The last time I took Paolo to the grocery store, he was feeling more than a little mischevious. We had selected a grocery cart with a bench seat, which is a horrible contraption because the buckles are broken and nothing stops a hyperactive toddler from jumping out at will. Nothing except my reprimands, which lately go unheeded. The trip dragged on so long I could see liver spots forming on my clenched hands pushing the grocery cart in four-feet increments. Finally, I snapped and demanded in my most serious parental tone--the one that lets him know I mean business, without scaring anyone who might overhear into calling a hotline--that Paolo get in the cart and STAY in the cart. Paolo climbed aboard and cheerfully threatened to punch me in the belly. Now, I knew that he wasn't going to lay a hand on me, but I can't say the same for the OTHER SHOPPERS whose eyebrows flew off their faces.
I related this story later to Sam, who looked awfully guilty as he listened. Apparently, when Sam goes shopping with Paolo on Monday afternoons, he tells him the grocery cart is pirate jail. When Paolo wants out of pirate jail, he punches Sam in the belly, and Sam stops and lets him jump out. It's a system they have. I asked Sam why he couldn't have come up with another signal for Paolo to use when he wanted to walk beside the cart, like, call me crazy, words? He shook his head very gravely and said, "No can do. There's only one way out of pirate jail." I'm living with two nut cases. Send help.