Fair Trade Shopping Buddy
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Fair Trade Shopping Buddy

Of all of the household responsibilities there are, for me, grocery shopping is the red-headed stepchild. I would rather stay home and steam off the goo that remains on the jam jar after an unsuccessful label removal. I find it lonely, utilitarian and uninspiring. But I got smart. I discovered how much more fun it was with my mini doppelganger. My son can be convinced to accompany me if the conditions are right. He keeps me company, pushes the cart, helps load the loot onto the conveyor belt, and in exchange, I allow him to pick out a few items that would normally never see the inside of our home. This is a fair trade.

I soon discovered the other merits that came along with this symbiotic interaction. The time between after school and dinner can easily fall prey to mindless pursuits, so it is a great opportunity to spend some quality one on one time together. During this time, he shares things with me that may not come up if we were at home and I am not distracted by the endless tasks at home so he has my undivided attention. I think the change of scenery is a healthy way to change the repetitive rhythm of our lives.

Another benefit that came about was the chance to start teaching him some practical home economics. I consciously try to raise him with the end goal of domestic independence and competence. Simple tasks like shopping and cooking have become dying skills and I am determined to ensure that when he becomes a young man living on his own, that he will eat delicious, nutritious meals at his own hand. I have marketed this point to him in the form of what an attractive trait that is to the ladies. He won’t admit that intrigues him, but it does.

The simple math required to determine if something is good value is useful information, but also, teaches the value of a dollar. I remember back to the 1970s when my mom sent me to the neighbourhood store to buy a loaf of bread. She gave me a few dollars and I thought she was sending me to an embarrassment at the cashier, so you can imagine my relief when the loaf came in under one dollar. I don’t expect him to be a star contestant on The Price Is Right, but I feel it is important that there is some frame of reference for him and that he can put the world into perspective while he is forming his own opinions.

I also have to admit that seeing food through his eyes renews a passion for food that I have had for years but has been dulled by the monotony and pressure of busy family life with working parents. I feel that when I have his physical presence, the burden is somehow lightened because he is giving me moral support, and so much more. He will ask how I choose certain fruits or vegetables and ask questions like “Why are you smelling the melon?”, or “What is this?” as he picks up something that he cannot begin to identify. This invites me to stop and take more time to enjoy the process versus resent rutabagas and persimmons, which is just insane. Anthropomorphizing produce is the first step towards a very slippery slope.

There is the added bonus of the inevitable moment at the cashier that I realize I have forgotten some key ingredient for dinner, so having the extra set of legs to run and grab lettuce or onions while I unload the cart (read: scan the covers of the gossip rags so I do not have to buy them) is pretty dope. Those same legs come in handy when I am too lazy to get the dollar back for returning the shopping cart and I am far too thrifty to walk away from the dollar.

I have a new found tolerance for this taxing excursion to gather provisions, but my Shopping Buddy has given me a new outlook, dare I say, enjoyment for this task. The extra ice cream in the freezer is a small price to pay for the strengthened parent/child bond. Now if I can just refrain from sending him to retrieve forgotten items such as tampons or agave syrup that will either embarrass or confound him, I think I have this thing locked down. Invite your child on your next grocery trip when you are not in a mad rush and see what new dimensions may spin out of the experience. I do go out of my way to purchase products that are grown or manufactured in a sustainable way, but this fair trade is my idea of a good time.


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