Friday, March 4, 2011

Target Meltdown

I have a special relationship with Target- I, not so secretly, love browsing the brightly colored dollar bins, combing through the clothing labels that were once quite popular during my school days, and perusing the make-up and home furnishing aisles in search of a new toilet brush or dish towels.  Clad in my discount ballet flats, I am a true shopper, in all senses of the word.  My shopping morals were passed down to me from my mother, and I am intent on raising my own children with the same strong values for great deals and trendy fashion. 

When my girls were just in their wee stages of infancy I began taking them on nearly weekly shopping adventures.  Even before their eyes could focus beyond twelve inches from their nose, I would hold a coral v-neck t-shirt up to my neck and ask "What do you think of this color, Elana?"  By the time Maisy was 20-months-old, I could ask for her opinion on a new striped sweater and she would eagerly reply "Pretty!"  On many occasions I have dragged both girls into tiny dressing rooms while I tried on semi-formal dresses for Ted's annual company holiday party or slipped on numerous pairs of skinny jeans.  Even though I am not going to pretend that they are my perfect shopping assistants, they have come to appreciate a nice window shopping excursion, as well as the fluorescent lighting and the smell of old socks that adorn Old Navy's changing rooms.

Both girls can now easily identify the two red concentric circles of the Target logo and become visibly excited when a trip to the mighty mega-store is proposed.  Before I buckle the children into their milk-stained car seats I lay try to down the rules for the excursion.  On this particular day our Target goal was to each find new bathing suits for our upcoming trip to Miami and birthday presents for two preschool friends.  The girls would be allowed to look at the toy aisles (or as Elana calls them, Princess Aisles), but we were not buying any toys for ourselves.  They each agreed to my terms, and we set off on our adventure.

The trip started well.  We made our first stop at the dollar bins that tempt all kids and mothers who love cheap distractions.  Considering the five-plus-hour flight that is rapidly approaching, I allowed the girls to select some activity books, markers, and dry erase boards to occupy them in their cramped plane seats.  I was also enticed into buying one pink and one purple straw dress-up hat, as well as new satin flower headbands (hey, they were only a buck!).  After we finished examining each cheap item, the girls lent their opinions to the bathing suits I perused.  Maisy made a passionate argument for the purple string bikini, which she called "booooootiful", while Elana tried to coax me into buying a magenta, halter, one piece "swimdress" that could easily be mistaken for something my grandmother wears to her water weekly aerobics class.  I settled on a nice, simple tankini, fit for a thirty-something mom of two.

Choosing their own suits proved just as challenging.  Elana was quite upset when I lied and told her that the god-awful one piece, with a built in tutu didn't come in her size, and Maisy only wanted one featuring Ariel or Hello Kitty.  In the end, Elana chose a pink checkered suit that she said was just what Dorothy (from the Wizard of Oz) would wear, and I picked the one for Maisy that covered the most skin.

We then made our way to the Valley of the Dolls, and this is where my demise began.

Elana started by asking for each and every Disney produced item for her next birthday, over 11 months away.  I easily grant each request knowing that she will change her mind, or completely forget, by next February.  Soon Elana's requests for next year turned into pleas for now.  She began to bargain with me, suggesting returning the swim suit in exchange for a miniature Cinderella and accompanying tiny plastic castle. Denied she brought out the begging, and when that failed to work, the tantrum that trumped all previous tantrums commenced.  Other mothers, mothers whose children were patiently sitting in the cart's childseat, quickly walked away afraid to be associated with the noise polluting the air in the toy department.  With Elana's sobs and relentless demands for "Just a small toy" nearing no end, I had no choice but to forcibly place her in the cart basket, while attempting to convince Maisy to release the Barbie she was clutching and sit in the childseat. 

Now, I know that all parenting experts would argue that at this point I should have forfeited the shopping trip and immediately returned home.  I, unfortunately, am not that foresighted and was in desperate need for diapers or I would soon be duct taping paper towels to Maisy's bum.  (That and I really wanted the tankini.)  So I decided to ignore my Elana's meltdown and quickly grab the few remaining items on my list.

As I bounded down the diaper aisle, an elderly lady in a motorized cart thought that she would be able to console the demon controlling my four-year-old.  (As a side bar, I hate when people do this!  When a child is obviously in the midst of an irrational fit, no words from a complete stranger are going to placate the tot.  Why can't everyone just ignore the child as I am trying to do?)  When Elana heard the words from kind, yet completely unhelpful, women, she stopped her tantrum just long enough to look her square in the eyes and stick out her tongue with an audible "Plthhhh".  Mortified, I made a half-hearted attempt to force an apology out of Elana, who may have mumbled a "Sorry" between her howls.

At that point I still was not ready to abandon my cart, so I made a beeline for the checkout.  Elana continued her wails as I found the shortest line, and customers politely looked away, or chose registers as far from mine as possible.  By the time the poor clerk had rung up all my purchases, and loaded them into my cart, she had to loudly shout to tell me not to forget my Visa card.

Elana continued as I pushed the cart to my car, tossed in the shopping bags, and strapped both girls into their carseats.  Outwardly I remained calm, while inwardly I was retreating to my happy-place, where water rush determinedly through rocky riverbeds, and no other human being is within a forty-mile radius.

During the ten minute drive home, Elana managed to relax and stifle her tears, and by the time we reached our driveway she was singing "Somewhere over the rainbow" complete with dramatic crescendos and full-on diva hand gestures.   So what lesson do I learn from this episode?  It is really a toss up between:
  1. Target should be my alone time.
  2. The kids need much more shopping practice!


  1. Cute post. Loved it. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Your happy place sounds lovely! Let me know if you like company there someday. ; )