There are only a few instances where you should be required to go to the grocery store alone with an infant. They are outlined below:
1. You've been out of food for six days, your wife has been knocked unconscious by a meteor and the cat has started nibbling on your face.
2. Your house is being invaded by Tusken Raiders and the store provides a strategic defensive position (and snacks).
3. The world has been enslaved by the Kool-Aid Man and he requires a drool tribute at the store from all infants.
4. Your wife is gone and tells you to.
If any one of these catastrophic events occurs, there are several things you need to do to prepare for this impossible task.
First: prepare yourself mentally. There's not much you can do here that will make much difference, but painting your face blue like you're Mel Gibson in Braveheart is a good start. This will put you in the right mentality, though facing an army of highly-trained Englishmen would be a welcome alternative.
You stare at your child, who is, in turn, mentally preparing himself to best YOU. Your goal is to get as many groceries as possible in the shortest amount of time, making you strangely a lot like you're a contestant on Supermarket Sweep. In turn, your baby is attempting to prevent this at all costs.
As you continue the intimidation stare at your baby, weigh the pros and cons of actually going through with this.
Pro: Go so you can prove to your wife you can do it.
Con: If you go you will prove to your wife you can do it.
Con: If you do not know, there's a chance your wife will find out you didn't go during your dinner of frozen peas covered with hamburger dill pickle slices and make you feel like a worthless fish.
Even though the Cons clearly outweigh the Pros, you realize you have to go, if only for your pride. The next step is to:
Pack the diaper bag.
Estimated completion time: 25 frantic, confused minutes
You're generally not sure what all goes in there, so be sure to pack a bottle, pacifier, change of clothes, hat, diapers, wipes, food, a banana for some reason, the Bible, canteen full of Tang, rope, flint, plastic dinosaur, can of tuna, half a package of Ritz crackers, an old Discman, a utility bill and beef jerky.
Get baby ready to go in car seat.
Estimated completion time: 10 squirmy minutes
Pull out of driveway. Get six blocks away and realize you left the diaper bag and its random contents spilling out on the kitchen floor. Begin sweating. Decide to "wing it" because you're a brave, dumb person.
"Ha ha!" you're thinking, "my baby just pooped. I'm safe to go for an hour without the diaper bag." It's the same line of thinking General Custer had when he told his troops, "We got this" (paraphrasing).
En route to the store your baby begins to cry. This is what literary professors call "foreshadowing." Lie to yourself and begin thinking the crying is temporary and he will be elated when he sees your face again. Because, who wouldn't be?
Reach the store. Pull out a cart from the cart storage area. Attempt to attach car seat to cart.
Estimated time: 7 incredibly awkward minutes.
Discover cart engineering flaw. Consider abandoning everything and getting ice cream. What's even the point of anything anymore? See? This was a bad idea. Why didn't your wife listen to you and just do it herself? Decide instead to valiantly press on. Understand this is probably exactly the struggle the Oregon Trail settlers faced.
Staring at the stupidly designed cart, you will have the following options:
Option A) Place the seat in the child rack, given about the same support as a Teen Wolf doing a handstand atop a moving van. Probably a bad idea, unless you're preparing your baby for a life in stunt car driving.
Option B) Carry the car seat in one hand and push the cart in the other. This is the perfect technique for running into other shoppers and shelves while subjecting yourself to a labrum tear.
Option C) Place your car seat/baby in the large space reserved for food, building a sort of dangerous food fort around him. Understand that when tower of peanut butter falls into his face it'll be a delightful story to tell in 10 years.
"Hey son, remember that time I put you in the grocery cart and the jar of pickles fell on you? No? Well, that's the reason for the dent in your face."
Choose Option C.
Recall not only is your infant a ticking time bomb in the pants department, but, strangely enough, after six bags of frozen vegetables slide onto him at random intervals, he just might start throwing a fit for no reason whatsoever. This leaves you with a delightful predicament; do you continue with a wailing child or abandon your cart and live to fight another day? The former generally allows you to proceed with clear aisles, much like an ambulance. The latter gives your wife the opportunity to chastise you for leaving early, "And I can somehow do it with TWO kids," she'll say, leaving you wondering whose kids she's referring to and how that's possibly relevant.
Somehow get through the whole thing, getting less than half of what you went for and several additional items that weren't on the list because you were confused. You don't remember how you did it, which means you probably have some form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and your brain blocked it from your memory as a coping mechanism.
"So how'd it go?" your wife will ask.
"Easy," you lie. "Just don't make me do that ever again. I don't want to deprive you of the fun."
Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative & marketing writer for Briscoe14 Communications (www.briscoe14.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or that guy duct taping a car seat into a grocery cart. Follow Kelly on Twitter @pancake_bunny for more engineering tips.