Around the holidays I like to take the kids out window shopping so I can get some ideas of what to tell the grandparents that the kids are interested in. So Friday I decided after school we would go to the one store that the kids have been bugging us about for months, Academy Sports. We hadn't taken them to the new store since it opened and they have reminded us of it several times.
Only one small problem, I needed to stop by Hobby Lobby real quick.
I was immediately drilled with questions.
"Do we all HAVE to go in?"
"How LONG is this going to take?"
"Can I just stay in the car?"
My reply was that we were going to spend some good quality time together and have fun doing it, we wouldn't be long at all.
We paraded into the Hobby Lobby like a mother duck leading her ducklings to water. All five of us filed in. And we began our journey through the maze of standing displays to get to the back of the store. Then something went wrong, terribly wrong.
The ducklings went crazy.
As two were passing a display, something fell from the top shelf, and if you know anything about the display shelves at Hobby Lobby you know they are a booby trap waiting to happen. It was like a domino effect. One thing hit another and then two things hit three and on and on it went. It was so incredibly loud and embarrassing and did I mention loud?
Immediately the last two ducklings divert the course and act as if they have NO idea who the first two were. They were moving so fast away from the crash bang scene that they actually could be recruited as grenade throwing spies.
As I return to the scene I was happy to see my kids helping to pick up the home fashion decor while they simultaneously are declaring their innocence of not touching a thing.
Ok fine. Whatever. Let's just get our stickers and get out!
Sounds easy. Right?
We finally make it back to the sticker section and I begin my quick scanning looking for just the right ones. Then it's like the 3 children and 1 husband have descended upon me and multiplied. Out of nowhere they now are actually acting like they are trying to help me.
"Oh Mom look at this", "Mom look at that", "Mom do you like this?", "Mom I love these", "Mom I like this one", "Mom where is the bathroom", "Mom you won't leave me, right?" (really? did that even need to be asked? I haven't done that like, in a really long time) "Mom what time is", "Mom when are we going", "Mom....", "Mom....", "Mom....", aaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!
I give very stern instructions, "Leave me alone for one minute and let me find what I'm looking for".
Yeah, that doesn't work.
So I send them off on a project idea. "Go find your favorite scrapbook paper".
Yeah, that doesn't work either.
All the while, they are up and down the aisles laughing hilariously loud and it never fails they start with some made up game that always includes grabbing, punching, tackling, tickling, or some other type of physical rough housing that I usually end up threatening them through my gritted teeth and glaring eyes. This goes on the ENTIRE time I'm trying to delicately decide on my stickers that I plan to use to make a nice, family, Christ like quote for the CHRISTmas season.
I should have just left them in the car.
I finally decide and make my way to the check out. As soon as I pay, I bolt for the door like I have no idea who these people are or why they are following me.
The short ride to Academy is full of laughter. They are having THE best time in the back seat laughing and joking- oblivious to the fact that I may not ever go back into my favorite home decor store for fear that I will be asked, "Please tell us are you alone?".
When we pull into the parking lot, I immediately get this grand idea. I look over at my husband and suggest to him that we should turn the tables. He looks puzzled. I whisper my plan. "We should go in this store that they have been wanting to go in for months and do to THEM what they do to US!". He still doesn't get it. "Embarrass them for a change".
And then it happened.
My husband's phone rings and he starts talking as he is getting out of the car.
It all happened so fast.
The kids are all piling out and quickly making their way to the store.
It all happened really fast.
I found myself leaving him behind, my partner, and committed to carrying on with our one mission. One mission.
And without really giving it much thought, I was already sold out on the idea that my behavior in this store would teach my children a lesson, a lesson it turns out they will never forget.
I started by running up to the front of the store and stopping short of the automatic doors, standing with my arms wide open, stretched as far as I could reach, with my head tilted to the bright blue sky, proclaiming with all the air in my lungs, "WOW!!!! Would you look at that!!!!"
They stopped. They looked at me funny. They looked very quizzical. They wondered.
And then the doors opened and I shouted, "OH MY LOOK!!! WOULD YOU LOOK?? WOW!!! THIS IS AWESOME!!!!"
The greeter man was already laughing.
