Cartless Shopping

Now that my two oldest are getting too big to fit together in a shopping cart, I am going to invest in two of those leash-your-child-to-you contraptions. It’s the only way I figure I can keep them from rampaging through a store like a couple of rabies-infested wild dogs.

It’s spring break this week, which means I’ve had my 5-year-old home all week. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was that we got to play with him this week. Yet how unthrilled I was to run a few short errands with him Monday afternoon.

Running a quick errand with one child is difficult. Running one with two children is disastrous. At least for me.

Now my definition of a short errand is one where I can be in and out of a store within 15 minutes – 10 if my children cooperate. I’m not talking about an 1.5 hour trip to the grocery store. It’s not like I am torturing my little ones.

But they end up torturing me.

Our first trip Monday was to a rather large party-supply store. I needed to grab a few bags to wrap easter gifts. No big deal, right? Wrong.

Word of the wise, don’t ever take your children into a party-supply store. Their cute chubby fingers can’t resist the bins filled with favors. They’ll end up knocking half of the stuff into the aisles as you frantically try to put it back in the bin it belongs.

Not. Worth. It.

The worst part? When we got to the checkstand my 3-year-old spotted a piece of candy on the floor. He popped it into his mouth before I could yell “NO!” Then he smiled and laughed at how good it tasted. How can I tell him it’s not good for him when it tastes delicious?

After the party store we ran to a thrift department store to make a simple return. This store had carts. They were small, plastic ones but I didn’t care. I plopped both of my boys in the same cart and told them to sit down and be quiet. Big mistake.

They wrestled and climbed on top of each other and then decided to lick each other’s faces all over while I waited in line to make my return. Disgusting. No matter what I did, they wouldn’t stop.

And the check-out lady? She seemed oblivious. There’s something about my children going wild that must calm employees at the register. Because they never seem to move very quickly to ring me up even though I think I am going to lose it.

I think she said something to me like, “Your kids are having fun.” To which I replied, “Yep, but they are driving me nuts.” What I really wanted to say was, “Can you move any slower? Because I feel like smacking you right now.”

We’d been to two stores, shopping for less than 30 minutes, and I had had enough.

It wasn’t as if Monday’s behavior was a fluke. This comes on the cusp of me losing control of them at a religious store two weeks ago when we went to buy a small present for their cousin.

I had no option at this store – no carts. They zig-zagged through aisles behind me as a tried to quietly, yet sternly, whisper “get over here” in a respectful way. All heck broke loose when we entered the store’s small clothing section. While I was checking a size on something they decided to run from mannequin to mannequin rubbing their grungy cheeks on each white dress that was hung. I wanted to kill them.

Then I drug them to the cash register. While I was waiting to buy one, small thing, they snuck behind me and put plastic rings on each of their fingers. They were going to “keep” them. After I told them that was stealing, they reluctantly put them back and stood right next to me.

That’s when they knocked over an entire DVD display sending new releases flying across the floor. I helped a worker pick them up and put the display back up only to turn around and see them knock it down again. I was so mad.

I took them on one simple errand that day and I ended up exhausted.

But I’m too stubborn to run all of my errands alone. I have more time during the day when they are with me and even though it stresses me out, I feel like I need to keep taking them so they will learn to behave. Wishful thinking? Probably.

Luckily for a couple more months I’ll just have one little boy to take with me when my oldest goes back to school. Who knows what I’ll do this summer when I add a third one to the mix. I’ll definitely have to order my leash things by then.

School Shopping Stress

It’s no secret that I am not excited to send my 5-year-old to all-day kindergarten this fall.  But I decided to try to show my support and encouragement for his new school year by taking him shopping for some new school clothes.

Big mistake.

The shopping trip backfired, doing nothing to better our relationship.

I spent most of the time hollering, “Knock it off,” as I chased down my 3- and 5-year- olds while glancing at clothes out of the corner of my eye. Luckily I invited my mom to come, so she could help me reel them in.

We went to one store and were in there for less than an hour. It could have been less than a half hour if my boys would have behaved. I keep waiting for the day that they realize that if they cooperate and do what I ask them to do, it will make things go faster, giving us more time to do things that they ask to do.

But they still haven’t figured that out so they fight back making things worse.

First of all we made the mistake of trying to get the boys to sit in a shopping cart. That would keep them close, right? Right. But the department-store shopping cart is about one-fourth the size of a grocery-store shopping cart. And they have problems with the carts at the grocery store.

I think the urge to pinch, punch and pick on your brother is multiplied by 100 when you are in close proximity. They weren’t in that cart for two minutes before one of them was crying.

Then we let them down. That’s when I wish I would have had two of those kid-leash things.

I understand that kids are crazy and that little boys don’t love to shop, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s okay for my children to run around the store hiding under folded clothes and swinging from hanging rails.  They literally looked like wild monkeys.

They were having the time of their lives at my expense. I think in their mind the department store was a whole new McDonald’s-style playground with unlimited possibilities. Fun for them. Death for me.

One of the highlights was when we asked my oldest to try on some slip-on sneakers. We wanted to see him walk in the shoes, but of course the pair was hooked together with an elastic band.

He put one shoe on his left foot and then took off as fast as he could, hobbling around the corner with the right foot’s shoe and inch away from tripping him with every step. I thought for sure he was going to come crashing down into some end-cap display. At least it slowed him up making him easier to catch.

Then came time to try on a pair of jeans. You would have thought we had asked to re-administer his kindergarten shots. He flopped around on the floor trying to get away while my mom held him down and pulled his legs inside.

It was mass chaos and it stressed me right out. My mother thought it was hilarious. Probably because I did stuff like that to her when I was young.

But was really got to me was the fact that I was trying to help and take care of my son by buying him some nice things for school and he treated me like dirt. He acted completely ungrateful as he totally ignored my pleas for good behavior. Hopefully after the talk we had when we got home he’ll think twice before acting like that again – at least anytime soon.

Now that I think about it maybe our shopping trip didn’t completely backfire. It helped me realize that it might be nice for me to let someone else deal with his wild-side outbursts for a change. Believe me, I’ll miss him while he’s at school, but a little structure and discipline will do him good.

Experiential Shopping

Dear craft-store employee,

Thank you for acting like a complete jerk when I asked you to help me find a simple jewelry-making item in your store. I am sure it was horribly rude for me to pull you away from setting up that amazing aisle display to see if you knew where a basic product was.

I really appreciated the way you looked at me like I was an alien recently landed from Mars. Oh, and I loved when you told me you “might” have what I was looking for and then turned back to your “work.”

I guess I can see a little bit where you are coming from. It must be hard to help customers when you have to focus on listening to that craft-store circuit radio headpiece. I bet it’s difficult for you to do that and hang up your aisle display at the same time.

I should never have interrupted. But I promise it won’t happen again.

My favorite part about our interaction was the why-in-the-world-did-you-bring-your-children-in-here? look you gave me. Do you seriously think I would have brought my 4- and 2-year-old boys into a crowded craft store to pick up one jewelry piece if I had a choice? Why in the heck do you think I was asking you to help me find something to begin with? I was hoping you would steer me in the right direction and I could avoid chasing my monsters down unnecessary aisles where the temptation to tear craft supplies from random shelves is uncontrollable.

Trust me it was in your best interest to help me, and help me quickly.

Maybe next time a busy mother comes in your store with two rowdy young children instead of looking at her with a rude, glazed-over stare and making her feel like a complete idiot you should put down your all-important “work,” check your pride at the door and actually muster up some customer service.


A former customer

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