Friday afternoon at the last minute, I faced the task of purchasing FIVE (count them, F-I-V-E!) birthday cards and THREE gift cards. I opted to go to Pulix as they have their handy-dandy little gift card center, and I think they have pretty nice birthday cards too. I'm not totally sure where things began to *get weird;* maybe it was Jimmy's whining about having to go shopping after school for the better part of our ride over there (which is over a half hour), or maybe it was Kyla's maniacal screaming echoing throughout the store once we got there. . . regardless, it wasn't pretty.
Somehow when we arrived, the manager of the store was positioned directly in front of the gift card center. When I began searching for gift cards for which I hoped the recipients would appreciate, the manager lady commenced the process of engaging my children in a lengthy chat about their lives (everything from how old they were, to birthday gift ideas, to basic child development and parenting). Ten minutes later, she insisted upon getting them each balloons - one of which Kyla immediately lost (thus beginning her full on hysteria). Ms. Manager then insisted upon getting Kyla another balloon - this one with a special homemade hand tie that she was sure to not lose and for which Jimmy then insisted upon having too. Little did the woman know that she had thoughtlessly just used all of my allotted time for this highly thought provoking and necessary trip. Now I was left with a ticking time bomb. . The uncertain time period before which my children *blew up.*
I quickly gathered my three gift cards as Kyla began loudly announcing her annoyance at our presence still being within the store. I then scurried over to the other cards where I would attempt to read through various sweet cards commemorating different persons' wisdom, endless love, or sense of humor - which, by the way, was extremely difficult over Kyla's howling and jumping in the seat of the cart. Little Jimmy also got in on the action by picking out cards which he thought would be useful (most frequently the ones that played music), or announcing his discovery that some cards were for boys while others were for girls.
Several minutes later, and several comments by the old folks of The Villages later ('Oh, honey, you're daughter's gonna fall out of the cart the way she's standing up in there. . . she's just making me nervous", "Sweetie, you need to sit down, you're going to hurt yourself!') I rushed to the checkout hoping to maintain my sanity at least until my shopping endeavor came to a close.
As fate would have it, the man at the checkout appeared to be even older than the rest of his cohorts at the Publix of the Villages. . .He was sort of hunched over, and very slow (I have nothing against slow people or old people, but for goodness sake, HURRY IT UP!). I waited patiently for a few moments through Kyla's screams of anguish and annoyance (as Mr. Senior checked out the pack of gum for the customer in front of me. . How in the world could it take so dang long?), but I soon found myself biting my nails and pondering the voices in my head which told me to run for the hills.
I was so relieved when the senile gentleman was finally checking out my groceries, but my relief quickly turned to horror as I watched in sheer amazement at the painfully slow process of scanning and processing the gift cards - ALL THE WHILE, KYLA SCREAMING. In an attempt to distract my daughter, I helped her type in my debit card numbers for the ensuing purchase. Everything on my end was ready, we were simply waiting for the cashier to finish scanning our nine items. My anxiety in hearing Kyla's crying and hysteria soon turned a bit psychotic and I found myself attempting to calm my physical being down by practicing my own form of lamaze (which, by the way, I have never learned or had cause to use). . .
When the bag boy (another senior who was at least 65 or older) finally deposited the last card in the shopping cart, I headed out. I don't know what I was thinking really; I just know that something in me snapped and I had to go. I heard someone calling to me "Ma'am, MA'AM" but I assumed they were just wanting me to take my receipt for which I hoped they would get the hint and just drop in a garbage can. I rammed a shopping cart as I was heading for the exit, but I didn't care; I just needed to get to the open air and out of the confined space which Kyla's immense screaming had saturated.
Just as I was approaching the automatic double doors, I heard: "Ma'am, you forgot your lemons!". 'Damn those lemons!' I thought to myself as I recalled that I had made one other purchase outside of the gift cards and the birthday cards. "Jimmy, I need you to go get the lemons" I announced firmly realizing already that I was too ashamed at my *running* from the store to even walk the three yards back myself to grab the lemons.
