Friday afternoon, 3 pm. White Dodge Durango in the Target parking lot. A red headed mama takes a deep breath before pushing the car door open. Curls and Red follow suit out the back door, pushing and shoving. “I want to close the door! No, I want to close the door!” While the fighting ensues, I take one of the lonely carts that is rolling on the asphalt, daring a car to hit it. I do the quick cart wash before the kids realize that I am doing their job. They hop on either side and we head towards the Bullseye, stopping at the trash can long enough for Red to throw trash away and rub his hands all over it to make sure he brings home various diseases along with the toy I will be suckered into buying.
Once we are in I head to the hats. Five minutes later and no hat is big for my huge heed. Add Curls spinning the revolving jewelry display and I am ready to move on. For the next 10 minutes it’s a combination of each kid hopping on and off the cart, running in front of the cart and stopping, and me playing defense so I don’t hit and run over one or both of them. Curls is shaking her pink Disney princess (is there any other kind of princess at age 6?) wallet every 30 seconds, as a reminder that she has four quarters to spend. She needs to buy something because she hasn’t gotten anything in a long time. That is if you don’t count the two overflowing Easter baskets and the pink Razor scooter she has received in the past two weeks. The jingling of the change distracts me from Red running far enough away from that I am hoping scared that somebody is going to take him.*
We finally circle back to the dollar section after I have checked everything off of my list. And any mom who has been to the Target dollar section knows, it is more like the $15 section. One item leads to three things and by the time you get out alive you have two coloring books, two badminton sets, two board books, and maybe a snack. I see your game Target. Well played.
We exit Target without anymore obstacles but I still have one more place to tackle before I can let out the breath I am constantly holding in fear: the grocery store. I keep my shoulders back, look at the automatic sliding doors with confidence, and vow to plow through in a reasonable amount of time.
First stop is the pizza counter, AKA, our dinner. I order a large pizza and two of the sugary drinks (disguised under the word “smoothie”), that will be waiting as a reward for Curls and Red once we are done. Next we head to the produce section. Curls wants to help. I love my beautiful six year old, so full of independence. But I don’t have the patience at the moment because I know the second I say, “Yes”, the Tasmanian Devil would want to help. Which involves me being in a rubber room after chasing a runaway group of oranges/apples/lemons that the kids tried to pick up. I try to explain to Curls as much as I love her help, today I want her to just stay close so we can shop quickly. Simultaneously I am giving Red the eyes to make sure he stays within arm reach. As I feel the frustration start to build, THAT MOM passes by. The mom who is pretty, well dressed, and has two beautiful girls. She is talking in a hushed voice to her precious little ones with a smile on her face and still manages to judge me with side eye. I wish I could talk in a hushed voice. But I have two volumes: loud and louder. So I carry on and ignore her as we pass her cart in every.single.aisle.
We get to the checkout after our judgment filled marathon and I can taste freedom. My favorite cashier is working and I happily head for her. She is sweet to my kids and always asks how I am. The end is almost near and then it happens. The kids start slapping each other with the Target coloring books (no good deed goes unpunished, I tell ya). Like a full on slap-a-thon:
Customers all around us are “not noticing” and giving themselves some distance from my kids to even further the point. I am mortified. I try the ear pulling but Curls has caught on and now ducks-10 points to my girl. I take away the coloring books and finally finish bagging the groceries. The even colder air hits us as we arrive outside, both kids delighted now that they have their strawberry cavity inducing drinks. This is when Red decides to weave from one row of parked cars to another, giving me my 80th heart attack of the day. The joy he takes in dodging danger on a daily basis can only be equated to my skipping through any stores, sans children.
By the time we get home I am so relieved to walk through the garage door that I know I will venture out in public with Curls and Red once again, only to survive another adventure.
*No, I truly don’t hope somebody will take my kid. And let’s be honest. If someone took him, he would be safely returned to me within 5 minutes. There is a 5 minute Red threshold that only his parents can truly withstand.