Dear Shoppers Minding Your Own Business But Distracted By My Children,
I thought that as my children grew older, brief errands here and there would perhaps become easier. Less embarrassing. After all, there was a time not too long ago when I had a 1, 3-1/2, and 5 year old in tow. For some CRAZY reason, I thought that when my children reached the ages of 8, 10-1/2, and 12… well, that they would know how to behave in public.
I was wrong.
They were just having fun.
And, I? Well, I was just SURVIVING.
Here’s how the day began:
“C’mon kids. Just a couple of places. We’ll get lunch first, to
satiate your animal cravings with some meattide you over. Maybe we’ll even grab dessert later.”
So off we go to scarf down some chicken sandwiches and lemonade. The staff at the restaurant repeatedly proclaimed, “My pleasure to serve you…” (you know the one) so surely they weren’t lying, right? Overall, a pretty pleasant experience. Well, except for Charlie refusing to eat his sandwich because two pickles touched the bottom bun. After some words of my own and a quick phone call to his father for reinforcement (my own way of
torturing Husband when he is out of town dual-parenting), Charlie ate the chicken. But with the top bun only. Fair enough; I’ll call that a Win-Win. HOWEVER… I don’t think the young mother with the well-mannered, ice-cream-cone-licking 4-year old son approved of the way I spoke to Charlie, though. I have long moved away from the ‘goo-goo-gah-gah, oochie-kooie, sweetie patootey, how may I bow down to you, you gonna eat dat pickle?’ voice– and have adopted a firmer tone when my children are being non-sensical. Um…Hey, Lady with the 4-year old darling? Well, my darling is 8. A’int nobody got time for that goo-goo-gah-gah I’ll order a new sandwich for you, honey bunchkins anymore.
So after lunch, off we go– happy as larks, assured that we were a pleasure to serve. Next stop: Trader Joe’s. Oh, wait. While walking toward TJ’s, we just had to stop for a quick look inside Nadeau–the Furniture With a Soul store… because we were all quite curious, honestly. Just what does furniture with a soul look like? Henry thought the name was rather creepy. But Charlie jumped right in… literally.
Naturally, being my daughter, Louisa was intrigued by many of the pieces and thought they were all ‘just perfect’ for us. I eventually dragged her away from all of the ‘souls’, and we headed into Trader Joe’s.
Now, let me be clear. I think the whole “Shopper in Training” cart idea is darling. Especially when the little 3-year old tots are pushing around their red carts with the flags with their Mommies and Daddies and Grandmommies and selecting the most wholesome foods to eat together later. I’m pretty sure everyone else in the store agreed that it’s not so darling when there are THREE Shoppers in Training per family–ages 8, 10, and 12. But how could I refuse? Don’t my children each deserve to feel special, selecting our d
ark chocolate peanut butter cups, raspberry vanilla cream bars, vanilla Joe-Joe’s, tortilla chips wholesome food for their carts? Plus, before we entered the market, I had warned the boys that there would be NO CART RACING CONTEST like last time. How badly could it turn out?
I won’t torture you with the details, but I eventually urged 12-year old Henry to “TAKE YOUR CART BACK UP TO THE FRONT OF THE STORE AND STAY THERE UNTIL I AM FINISHED SHOPPING!” That was said gently, of course.
Finally, we make it to the check out lane. This is the part where the always-so-bubbly-and-loquacious-Whatcha-got-planned-for-the-day?-cashier pipes up, “Would you like some stickers, kids?” “Oh, YES, M’am!” they enthusiastically replied.
Aw… soooooo sweet! They want the stickers! My precious darlings still want stickers. I have such little angels…
We finally make it out of TJ’s alive. Now back to the car. Time for some relaxation. Oh, did I mention THE TORRENTIAL DOWNPOUR that ensued the moment we stepped through the glass doors? So now I am finally back in the driver’s seat. I have total control now. I take a long, slow, deep breath, put the car into reverse, and look back before pulling out.
But, oh, friends… I am only HALFWAY THROUGH (!) with errands. Next stop…HOBBY LOBBY: A parent-with-three-children-in-tow’s nightmare. But I had to go. I had a very intentional purchase to make. After all, when your son-who-loves-to-draw requests a new gazillion-piece charcoal kit and sketchbook for his artwork, you say YES.
Note: YOU ALWAYS SAY ‘YES’ TO ART.
So aside from the usual back and forth, “No, we aren’t getting that. And no, not that. And remember what I said? Only in for the charcoal? So no, we’re not getting that. Not that, either. Yes, that’s cute. Yes, you’d like that. No, we aren’t getting it. That’s FIFTY DOLLARS?! No way we’re getting that!” conversation with the children, Hobby Lobby was a relative success. And by that I mean that nothing was broken. And the charcoal kit was on sale. Score.
And now for the last stop of the day. Drumroll, please…
TARGET. I mean, of course it’s Target! Let’s see… where do I begin? Should I tell you about Henry trying unsuccessfully to hurdle the giant red concrete ball at the entrance? Should I tell you about the
Black Hole $1 Spot that I had to battle once I made it inside? Or maybe I should tell you about… well, I’ll just show you instead.
All I wanted to do was to walk into Target, grab some dog treats, some inexpensive blush (because my makeup bag was riding around in Husband’s car in Michigan at the moment), a can of corn, some lightbulbs
and that darling shirt and romper for Louisa that we couldn’t pass up so it ended up in our cart. And instead of having a run in and grab a few things visit, I’m pulling my 8-year old’s contorted body out of a handbasket.
The final notable Target incident was in the canned veggie aisle, when I heard a voice call out, “Will you please get control of your children?!” Embarrassed once again, I quickly whipped my head around. But thankfully it was a familiar voice, a girlfriend just messing with me.
So, errands complete, having left our mark on every facility in which we entered that day, it was finally time to head home. Except for one last stop: Party Mart. Momma needed some
So what’s the lesson from Cucumber Stickers?
Just relax. Rest your head, close your eyes, and breathe. They’re kids. You were once, as well… and one day they’ll thank you– for letting them JUST BE KIDS.
PS: I forgot to mention the last incident of the day. Moz. Stranded outside in our yard during a torrential rainstorm. She forgave me… after I gave her the treats we just bought at Target.