Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Target practice

I like Target. Alone. In the quiet of my own mind I like perusing its welcoming aisles of notebooks, makeup, jewelry, clothes, picture frames and so much more. I normally go while my girls are in school. Sage is the perfect companion either sleeping or smiling up from her stroller just content to be with mommy.

A couple weeks ago I wanted new eye shadow, batteries, and baby Mum Mums to introduce to Sage. One of those strange combinations that is divinely paired at Target. Some little girl woke me up earlier than usual and instead of running errands during preschool I opted for a nap with Sage and the luxury of finishing the latest novel I was reading. In hindsight I'm not sure such decadence was worth it.

I understand that children can be told no, and can understand that when you go into a store you are not going to buy anything they want. Unfortunately, my girls' most recent store experiences are the treasured "daddy time" where he takes them to the dollar store, and does indeed buy them anything they want. We were having a pleasant afternoon of the girls playing nicely together without being too destructive, and I confided in my mother-in-law that I was considering taking the girls on a short target trip with me. She said she had been wanting to go too and this fueled my confidence that together we could handle this. I rationally explained my plan ahead of time that we would be going to a store and there was a special dollar section where each girl could pick one item. If we had a good trip to the store and listened well, then they would all get to keep their item. If a girl did not behave, then we would give the item to the cashier and say "not today, thank you."

It seemed like a straight forward, simple to execute plan. I'm not sure where things went wrong. I occasionally take Joy and Grace to Costco and have them ride in the cart. They have asked to walk and stay next to the cart, but because there is so much traffic in that store, I insist they ride in the cart. It's practically worse than a parking lot, and I just don't think my girls are very visible until the cart is actually running them over. Feeling optimistic, I did not insist the girls ride in a cart, but could instead hold on to Sage's stroller. One girl wanted to ride in the cart Grandma was pushing and that was fine too. Until our first one strayed into women's clothing when set free in the dollar section. I tried to explain in my calm mommy voice that girls needed to stay where they could see mommy or grandma. We continued on towards the baby section and grandma got distracted by the girls' clothing. Each girl was like a Price Is Right contestant dreaming wide-eyed of going home with a new wardrobe. In the way that grandmas are seduced by Target's reasonable prices and items of mislead necessity, Dori consented to buy each girl one t-shirt. There were girls running rampant through the girls' clothing section, hiding in racks while I ran around begging them to come out. Please note: This is where I'm beginning to lose my cool but am trying to keep it together.

We settle on a t-shirt for Joy and Grace and are ready to move on to the big girl section to pick out a t-shirt for Hope. Joy has now come out of grandma's cart and all three girls are roaming free while grandma abandoned me to go grab her items that she came for promising to meet up with me in the beauty section. All the girls went in different directions again trying to find the best shirt for Hope, picking the most expensive and sparkly shirts they could find. More mommy yelling resumed as I tried to keep track of my three hellions. Joy has now wandered out of the big girls section and into the front aisle where people are trying to get into check out lines, and a Target team meeting is breaking up. I'm trying to corral the Joy back to the stroller and an employee notices at the same time as I do that Joy is no longer wearing shoes. She had flip flops on and I feel pretty sure they are in Grandma's cart on the other side of the store. He says, "she can't be in here without shoes." Ugh. You think I want her running around without shoes either? I ignore his suggestion and get the girls moving along to the makeup section.

I had also promised new nail polish, but that meant that I had to find the dollar nail polish before they got their hearts set on the designer nail polish. This is more challenging because all the nail polishes are in different brand areas. I try to keep the girls and namely Joy hidden at the end of the aisle so we don't get kicked out of the store by an employee. There at the end of one of the aisles was the Holy Grail for Grace. The Hello Kitty makeup section. Grace loves makeup. I tolerate makeup. If we are working towards a special reward at home with good behavior, it is often makeup that Grace is working towards. Branded with Hello Kitty, it was more than her late afternoon temper could handle. She went into negotiation mode. Could she trade her dollar section item for an overpriced Hello Kitty makeup set. No. Puh-leeeaase? No. I really want it. No. And then the meltdown followed. Full crying and whining. I spied Grandma and sent Joy and Hope to meet up with her while I dragged Grace out of the section with promises that we could do makeup at home. Luckily Grandma consented to check out for us and meet us in the car.

I took all three girls to the car feeling like a shipwreck survivor. Hope and Joy did get their dollar section items. Grace fell asleep on the car ride home.

They say hindsight it 20/20, but I'm still not sure how I'm supposed to handle these situations. I'd rather avoid them because it seems more painless than enduring the tornado we charge through the store. At what age will I feel comfortable letting them all be out of the cart, because I don't see it in the foreseeable future.