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I’m telling you: It has not once offered me 50 cents off a box of Ring Dings.

Preschool’s been out for only a few days, yet the adventure pickings suddenly seem rather slim. This is in large part because Aura and I jumped the gun a bit on summer once the warm weather appeared on the scene, what with the mini golfing and the playgrounds and the hiking.

(See how I sneaked in “hiking” there? I know. I KNOW. You may know me as Kate the Sloth, but once every, say, oh, decade or so, the woods know me differently. We even went to a ranger station this time around. “Look! A real ranger station!” I said to Aura, gesturing around at all the ranger stuff. “This is where the rangers station,” I explained authoritatively.)

The ranger station was just to the south of here. Or maybe it was north. One can never be too sure of these things.

Alas, now the weather is unseasonably cold and rather dreary. A person, even one as well-hiked as myself, can only dress up bears and play with magnet blocks for so long, and I’ll admit that I’ve relaxed the usual tiny daily allowance on screens. The iPad’s been out more, my laptop more frequently commandeered for loud and always very click-y kids’ sites.

So today, as the rain dripped down the windows and Aura tapped away at Angry Birds, I raised myself from my prone position on the playroom floor and cheerfully announced, “We are going to the grocery store. You can help me scan the groceries with that Scan It thingie.”

The possibility for irony was not lost on me as we drove to the store. In some cultures, the message, “We are getting you out of this house and away from electronic devices so that you can go to the grocery store and use a handheld computer” might even be considered contradictory. Thankfully, we are Americans.

And so it went. We came, we scanned, we conquered a rotisserie chicken, three baking potatoes, and an armload of zucchini.

Yet this time around the Scan It device creeped me out more. It was constantly alerting us that Coupons are available! Coupons for items you regularly buy! The savings on organic eggs and boxes of macaroni and cheese followed us from aisle to aisle, the gentle ringing of the machine a constant reminder of the money we could be saving if only we followed its spot-on, Big Brother suggestions.

Finally, I snapped. “What is it with this thing?” I hissed to Aura. “It thinks it knows us so well, but why all the baby carrots?!? We saw the baby carrots coupon in AISLE 2 and in AISLE 8 and then again in AISLE 11! WHAT’S WITH THE BABY CARROTS?”

Then, like all sane, red-blooded mothers, I proceeded to march her around the store and take photographs of all the things on which I would have preferred the Scan It device offer us savings. I personally like to call it Nutrition for Preschoolers, but you’re welcome to rename it to what suits you best.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

There were supposed to be more photos, especially in the pre-packaged baked goods aisle (there was a particularly fetching box of Hostess Donettes, all shiny and beckoning in their icing goodness), but a store manager started following us around. In the old days, you used to be able to stomp angrily around a grocery store, rage against handheld scanners,  and photograph any trans-fat-laden items you pleased, but no longer. It’s all WE’RE WATCHING YOU and PARDON ME, MA’AM and I’M AFRAID YOU’LL HAVE TO LEAVE THE STORE IF YOU KEEP THAT UP.

I bet he had a coupon. FOR BEING A KILLJOY.


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