Let me put you out of your misery...or in your misery, it really depends on how you look at it.
I decided we were all spent by Friday morning. The week had been fun and exhausting and it was time to do something exciting, but not too crazy. I was thinking we needed something that could entertain us, and give us something to go home with and enjoy there too. I wanted all of us to leave feeling like better people for having been, but not depleted at all by the experience.
Where else can you find such simple, though at time financially crippling in the most baffling of ways, joy? Target was calling our name.
I made a brief list of things I "needed" to look for there, something I can do at any moment, of any day, regardless of how recently I have visited a Target or comparable store. Target elicits need from me that I didn't even know existed before the potential of a visit there is mentioned.
It's a dangerous place, in a fun way.
I made a secret plan to purchase each of the kids a "surprise" while we were there, as well as a sticker book to buy me some peace during rest time. My list consisted of things like body wash, play-doh, and ambiguous enough ideas that really anything I decided I wanted could be considered "on the list" without too much difficulty like, decor or shirts.
It was going to be beautiful. They were going to call me "Most Wonderful Mom on Earth," and I was going to deserve it for all the joy distributed (purchased) that morning.
Things didn't work out like that.
Aiden wanted to learn to tie his shoes so we used that as our jumping off point. We headed straight for the shoe section for cheap tie shoes. We quickly found a pair for $12.99 and threw them in the cart. Cole, unfortunately, also found some Darth Maul Star Wars sandals that light up, which he had to have.
I instantly knew those damn light up Star Wars shoes were going to jack with my Target joy...I'm really smart.
Cole started out just crying and quickly moved to the floor of the Target shoe section, refusing to remove the sandals from his feet unless I conceded and purchased them. I could have just sucked it up and made those his fun toy purchase, but after spending $35 on a pair of Crocs for him earlier in the week, my tolerance for over priced plastic shoes was VERY low. It wasn't happening.
I tried to sympathize with him and tell him to put them on his birthday list...for his August birthday. He might drive me bananas with a conversation about the definition of the day after tomorrow, but his lack of time knowledge is really handy during moments like this. For all he knows, August could be the day after tomorrow...and that seems reasonable to him, usually.
He suddenly became an expert in the phases of the moon though and was fully aware of exactly how long six months is and screamed "NO" while clutching the sandals, that's forever!
Which is sort of true, and Target probably wouldn't even have them anymore, which would be a blessing.
I continued to search in my brain for any other strategies of dealing with tantrum throwing four year olds, ignoring the most obvious one, pick up the kid and jet. I didn't want to jet. I wanted to work through my list, buy three fun and reasonably priced toys, maybe grab some Starbucks on the way out. I continued to try.
The entire time I am trying to turn Cole around, Stella is tearing apart the lingerie section. I didn't realize Target had such an extensive selection of lace and sexy unmentionables. Stella tore apart the assortment of Xhiliration mini-shorts that I pray are only meant for sleeping in, but I fear young girls might be out and about in those shorts. Those girls should have to take Cole with him around town for a few days and they will surely revert to the safety of "shorts" my Mom refers to as pedal pushers.
I sent Aiden to rearrange said shorts, which felt wrong, but I needed to "catch" Stella and get back to getting Cole to focus on the prize of a Target excursion. Stella proved very difficult to find and pin down though, further complicating my focus by running among all the adorable spring clothes that I believed could make me happier and forget about all the child madness I am subjected to on a daily basis. I deserved those spring clothes, right?
I pulled it together though, found Stella and got back to Cole. After re-hanging all the shorts, Aiden was put in charge of watching Cole to be sure he didn't run away,or wasn't kidnapped by some extra nutty child abductor looking for a really cranky child.
I decided my second to the last resort was to lie on the floor next to him and whisper semi-threatening things to him. I think the whisper can have a lot of power during a tantrum because they have to focus to hear, and it sounds extra creepy which keeps them guessing about just what the hell you are going to do.
My threats were pretty weak though because I really didn't want to go so I didn't want to throw that out. I found myself saying relatively ridiculous things like, "Cole, you need to take those shoes off and stop crying or I won't buy you anything from the dollar section." I don't think he knows what that is, and I was planning on him buying something bigger anyway, I was just still clinging to the surprise factor.
Then, "Cole, get it together or you can't ever play the Wii again." That's just a lie, which I am fairly confident you aren't supposed to do during discipline. Ever. Or maybe ever in general. I think.
Finally, "Cole, Aiden and Stella really want to shop at Target today, can't you just take off the shoes so we can walk around this pretty store and you can be the best brother ever?"
Really Leslie? This kid is screaming on the floor of Target and had recently fought with his brother over who saw a fire truck first, immediately after ripping his baby sister's pacifier from her mouth and thrown it because he thought it was funny. Appealing to his desire to be a good brother might be grasping a bit.
I knew it was going to happen. I knew what I had to do. I finally told him he had to pull it together or we were leaving. I really didn't want to do that.
By this time though, Stellla was screaming from the cart, where she was strapped in tight, and Aiden was gloating about his new shoe purchase and stellar behavior.
"I guess Cole just doesn't want to make good choices today. It's too bad he isn't old enough to learn to tie his shoes since he can't stop screaming." Thanks Aiden.
I did it though. I walked over, extracted the Darth Maul sandals from his tantrum grip, picked him up, and put him in our large, empty cart and headed for the exit. We paid for Aiden's tie shoes and simply left, with nothing else. We didn't have extra purchases, nothing from the "need" list, and very little joy.
Day five was rough. It got better after Target, but not much, and by the time Alex got home I was ready for spring break to be over, forever. Next year I am sending my children to my parent's house like all the smart people I know.
Waking up for school this morning never felt so good. It was fun, or fun-ish, but five days is possibly one day too long for me to be alone all day with all three of my kids. Happy back to school everyone!