Saturday, April 12, 2014

Let It Go ...

Sorry there aren't more
photos in the post.
I was busy doing mom
things at Target.
No, I am not referring to the newest song terrorizing parents and Facebook feeds. I'm using that title to refer to the feeling a parent must get when they can't say exactly what's on their mind when others are observing either them or their children. But, for anyone who just wants a glimpse into the mind of a parent whose child is currently doing her thing and being 3, this is what we're really thinking. And how we wish to respond, but can't because we're trying to set an example.

To the woman who is "helping" me locate my child who is currently running through the store because she didn't want to sit in the cart.

Believe it or not, I recognize my daughter's footsteps. They haunt me. I hear them at ungodly hours on weekends, creeping slowly to my bed to wake me up. I hear them chasing the cat around the house. I can hear them running in an opposite direction or coming toward me. I know as soon as I unwrap any sort of food for myself, those footsteps will soon follow. I can hear them stop and know, after about two minutes of silence, to see what she's up to.

She's not a light stepper. And I'm OK with that.



There's no place like anywhere
else but where L. is currently
having a meltdown.
She wants to wear either her favorite yellow shoes or her sparkly red shoes every day, all day. And they have hard soles so I can hear the pitter-patter of her galloping steps pretty well. I am hoping tap shoes will not find their way into our house any time soon.

So, I know you're just trying to help but, really, you're just getting in the way of me trying to maneuver my clumsy red cart. She can't go far. And, seriously, she'll get distracted by something soon enough that she'll stop and I can catch up.

Oh, oh, you found her. And you're triumphantly waving me over. Yes, I knew she was in the aisle with the fruit snacks. It wasn't her bright red coat that gave her away. It was hearing those footsteps stop and hear her exclaim, "Oh! It's fruit snacks!"

Look, lady, I've got this. Thanks, but no thanks.

The teenage employee who sees two feet sticking out from under the cart and looks at me and says, "Uh ..."

Listen, junior, a minute ago, she was running through the store, probably pulling down merchandise you're just going to have to put back in a little while because I couldn't be bothered to stop to do it. Yes, in a perfect world, I would gladly make L. do it to show her right from wrong, but for today, we came into this store for three things: cat food, deodorant and yogurt. There are currently 10 things in the cart. None of which were on the original list. This is a matter of getting out of here in a timely fashion. I'm sure you understand.

As for the matter of my daughter climbing under the cart and deciding to "help" move the cart along with her feet, I now have full control of where we go, despite going at a turtle's pace. I can easily get the things we need and get out before any more havoc is wreaked. Yes, I do see that little picture of the child under the cart with the big "NO" symbol on it. I get it. You have a right to judge me. But, just keep it to yourself.

The man in the card aisle giving me dirty looks, annoyed he can't read whatever amusing anecdote Maxine, the grumpy old lady, has to say about getting older or whatever.

OK, so she's fascinated by all the cards with bunnies on them. All the cards with fuzzy ducks and dogs and cats and beavers and what have you. She wants to open all the cards that make sounds. You clearly haven't heard Kool & the Gang's "Celebration" correctly if it's not played by about 20 cards, all open and displayed on the floor of the store. You can imagine that cards are about one of the most awesome things in the universe. As for me, paying $4 for some folded cardstock still blows my mind, but I do it now and then when necessary.

But, all the same, I'm trying my best to pick up the cards she's thrown on the floor and forgotten about and put them back in the correct spots, so I'm a little too busy here to tell my daughter, "Sorry, honey, Mr. I-Probably-Forgot-My-Mom's-Birthday-Until-Today doesn't want us around him while he finds just the right card that says, 'I swear, I bought this card weeks ago."

Yeah, that's right, I'll make up a story about what I think your life is like, since I know you've probably already concocted some backstory about me in your head, considering the look of, "that mom is hopeless" you're giving me.

The older woman watching me wrestle my SCREAMING 3-year-old into the cart at the registers who says, "Looks like somebody's not happy."

Oh! OH REALLY?! Good lord, you're the most observant person I've ever met. You shouldn't be at Target with us lowly commoners; you should be writing for NCIS or some other late-night crime-solving show I can't watch anymore because it's past my bedtime! You've cracked this case wide open!

I never would have thought, in my three years of mothering, that if my daughter is screaming she must be UNHAPPY. Someone get this woman on Dr. Phil, pronto! She's unlocked the secret to parenting!

Oh, and for your information, she is not happy for the moment. I'M the one who's actually not happy. I haven't been happy since I realized I was really out of cat food to the point at which I had to take my daughter to Target after I knew she didn't get enough sleep the night before and this tantrum was inevitable. I'm the unhappy one here. Let's discuss that one, shall we?

Oh. Actually I guess I'm not the only unhappy one ...

The cashier who scans and bags my items, doesn't miss a beat when I rip the tag off the stupid plastic flower my daughter won't let go of to scan, and bags my items in complete silence and clear hatred of me and probably her job at that moment.

Thank you.

I realize you've braved the worst of this trip to Target with my daughter, aside from myself. You've listened to her scream since we were three people back. You knew our cart was getting closer and the screams were getting louder. You didn't greet me. You didn't tell me my total. You didn't even make eye contact.

But, you are, by far, my favorite person right now.

You didn't greet me -- I don't have time for small talk. I am fully engaged in making sure my daughter stays put and doesn't jump out of the cart. Not to mention the fact that I have to move out of her way quickly enough as I'm grabbing items and placing them on the belt because she's at the point of winding up her fists to hit me in the head. Trust me, we'll deal with that one later.

You didn't tell me my total -- I'm no novice to how buying things works. There is a nice big display on the register of my total. And, by the looks of the $1-bin crap on the belt that were clearly impulse buys, you can probably tell I kind of don't care what the total is right now. I just want to swipe my card and leave the store.

You didn't make eye contact -- I am perfectly happy not having to look at someone else's face who is annoyed because I was too tired last night after L. was in bed to get cat food then. Trust me, I, too, am kicking myself for this decision to go to Target now, when I knew full-well she didn't sleep long enough and was a ticking time-bomb from the moment she woke me up at 6:30 this morning.

You didn't say a word. You just did your job and got me out of the store as soon as possible.

For that, I thank you.

Bonus: The fiance who informs me for the first time we're out of his precious Gatorade after I've gotten home.
Oh, the look of indignation that came across my face when he said that was pretty amazing.

*****

I don't know about other kids, but for me, trips out in public that doesn't end in tears or frustration are few and far between. I've told myself, "It's this age," "It's the lack of consistency that comes with having divorced parents and two sets of rules," "It's just a bad day," "It's because I'm not firm enough," "It's because I'm too structured," "I give in too easily," "I'm too strict and have such high expectations," "People just don't understand," "I must be a terrible mom," and even secretly, shamefully thought "Is there something wrong with L. I'm not seeing?"

It's hard to take myself out of those situations and realize this is NOT what it's like all the time. This is a small fraction that seems to scare the living crap out of me and rule the rest of my day somehow -- just waiting for what, in my mind, will be an inevitable meltdown. But, for about 85 percent of the trip to Target, L. was happy. I'm sure this post is brimming with instances child experts and know-it-all moms will gladly point to and call mistakes. But, sometimes, despite the snarky comments I wish I could make to those who judge and point and condescend, I just have to let it go.
Following our infamous Target trip, I took L. right to her room where I had
her lie down while I stroked her hair and lulled her into a much needed nap.
Sorry, Kool & the Gang, but THIS is a true Celebration!