The dressing room ritual comes after maybe five minutes of trying to shop with anyone under the age of 5. Although dressing rooms are armed with security cameras, they prove to be an excellent place to completely lose your mind for a moment while shopping with children.
I find that cornering my children in a cubicle with a growl and bared teeth gives me a lurch of satisfaction not found anywhere else in this plane of existence.
Upon entering and bolting the door, I sit them down on the bench and take one of three tactics (depending on how far into the insanity phase I am. Meaning depending on how many threats I’ve already tried):
1) Completely Crazed Mother at Hand.
This is my favorite because I get to blow off a lot of steam. In this scenario, the children wonder if they’ve gone so far as to make me disregard female-only security staff and let them “have it” (mom terminology). I rant and rave, threaten and swear, point and grimace.
I do all this while trying to force them to try on jeans in four different sizes. This weakens the gusto but it’s imperative that moms multi-task at all times.
The crazed tactic feels good in the moment but always brings a rush of regret later, in the van, when you wonder what the security staff had to say about it. You never really touched them per se, but they might prosecute you for what you did to their hangers.
2) Mom Willing to Negotiate.
This is like a police standoff with a suicidal person. You are pretty much willing to do anything to get the train back on track. This includes pretending you still like them. But it must be done when things are on sale and you have an additional 30 percent-off coupon.
This tactic usually involves offering to buy them a toy for their cooperation. You might try limiting it to “a trip to the dollar store” or go so far as to offer “a new bike, with an engine!”
It’s easy to get out of hand at this stage. You are, after all, in an emotional state. Be very clear in what they must do to get this toy. “No hitting” is not specific enough. Be sure you note all variations of hitting such as “slamming a bent hanger against your brother’s head.”
Note: This tactic rarely works because they will likely screw up their end of the deal before you even get out of the dressing room. Be willing to offer the bike, take it back, offer it again, take it back. Repeat as necessary until sanity snaps and you resort to Tactic 1.
3) Practical, Sensible, Mom In Control.
This is a complete farce. But sometimes the surprise factor will work for you. Just when they are expecting you to lacerate them with the ties of a bikini you’ll never get into, you offer them love and understanding.
“I know you’re tired of looking at things. What do you want to do instead?”
While they consult and try to backtrack to where they last saw their real mother, force several collared shirts over their heads and new shoes on their feet.
When they start sniffing out your plan, there’s no shame in lying to them and telling them this is the very last stop in today’s shopping bonanza (now a whopping 30 minutes long).
Careful, now. This can backfire on you. They may think you’ve caved too early in the game. They’ll then try to prolong the situation, their fun not quite over here in the dressing room.
My final advice to crazed shopping mothers? Sometimes your best defense is to utterly confuse them.