car crash on aisle three

“I want my cars back,” said Kiddo#4.

We were in the grocery store, and when I looked down, I saw he wasn’t holding his two Matchbox cars, and I was relatively sure we’d brought them into the store.

Kiddo#4 is only two, so his typical mode of operation is to find something and hold onto it for…days. But if he puts it down for some reason, he forgets it exists. That’s the standard method of operation. It’s funny to track his progress through the house: you’ll find a baby toy in Kiddo#1’s room and it’s easy to reconstruct what happened, that Kiddo#4 was walking past holding a toy, saw something cool, walked in and picked it up, and left whatever toy he was holding on the floor, never thinking of it again.

In the store, he’d only been out of the cart for about an aisle and a half, so I retraced our steps, but I couldn’t find the cars. Kiddo#4 couldn’t give a coherent answer as to whether he’d had them in the store in the first place, so I decided we must have left them in the car.

Two years ago, Kiddo#3 was the culprit when something went missing in the grocery store: he’d taken a plastic easter egg shell and placed it on the head of his stuffed penguin like a helmet (please don’t ask me why) and he started crying when we couldn’t find it. One of the store workers saw us looking and contacted the store manager. I think they conducted a man-to-man search with walkie-talkies, scouring the aisles. By the time I reached home, we had a call saying the penguin had been found. Kiddo#3 drew a thank-you picture and gave it to the customer service clerk when we got the stuffed animal.

On the final aisle of the grocery store, Kiddo#4 said, “I want my cars back now.”

I said, “Where did you put them?”

He said, “On the pink shelf.”

Well, that was a start. I went back to the baking aisle, which was where he’d first asked for them back. And it was there that I found his two cars, “parked” on top of a box of cake mix.

The shelf was not pink. I didn’t really care. At least I didn’t have to explain to the store manager why a penguin was wearing an eggshell on its head


  1. The Sojourner

    The image of employees scouring the store for a penguin is hilarious.

    (Random tangent: My baby sister has a little beanbag duck that she calls a “yeyo pwengin.” Nothing I said to the effect of “Are you sure? It looks kind of like a duck to me.” caused her to waver in the slightest. So I gave up. Plus, I like hearing her say “pwengin.”)

    1. philangelus

      Kiddo#4 has the reverse. To him, all avian creatures are “duck.” Penguins, parrots, sparrows, swans–they’re ducks. And yes, it’s very cute and the overgeneralization phase of language never lasts long enough. 🙂

      1. The Sojourner

        Oh, she knows about different kinds of birds (She and the two-year-old got in an argument the other day: “It’s a bird!” “It’s a PARROT!”), and will call a duck a duck, but this toy is a YELLOW PENGUIN. Not a duck, come on, isn’t it obvious?

        (When I go home I have to take a picture of this thing for posterity.)