I assumed Jimmy had run off to grab the lemons, but when I looked down a second or two later as I stood in the lobby area where the shopping carts are stored, I saw him still at my side. "Jimmy, I asked you to get the lemons! Please go get the LEMONS!! GET THE LEMONS, NOW! PLEASE!" I barked at my son in a manner that was truly all the control I could muster in the moment. Several gray haired folks, some with visors and golf shorts on, walked past shaking their heads and clucking their tongues in disapproval.
Ashamed of my own lack of self-control, I pulled my cart just outside the front door and waited a couple seconds for my son. When he didn't show up in the appropriate time period, I decided I should check on him (I could totally see someone kidnapping my kid on a day like this. . . ). Just as I entered the lobby area, the elderly bag boy appeared with Jimmy at his side. "Ma'am, you need to pay for your groceries" he stated dryly. "I already paid for them!" I commented trying to hide my utter horror at not only having to enter the store again, but also at being subjected yet again to the claustrophobia of the store combined with my children's screaming and antsyness. "I swiped my debit card and entered the number and all. . " I pleaded with the man. "Well, it's not in our computer, so you'll have to do it again" he stated blankly.
I then turned around to grab my purse from the cart just outside the door. "MA'AM!!! YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR YOUR GIFT CARDS! YOU CAN'T JUST LEAVE!" the bag-man yelled at me. At this point, I did something I'm very much not proud of; I cussed at an elderly gentleman. "I HAVE TO GET MY ******ing PURSE! I may not have much money, but what I do have I want to keep!" I hollered back at him. It was here that I noticed the hush which had fallen over the whole front of the store while people pondered if they were watching an actual modern day robbery by an insane mother of two young children.
I grabbed my cart just outside the door and hurried back in, face down so as not to observe the disapproving looks of those elderly persons surrounding me. As I was retyping my debit card number, I heard in an altogether far too chipper tone from the checkout just behind me, "Boys, I just SO appreciate your good behavior at the store today. It's so helpful to me." I turned and saw a woman with three boys (all older than mine, by the way) who was waiting on her receipt. Needless to say, she received the look of death and few *voodoo-ish* sort of thoughts from me.
After scanning my card and receiving my receipt, I again exited the store - this time with no store personnel calling after me. Unfortunately, I couldn't find my keys, so yet again I had to humble myself and enter the store to search for them. Luckily I quickly found them stowed in the far recesses of my purse.
As I drove home, I seriously pondered continuing the insanity I had begun. I thought about blowing through red lights and driving on medians to get around people and speed my exigence from the *scene of the crime.* I pictured myself being the driver of a blue Chrysler Town and Country (as would be broadcast on CNN) followed by a V-formation of police cars down the highway.
Luckily, I got a grip of myself before I went that far. I stopped at all the stoplights and followed the rules of the road (well, kind of at least). When I got home, the children were banished to their bedrooms where they were instructed to place nicely.
While little Jimmy totally did not understand what was happening around him at the store, he was clearly disturbed by it all. He asked me several times on the way home, "What just happened, Mom?". Later I explained to him that "Mommy just got upset. . It's not your fault at all. . I just got upset with the store. . ."
So now I'm left pondering if I should check myself into a mental institution for my little *incident.* I've decided I'd really be OK with it. White padded walls and a lot of sitting and nothing. No cooking, cleaning, preparing, teaching, guiding and encouraging. NOTHING. I think I could handle it should the day ever come. Feel free to turn me in if you feel inspired.
***As a side note, I'd like to share this media clip I came across on MSNBC. . Can I just say I TOTALLY get where this woman was coming from??? Not that I'm saying she made the WISEST choice in the situation, but I GET IT. . It also wasn't the wisest thought process of my own that led me make a complete idiot of myself at Publix. . Sometimes this stuff just happens.***