Sunday, September 25, 2011

a bump in the road of mommyhood

I made myself a promise for this weekend.  I.will.resist.Target.  I love Target.  Well, it's a love-hate, really.  Like nearly everyone I know who frequents this delightful little establishment, I simply cannot make it out the door without over-spending by at least $50.  And that's on a good day.  (Sidebar: for those of you who have yet to experience the marvelous appeal of a SuperTarget, be warned.  Any hope you have of 'keeping on budget' dissolves at an even faster rate.  Think SuperWalmart, without the Walmart.  I know, I know...that fact alone intrigues you enough to Google Map the nearest location of this money-sucking gem of a store!)

So, while I *adore* Target, I really needed an intervention.  Weekends are such precious pockets of time, and now that the school year is underway, I am treasuring every blessed moment of them even more.  Why spend a 2-hour chunk of time torturing the kids (and testing my sanity) by dragging them from aisle to aisle?  Did I mention our SuperTarget recently underwent a renovation?  (So now I have *no* idea where anything is, thus adding a good 25-35 minutes to my recent trips--and therefore adding at least another $25-$35, plus an inevitable trip past the toys because I can never remember what is in the area adjacent to them and therefore feel compelled to cruise down each aisle, making sure I'm not 'missing out' on anything.  Yes.  I'm aware.  I have problems.)  It's a small bump in the road for the next few trips to Target, until I'm able to navigate the store with a little more ease.  But I'll face the bump with a positive attitude, despite the fact that I'm beyond frustrated while in the midst of my fourth or fifth pass across the entire length of the store all in search of dryer sheets and night light bulbs.

This weekend, however, I have decided to take a trial separation from our weekly ritual of a Saturday trip to Target.  I know it will only be a brief separation, as I don't have the willpower at this time to call it quits completely.  But, in an effort to be a more efficient and effective momma, I've decided to cut down the number of trips I take into the 'bullseye of doom'.

The kids and I were on our own today, as daddy had a long day at work.  It started out in the usual 'lazy day Saturday' sort of way...Food Network and a small latte treat for mommy, mashed bananas and endless attention while rolling about on the floor for Raegan, playing and the occasional bicker for Gavin and Brynn.

Around 11:00, I decided we needed to 'tune out' of the digital/electronic world for a while.  TV, video game, and cell phone--off....outside, togetherness, and (of course) camera--on.  (Ok, I know.  My DSLR has the word digital in its name.  I made an exception for the purpose of capturing memories.)  So, off to the park we went...

lunch in the shade

posing...'s what these two do best's what Raegan does best!


little miss bright eyes

learning to smile for the camera at an early age
(good thing, since I love taking pictures more than I love Target!)

is it obvious my kids have their picture taken a lot?

always ready for a photo-op!

So...I managed to eliminate the 'usual Saturday trip to Target' from our routine for this week...and lived to tell the tale.  Lunch, the park, ice cream...all these things happen often in our household, don't get me wrong.  It's not as if I have recently *discovered* life outside of a store.  It's more like now that I'm back to the daily grind of 'working-out-of-the-house-mommy', I'm remembering the need to streamline errands, be thankful for online shopping, and live by a stringent-yet-flexible schedule (oxymoron, I know.  But, moms...back me up on this.  Routine is important, but flexibility is essential.  You never know what's coming down the pike when you're in the trenches of mommyhood.  Read on, and you'll see what I mean...)

A lunch-date at one of their favorite parks, an enormous ice cream cone, and no trips to Target (lovingly regarded as 'SuperBoring' by Gavin) to drain my energy, sanity, and bank account.  All in all, a great day.  I couldn't leave well enough alone, though.  Apparently, I was going for some sort of 'Super Mom' honorable mention award from the kids today as I suggested a stop in a local gift shop for a candy treat (not to eat right away--they did just have ice cream, afterall.  An after dinner treat was the intention, and the kids knew that going into the store).

