Frozen Foods?Going to the grocery store is no longer the joy it once was. Because I like to cook, shopping for food was not only a weekly necessity, but it was also a fun outing of sorts. I used to take my time weaving up and down the aisles, perusing different brands, comparing prices, and making mental notes on what I wanted to make for dinner that week.In short, I used to enjoy myself.

Then my son came into the picture.

Like many “adult” pursuits, adding a two-year-old into the mix strips away any gratification you may have gleaned from an otherwise enjoyable activity. What once was a leisurely stroll through the aisles is now more akin to a particularly disorganized bonus round on the PAX network’s Supermarket Sweep; hurried, disorganized and resulting in injuries to fat, middle-aged white people.

Like most things in life, I blame myself for this predicament. Because my wife and I are neurotic parents, since birth we have been reading to our child to naturally stimulate his verbal and reasoning skills. In retrospect, this was probably a poor judgment call on our part. Increased verbal and reasoning abilities lead to coherent demands laced with irrefutable logic.For example, when toddler Ranzino sees another child of similar age tooling around the grocery store in a shopping cart shaped like a fire truck that is roughly the size and girth of a Trident nuclear submarine, he reasons, “Hey that can be me!” He then uses his newly formed communication talent to achieve the singular goal of making the lives of those people who are preventing this desire from immediately coming to fruition stunningly miserable.

For the uninitiated, these brightly colored vehicles of mass destruction have the turning radius of a North Carolina class battleship. Lindsay Lohan has a better chance of navigating through L.A. paparazzi than a parent has of propelling one of these bad boys through the local mega mart without incident. They even come with disclaimers firmly grafted to their plastic rooftops. The warnings make sure you are aware that when you accidentally deprive a fellow shopper of the use of his/her legs below the knees, Stop & Shop Inc. is certainly in no way responsible for this unfortunate but inevitable occurence.

Between the now physically and mentally draining task of navigation, coupled with the “I know it’s coming I just wish I knew when” meltdown in the works, my wife and I have brought a tag-team approach to the shopping experience.

Wife: “Okay, he still seems content to steer the car. That should last another 3-4 minutes. I’ll wait in line for cold cuts. You cut across aisle 8, leap over the bulk foods end cap, and grab the dairy products. Now GO! GO! GO!”

In the end, If we are able to leave the store with a week’s supply of beef jerky, milk, and three cans of vegetables we feel we have had a successful outing.