I have never been good about bags.
My wallet migrates between the bags I use for shopping and wherever kidlet decides to drop it. Receipts clutter the inside of the shopping bags, as do bits of onion skin and maybe an odd stem from some long-forgotten bit of produce. Bags are handy. Bags are nice. But I have never been good about keeping them neat and clutter-free, so at some point in the seven years that I've done the grocery shopping for us, I've decided that it's all-or-nothing--nothing stays in the bag, or else I carry supplies to outlast a nuclear winter. And since I am lazy, and nothing is easier to carry than everything, nothing it is.
Which, might be kind of surprising, given that I regularly take kidlet on excursions that last up to two hours. I have nothing with me--no toys to distract him with, no diaper to change him. I don't even carry snacks with me anymore. It's partly laziness--after 6 months of buying baby biscuits, I started forgetting to pick them up, and now I can't be arsed to visit that section of the supermarket any more. But mostly, he's gotten used to waiting until we get home to eat. Mostly--I do take him out on breakfast and/or lunch dates, to get him used to waiting for his food and sitting nicely and all that--but by and large, if he's out and hungry, well, he's really got no other alternative but to wait while I get us home.
Here's my theory (which might be full of shit): We tell kids to behave and be good and don't play with stuff and don't touch things that aren't theirs and don't run into the middle of the road, etc. etc. But when you confine a kid to the shopping cart/stroller, you don't give them a chance to actually be good and use the skills you've spent the better part of two years modeling for them. When you confine a kid, it doesn't matter if they are being good or not--no harm is done of they're not, but nothing tangible comes out of being good, either. So then the kid gets to be three or four years old, and suddenly the stroller isn't an option any more, and they're suddenly expected to behave, which they really haven't had much practice in doing, well, cue the meltdown, the brattiness, the whining.
So if kidlet is perfectly happy going out with no toys and no snacks, it's not because he's a magical toddler or anything. It's because I take every opportunity to let him do things. If we're at the Albert Heijn, which has the kiddie shopping carts, he gets to push the cart, help me pick out things, put them in the cart, put the things on the conveyor belt at the checkout (he needs a little help with this one), and push the cart back by himself. If there's room on the bus, I'll take him out of the stroller and let him sit in the seat next to me and look out the window. If he's finished his apple slices, he gets to put his plate in the sink. This is how we behave. This is what I have to do.
Like I said, I have no idea if this is even remotely true. It is what I do because, frankly, I don't have the money to buy him new toys every month, or bribe him for good behavior. It is what I do because I do believe in instilling good habits early on, as much as possible. It is what I do because it works to keep him happy and me sane, and at the end of the day, well, does anything else really matter?
But I would be lying if I didn't admit to feeling just a tad bit smug if we're calmly walking past a bigger kid who's clearly driving his parents crazy. I'm a good parent, but I'm no saint.