So I woke up craving a good old fashioned shopping trip. You know what I’m talking about. Where there is nothing specific you need to get, but the urge to walk through stores touching items you think are cute or crinkling your nose at things that are hideous must be answered.
I called my sister, because no one wants to shop alone, especially when it’s the unnecessary kind of shopping. “Come shop with me!” I said.
She was hesitant. “I don’t have anyone to watch my kids. Do you have a sitter?”
“No,” I responded. “But I’m feeling spunky and optimistic. It’ll be fun, and the kids will be fine.”
She gave in because (I have been told) I am the kind of person who can pressure/steam roll someone into just about anything. We chose a time and place to meet, promised all our kids we would get ice cream as long as they behaved themselves…and so began the nightmare.
It started off fine; lunch at a drive through, two quick stops, then meeting up with my sister and her three kids in front of our first store. We loaded our littlest kids into their strollers and headed inside, still feeling spunky and excited.
I don’t know what it is about clothing stores that brings out the worst in my boys. Maybe it’s all the girly shirts and dresses and jewelry and perfume. Maybe its knowing there is nothing acceptable to shoot with or jump off of in the entire store. Maybe there is some chemical used in the making of women’s clothing that causes little boys to turn into werewolves.
They were tossing shoes at each other; their baby brother’s shoes. And said brother was screaming because they took his shoes off. Then a shoe missed its intended target and smacked their baby cousin in the face, and she started screaming. My sister missed all this because she had walked around the corner with her other daughter looking for a bathroom…because that daughter was about to pee her pants.
There was no bathroom in this store, though, so my sister instructed the daughter to “hold it” and we tromped into the two handicapped changing stalls at opposite ends of the dressing room. Clay and Nate were banished to opposite corners of our stall, and Faith was in charge of taking shirts from my stall to my sister’s when I thought the item would look better on her, and bringing things to me that she thought I should try.
It was calm for maybe 25 seconds…then I smelled something.
I knew right away who it was, because he had that “uh oh” look on his face.
“Did you pass gas or have an accident?” I whispered. And you have to whisper in dressing rooms, because the sound carries out into the whole store if you talk in a normal voice.
He didn’t answer and my stomach sank into my shoes. I didn’t have any clean clothes for him.
“Faith, walk down to Aunt Sarah’s room and ask her, quietly, if she has a plastic bag,” I instructed.
I used half the wipes in my bag to get the almost-mess under control. He was complaining that his underwear were wet. My mouth hit the floor.
“Are you kidding me?” I whispered. “At least they are clean. Wet is way better than it could be, Nate.”
About the time I was starting to panic about what to do with the giant pile of wipes I had sitting next to me, Faith returned with a bag from Sarah. Thank God for prepared sisters!
We still managed to find a couple things we liked and exited the dressing rooms to check out. Every other woman in the store was cutting her eyes in our direction. I don’t know if I was just super frazzled at that point, but I am convinced none of the looks were friendly.
Why do people have to give two women with SEVEN children judgmental looks??? Do they think it helps? Are they really THAT sure that they could do better in a women’s clothing store with 4 boys and 3 girls ages 10 and under???? Maybe they could smell the pile of wipes I had in the bag in my purse, but still…the polite thing to do is smile, then look away. Staring doesn’t make anything better, people. Yes, we are a circus. Yes, every child is causing trouble of some sort. Yes, there is a questionable smell coming from the bottom of my stroller. Yes, we were dumb enough to think this was a good idea. BUT GIVE US A BREAK, OKAY????
We made it out of that store and immediately opted NOT to go to the other women’s clothing store we were planning to hit. Instead we went to a children’s clothing store.
Children’s clothes must not be treated with the same chemicals as women’s because the boys were remarkably subdued in the second store.
But then the kid with the wet-but-clean underwear on informed me (loudly) that he needed to go to the bathroom RIGHT NOW!!!!
In desperation, (I didn’t have enough wipes left for another accident) I asked if we could use the store bathroom, and the kind lady agreed. She is used to kids in her store, obviously, because there were no judgmental looks.
By the time we got to the bathroom…the underwear couldn’t be cleaned up again. So, I unknotted the bag full of wipes from the previous store (yes, I still had it in my purse. I forgot to throw it away, okay??? No judgmental looks, I was barely hanging onto my sanity) tossed the Spider Man underwear into the bag, re-knotted the bag, and threw it in the trash.
“But now I have no underwear!” Nate cried.
“Tough,” I responded compassionately. “Put your shorts back on, you’re going commando.”
He spent the rest of the day picking out the wedgy his shorts gave him.
By the time we left the second store, the kids had been told that they weren’t getting ice cream.
“NO WAY!!” I said forcefully. “ Y’all have not behaved at all!” Shocked tears began.
We stopped on the sidewalk because Gabe and Joy Ellen needed their diapers changed. Yes, in case you are wondering, I think the sidewalk is a fine place to change a diaper.
Then Sarah decided to get a pair of shoes for Samuel that she had seen as we were walking out of the last store…and she took him back in to try them on, leaving me outside with the other SIX kids.
There was a game of tag, several smacks on naughty butts, two rolled up diapers, continued tears because of the loss of ice cream, 3 shirt changes because the boys HAD to wear the “Avengers” t-shirts I bought them, one earring swap because Faith really wanted to put on the new feather earrings she had gotten, a pair of shoes that SQUEAKED every time Joy Ellen took a step…I can’t even begin to describe the looks I got during the ten minutes we sat there. And you don't want to know about the look I gave Sarah when she finally emerged from the store.
She laughed at me.
Finally we were moving again. My sister and I looked at each other.
“Well,” I said. “I don’t care how bad the kids have been. I want ice cream.”
This was met with cheers and laughter, even though we didn't say we were getting THEM anything.
“Let’s get milkshakes at Chic-Fil-A” Sarah suggested. “The kids can play on the play place and we can rest for a minute.”
When we got to our vehicles, there was major commotion about which kids were riding where, since we were just going around the corner. We loaded our strollers in the backs and closed all the car doors.
“Man, I am sweating!” Sarah yelled.
“I have four kids in my car. Do you have three?” I yelled back.
“Yep!” she said. “Why is Gabe crying?”
“He wants his drink. Here, catch!” I tossed the cup across our two vehicles, she caught it, and we were off to play on the play place.
…it was closed for remodeling.
We stared at each other, we stared at our once-more crying children…and we gave in and bought them ice cream. A vanilla cone for each of them, and a LARGE chocolate milkshake for us to share.
“I don’t have a bib for Gabe,” I complained as he attacked his cone. And I didn’t have many wipes left, thanks to…well, you remember.
“I have a disposable toilet seat cover you can hang around his neck,” Sarah offered. OMG.
In the end I tucked a napkin into the neck of his shirt. By the time he was finished he had accidently eaten some of the napkin with his ice cream…
There is no point to this story. There is, however, a happy ending.
Not for me, not for my sister, not for our kids…but for our husbands.
The happy ending is this: However spunky we may feel, however much we may want to hang out with each other, there is very little chance we will go shopping again with our kids…ever. And we always have our kids with us. So there is a happy ending for our bank accounts too.
I am seriously starting to wonder if our husbands put the kids up to their antics today.