Day 6, 2012

I was watching Lionel Richie on the Today show. For some reason it was really creepy. He looked good–maybe too good– he sounded ok but he did what all aging singers do when they can’t hit a note or they run out of breath. They hold the microphone to the crowd to shout the lyrics while they nod and smile or they shout “Owww, Uh-huh” for emphasis until they get their act together.

To make matters worse, the camera panned to Savannah Guthrie who was failing miserably at singing along to “Easy.” Savannah’s parents probably heard that song on the way home from the hospital with her as a newborn. Now, Matt Lauer, he looks like a secret Commodores kind of guy but he was not singing or smiling because Lionel’s appearance reminded him how old he is. And I was feeling old as well.

So, I shifted focus and returned to the task of amassing the items earmarked for exchange or return at various stores. This exercise, second only to gift cards and coupons, is forever an embarrassment to my children. Before they try anything on, I scream, “Don’t take off the tags.” Usually this plea falls on deaf ears and I watch the tags flutter to the ground just as the child declares the outfit, too small, too big, too ugly or too like something they already own. Goldilocks had nothing on these kids.

Despite this, I had at least three bags of items that needed to be taken back. The kids may not like this practice but they can endure anything that puts money back on the credit card and extends the hope that the surplus will be spent on them.

We went to Target first which had two bags worth of returns and the kids ate lunch while I went to customer service. Whomever invented the concept of returning items without a receipt simply by presenting the credit card used to purchase said items, should be given the Nobel Peace Prize. The kids finished lunch and I managed to return everything and not go back into the store and immediately spend the credit plus another $100.

The idea of window shopping is completely lost on children. Today’s kids are consumers which, I believe, is fueled by the big box stores offering endless possibilities in myriad price ranges. “it’s only $3.99,” they say. To which I reply “Yes, but by the time you add tax and multiply that by three kids it is closer to $15. You see the difference?” No one sticks around long enough to see the difference because when I start doing math is scares everyone and signals that I mean business.

Before we left for Dick’s Sporting Goods, on the walk to Dick’s Sporting Goods and when we arrived at Dick’s Sporting Goods I repeated the mantra, “We are not buying anything today.” I was not trying to torture anyone, we just needed the gift cards that were in Mac’s wallet before we could purchase anything. Unfortunately, Mac’s wallet had been at a friend’s house since late July and despite various plans, had not been returned. I think Mark feels like his wallet was kidnapped sometime in 1994 and is anxiously awaiting its return as well.

Mac was on the hunt for tennis shoes. Dick’s breaks everything down by activity and there was no action shot or title on the wall for just regular tennis shoes. Mac’s penchant for bright shoes is evidenced by the dizzying array of colors he already owned that would make a circus clown envious. Purple, yellow, tri-colored, orange–you name it. But he gave shoes to Drew and we needed to replenish at least one pair no matter how ugly I might think they were.

As Mac perused his choices, Reed ran up with a box of cleats. “Those are awesome,” I say, “but we are not buying anything today.” I also reminded him that he had not shopped in our basement yet and that there were at least two pairs of Nike cleats of Mac’s that will fit him. He walked away dejected but returned five minutes later with a Ravens wall hanging. “Look at this,” he said, “isn’t it awesome?” And I replied, “It is awesome, honey, but we are not buying anything today.” If you put “honey” in the middle of a negative sentence it stuns the recipient momentarily and takes away their focus.

Reed countered that it is only $9.99 and way cheaper than the shoes. Instead of repeating my mantra, I promised to keep it on his Christmas wish list. When the kids were little I would politely ask the cashier to “save” things at the register for us so no one else could purchase them until we came back. With a sly wink, I staved off the hissy fit that was every mother’s nightmare. Those were the days. Now I am just trying to get out of here alive.

I had lost track of Drew during this whole debate. When I was starting to wonder about him, he approached me and asked for my phone to take some pictures. Ok, wow, didn’t see that one coming. Drew explained that he saw some lacrosse shorts that he thought one of our friends might like and he wanted to send the pictures to the mom so she could buy them. It was a very sweet thing to do and I was so proud of his consideration as I watched him carefully lay out each one on the gray Dick’s carpet and snap a photo.

Mac wandered up and I recapped the situation for him, beaming with parental appreciation. Mac rolled his eyes and said, “Drew you just want him to have those shorts because he gives you all his old clothes. You are shopping for yourself.” Drew denied the accusation but as I stared at him in the hand-me-down lacrosse shorts for a team he never played for, I knew that I, however, had been expertly played.

We had been in the store close to thirty minutes and I was having trouble remembering why we were there. Mac dragged me back where it all began and we stood under the oversized photo of a man running and narrowed it down to two shoes that looked almost identical. One orange and one yellow. Clearly backed against a hideous neon wall, I voted for the yellow as our future purchase when and if we ever reclaimed Mac’s wallet.

All three boys went to investigate the bikes while I sauntered over to the women’s clearance racks. I was impressed with the end of season prices and pulled a couple of t-shirts and a pair of shorts that were particularly good bargains. Just as I went to fetch the boys, I remembered my mantra. Did the “no buying today policy” have to apply to me too?

As I put the clothes back on the rack I realized that there is no better proof that you are actually old than when you acknowledge that the rules do indeed apply to you too.

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Magnificence in the Mundane

Finding humor in kids and chaos

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Magnificence in the Mundane

Finding humor in kids and chaos

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

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