Saturday, September 27, 2008

BULLS-EYE!





I LOVE Target. It is by far my favorite place to shop. With it's wide aisles, chic clothing, cheap prices on home essentials, adorable baby clothes and shoes, warm ambiance, and Starbucks in the lobby, I'm convinced it HAD to be designed by women, for women. The clever commercials and BULLS-EYE logo, are right on!

One of my good friends just had a baby and my husband blessed me with a much larger than usual gift budget. THRILLED with my good fortune, I strapped my 2 year old, Paige, in her car seat, picked up my 4 year old, Alli, from pre-school and headed to the nearest Target. I realized on the way that I made a colossal mistake by taking the kids shopping so close to lunch and nap time, but quickly patted myself on the back for recognizing my error before I got engrossed in shopping. I buckled the girls into a mongo-sized carts with seat belts for two, stopped at the snack bar, gave them each a cherry frost Icee and a bag of popcorn and started shopping.

I had tons of great gift ideas: a scrapbook, a cute picture frame, a blanket, a crib sheet, an outfit (or two or three), socks, shoes, onesies, bath and pampering supplies for the new mom, and maybe a hat or some bibs. But I only had $50, so I kept piling stuff in my cart, analyzing my choices, putting stuff back and adding more. Somewhere along the line the girls got bored, unbuckled, and stood on their seats for a better view. I was too absorbed in my shopping to notice and absent-mindly pushed my cart forward only to glimpse my two year lose her balance and start cartwheeling out of the cart in slow motion, baby limbs and cherry Icee flying everywhere. I managed to get my hand under the back of her head a mili-second before she would have cracked it on the cement floor. Relieved that she was okay, I started to comfort her but became instantly irritated when I realized my brand-new shirt (a Target purchase from the day before) was getting slathered in cherry Icee and snot. I started chiding her about trips to the ER and not being carefully as I wrestled her back into her seat and tried to get her buckled again while she LOUDLY protested! Believe it or not, in the next five minutes, Paige tripped out of the cart and narrowly missed cracking her head open and both girls spilled their popcorn all over then tried to eat it off the floor! I bought a clue and started the check out process.

I happened to glance at my watch as I was unloading my carefully chosen items on the belt - 1:50 p.m! We were 20 minutes past the start of nap time, the girls hadn't eaten lunch, and I needed to find a way to keep Paige awake for the 20 minute drive home. I spent the next 60 seconds deflecting requests for various toys, candy and gum, trying to swipe my debit card, remember my pin number, file my receipt, and make sure the girls didn't escape out the exit now that they were free from the cart.

We skipped lunch, Paige fell asleep in the car, and when I got home I realized that the well-intentioned cashier had charged me twice for a pair of shoes, the "sale" pants didn't ring up on sale, and I had over-spent by $10 and needed to find something to return to stay on budget. Since Curt was working late and wouldn't be home for supper, I rolled my eyes, retrieved my older two kids from the bus, finished homework, fed the kids a nutritious meal of chicken nuggets, and headed back to Target.

The kids occassionally get an allowance and they divide it between three banks: one for church, one for savings, and one to spend. They each had items on their wish list that they wanted to buy, so I allowed them to bring their banks to find a treasure to purchase. I must admit, I was unusually grumpy all day so I spent a majority of the 20 minute ride lecturing the kids about unmet expectations and grilling them about chipping in around the house more.

We got to Target and I couldn't help but snap out of my grumpy mood as I watched the kids skip through the parking lot, carrying their banks and excitedly discussing what they wanted to buy. We stopped at the customer service center, just inside the front door, to make the returns and adjustments to my sales slip. I was counting heads, talking to the cashier and finishing up my transaction when Paige said, "I have to go poopy SO bad." She has been VERY unsuccessful in this area of potty training and I knew my window was small, so I grabbed my receipt, threw her under my arm, and rushed to the family bathroom, yelling at the other kids to follow me and wait outside the door. I yanked her undies down, only to realize that her "so bad" came on faster than I got her to the toliet. I sat her on the pot, gingerly removed her soiled undies, and checked my bag for wipes - NOPE. They were in the car. Plan B was toliet paper and I started to grab the toliet paper, but guess what? Both rolls were completely empty. I could feel the grumpiness descending and settling on me like a blanket. Plan C was paper towels and toliet water... Since I had no diaper and no spare undies, I pulled her jeans up and explained how fun it was to "go commando." As we exited the bathroom, Paige was screaming, "I don't want to go commando. I want my underwear," and everyone was staring. I set her down next to her three siblings and headed to the cashier's area. I'm standing there, with dirty undies in one hand,trying to get the plastic bag off the rack with my other hand, ready to kill the cashier who is watching me struggle, when I hear a loud CRASH from the entryway followed by instant wailing. I look over to see my 7 year old son, Grant, staring in disbelief at his piggy bank, shattered in multiple pieces with it's contents belched out all over the floor. It was a pathetic scene - he was crying and distraught and instead of being sympathetic, grumpy mommy struck again. I stomped back to the cashier's line, grabbed a second plastic bag, started scooping up the bank and it's contents into the bag and listened to myself giving Grant a lecture about self-control and not screwing around. I never even let him explain what happened. I watched him shut down and I instantly felt SO guilty. The Holy Spirit nudged me to confess my sin. I apologized profusely, he forgave me, we hugged and kissed, and cleaned up the mess together. I counted heads again - FOUR blonde ones - glanced longingly at the exit, then back at four expectant faces, and decided to forge ahead.


The next 30 minutes were glorious - watching the girls hem and haw in the Dollar Spot and choose between nail polish, necklaces, headbands, notebooks and bracelets. We headed next to the animal figurine aisle and I lovingly watched Grant deliberate over which animals he would add to his collection. He had it narrowed down to four animals, all with a legitimate, well-thought-out reason for why he should chose that animal. Since he only could afford to buy two, we started talking through his reasoning for making his choice, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw Paige trip and fall. The thud of her head hitting the shelf was loud and I knew it had potential to be gory. I picked her up and saw that she had the making of a big gash that was starting to seep a little blood but hadn't popped competely open. Her forehead was starting to swell and I was having visions of the swelling bursting the cut open and blood everywhere. I hollered at Grant to make his choice FAST and we all made a mad dash for the check out aisle.


By the time we got to the front of the store, I realized that Paige's gash was most likely not going to break open, so we took our time checking out. Since the kids were spending their own money, they chose carefully and paid proudly. The each took a turn placing their item on the belt, dumping the entire contents of their piggy banks out, counting out the correct amout, getting their receipt from the cashier and putting it in their own Target bag. Of course I thought they were adorable. Our teen-aged cashier, Amanda, who was counting the hours till quitting time, was less than impressed but I didn't care. I praised each of my kids for making good choices, for saving their money and for earning it with good behavior and I watched them beam and puff up their chests from the praise.


We held hands and skipped out the exit, a little battered, missing undies, grumpy attitudes discarded, broken banks and treasures in hand, and I smiled to myself. In spite of it's mishaps, our evening had been a BULLS-EYE!

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