Ahhh, day thirty-nine, a day we will remember. A day of long car rides, homeschool PE, a Target fiasco, family trees, and the schoolwork that never seemed to end.
It amazes me how an hour of PE can equal four hours of us being away from home.
And how $4 worth of PE can really cost $4 + $1 in bottled waters from home + $8 in snacks + $10 in gas. But they sure are cute.
The morning started innocently enough; we were all up by 7:30, ready for breakfast and the day ahead. The ride over to PE was manageable : no one cried, no one forgot their shoes or underwear. We made our destination a bit early which gave everyone a chance to go nuts on the playground. The big kids had their PE session while the pre-school set ran amok on the swings and slides, and the baby ate Cheerios and finally succumbed to the allure of breastmilk.
And then, we headed over to SuperTarget (think Super Wal-Mart) with our mission in mind : find a beanbag chair and ivory fleece blanket for newborn photography props for an upcoming session. I had each kid repeat the mantra,
"We are not here to look at toys. We are not here to buy toys." (Repeat it with me)
"We are here to buy a beanbag chair and blanket, and then if we're all good, we can get a snack at the Target cafe." I made sure each and every little person with me knew the agenda. I was feeling as prepared as a woman outnumbered times three can possibly feel.
First, we attacked the automatic doors. My three-year-old, with three-year-old- logic and unbeknownst to the rest of us, stayed behind, trying with all her might to close the door that had just opened for her. Her little voice cried out, "Mommy, I can't get the door to shut!" At this point the door looked like it had been run into by something heavy, and it was no longer closing. Only nine or ten people waiting at the Target please-hire-me computers saw the whole debacle. RIP automatic closing door.
The baby slept through the whole ordeal, passed out and drooling on my shirt from his perch in the Ergo. Things were going well until we had to pass the toy aisles in our quest for the home furnishings department. Darn you Target and your Siren song of toys all along the end caps of each aisle we had to pass! The big kids resisted temptation, but number three, age three, didn't make it through. She started whining, "I want to look at the toys!!! Let's go down the girl aisle!! I want to see the toys! Let's go see the toys! Mommy, I want to buy a toy!!!"
The whine got louder and louder as we paraded past girls' clothing and reached our housewares destination. And of course, they had but one lonely beanbag chair left in the store, and it was filthy. I don't use dirt words casually; a fine coating of dust doesn't bother me. When I say it was filthy, I mean filthy. Like someone ran it over about ten times with a shopping cart, bought it and took it out to the parking lot, and let a gorilla roll around with it in a pile of garbage while eating nachos. And then they decided pink wasn't the right color so they returned it for a blue one and Target just stuck it back on the shelf. Truly filthy.
No, I did not buy it. It was there, we were there, it was in my hands, the very last beanbag chair, and I didn't buy it. Even I, keeper of four sticky, sweaty, dirty children, have my standards.
Somehow, number three picked up on my angst, my beanbag turmoil, and decided that this was the prime time to have a meltdown. This is my quiet child, my sweet and obedient child, the baby who was sweet and easy and then never uttered so much as a loud word during her twos. We could always count on this one to be the rock in our crazy chaos.
But not today.
She made a break for the toys. I grasped for a little hand, and she started screaming. A nosy lady popped around the corner and started lecturing me on 19 Kids and Counting and how the older kids should keep my three-year-old in line. We kept walking. I had the baby strapped to me in the Ergo, sound asleep, and was thus rendered unable to scoop her up and carry her from the store. Instead, we had to make the walk of shame from the far back corner of the store all the way out, screaming, furious child being half-dragged by the arm in my wake. Real parent of the year material.
We parked ourselves on the side of the building and had a discussion on behavior and why we had to leave the store. A final chance was offered for her to change her behavior and act like a civilized little person. Amazingly, we were able to retrace our steps and collect our shopping cart, giving a wide berth around the toy department, only to find that Target was also out of the blanket we wanted. Of course they were.
Nevertheless, as promised we went to the Target Cafe and I purchased everyone their own popcorn and soda. Not familiar with the Target Cafe, I was not prepared for the sheer size of the popcorns. Imagine a paper lunch sack; now multiply that by four and add in four medium sodas. I had a baby strapped to me, two giant, overflowing bags of popcorn in one arm, a soda in the other, and three kids trailing me with their own burdens. I had to entrust a three-year-old with a full cup of bright-red fruit punch (what was I thinking?) as we walked across the front of the entire store to reach the side where we had parked. Then Ibis yells out as we're preparing to leave the store, "Mommy, your shoelace is untied!" I'm pretty sure only three or four employees turned to gape. Of course it was.
Getting in to the car was, I'm sure, quite a sight. We made it home to the tune of the baby screaming from the backseat as I chanted some colorful words under my breath, stuck in traffic. Thank you, tourists, but Disney World is the other way, and the speed limit is 55 mph!
Four hours sometimes seems like a lifetime.