August 07, 2012

Conveyor Belts and Chocolate Milk

The craziest thing I've ever done on a date is ride on the conveyor belt at the grocery store checkout.  If I tell my children this story I also add that when I got to the end of the conveyor and they scanned me, that the register said I was priceless.  They are not amused.  In fact, on that date, I got to ride on the conveyor belt multiple times.  It was like my wildest kid fantasies had come true.  It may have helped that I was only about 4 years old at the time, and the date I was on was with my dad, who just happened to be the manager of the grocery store whose conveyor I was wearing out.

Tuesdays were my Dad's day off from Winn Dixie.  But because he was a workaholic, he couldn't go a day without just popping in there to "check on things"- even on his day off.  So Tuesdays became "our day".  We'd wake up early and Dad would take me down the street from our neighborhood (sometime he'd let me ride my bike there!) to this little dive of a restaurant slash gum and cigarette store that had a lunch counter.  That little place was just brimming with older retired men who would sit around and shoot the breeze all morning while they drank coffee and smoked one cigarette after another.  We'd walk in there and the little bell on the door would tinkle and all those people would turn around to see who was coming in.  A few of them would say, "Johnny" (my dad's name) in long drawn way when we'd walk in the door.  I always thought that's probably how the Fonz would say my dad's name if we ever got to meet the Fonz.

Me with my Dad- April 1984

We had a little routine, my dad and I.  He'd walk me over to the refrigerated case and hoist me up and let me get a Nestle Quik chocolate milk.  We never had chocolate milk in our house and every time I'd get my milk, he'd give me this little look like we were pulling one over on my mom by conspiring about my bad choice in breakfast drinks.  Then we'd walk over to the counter and sit down on the red vinyl covered stools.  While we'd wait for Ralph, the owner, to come take our order, I'd stare at the coffee cups behind the counter.  All the regulars there at Ralph's Market had their own coffee cup with their names on them.  My uncle, Dru, had his own mug back there and in my mind that made him ridiculously cool.  I think that one of my goals in life was to have my own mug with my own name on it at Ralph's.

Ralph would come over and chit chat with my dad for a minute.  My dad always used this time to ask Ralph lots of times if I wasn't the prettiest little girl who'd ever sat on those red vinyl stools.  All those retired men would shake their heads in agreement and make a fuss over me and at Ralph's Market, I felt like the most beautiful little princess that ever lived.  I'd always order the same thing (which was the same thing my dad ordered because I wanted to be just like him) : 2 eggs with runny yellows, bacon and toast.  With chocolate milk- you can't forget the chocolate milk.  I don't remember a thing that we talked about back then, but I do remember that every word that came out of my mouth was doted on and treated as important on Tuesday mornings. We'd eat and then head over to Dad's grocery store.  He'd put me in the back of a grocery cart and hand me a Coca-Cola in a glass bottle and off we'd scoot through the store making our rounds while he checked on things.  The deli was my favorite stop.  The old women who cooked in the deli would go nuts over me and slip me cookies or whatever else they were baking.  Then as we were finishing up, we'd go through the checkout with me on the conveyor and Dad would talk to the cashier about whether or not they'd been busy or slow.

Those Tuesdays were some of my most treasured childhood memories.  Not because we did anything elaborate or super interesting, but because I felt so special and loved.  (And I had a parent all to myself)  It made me resolve that when I had children that I would always try to date them.  I wish it happened more often, but with three kids and life happening, it's not always easy.  But we try our darnedest to make sure that all of our kids get to go on dates whenever we can.

Last night was Noah's kindergarten orientation (hold me) and so afterwards we decided that a little one on one date was in order.  Noah is a simple kid with simple loves.  He wanted to go out for a sandwich.

He normally has to split a sandwich with his little brother, but not on date night.  He got a whole one to himself- with extra bacon.  It's the simple things in life.  Then it was off for chocolate ice cream.

 ...and a chocolate cupcake- because on date night, we do what we want.  Maybe this will be the "chocolate milk" part of his story when he gets older.

Then, by Noah's choice, we went to the car wash and to Lowe's.  He's a date that's easy to please.  He's also the most comical date I've ever had.  Noah is the comedian in our home.  He has some auditory processing issues and so the way that he interprets what he hears and the way that he uses language constantly keeps us in stitches.  Here are few of last night's highlights:

Noah:  Mom, if I toot when I'm at school do I have to yell "safety!"?

Me: I'm so excited that you are going to learn how to read in kindergarten!
Noah:  I already know how to read.  Two words.
Me:  Oh yeah?  What are they?
Noah:  "Pool" and "Cash Only"

Me:  When we move, we'll plant a garden next summer.  What would you want to grow?
Noah:  Watermelon and mashed potatoes!

Me:  Noah, you are just so cute, I could eat you with a spoon for dessert!
Noah:  Don't do that.  I'd rather you put eggs on my eyes and eat me for breakfast.

Noah:  Mom, when I was at Granny's the other day, something very wrong happened.  But it was funny.
Me:  What happened?
Noah:  Well, I crawled up on Granny's lap and I was looking at her face and then out of nowhere I burped really loud right on her face.  I didn't even feel it coming up and it just shot out and then I couldn't stop laughing!  I couldn't even stop laughing so I could say excuse me!  But she's not mad at me.  It was really funny. It was so funny I decided to go burp in Sadie's face.  She didn't think that was very funny.
Noah: (while looking and rubbing at a bug bite on his arm)  What do you think this is?
Me:  Hmmmm.  Maybe a bug bite?  What do you think it is?
Noah:  I think it's a hallucination.

I love that little boy so much- so much that I could eat him for breakfast.  I can only hope that when he's a grown man out with his children that he'll remember how much he was loved while we were out eating sandwiches and going through the car wash.  And maybe, if he's really lucky, my dad will let him ride the conveyor belt at the grocery store sometime :-)

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