Christmas shopping with the kids, a story

Filed under: Development/Milestones: Babies

next time i will shop via mailI'd just pick a few things up for Christmas while my husband works, I thought. And I went shopping.

We started at the bank, and my children were greeted with lollipops and smiles. When Everett ran off to push the buttons of the dumbwaiter in the grand old building, he replied to my calls for him with the cheerful, "I'm right here, Mama!" And so, we continued.

We walked to the office supply store, for practical items. A new wireless card for my laptop. A tiny starfish-shaped pad of sticky notes for Everett. This time Everett bolted for the escalator when my back was turned, and did three, four cycles. A lesbian grandmother (she must have discovered herself at an advanced age) commiserated lovingly with me as we waited for him to come back down. "So lucky that you have boys!" she said. "They're so much easier to raise."God love me for not having girls, I thought. Or I'd be on medication.

Before we checked out, Everett threw a screaming fit because I wouldn't get him another copy of the Jay Jay the Jet Plane game we'd bought the day I got the first wireless card (the one that broke). He lay on the floor, crying, and bewildered office dwellers walked in past the fitful three-year-old and the barely-reacting mom. I gave him a minute and reminded him where we'd be going next... if he was good. He considered his options and chose "good," sort of. And so we continued.

Next was Hanna Andersson, the mecca of organic cotton and bright solid colors. In the car outside the store, I reminded Everett: he'd have to play nice on the trains, he'd have to be gentle with the other kids, or we'd go immediately. I shopped blissfully while Everett explained to a two-year-old girl how to best enjoy the trains and Truman charmed the store in baby jail nearby. I shopped for nearly an hour, showing Everett options ("should I get this one for Truman, Everett?" I'd ask. "Just get it!" he'd respond, never looking up from his trainscape). He picked out the blue-and-purple striped pajamas and I chose the Dala Horse print for Truman. I bought them three pairs of matching shirts. I bought them corduroy pants and sweats and socks, oh my.

All the while, Truman sweetly pulled himself up on every available support and Everett madly ran his trains around and around the tracks. I put Truman back in the carrier and checked out and paid. I tried to get Everett to go.

He wouldn't.

We were negotiating over a pretty ladybug ball, one that had magically appeared at go time. A woman who looked about 50, with steel-grey hair in a neat cut and the kindest possible eyes, asked matter-of-factly if I'd like help leaving.

Yes.

She got Everett a sticker and asked him if he'd like to choose where to put the ball. He did, oddly somewhere he wouldn't be able to retrieve it. She asked him to help hold the door for me. Every time, he complained, but he did it. I thanked her profusely.

It only took five or 10 minutes to get Everett into the car (directly across the street from the store). Success. We continued.

Next was the camera store: a new lens for me! The very respectable pro shop had stairs leading to offices (employees only), and Everett must, must go upstairs. It took me five minutes to get him to come back down, no screaming. He found the toys and set into playing while I walked a little ways away to ask about my lens.

They had nothing, nada, in Pentax. While I was getting the phone number for the Pentax-rich camera store, Everett ran toward me and flopped onto the ground, crying. I glanced over and someone looked panicky. "Is he hurt!?!?"

No. He's just... three.

I walked over to the chairs in the front, where Everett had found a large crate of blocks. He was patiently and carefully building a huge tower. I called the other store, they were open until 6 and had the lens I wanted. They were a good 30 minute drive away - without traffic. It was five p.m. Three days before Christmas. And Everett wouldn't leave.

Ten minutes later as we argued over the fact that I'd moved his lovely tower out of the way (he'd built it directly in front of the door), a woman with blonde hair and hips that looked like they'd born children recently walked up to us with four lollipops. "Can I offer him one of these?" she asked me.

Yes.

Everett wouldn't leave until he'd talked the woman, who had a child just his age, into giving him all four lollipops. I relented gladly. He behaved as we walked to the car. He got in. We continued.

I started driving in the direction of the far-away camera store... and gave up. I called my sister. "We're coming over for a little while!" I said. "Until Jonathan gets done working." Secretly I planned to let Everett stay with her while we shopped.

It worked, and four hours later Jonathan and I had purchased gifts for almost everyone on our list. As we walked away from our spree, loaded down with bags and carrying the cutest, calmest possible almost-eight-month-old on the planet, I passed a sad-looking pregnant woman, then another, sitting on a bench rubbing her eight-months-pregnant stomach. She looked so tired, so sore, so done.

You have no idea.

I smiled at her, sending good health and rejuvenation vibes her way. Maybe, for her, it would be easier.

Or maybe one day, she'd be one of those moms, offering the next mom like me, the one with the spirited three-year-old, four lollipops and a minute or two of sanity.

And we continued.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.