Day 10, 2013

Every year I take the boys back to school shopping at the Leesburg Outlets in Virginia for several reasons: 1) hope springs eternal that the boys will not bicker as much if we cross a state line as they do when we are in Maryland  2) Leesburg has more shoe outlets in one spot than any other local outlet and 3) Whites Ferry, the shortest way to get there, is historic, beautiful and always a hit with the entire crew.

After meeting my mother-in-law in a strip shopping center to get a $60 gift card for one of the shoe stores; a transaction which felt akin to a drug deal; we headed through the countryside of Montgomery County to the ferry.

Having finished all of his summer reading days before, Mac busied himself by cleaning out my center console. As I was negotiating a two lane country road with speed traps and critters everywhere, he periodically shoved a receipt in my face and asking “Save or trash?” I couldn’t read anything so I instructed him to save all receipts so I could go through them later.  He was not happy with the lack of purging and I detected a judgmental sigh in response to my lack of organization.

Soon he had a huge pile of papers and trash at his feet and I could actually see the bottom of the cubby. He threw all the loose change in the back seat for Reed and Drew to count. This entire process had only taken 10 minutes so it is not long before Mac moved on to play with his phone.

Drew was reading, Reed was working on summer math and Mac downloaded an app on his phone that helps you with foreign language studies. Again I marveled at the options available to these kids that we never had which at times is a blessing a curse. Anything that helps them learn is fabulous, but Mac began using the app to punctuate his sentences so it quickly became a curse.

So, when he told me that he was hungry, he typed the words into the app and the automated voice of the woman in the phone recites, “Tengo hambre.” He then added “Me muero de hambre” meaning I am very hungry. Suddenly, estoy muy consada roughly translated, I was very tired.

We arrived at the ferry and waited our turn in line and watched the boat chug its’ way back to our side of the shore. I spied the sign that read “Cold Beer and Sandwiches to Go” and the temptation to grab a beer was overwhelming. Although it was 5pm somewhere, it was not even noon here so I restrained myself.

The view of the Potomac is always spectacular here and the ferry ride was short and uneventful. We arrived at the outlets 10 minutes later and Mac began to divide up the trash he had unearthed from the car for each of us to carry. It is too much to handle so I found a recyclable bag in the hatch and we filled it to the brim. Other shoppers stared as we emptied the bag into the trash can, lifting the lid a little to get everything in. They are just jealous that their 14 year-old doesn’t clean out the console. Sheesh!

I shoved the empty bag in my purse, consulted the directory and we were off. Nike is always the big draw because things at the Nike outlet store are only very expensive instead of unbelievably expensive. Mac used the Spanish app to express his delight with several pairs of shoes. So, he walked up behind me, held the phone up as the woman repeated “Me gustan mucho.” Unfortunately, Mac was not in the market for shoes having roughly 50 pairs in his room already. I didn’t need the app to help me here, No is a universal language.

I was singularly focused on Famous Footwear because that gift card was burning a hole in my pocket. With all three boys now taking men’s sizes, any financial aid in the shoe department is welcomed. We hit the jackpot, four pairs of shoes in a matter of minutes. Somehow the total is $188 with a 5% discount for signing up for their rewards card and the $60 credit. When we got outside, I yanked the receipt from the bag and ordered Mac to read it to me.

My kids are used to this exercise. Since, more often than not, I do not have my reading glasses the kids read me restaurant menus and the like and are endlessly patient with me. I will pick up the menu and read whatever words I can decipher and then hand it to them saying, “that one says chicken, read me that one.” They then dutifully recite the description, complete with price and hand the menu back to me. And we repeat the process over and over until I make my selection. Whenever the waiter overhears this and smirks, I know he will be old and remember this moment one day and in the meantime he needs to remember I am tipping him.

Mac assured me that they applied the gift card and the 5% promo fee so $188 it is. We make good time in the remaining stores which are all freezing, the reasons for which are two-fold. The sales people need to be able to wear the fall clothes and still be able to function and the managers hope for brain freeze so you don’t realize that you just spent $188 in ten minutes on items that you cannot return for store credit unless you spend another hour in your car and $10 on the ferry.

We ate lunch at Chick-Fil-A and began the trek back home as the boys went through the bags and discovered that the boxers we purchased for Reed don’t just have pictures of pickles (Drew and Reed are on a roll with food themed boxers) they actually say, “tickle my pickle.” Marvelous. We have to remember not to let those go out the door on a sleepover.

As we neared home, Mac reminded me that we had not gotten the sparse supplies needed for school the next day. I decided to drop Drew and Reed at home to walk the dog while we went to Staples. Staples was teeming with miserable kids and parents just like us. I thought of the beer sign at the ferry and wondered what a happier place Staples would be if they got their beer and wine license just for the month of August.  I would treasure a moment to lounge at the Staples bar with other harried moms while Mac filled his basket and found me in time for check-out.

After a stop at Giant to pick up a few items and add money to Mac’s metro card, I pulled the car into the garage six hours after originally pulling out in the morning. I leaned my head against the seat, gearing up to transport the day’s work into the house.

 I had a lot to show for the effort. The kids did not bicker even once the entire time we were gone. We bought shoes, shoes and more shoes. And the ferry never disappoints me or the kids. Mid-reflection, all three boys and the dog burst through the garage door, clambering for bags and helping me carry them inside, chattering the entire way. 

And that is why I endure this every year. It is one of those silly summer rituals that no one can remember how or when it started that has become a treasured staple, nonetheless, each season.


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Magnificence in the Mundane

Finding humor in kids and chaos is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

Magnificence in the Mundane

Finding humor in kids and chaos is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

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