And I began. "Miles, look at this". "Miles look". "Miles did you see this". "Miles where are you going?". And it was loud. And he knew exactly what I was now up to now. And before I knew it I was sold on the idea that everybody in that store would know that I was with them, all of them.
He began walking fast. Then he began the power walk. And I began to chase him as I continued to call out every single end of the aisle sale item we passed. Until I noticed. All my other family members were nowhere in sight.
I turned and made my way into the clothing section where I found my daughter hiding, looking increasingly scared and amused at the same time, until I shouted, "McKinley there you are!!!! Did you see this? Did you see these shirts? Did you see these pants? Look at this!!". And then she began to walk fast. Very fast, away from me. I of course followed and loudly was calling to her all the awesome deals on clothing that we were passing.
We crossed the isle and ran into Miles and I began to exclaim "We found you!!!" and then went on to tell him that his sister was looking at the bras. He ran. He ran away. Far far away.
All the while my husband, who was supposed to be my partner in crime, and other son had gone to the completely opposite side of the store.
I found myself alone. All alone in the toy section. No one to window shop with. No one to pick out potential CHRISTmas presents with. And honestly, for a moment I thought my joke was complete. It was funny, it made the point, it was embarrassing. Mission accomplished...for a moment.
Then I started to see all the cool things I could continue my mission with. I grabbed the biggest hula hoop, a huge rubber sword, and I tried to make the discovery kid vest fit me, I tried. The bright green kid sized binoculars were still attached to the cardboard which made it almost impossible to use, almost. And I set out on my quest, to find those ducklings.
I made my way to the front of the store, looking right, looking left. I was on a bonafied mission. I entered the large area behind the registers that stretches all the way across the store and I saw him. He made the turn from the last aisle into the clearing. He was like a doe being hunted by a ravaging hunter. I began running toward him with my large hula hoop wrapped around me and my sword flying high in the air like Braveheart would have wanted, and began exclaiming, "GRAHAM!!!! GRAHAM!!! THERE YOU ARE!!!!!THERE YOU ARE!!WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?".
He turned. He turned so fast and began his acceleration.
I too took a turn through the clothes to continue my descent upon him, quickly mazing myself through racks, and customers, charging through to find him.
My tracking skills proved right when I met him in the camping section and began to pound him with my sword skills.
He laughed at first, and then took off running when he realized that I was not going to quit.
I began chasing him, then I found Miles again. Poor Miles.
He hasn't seen my latest costume change. He begins a hearty laugh at the site of me, but then quickly realizes that I'm still up to my same tricks as I proclaim, "MIIIIIYAAAAALES!!! I got something for YOOOOU!!!!". He starts zig zagging through the shoes, then the socks, back to the clothes, and at the same time I'm beating him with my rubber sword. He makes his way back to shoes, escaping my sword, in and out of every isle, until something happens. Something I hadn't thought about.
I find him and begin chasing him up the aisle and we run into a man and his son. I immediately recognized them from school. Miles bumps into them and assumes that I will stop when I see people we know. He assumes wrong.
I am gone, long gone. I began displaying my sword slicing skills on Miles while trying bravely to hold onto my massive hula hoop and his teacher exclaims, "Get him, get Miles!" and the chase begins, again. They watch us for a few isles laughing.
I decide finally that the lesson has been taught and I'm ready to return to my family and act normal.(smiley face)
I'm ready to look at all the cool and interesting things that Academy has to offer us this holiday season.
I found them. They were huddled around their father, acting as if he was their only protector. Terrified at the sight of me. When I didn't begin shouting and instead was laughing uncontrollably they knew the joke was over.
But they now have had a change of heart.
They no longer want to look up and down every isle of their favorite store that we have been reminded over and over and over again that we haven't brought them to since it's opening.
They don't want to CHRISTmas shop.
They don't want to do anything but go to the car.
And go home.
I tried to explain to them what I was doing and why, but they didn't want to have any part of it. They even tried to say that I went overboard and had taken it too far. That the hula hoop, sword fighting, was too much. Me??
After finally convincing them to at least go check out the guns, knives and hatchets, they all eventually found their way to me and gave me a big hug and sheepishly apologized for every time they had walked into a store and embarrassed me with their behavior.