as I looked in the rearview mirror, backing out of the parking

slot, I thought, oh no, I’ve turned into, “that poor woman.” You
know. You’ve seen them out in public. You think to yourself. “That
woman. That poor woman.” There I was. No earrings. Oh, the shame
of it. Clear lip gloss. The horror. And an I’m Grumpy t-shirt.
Well, I was. Now, my clothes matched. And were stain free. My
children matched. They were not stain free. They had recently been
assuaged with an entire bag of Cheese Puffs. Most of my girls were
orange. My mother would’ve been appalled. I wasn’t so thrilled about
it myself.

It’s not like the orange destroyers were quiet in the store either.

They were standing up in the cart making siren sounds and grabbing at
everything. Because there are two of them they can work together for
good or evil. This time, for evil. No matter what side of the aisle
I pushed the card toward; there were two hands ready to grab
something. Random cans of beans. “Too beanie,” said Anna Grace.
Bags of spoons hanging on the refrigerated aisle doors. Anything,
everything, my kids touched it. And we were noticed.
I know it because of the many people who stopped to remark. “At least
your children seem contained” “It’s funny because I can walk away”
and so on. And these remarks were from strangers. Or from people who
I knew so vaguely I had forgotten their names.

Of course, I ran into friends of mine too. They got to witness

several rounds of grocery crushing followed by what will no doubt
become an Olympic event—item tossing. The idea is to see how far
small things can be thrown from the cart. Item tossing is dealt with
my speaking softly this message, “throw one more thing from the cart
and all the cookies and crackers get put back and all I’ll buy are
paper towels.” My friend Adam remarked he had never heard of paper
towels being used as a threat before. And with so much success.
Don’t mess with mama. Mama’s on a short string. Mama just might

Well, Mama didn’t snap. We made it out of the store and no one was

crying. Naturally, my spouse pointed out that the plan is to never
take them grocery shopping to begin with. Oh, I should’ve mentioned.
I had asked him to go to the store about five hours before all this
happened. He was watching TV. I should’ve tried the paper towel
threat on him.

To make up for it all went back to the same store the very next day.

In so much finery I could’ve gone to a White House luncheon. I didn’t
go back to see if the same people who were there the night before
might see that I had redeemed my look. I had to go back and get
everything else on the list I had abandoned the night before. Still
on my usual five hours sleep. But Mama has learned her lesson. Mama
looks gooooooood.