Two weeks ago we go to Romp n’ Roll for open gym. It’s great because there aren’t a lot of options that keep a 10 month old and a 3 and 1/2 year old happy. We are busy running and jumping and playing with other children. And I’m putting our leaving off. And off. Because if you remember the last blog post I did on Romp n’ Roll, well, leaving is not the best part.
I finally start the: In five minutes, E, we have to go.
E: No. (He says it with no attitude. No yelling. It’s just a fact, Mama. And it probably is. If by no he means not unless you carry me out screaming.)
But the last family in the gym (I told you that I was pushing it) also decides it’s time to leave. YEA! Now E is more interested in leaving (and N just wants to eat lunch) and we enter the lobby with our new best friends. E gets a stamp and puts on his shoes. He refuses his coat. (He’s a Yankee at heart. The cold just makes us talk less which for me and E is quite a feat.) We hold the door for our new found friends and take hands and BLAMO!
The other mom says the worst thing she could say. We don’t like this family anymore. We are not happy to have met them. I scorn them. Because she leans down to her daughter and says: Oh no, honey. We aren’t going to the car. We are going to Target.
Target is right down the sidewalk from Romp n’ Roll. GENIUS. It’s like having the McDonald’s next to the get-out-of-your-car car wash. Genius for everyone but me. I just want to go home.
And what does Target mean to E? Walking from SHINY JEWELRY to wearing SILLY SUNGLASSES to possibility of getting a SMALL TOY for no reason other than being MY SON. (We don’t buy our kids toys often. Let me tell you that the toy choosing process is a post in and of itself. I’d rather walk out with a screaming preschooler. But us Yankees aren’t known for our patience)
And in the blink of an eye, my son changes course from the white car, which will take us HOME, to the GIANT BOX OF FUN. Now let’s note that we are currently 50 minutes late for lunch. N is VERY aware of this. And I have no stroller and no baby carrier. And I can only walk about ten steps holding nearly half my weight in children.
Off this other Romp n’ Roll family goes leaving CHAOS IN THEIR WAKE.
Me: No E. We are going to the car.
E: Yes. We are going to Target.
Me: No, sir.
E: Yes sir!
Me: E G (that’s his first and middle name) we are walking to the car.
And my little Gandhi sits. He doesn’t fight or scream. He sits. He doesn’t even let go of my hand. So one arm is pulled within a foot of the ground while the other arm is balancing 17 pounds on my opposite hip as N bangs her head into my shoulder looking for the breastaurant. My only saving grace is he chose to sit on the curb. Not in the middle of the road. Or in a puddle. Today.
So I take a DEEP BREATHE and say in my most calm and mothering voice: E. Please get up and walk to the car. You can wave goodbye to Target if you head to the car right now.
E (reluctantly): Ok.
I realize that I have channeled the great mothers that have come before me. I have WON! Without yelling! Without threatening! Without bribing with food or money or toys! And without crying (myself included)! VICTORY!
As we pile into the car, E gets edgy. His coat isn’t zipped. Then he wants it off. Then zipped. I worry that VICTORY is sliding away. N’s fussing has gone up a notch. But I offer them crackers. And I remind E about waving goodbye to Target and he bucks up.
I make a quick phone call as I’m pulling out. And dimly realize that I will not drive past Target if I want to get out of the parking lot in the direction of home. So I head towards the light while coordinating lunch with my husband when a SHRIEK from the back of the car drowns out even my 10 month old’s fussing.
As I near the green light, I understand the grave mistake that I have made and I throw the phone into the passenger seat in a panic. You see, I have ruined the opportunity to wave goodbye to Target. Because we are no longer going to pass Target. And it’s too late to turn around and N is crying and I try to point out the TINY TARGET from the main road but to no avail.
E yells: I DONT WANT TO SAY GOODBYE TO TARGET
Me: Okay. (Hey, he doesn’t ever have to speak to Target again. We are in the car heading home. VICTORY!)
But I am clearly no longer channeling the great mothers because for the next twenty minutes I am told through tears and anger: But I WANT TO SAY GOODBYE TO TARGET.
I explain why we cannot turn around. That we are all hungry (my fault). That Dada is meeting us at home. That there are no U-turns on the highway. But he continuously asks and demands to say goodbye to Target. His best friend, Target. Of whom he may never see again. (He seriously talks like that. No he doesn’t.)
And for the next two weeks, at least twice a day, E asks: Can I say goodbye to Target? Often followed by the sniffles of mother-induced disappointment.
And I say: No sweetie. We are at home. We are at school. We are at the post office. We are at the library. We are with REAL PEOPLE.
I alternate between wanting to kick myself for not swinging by Target YET AGAIN to wave goodbye and for suggesting that we EVER personify a Big Box Store.
Yesterday, my husband needs to pick up something from Target. I grab S by the shoulders and look straight into his eyes. And I say: PLEASE remind E to wave goodbye to Target when you leave.
And for my sanity, S remembers. And E has not mentioned his BFF Target since. Or perhaps until I think that I have any sort of connection with the gods of motherhood.