“We’re Running Errands”

When you have kids, sometimes you just don’t want them tagging along with you. After I was divorced, I learned very quickly that grocery shopping with a couple of young charges required more patience than I possessed. They viewed the grocery store as one giant playground, and thought nothing of playing a spirited game of tag in the frozen food aisle. It was hard to corral them while searching for broccoli florets and trying not to squeeze the Charmin. As soon as they were old enough to stay on their own, I ditched them and the whole grocery shopping experience improved tenfold.lets_not_go_shopping-2-scaled500

Nowadays, when Tara and I go grocery shopping, we treat the place like one giant playground, tossing bags of frozen broccoli and boxes of pasta to each other from across the aisle as if we were throwing around the ol’ pigskin…and I’m not talking about pork rinds. Hmm. No wonder my parents never want to go shopping with me!

But the grocery store is just one example. Maybe we want to go to the Saturday Market, or browsing through a record store. Perhaps we have brunch in mind. Often it’s just easier if the kids aren’t there. And no, “easier” doesn’t mean “less expensive.”

OK, “easier” totally means “less expensive.” So sue me.

At the same time, we don’t want to sneak out of the house when they have their backs turned. I have found the perfect solution to this dilemma: it’s a little phrase called “running errands.”

“Hey, kids,” I’ll say to Rusty and Audrey as we’re tying our shoelaces, preparing to head out. “We need to run a few errands. Want to come along?”

Ten times out of ten, they pass. Somehow, they associate “running errands” with a seemingly endless array of stops at boring places like Target and Ross and Fred Meyer. They think it’s adultspeak for “chores that do not appeal to teenagers.” And you know what? I’m okay with that. In fact, I’ve begun to use it to my advantage.

Take last Sunday, for instance. Tara and I wanted to go out to breakfast. We also knew this particular restaurant is trendy and popular, which means a 45-minute wait for a table. You know how 1 people year is equivalent to 7 dog years? It’s similar with kids. I don’t know the exact equation, and it varies with age, but every adult minute is probably equal to about three teenage minutes. When you’ve got a toddler every adult minute is more like twelve toddler minutes, so you definitely make progress as they age, but still. Throw hunger into the equation, and it’s more like 1 adult minute = 4.5 teenage minutes. Quite frankly, we just didn’t want to chance a 200-minute wait for a table.

errands“We’re running errands,” I told Rusty Sunday morning. He assumed that meant Target and Ross and Fred Meyer, when really it meant eggs benedict and bloody marys. I think he actually wished me luck before bolting from the room.

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes “running errands” does mean Target and Ross and Fred Meyer. But it might also mean a stroll through the farmer’s market or an ice cream cone at Salt & Straw or a matinee at the local cineplex. Lest you think we selfishly never include the kids, nothing could be further from the truth. The day before brunch, we took them hiking and made a picnic lunch. And we regularly take them to the movies or invite them to go fishing with us. But they’re at the age where they are just as likely to want to stay home anyway. Somehow, they think we aren’t cool.

Seriously? US?!

So yeah, “running errands” is our lifeboat. Or its cousin, “we have plans.” (But the kids have smartly figured out “we have plans” means “we’re stopping by the bar for a few drinks” so we don’t use that one as often, and when we do, knowing winks are exchanged all around. Nobody’s foolin’ nobody these days).

If you’re a new parent and wondering why this stuff doesn’t appear in any manual, don’t worry: it’s one of those closely guarded secrets that will be revealed as the years slip by. You’ll catch on. Mark my words.


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

17 thoughts on ““We’re Running Errands”

  1. I really hope your kids read this post and catch on to you. I can’t believe you went and got breakfast and left them behind. LOL. I see you in a whole new light now, Mark.


  2. It is a luxury not to take the kids with me grocery shopping. I enjoy the silence and the savings on the grocery bill. As they older “running errands” will be my new code word to keep them home.


  3. ” I don’t know the exact equation, and it varies with age, but every adult minute is probably equal to about three teenage minutes.”

    HAHAHAHHAHA! This is sooooooo true, Mark, because that’s exactly what it felt like when I was a kid.

    “So yeah, “running errands” is our lifeboat. Or its cousin, “we have plans.”

    I don’t blame you one bit because sometimes you just feel like it being just the two of you. And as you shared, they are at an age where they want to stay home anyway. I mean that’s how I was when I a kid. I LOVED when my parents went out and allowed me to stay home by myself.

    That’s when I would bring out the soundtrack to the movie, West Side Story, and then act it out in the living room by lip syncing to it – HA!


  4. I still read these once in a while. Also you guys posted on facebook that you were at the restaurant on sunday, sorry but your not that sneaky…


    1. Hey…I know this is you, Rusty, hiding behind a fake internet name!!

      If we were really trying to hide our activities we wouldn’t check in on Facebook or, you know, come home with doggie bags of leftovers. 🙂


  5. Really, you aren’t fooling anyone. I’m sure you would get the same results if you said we’re going out for breakfast at this trendy restaurant where we’ll probably have to wait for a table. They’ll tell you they don’t want to go anyway, bring me back a burger on the way home. At least that’s how it worked in my household.


    1. Touche! As evidenced by the comment above from this “Jason” guy. To our credit, the last time we “had plans” we did offer to pick them up something from Taco Bell or McDonald’s on the way home.


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