Target and I have made a number of sweet memories together. My best friends and I would end up there after a wild girls’ night of early dinners and PG-13 conversation. When we lived two minutes down the road, my husband and I would cruise the aisles just for fun, as a young couple might take a leisurely stroll through their neighborhood. There was a time when Target and I were free, and our time together was innocent and light. Sure. She may have taken more of my money than a friend would, knowing my weaknesses, but I delighted in handing it over. And, sure. I could find cheaper groceries at Walmart, but I could also find e coli and used syringes in the parking lot. Target and I had something. And my children have ruined it.
This household has a two week grocery rotation. Every other Friday, I pack any and all children (who are not in school) into our Explorer and make the twenty minute drive to our former close-enough-to-be-our-next- door-neighbor for a cart overflowing with wares. Grocery shopping with children has never been fun for any human in recorded history, and some trips are better than others, but there have been those that make me question how long a person can truly live without food.
Nearly two years ago, my massively pregnant belly rested on the handle of a cart carrying a one-year-old in the seat while a three-year-old “walked” beside us. I say “walked” because it was more of run/involuntary dragging combo that kept me and the rest of Target on our toes. We were nearly done with both the grocery list and our well of patience when the wiley three-year-old was struck with a sudden jolt of energy, as they’re prone to do, and took off in a wild and unbridled sprint. I responded with the unceremonious get back here or I’ll call daddy low growl, and he responded with the unconcerned laughter of a heartless wildebeest. He’d always been an anxious child and I assumed anxiety alone would at least keep him within wrangling distance. I learned, however, that anxiety was no match for the itch this toddler had no choice but to scratch.
He turned back only once to toss a careless laugh in my direction as I jog-hobbled from one end of Target (the dairy section, to be exact) to the literal other (outdoor furniture). My swollen belly pinballed between my rib cage and bladder while my full-shopping-cart-turned- Indycar brought a giggling one-year-old along for the ride. I had not the wherewithal or physical ability to grab him from the cart and football cradle him while I chased his brother down so, if he has memory of the experience, it’s likely to be a happy one.
On our way from end to end, we passed many Target employees. They watched as my runaway zoomed by and stared in bewilderment as I screamed, “Stop him! Make him stop!” I can’t be too angry with their lack of response, though, as today you’re likely to be sued for touching another person’s child. Thoroughly chewed out at the very least. I chased and chased until he reached the complete opposite wall and paused for a moment, considering his options. His only choices were to turn the corner or surrender, and if he turned the corner, he’d be entirely out of sight and I would have entirely died. Thankfully, he stopped in his escape to maniacally laugh while sprawled out on the floor.
I quickly scooped him up and balanced him between the cart handle, his brother’s face, and my contracting belly. With just as much speed, I paid for our goods, left the store, and wept in the parking lot.
Since that day, we have experienced a great number of horrible shopping trips. For a while after, I wouldn’t go grocery shopping without another adult. Now, I don’t go out of the house without some sort of electronic distraction or edible bribe. Not for a while, anyway. When I can stroll through Target without the opposite side of the store discovering the exact timbre of my daughter’s screams, then I will leave the bribes behind. Until then, Target and I will keep our heads down and try to remember the good times.
Stephanie is a wife, mother of three, and blogger at http://themominblack.com. A Navy transplant to Virginia at age sixteen, she is, for all intents and purposes, a Fredericksburg native and a pillar in the community. Just kidding. But, you can find her quite frequently haunting the chip aisle of the SuperTarget or rolling her eyes at the car in front of her in the Sonic drive thru. When she is not shuttling her oldest to school or tweeting from the bathroom, she enjoys watching DVR’ed episodes of shows her husband would never watch and perfecting her winged liner sweep.
As a blogger and humor-lover, Stephanie’s children keep the idea tank brimming with post ideas. Named one of VoiceBoks’ Hilariously Funny Parent Bloggers of 2014, Steph enjoys finding the “funny” in the not-so-funny tasks of everyday parenting. If you ever feel like you’re the only one, chances are you’re not. And that Stephanie has already made fun of herself in a blog post about it.