Target. It’s the one place I enjoy shopping. My boys aren’t huge fans
of shopping but I’ve finally gotten the program down. Give them something to do and they won’t terrorize me while I shop.
For example, when Kendall was 4 years old, he was screaming and having a fit over something while we were in Target. He was strapped in the cart; he would not stop. I would not give in. Finally he said something, I can’t remember what, but my response was something like: “If you don’t quit, I’m going to wash your mouth out for talking that way.”
He didn’t shut down even for a second. I would need to follow through. The number one Mom Rule is don’t threaten what you can’t follow through on. I was in a bind now.
So, crazed and battered, I considered the soap aisle at Target. No, too obvious, with the possible outcome of shoplifting prosecution. I considered the advice where they tell you to march out of the store and abandon your cart to deal with them in the car. But I wanted also to abandon him. No, too fine a line on that decision. Next I opened my purse looking for a weapon and found a package of wet wipes.
“Here,” I said, “I’ll wash your mouth out with this!” I was, for the record, in the office-supply section. It was colorful and orderly and beautiful and I couldn’t even enjoy it because I was fighting the will of a small monster.
“You wouldn’t!” he dared me.
“I would.” I delivered this in a death whisper.
Then I did it. I swabbed the inside of his mouth with that wet wipe! I felt victorious! He would not scream and argue with me another second. Case closed.
He was shocked into silence. We stared at each other.
Then, my 4 year old smiled.
“Yum, lemon.” And started laughing.
They were lemon-scented.
“Can I have some more?” He was hooting with victory and snatched the cloth out of my hand and chewed on it some more.
I stood mute with fear staring at his sweet little face.
So, 10 years later, here we are. He is 14. Nelson is 12. They no longer ride in the cart or howl in protest. They do, however, drag their feet and blackmail me in the electronics section.
But last month, on a Friday, I had a lengthy list. I would not be deterred from the heavy lifting I had ahead of me. I needed toilet paper, bananas and, oh yes, an an entire table worth of theme props for the next GTWoman luncheon.
One step in the door and there stood the dollar rack full of Valentine heart decorations. It was a jackpot. We’d just decided our theme for 2017 would be “Love Your Town” and here sat a rack full of hearts on every kind of product known to man. All for $1, $3 or $5. I got down to business, arranging different items on an empty shelf, to see what they would look like on our GTWoman booth. The boys danced around and knocked over a few things while I asked for their opinion.
They weren’t helping. They were, as usual, making me wonder why I had children at all. It was then that I recalled Kendall’s fondness for snacking on lemon wipes while shopping.
Five minutes later, they had one soft pretzel, an overflowing bag of popcorn (note to the cleanup crew: talk to the café staff about fill height) and two pops. They were delighted. I was delighted. They asked if they could go look around. Sure, meet me back here in 20 minutes, I told them. I could do a lot of damage in 20 minutes (but so could they).
With time to spare, my cart was jammed full and our GTWoman table was going to be thrillingly new for just a few dollars!
I decided I had time to take a quick look for any new books on display. My favorite two spots in Target are (formerly) the office supply aisles and the book aisles. I made my way to the back of the store when, what should I see but a couple of hoodlums lounging on a sofa display just to the left of the main drag.
Wait. They were my hoodlums.
They looked like an ad for the couch. Munching and sipping and taking a break.
“What are you doing?” I thundered, just in case anyone with authority was watching.
“What?!” they asked in surprise.
“Get off their couch with your food!” I hissed, using the now decade-old death whisper. Inside, I was quieting a small fear that I’d raised animals.
They didn’t move. Instead they asked, “Why would they have couches out if you can’t sit on them?”
And that’s when I spotted something over their shoulder: an older gentleman doing the exact same thing on a loveseat. The longer I stood there, the more I realized that the furniture section was the hangout for the guys.
I couldn’t really punish them. Suddenly they seemed to know more about enjoying Target than I did. I bowed down to their wisdom and took a picture for posterity: for the students had surpassed the master.