Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Day 47 OT

If I ever needed proof that my sister-in-law hates me, I got it today. Actually, I got it about a month ago when she sent all three children Wal-Mart Gift-Cards for Christmas.

Let me repeat, in case you didn’t catch that:

Wal-Mart. Gift-Cards. Children.

Are there any three words in the English language that when put together, can strike such fear and terror into the heart of parents? ESPECIALLY the parent who gets stuck taking them to spend the gift-cards???? Blaine and I flipped for it. He got off EASY, cleaning those toilets for the next three months, lucky bastard. And off I trudged, despondently, to Wal-Mart.

I don’t mean to slur the reputation of Wal-Marts world wide. Maybe it’s only the Wal-Mart here in our town that serves as the stomping grounds to every white trash hillbilly in a tri-county area. Night or day, rain or shine, the place is packed. Packed! Where do all these people come from?? Why do they bring young children in the store at 10 pm at night? Do they really NEED all that crap they’re buying? Why are so many of them in motorized scooters with little buggies on the front? Why are the check out lines always so long? Do these people actually LIKE shopping at Wal-Mart?? And today (sigh) I had to join the masses, to spend these gift-cards that had been burning a hole in my kids’ pockets ever since the holidays.
In an effort to make our after-school shopping trip as painless as possible, and allow me to keep my sanity, I laid down a few simple ground rules:

1. Any child who fights, whines, argues, pouts, or bickers, with me OR with his/her siblings, will have every item they have chosen put back on the shelf and they will go home empty-handed.

2. Each child must have one hand on the cart at all times (Even though I *know* my kids aren’t going to be snatched away from me, let’s face it …. Every urban legend about child abduction takes place at a Wal-Mart, doesn’t it?? And I’m certainly not immune to the panic those stories create.)

3. Any child who wanders off and does not stay in the same aisle as me will lose all shopping privileges for the day. Plus I will beat them when we get home.

4. If you want an item, you better make your decision and pick it up. Because I am not wandering over the hundred-acre countryside that is Wal-Mart, back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, while you change your mind twelve times about what you really want and try to maneuver me from the toy section to the music section to the sporting goods section and back to the toy section again.

5. NO!! We will NOT be buying candy at the end!!

I took a deep breath, and off we went. Miraculously, we made it through the parking lot, which so many of the shoppers confuse for a Nascar speedway, and into the store without bodily harm.

Immediately, I realized there was a problem with rule #2. When you’ve got three kids hanging on to the cart, all wanting to go in different directions, it’s really hard to steer. So we quickly revamped #2 to “must be within eye sight of the cart at all times.” Very similar to rule #3, but I am nothing if not flexible.
First, to the grocery department because we were out of milk at home. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend half an hour in Wal Mart and forget the milk at the end! So, milk first.

Second, to the music department, the first stop in the strategic loop of the store. I am only making ONE loop, and there will be NO back-tracking!

Brayden is obsessed with purchasing Kids Bop 9. Sadly, Wal-Mart only carries Kids Bop 1-8. So she chooses yet another Star Wars soundtrack (don’t even ask me what is up with that) and is relatively content.

Next, the disposable camera bin in front of the electronics department. Brayden claims to want one, so I put it in the cart. Then, several aisles later, she realized that the camera combined with the CD means all her money is gone, so she’s backpedaling, fast. Kendrie says she’ll take the camera ….. but then changes her mind. Raising my voice and telling the two of them that “This is the one and the ONLY time I will put it back once we’ve left the department”, I sneakily and deceitfully put the camera on a shelf in Housewares. I hate people who do that. See what Wal-Mart has reduced me to???

Then, it’s sporting goods, where Kellen has to fondle every football in the department, before deciding he doesn’t want a football, or any kind of ball, at all. Rushing them past the protective cups before they start asking questions. And explaining to Kendrie that even combining the three gift cards will not be enough to buy them the trampoline she wants so badly. Then, moving on.
At long last, over to toys. Here’s where images of Dante’s Inferno are brought to mind, as I try to navigate my way through this section, with one kid who wants to be in the Star Wars aisle, one kid in the Bratz aisle, and one kid in whatever aisle carries the swords and weapons. Reminding the kids five hundred times that there are other shoppers who need to get through the aisle with their carts, as well, so would you please move over and quit standing in the middle of the aisle??? Although they grumbled about rule #2, modified, they did indeed stay within eye sight of the cart, even if it meant spending twenty minutes waiting for Brayden to decide between Cloe’s or Yasmine’s Bratz Head. Waiting ten minutes while Kendrie searched high and low for an Annikan Skywalker ANYTHING, sadly disappointed. Waiting while Kellen pondered the choice between a cheesy plastic bow and arrow, or a cheesy plastic combat set. Then, in order to finish off the gift cards, because Lord knows I’m not coming back to Wal-Mart for a return visit, we head to the .88 cent aisle, where the kids have to personally inspect every piece of crap they think looks good. Or squeezy. Or even remotely interesting.

Can you believe Kendrie bought another whoopee cushion?

Finally, FINALLY, after spending half my life in toys, we head to the check out line, where Brayden sees, of all things, another disposable camera display and decides the world will stop turning if she doesn’t get one. And my heart drops to my stomach when Kellen pays and I realize he still has 92 cents left on his card ….. man, I hope he doesn’t figure that one out.

So, an HOUR AND TEN MINUTES LATER, we are back in the van, headed for home. I am exhausted. Do people actually do this sort of thing for fun? I mean, I only have three kids, and they were relatively well-behaved, for a change. But I had no choice. Damn cards. But I saw people there who I think were just spending money for the fun of it. Going to Wal-Mart by choice, not being forced as I was. Who does that????

Now, give me a quiet morning in Target, by myself, and I can browse with the best of them. But joining the fray that is Wal-Mart, in the middle of the day, with three kids, is just craziness talking. In fact, I think I might have a little PTSD at the moment. I should probably go find a jar of chocolate fudge sauce and unwind.

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