Matt Knutson: Embrace the unusual when it brings happiness

Published 9:29 am Friday, February 10, 2017

Matt Knutson is a communications specialist in Rochester.

“She won’t let me pick her up,” I told Sera as we slowly walked the aisles of Target. Our 1-year-old daughter has grown fond of pushing the cart, meaning we’re moving very leisurely these days. At first we thought it was just humorous that she wanted to try to move the cart, but now after several stores, it’s become clear she wants to do more than try. She wants to be in charge.

I shouldn’t be surprised by this behavior. My father and mother-in-law raised four determined daughters that do not balk at the sight of a challenge. We also adorned Gracelyn’s bedroom with the saying, “Let her sleep, for when she wakes, she will move mountains.” If these traits are manifesting themselves at such a young age, maybe we weren’t being too pretentious when we bought the onesie proclaiming her as future president.

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This determination to move our shopping cart first began over a week ago as Gracelyn was fussing in Sam’s Club. We thought if we gave her freedom to walk in the store, she’d be happier and we’d be happier. Afterall, a 1-year-old’s little legs can’t handle going that far, and if any chance we get to wear her out arises, we’re going to pursue it. Little did we know, she’s willing to go as far as we let her. I’m not sure how many laps we could do around the store, but I think Gracelyn would be up for as many we would allow. One would think the extra large shopping carts at a warehouse store like Sam’s Club would be too difficult to maneuver for such a little girl. That thought would be incorrect.

We’ve since begun pushing carts in almost every store we visit, as that’s much more enjoyable than simply buckling ourselves in and enjoying the view. This does mean we’re operating at tortoise speed, but in most cases, we’re shopping at the end of a long day and bedtime awaits at home. I reminded Sera today as we walked past Target’s maternity section of our slow walks around the mall when she was pregnant with Gracelyn. I don’t think we were moving much faster then compared to now, but perhaps our pace has slowed in my memory. Either way, these slow walks are more pleasant for us all because they don’t involve Braxton Hicks contractions.

I can’t help but wonder if Gracelyn will follow in my legendary footsteps. For those unaware, I started my career as a cart attendant for Hy-Vee. Can you imagine her face lighting up if I told her people actually got paid to do what appears to be her one true passion in life? If only her 1-year-old self could understand. I’ve since passed my Hy-Vee legacy onto my nephews, and hopefully they’ll return the helpful smile in every aisle mantra back to Gracelyn. I would have never thought that I’d wish what I was doing on those old, windy and winter nights in high school upon my future children, but here I am.

To further prove how much this little girl loves her shopping carts, you’d need to understand how our visit at Target ended. Sera ventured to the photo center to pick up a print, and Gracelyn and I waited near the door for her to finish. By near the door, I mean the line of carts that are in the entryway of the store. Gracelyn promptly ran up to the the middle row and started hugging the closest cart she could reach. Upon pulling her away, while she kicked the air I might add, she darted toward anyone else’s cart who might be passing by the photo area. Unsurprisingly, these shoppers were highly amused at this cutie who wanted to help them push their cart to the car. Gracelyn’s father wasn’t so amused.

That being said, there’s a reason we’re letting her indulge in this silliness. It brings her joy. In a house filled with rules and a world that can be challenging, sometimes it’s nice to embrace the odd and unusual when it can bring happiness. Hopefully we’re all able to find an activity that brings us as much delight as shopping carts do for my daughter.