I bet you're expecting some crazy list of events consisting of kids screaming, running around the aisles, shelves crashing down like dominoes, and a police escort out of the store. Well, none of that happened. I strolled out of the store with a full cart and two kids intact. I was tired. I was on edge. I needed hard liquor and a soft blanket, but then again, that's pretty much my normal state of being. "Why," you ask, "were you so tense, Terese? The kids did nothing wrong." I was tense because, while I was shopping, I also successfully defused two bombs.
Everything I learned about taking my kids out in public, I learned by watching Speed. That's right. I'm talking about that awesomely bad movie from 1994, staring Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Jeff Daniels and the up and coming actress, Sandra Bullock. This is where you ask, "But, how can a blockbuster action movie involving a bus, a bomb and bad acting compare to parenting?" I'm glad you asked. Speed addresses four rules to follow for a tantrum-free outing. I have broken down these rules for you.
Know your bomb:
In the movie, bomb expert, Detective Harry Temple (Jeff Daniels) is the go-to guy when Officer Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) needs to know how to defuse a bomb. Harry knows which wire to cut, what kind of explosives are used to make the bomb, and the classic decoys a bomber will use to throw off anyone attempting to defuse the bomb. I don't care who you are, if you have a kid, you have a bomb on your hands. You must know your bomb. Every kid is wired to explode into a tantrum at any given time. Some kids blow up easier than others. Some are on a timer (around nap time or lunch time) and some detonate by use of a trigger (over stimulation, new environment, other people, or the word "no"). Kids, like bombs, vary in make, model, and level of blast intensity. You might have a hand grenade kid or a nuclear bomb kid. The only difference between a kid and a bomb is that a bomb can only go off once whereas a kid can explode multiple times a day. Be like Harry and do your research. If you know what you are working with, you will know how to defuse it.
Don't go below 50 mph:
The villain, Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper), rigs a bomb to a Los Angeles city bus after his previous attempt to blow up an elevator full of hostages fails. The bomb is armed once the bus reaches the speed of 50 mph. Once the bomb is armed, if the bus slows down past 50 mph, the bomb will explode. When you are running errands with your kids in tow, be quick and don't slow down. Once you enter the store, the kids are armed. This is not the time to price compare or watch product demos. Do not read the list of ingredients on the back of the cereal box. Do not mull over the selection of moisturizing shampoo or cough syrup. Know what you want to buy before you leave the house. If you want to compare ingredients of one brand to another, look up the products on the internet before you go shopping. Know your route. Write down the items you plan to buy on your list so it flows with the layout of the store. That way you can start on one end of the store and work your way to the other end. Unfortunately, this is not a fool proof plan. One end of an aisle might be crowded with other shoppers or blocked off for restocking. If this happens, don't be afraid to step on the gas and jump the bridge. If Annie Porter (Sandra Bullock) can successfully jump a bus over a 50 ft span of unfinished bridge only going 70 mph, you can maneuver around the Coca Cola delivery guy and his huge pallet of Diet Coke.
Be creative if you are running out of time:
Jack hooked an elevator to a crane which prevented it from crashing to the bottom floor before he could remove the hostages. He shot Harry in the leg when Howard took him hostage, thus taking him out of the hostage equation. After discovering the hidden camera on the bus that allowed Howard to watch the passengers as they sped down the highway, Jack aired a recorded video loop over the feed so Howard would not know the passengers were being transported off the bus. Sometimes you have be creative and think on your toes to buy more time. I try to bring little things that will distract the kids if they start getting antsy, but there times I underestimate their hunger level or attention span. In those situations, I will open a box of Goldfish crackers or raisins from my cart and let them snack while I shop. (Even if the kids eat the entire contents of the box, pay for the food. Also, don't do this with anything that is sold by weight like fresh fruit. You're stealing if you do.) I'll also pull a coloring book off the shelf and let B color in it. Of course, you also have to buy the coloring book. It's important not to do this on every trip because you run the risk of the kids expecting to get snacks or a toy every time they go into the store. Then you are dealing with a "Howard" who expects to get his ransom and will threaten to blow up every time.
Move away from tourists:
This is not so much a way to defuse the bomb, but a way to keep on task. Allen Ruck (also known as Cameron Frye from Ferris Bueller's Day Off) played the annoying tourist, Stephens, on the bus. He was friendly and meant no harm, but I have a feeling the passengers would have been happier while speeding to their deaths, had he not been there. When you are out with your adorable bundle of C4, sweet but clueless strangers will try to stop you and strike up a conversation about your kid. You can't blame them, really: Your kid is awesome and the world should acknowledge that fact. But now is not the time. You have to get your errands done before the timer runs out or you will be forced to decide whether to cut the blue wire or the red wire. The last thing you need is a distraction. The best course of action is to pull an Annie:
Stephens: First time in LA.
Annie: Oh no, I live here.
Stephens: No, mine. Oh that's just funny, you heard me wrong. Nah, I'm sightseeing.
Annie: Oh, really?
Stephens: Yeah. I hate to use the word 'tourist' but it's not like I can hide it...
Annie: Not really.
Stephens: [sigh] Did you know it took me three hours to get here from the airport? I got so lost. LA's one big place, but I guess you don't notice, seeing as you live here. I'm such a yokel, there I said it!
Annie: Oh jeez. You know what? I got gum on my seat, GUM!
If Anne did not move away from Stephens, she would not have been close enough to grab the wheel when the bus driver was shot. The whole movie would have been over right there. Think of some excuse to keep moving. You are on a mission and will need to act fast if a tantrum starts. You can use my lines: "I'm sorry, her diaper is at full capacity and I need to change her." Or you can say, "Oh jeez. Look at that snot coming out of his nose. I hope it's not contagious." You're not being rude. You're preventing this tourist from becoming collateral damage.
It is important to remember that sometimes the bomb blows up no matter how hard you try to prevent it. You don't always save the day and get to make out with Sandra Bullock. Don't get upset. Accept the medal and the cheap gold watch and move on. Get out of the store as quickly as possible, go home, relax, and rent a movie. I recommend Speed. It might not make you a better parent, but it's a cheesy yet exciting movie that will help you forget about your disaster of a day. Plus, Keanu Reeves is hot.