Both kids chose small candy treats; Brynn, a few chocolate kisses, and Gavin, foil covered chocolate sports balls.  Gavin was excited to find footballs in the mix of treats, and plopped two of them on the counter.  Imagine his happiness as the clerk informed him that they were 3 for a quarter.  Faster than my bank account is emptied by a Target trip, Gavin was back at the basket, digging for another chocolate football.  He returned to the counter, triumphant, yet demure, and placed a third brown football on the counter.  With purchases made, candy in bag, bag in mommy's secure grip, we headed for the car.

In the car, donning my aviators, Gavin was unaware of my field of vision.  As I peeked into the mirror to make sure everyone was settled, I saw it.  A small, yellowish-green sphere that represented a new frontier in my adventures in parenting.

Now I know I've been stricken with 'mommy brain' more times than I can count in the 5 1/2 years I've been a mommy...but I know for a fact that the candy I had just bought my son not two minutes prior was not wrapped in foil looking anything close to the color he held in his hand. 

Interrorgation, tears, and a disappointed tone filled the next few minutes.  And I use the term tears loosely.  We're talking all out, drag out tantrum.  As in, I was fearful passersby would think I had severely injured my son.  Truth is, I didn't even touch him.  I sat in the driver's seat, mentally spinning the rolodex of mommy-isms and 'how to's' filed under the "My Son Just Shoplifted, Now What" section.  Gavin was in the far back of my 'mom mobile', tears flowing, feet stomping, pleading apololgies tumbling from his mouth by way of unattractive strings of drool. 

What do I do?  How do I handle this?  The disbelief of the situation took over as I turned the key of my car and began driving.  I was mindlessly maneuvering out of the shopping center parking lot, reprimanding my obviously distraught 5 year old.  The enormity of what happened hit Brynn as she put the puzzle pieces together and began pleading with me to not tell the police officers what Gavin had done.  We continued down the road another minute or two, until my once sweet-and-innocent son calmed down. 

I turned into a restaurant parking lot, put the car in park, and had a moment of clarity.  I knew from the moment I started driving away that he needed to go back into the store.  But, I also knew that for the lesson to be meaningful and effective, he needed to calm down enough to understand what I was explaining to him. 

Within another two minues, Gavin and I were walking back into the store we had just left, only to be met by a confused clerk.  I told him that my son had something he needed to say, and then urged Gavin on with a touch on the shoulder. 

Hearing him say, "I'm sorry, I took this from you", as he looked at the clerk out of the tops of his sorrowful eyes snapped me from the fog I was functioning under and into reality.  My son had stolen.  Sure, it was a piece of dime-store candy.  But it was still 'stolen goods'.  Tears stung at the corners of my eyes as I listened to the clerk tell Gavin pretty much the same message I had: he was very disappointed that Gavin decided to take something without paying, but he was proud of him for owning up to his error in judgement. 

After the clerk finished speaking, Gavin turned on his heel and headed for the door.  I looked back at the clerk, and mouthed the words, "I'm so sorry", and "Thank you".  He smiled, and responded back in the same silent-speaking way, "No, thank you.", and "Good job, Mom".  His tone wasn't condesending or sarcastic.  It was genuine.  He was complimenting my decision to take what I viewed as a horrifically embarassing 'moment in mommyhood', and turn it into a life lesson.  He knew as well as I did that there are people who would have simply expressed their distaste with their child's actions and punished them in some disproportionate way.  What good would that have done?  Gavin would have had guilt for a fleeting moment, but would have still felt like he'd 'gotten away with it', even if I did send him to his room when we got home.  His solo time in his room would have given him oppourtunity think of ways to be 'sneakier' the next time.  And there would be a next time. 

But facing his transgression, owning up it, and verbalizing his contrition gave him perspective on the serverity of his action.  Dime store candy or not, the message is clear for Gavin.  And the message is clear for me, too.  There are bumps in the's in how you approach them.  I'm proud of my son for owning up to his error, and proud of my decision to give him the oppourtunity to do so.  If I can face this bump in the road with a level head (albeit tears in my eyes and a heavy heart), I can face the bump in the road of a Target rennovation with a lot more grace, and a lot less annoyance.  That is, the next time I make a trip to Target.  (curse you, SuperTarget...and the allure of your convienience--and lack of foil covered chocolate sports balls!)

1 comment :

  1. Erin, thanks for sharing this story! I can SO relate...been there done that! :)