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9to5to9: Killing 56 bucks, the ants and (almost) the kid

Submitted by on Thursday, 31 July 2008 No Comment

I try to teach the guys to accept responsibility for their actions, so I must accept the blame for today’s misadventure.

Trouble started when I annihilated the 11th Commandment — thou shalt not go to the grocery store hungry. I paid for my sin, to the tune of $56 for items I could carry into the house in one trip.

And for that sum, I slaughtered a dance company of ants and damn near killed Big Guy, too.

It started as a quick trip for essentials: Milk, two gallons for $6.19; orange juice, two cans of concentrate, $1.89 each; bananas, two pounds at 78 cents a pound.

Then I moved to the “”pricey these days but important”" aisle: Coffee beans — French roast on sale for $6.99 a pound; strawberries, $3 a pound; Nestle Quik, industrial drum, $6.87; grapes, almost two pounds at $2.79 a pound. ”

Finally, there was the “”totally indulgent”" group: Nabisco lunch-size cookies, 12-pack, $4; jalapeno poppers, a ridiculously small box, $3.58; Kellogg’s Cocoa Krispies Cereal Straws, $3.68. Throw in some irrelevant balloons — two packs at $1.99 each — and the list is complete.

I thought long and hard about the cereal straws. Big Guy’s begged for them for months. “”I want the munch munch!”" he’d plead after seeing them on what little commercial TV he watches. I’ve avoided sugary breakfast food since the guys got off the Pop Tart kick, but he’s been so diligent about school lately, plus he told his brother “”sorry”" this morning and meant it. What the heck! Let the kid live a little.

The ants

The ant traps would have been cheaper at Target, but the exterminator came today and there was still a conga line across one kitchen counter. I scrubbed, thinking that would get rid of the stragglers. No dice.

I was beginning to get a bit Lady Macbeth-ish about the issue — “”Out, out damned bugs. Out, I say!”"

I vowed to fire the exterminator as I picked up a box of traps for $6.49. Helen Keller could have seen the ant trail he missed. He’s been on shaky ground anyway since January, when he failed to regard Big Guy’s offered sticker as the Hope Diamond.

I cracked open the box as soon as I got home, and I’ll admit it made my sadistic little heart sing to see the ants dance to their doom.

The kid

Big Guy rummaged the bags as soon as he got home, his face lighting up when he saw the cereal straws. “”Oh, Mommy! You got me the munch munch! Can I have one now?”"

If it makes him this happy I’m glad I spent the $3.68, I thought as I absently opened the box and handed him one. Something clicked, though, as Little Guy clamored for his. I looked closely for the first time. This isn’t cereal. Damnit! It’s a piroulline, and it has egg in it.

I grabbed Big Guy, who had the cookie just millimeters from his mouth. “”Give it back, baby! You’re allergic to it!”"

First came shocked betrayal — Mommy gave me egg? — and then bitter disappointment. He wept, and I wept right along with him. I’m not sure which of my screw-ups tortured me more — the fact that I could have killed him or having to crush him just seconds after he’d been so joyful.

Hours later, the final few ants are on their last dance. Big Guy is asleep, though he continued to mourn the loss of the munch munch until the moment he drifted off.

And the jalapeno poppers are gone. I had to drown my sorrows somehow. Turns out, the pain of the $56 grocery bill was the least of my miseries tonight.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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